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Orlando, Fla. (April 2, 2019) -- Today, on World Autism Awareness Day, SeaWorld Orlando announced that it has been designated as a certified autism center by The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). SeaWorld Orlando joins Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove to become the first family of parks, in the world’s leading theme park destination, to be certified.
“We are incredibly proud to be the first family of Orlando theme parks to achieve these certifications,” said Kyle Miller, SeaWorld Orlando park president. “We want to create lasting memories for all our guests. As families start planning their summer travel, the resources and tools that our parks now offer can provide peace of mind for families with members that have autism and other special needs. Our parks and staff are now equipped to offer families inclusive activities, helping to ensure meaningful experiences for everyone.”
Earlier this year, Aquatica Orlando became the world’s first water park to be recognized as a certified autism center and Discovery Cove in Orlando became the first all-inclusive day resort and animal interaction park in the U.S to be designated. Theses certifications followed sister park Sesame Place, the first theme park in the world to reach this accreditation in April 2018.
The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES) worked with SeaWorld Orlando on the completion of a staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training as well as an onsite review of the park property and guest experience, officially designating SeaWorld Orlando as a Certified Autism Center (CAC).
“SeaWorld Orlando creates fun, educational experiences that are intended to be enjoyed by all. We think the training and the park specific sensory guides provide useful information to ensure that our guests are armed with all the information they need to prepare, be informed and enjoy their time at our parks”, continued Pauls.
As Certified Autism Centers, the parks are required to provide ongoing training to ensure that team members have the requisite knowledge, skills, temperament and expertise to interact with all families and children with special needs, specifically on the autism spectrum. Training takes place in the areas of sensory awareness, environment, communication, motor and social skills, program development, and emotional awareness as well as a comprehensive autism competency exam. The autism training must be taken every two years in order to maintain the certification.
In addition, robust pre-visit planning resources have been added to SeaWorld Orlando’s website including a park specific sensory guide developed by IBCCES. This sensory guide makes it easier for parents to plan activities that satisfy their child’s specific needs and accommodations, by providing insight on how a child with sensory processing issues may be affected by each sense for each attraction, including highlighting areas that are more soothing.
SeaWorld Orlando recently debuted Sesame Street at SeaWorld Orlando, a fully immersive and interactive six-acre land providing all the fun, laughter and learning of Sesame Street. The land features the iconic Sesame Street neighborhood including Abby Cadabby’s Garden, Big Bird’s Nest, Mr. Hooper’s Store and the famous 123 Stoop, as well as everyone’s favorite Sesame Street friends and a first ever daily parade.
One of SeaWorld Orlando’s designated quiet spaces can be found here, with adjustable lighting and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break from the sensory overload often found in theme parks. Another quiet space is near the front of the park, and both can be easily found on the park map.
Stated Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman, “IBCCES is excited to be on this journey with SeaWorld as we work in tandem to educate and train their staff. With 1 in 59 children diagnosed on the autism spectrum it is nice to see SeaWorld’s long term commitment to providing services that encourage inclusivity in the parks. This should be the industry standard and we’re working with leaders in the field to make that happen. Thousands of hours of hard work and training have been completed by SeaWorld’s dedicated ambassadors, and they are opening doors for all individuals to engage in the different activities the parks have to offer. Having conducted an onsite review of the park property and guest experience, we have seen firsthand SeaWorld’s commitment and contributions to education and animal care and their enthusiasm for sharing those experiences with all guests.”
Kerry Magro is an IBCCES Board Member, an advocate for the autism community and is also on the autism spectrum. "To see SeaWorld Orlando continue to want to make an impact and be a leader in the industry and in the autism community is wonderful. We need more groups like them.”
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld® rescue team has helped more than 36,000 animals in need over the last 55 years.
The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks, including Sesame Place, that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company. Visit www.seaworldentertainment.com for more information.