Universal Studios Theme Park took $300, ruined a celebration, and humiliated a woman. Nice job.
A year ago a dear friend of mine, Barb, experienced terrible embarrassment and discrimination at Universal Studios Theme Park, and I want to tell you about it. I only learned about this early this year, because Barb was too upset to talk about it before.
Barb has a condition where one arm is regular and one arm is stunted. The stunted arm doesn’t have a regular hand. Please forgive the use of the word regular, since to Barb her arm is perfectly regular, but I need to explain and am not sure how else to do so. Anyway, Barb’s regular arm and hand are just like anyone else’s, except maybe stronger since they have to make up for the stunted side. Having watched Barb drive, I can say she is pretty impressive with the stunted arm all the same.
So, anyway, Barb went to Universal Studios with her husband and her (adult) daughter. The goal was to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. Their day started around 10:30, they went on a ride, ate lunch, and then went to the Harry Potter ride. Apparently, the Harry Potter ride is magical. It makes the people who run it discriminatory, illogical fools.
Hang on with One Hand – You Have One Hand? Get Off Anyway!
Now, the Harry Potter ride has a poster that warns people with pacemakers, pregnant women, and motion sickness issues that they should reconsider. It doesn’t read anything about being able to hold on with two hands, or for that matter, one hand. This matters.
Barb and her family got through the line, and then got on the ride. No problem. Next thing she knows, right before the ride is about to start, Barb is surrounded by employees who tell her that she has to get off. Barb they say, is required to be able to hold on with one hand at all times. Barb held up her regular arm with her regular hand and said, what do you think this is? They still made her get off the ride.
All of this happened in front of the other people, it was impossible for the other riders not to see what was going on. It was not discreet at all. Barb is 62 years old, has ridden rides at Hershey, Six Flags and Disney, and has never had an experience like this before. She was humiliated in front of both strangers and her family, and, unsurprisingly, she started to cry from what was happening to her. It was an awful experience.
Remember, Barb has one regular arm and hand, the staff said she had to be able to hold on with one hand, which she clearly can do. You can tell that Barb has a regular arm and hand just by looking at her. So ask yourself, what was going on here? Well I can, as I said before, only conclude that the Harry Potter ride magically makes people ignorant and offensive. There is no other explanation for such Kafkaesque behavior.
I bet you are saying to yourself, wow the staff screwed up. I bet Universal Studios apologized and gave Barb a refund. Well, you would be wrong.
Barb “Enjoyed their Facilities” No Refund for You!
It was now 1:00, and everyone was incredibly upset by what had happened. So Barb, her husband and her daughter decided to leave the Universal Studios. They had experienced one ride, lunch, and a disaster. They stopped at customer service and were told that because they had “enjoyed [Universal's] facilities” there would be no refund.
Universal Studios offered a free pass for Barb to return to the park. Sure, Barb is a glutton for humiliation and wanted to come back. In what world?? So in the end, Barb and her family had spent $300 to be at the park for a few hours, most of which was dealing with being discriminated against by the needlessly cruel Universal Staff. That is sure enjoying the facilities there Universal.
Is this an Isolated Experience?
Barb told me she does not believe this can possibly be an isolated experience. Not when a bunch of staff surrounded her and acted as they did. She wonders how other people with “obvious” disabilities are being treated. Personally, I wonder why the sign didn’t have something on it about being able to hold on with one hand, or anything like that. Oh wait, even if it said that, Barb would still have gotten in line. She has one perfectly normal hand. All of the humiliation was completely unnecessary.
Universal, Apologize and Give Barb Back her Money
Barb deserves an apology, and she deserves her money back. In addition, Universal needs to train its staff on proper behavior towards people who happen to look a little bit different.
So I am asking you, my 4500+ readers per month to do me a favor. Would you please tell Universal that what it did to Barb is not acceptable? Here is the park’s contact form. Phone number is 407-363-8000.
If Universal would like to speak with Barb so it can research what happened, it should feel free to contact me. I will put your person in touch with Barb and she can provide you whatever details you need to confirm that what she told me is the truth. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.