Six Flags reverses decision on disability pass

August 21, 2012 9:08:52 PM PDT
You've probably seen it happen... someone abusing the privilege of a disabled parking pass when they don't have a disability. Well something similar is happening at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in Vallejo and 7 On Your Side looked into it and how it ruined an 8-year-old boy's day.

Timmy Buchanan lives with a bone disease that makes it difficult for him to stand for long periods of time, but that hasn't stopped the young man from enjoying life.

Timmy and his family have had season passes at Six Flags for several years. The family depends on a wheel chair to cart Timmy around. Waiting in line especially on weekends can be extremely long and that can be difficult for Timmy.

"Because he can only stand on his feet for about 10 minutes," said Tim Buchanan, Timmy's father.

That's where the special needs pass comes in. Having the pass allows Timmy to bypass the long lines and enter though the exit, but one day Six Flags denied the boy's request for a pass.

"We have never ever had a problem with the special needs pass. We came to the park and the special needs pass, we were told, was cancelled," said Tim.

Their planned day-long excursion at Six Flags had to be cut to just a few hours. That's all Timmy could handle.

"Once he stands for too long, and it starts to make him sore, he is not just soar for that duration. It's going to bother him for the rest of the day and could go into the next day as well," said Stacy Buchanan, Timmy's mom.

Six Flags confirmed it discontinued distributing special needs passes, but says it was only temporary while it evaluated the program.

"We found that it probably 50 percent of the requests for the special needs passes are not legitimate. So that's really doesn't do any good for people that legitimately need the pass," said Nancy Chan, a Six Flags spokeswoman.

Six Flags says it discontinued the program on the same day that Timmy happened to visit the park.

"It was just a one day assessment of it just to see how many people would normally come in to request the pass," said Chan.

The Buchanans were never told the pass would be reinstated so they called 7 On Your Side.

"I was upset just because, not only for Timmy, I mean I have a lot of friends that have special needs children as well," said Stacy.

We contacted Six Flags and the park gave the family 10 passes so they could bring guests. Six Flags has now gone back to the honor system.

"Basically, people need to have a conscience," said Chan.

Because not abusing the system will mean people just like Timmy will continue to be able to enjoy the park.

Six Flags said it doesn't want to require parkgoers to bring proof of a disability because many who actually deserve it will come to the park without it.


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