Today, Aquatica Orlando in conjunction with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), announced the completion of a staff-wide autism sensitivity and awareness training as well as an onsite review of the park property and guest experience. The completion designates Aquatica Orlando as a Certified Autism Center (CAC) as distinguished by IBCCES — the first water park in the world to receive such a distinction. This accreditation follows sister park Sesame Place, which became the world’s first Certified Autism Center theme park last April.
Working closely with IBCCES, the staff at Aquatica will be continually trained to assist guests with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and their families to help ensure a positive experience during their visit. Guests will also be provided with specific information about attractions and experiences along with in park accommodations to help them plan their day and make informed choices best suited to their individual needs.
For almost 20 years, IBCCES has been the industry leader in autism training for licensed healthcare professionals and educators around the globe. IBCCES recognized that many families with children who have special needs have limited travel options, and in response, created training and certification programs specifically for the hospitality and travel industry. As a Certified Autism Center, Aquatica Orlando is 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.
“As the first water park in the world to complete the training and become a CAC, Aquatica Orlando is proud to provide fun and memorable experiences through exceptional service,” said David Heaton, Vice President of Aquatica Orlando. “We continually strive to create safe and meaningful experiences for all of our guests, and we are committed in our effort to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs.”
Robust pre-visit planning resources will be added to the park’s website including a sensory guide, developed by IBCCES. This sensory guide will make 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. The park will also have quiet rooms located next to Health Services inside the park. These rooms will have adjustable lighting, and a comfortable seating area for guests to take a break.
“We know that training and certification is the best way for organizations to ensure they can accommodate all families,” explained Myron Pincomb, IBCCES Board Chairman. “IBCCES is proud to work with Aquatica Orlando and other leaders in the industry to increase the availability of certified options and help individuals have a safe and enriching experience when traveling or visiting a new place. With the rise in diagnosis rates of cognitive disorders, there is a huge need for these options and for organizations to make a long-lasting commitment to their guests.”
Aquatica Orlando’s certification comes as the park readies for the opening of its newest attraction Kare Kare Curl this summer.
For more information: Aquatica.com/Orlando. To keep up to date on park hours and events, follow Aquatica’s social channels on Facebook and Instagram. To learn more about the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards, please visit: https://ibcces.org/
IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for parents that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met Certified Autism Center (CAC) requirements.
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 33,000 animals in need over the last 50 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 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.
About the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES)
In 2001, IBCCES identified a need for standardization within healthcare, education, and corporate environments to meet the growing needs of those with cognitive disorders. We assembled a board of thought leaders and experts in these fields to address the growing international need and create a series of certification programs in autism, ADHD, sensory disorders, dementia, mental health, dyslexia, and other cognitive disorders and special needs.