Scooter rental should be free at parks

Published 8:55 pm Tuesday, August 13, 2019

To the editor:

My name is Claire Zhang, and I am a teenager with mild cerebral palsy (a form of physical disability). I am a high school student attending Chantilly High School in Fairfax County. I am writing to you to advocate for free scooter rental at Kings Dominion.

I usually go to Kings Dominion twice a year: one in the summer with family, and one in the spring with my school. Every time, one of my parents has to come the park and to help me rent a scooter. The cost of scooter rental is extremely expensive ($50 per day). Although I understand they need to cover the basic cost to maintain the scooter, the high rental cost seems extreme, and I don’t think they should make a huge profit at the expense of people with disabilities. A general admissions ticket costs around $80 per person. The scooter rental is an extra burden. The large financial burden causes my family and me wonder if it is really necessary to go to amusement parks.

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I am fond of roller coasters, because they give me a sense of freedom. Although I am not capable of any physically adventurous sports, I love to ride roller coasters, because I see them as a mentally adventurous activity. The adrenaline rush from roller coasters has taught me to be courageous and to be happy in the toughest moments.

Disabled kids already are challenged and struggle to move around, so why should we face more challenges when all we want is to enjoy like any other kid? Many families will make the decision not to go to amusement parks because of the huge financial burden.

About 20 percent of the U.S. population has some kind of disabilities. I am sure that there are many people within the disability community that are in the same situation. I am blessed to be able to walk short distances in school or around the neighborhood, but I cannot handle long-distance walking in very large public places. I don’t own a scooter at home, but I need to rent one at the park.

My case is not an isolated one; I am sure there are many disabled people in similar situations. I am trying to advocate for all. We should be able to visit amusement parks without having to worry about the extra money we have to afford.

When I go to the grocery stores like Costco and Walmart, electric scooters are placed at the front entrance. They are available for anyone to take them as needed for free. When I travel by airline, there are free wheelchair services upon request. A person who works for the airport usually serves and pushes the wheelchair for free. Why should amusement parks place a high price tag on their scooters? Why shouldn’t amusement parks provide free scooter and wheelchair rental to their disabled customers?

I have emailed and called the park staff but have not received an answer. I am not giving up and will continue fighting for all the people with disabilities.

Claire Zhang