Parque da Mônica Promotes Inclusion and Accessibility Through Programs, Events, and Social Media
In recent years, many amusement parks and attractions around the globe have worked toward adapting their facilities, activities, and rides to be more inclusive and accessible for guests with disabilities. Because of their size, their resources, and the sheer number of guests they receive, large attractions have led the way in these efforts. But now, a small amusement park in São Paulo, Brazil, is demonstrating how smaller attractions can make an impact, as well.
Parque da Mônica is a 12,000-square-meter indoor park located within Sao Paulo’s Shopping SP Market and themed after characters created by Brazilian cartoonist Mauricio de Sousa. It offers more than 20 educational and entertaining attractions geared toward kids and their families.
Executive Director Marcelo Beraldo recalls that in 2015, the park staff was discussing how to explain to parents of children with disabilities why their kids might not be able to use the park’s attractions due to safety concerns.
“During this conversation, we had an insight on how to adapt our roller coaster to allow kids with disabilities to enjoy it,” he says. “At that time, we started Parque da Mônica Inclusion program, and we consulted experts on how to make inclusion part of our park.”
Since then, with the assistance of specialist engineers, the park has made a series of adaptations to its attractions so people with disabilities can use them safely. In December 2021, Parque da Mônica introduced “The Silence Hour” for guests with autism to enjoy the park during its first hour open.
“This allows children and adults with hypersensitivity to get used to the park environment without it being full of its normal stimuli,” Beraldo ex-plains. “By reducing sound and visual effects, we offer a more friendly environment and allow them to adapt gradually.”
Though the park is open to everyone during “The Silence Hour,” the music is turned off on the park’s carousel, in addition to ambient music throughout the park; visual effects are deactivated on its 4D cinema; and light and sound effects are inactive in preshow rooms. Park staff have received special training in autism to assist these guests.
The park adamantly wanted to avoid appearing to be taking these actions out of self-promotion, so it chose a targeted approach to publicizing them. “We use our profiles on social networks,” Beraldo says, “and we know they’re spread by people through WhatsApp groups of parents of children on the autism spectrum.” He adds that the park has received “very positive” feedback from not only families with autistic children, but also others who see the topic of inclusion as important.
This has encouraged Parque da Mônica to further its efforts, including giving free admission to kids with disabilities up to age 14. “We already have a series of initiatives implemented and others are in progress, and we have adopted the premise that inclusion should be our key objective,” says Beraldo. “Now, a significant part of our time and annual investments are directed toward including people with disabilities, either through training, adaptations, purchase, or installation of devices. Promoting and facilitating access is something that should permeate the actions of all organizations, especially when we talk about children and entertainment.”