Dollywood Is First Theme Park That Has 'Calming Room' For Guests With Autism

Making time for fun can be difficult. Because of this, theme parks are in the proverbial Mount Rushmore of family fun activities. In fact, television shows like The Simpsons often use theme parks to trick their kids into going to unwanted places, like the doctor’s office. It’s a great way to spend an entire day, from waiting in line, to getting on rides, and eating great snacks while laughing and making memories with family members.

This isn’t always the case for amusement park visitors. For instance, people struggling with autism have a difficult time enjoying themselves. Whether it’s because of the loud noises, bright lights, or large crowds, it can be overwhelming to spend hours there.

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That is, until the amusement park Dollywood came on the scene. Dollywood is an amusement park known for amazing shows, arts and crafts, a museum, and of course rides. What sets Dollywood apart, however, is the fact that they are the first theme park that caters to the needs of the autistic community. Dolly Parton, the creator of Dollywood, teamed up with Autism Speaks to create the perfect environment for the autistic community.

Equipped with a sensory room, autistic visitors have the ability to isolate themselves during their theme park visit. This room has comfy cushions, weighted blankets, and fiber optic lights so the children and their family members can have a moment of peace and privacy. Each family gets up to thirty minutes of time in the sensory room.

Before the sensory room at Dollywood, families like the Schuler family wouldn’t have a fun place for the entire family to enjoy. Hampton Schuler, an autistic visitor, loves coming to the park and enjoying the sensory activities.

Since its introduction in 2016, families have been singing the praises of this innovative concept and following suit. The Legoland in Florida has since incorporated a number of sensory spaces to accommodate more demographics. These areas have items including noise-cancelling headphones, weighted blankets, and blocks.

Dolly Parton, a global country superstar, is not only going to be remembered for her big hair. Because of her decision to add an autistic-friendly area to Dollywood, American fun is expanding for more inclusion. If you or anyone you know has a family member with autism, encourage them to read this story and plan a visit to Dollywood theme park when you can.