SeaWorld canceled the Companion Pass Program in 2014. Our adults can no longer take an aide of their choice into the park. SeaWorld offered a one day half price pass in return. Many of our adults have been weekly (or even more frequent) visitors to the park. How many passes would you need to purchase for your support people in order to keep your adult on his routine, one that he or she has been doing for years? Some of us feel the rejection of our adult’s support staff violates their Title III of the ADA rights to equal access to SeaWorld.
Some families are filing claims with the Department of Justice, advising them that our special needs adults’ ADA rights have been violated by SeaWorld. It’s quite easy, and you can do it via email. Here is the link for the complaint filing: http://www.ada.gov/filing_
In order to file a claim on behalf of your adult, you need to have your rights refused by SeaWorld. Note that I AM NOT AN ATTORNEY. I’m sharing with you what I did on Patrick’s behalf. I sent an email to Guest Services inquiring about the change of policy. Also, Patrick’s sister took him to renew his pass and spoke with someone at Guess Services there, asking them to honor his right to equal access to SeaWorld, which they did not.
The more complaints the Department of Justice receives, the better. If we come out in force hopefully the DOJ will respond. If you are feeling that your special needs adult’s rights have been rejected, please join me in filing a complaint.
You can also contact Megan at Disability Rights (619-239-7861). She is very helpful and guided me through this situation.
Judith L Melville
Step-Mother and Conservator of Patrick Melville
San Diego, CA 92107
October 23, 2014
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Civil Rights Division
Disability Rights Section – 1425 NYAV
Washington, D.C. 20530
To Whom It May Concern:
I am filing a civil rights complaint against Sea World San Diego on behalf of my son, Patrick Melville. On March 14, 2014 I sent an email to SeaWorld’s Guest relations inquiring about renewing my son’s companion pass. That same day I received an email from Elsa of the Guest Correspondence Team advising us that “guests will no longer be able to renew or purchase a pass with escort privileges.” Instead she offered “a disabled guest and one companion are eligible to receive a 50% discount on single-day admission.”
My son’s companion pass expired in April 2014. Because he could not bring an aid with him into the park without purchasing another ticket or Season pass, Patrick had to wait until August 2014 to visit the park when his sister, who has a pass of her own, was home from college. We purchased a Premium pass for Patrick from Costco. His sister, Samantha Melville, took him to activate it and spoke to Briana at SeaWorld’s Guest Services regarding renewal of Patrick’s annual escort pass, an accommodation that has been in place for many years for people with disabilities who cannot attend Sea World independently because of their disability. This reasonable accommodation was denied by the Guest Services representative. People with disabilities in need of attendant services and/or protective supervision are now required to pay more to attend Sea World because of their disability.
I have attached my original email to Sea World.
Thank you. I look forward to your intervention in this important matter of access to community recreation and leisure for people with disabilities.
Judith L. Melville
Step Mother and Conservator of Patrick Melville