Alton Towers says sorry for banning ‘adrenalin junkie’ disabled woman from rides

Alton Towers has apologised for the way staff treated a disabled passenger who was prevented from going on rides because she can't walk.

Wheelchair user Hannah Cheetham was left distraught when she was told twice that she couldn't go on the attractions.

Following an online petition calling for staff to be given disability awareness training with more than 47,000 signatures, theme park bosses have made a public apology.

They said it has taken steps to improve communication with disabled customers, reports Manchester Evening News.

Hannah, a self-confessed 'adrenalin junkie' from Greater Manchester, visited the theme park last week as a birthday treat for her sister Becky, and Becky's partner Lucy.

But it wasn't until they lifted Hannah into a seat on the popular Rita ride, that they were informed she would have to get off the ride as she couldn't walk unaided.

In an emotional post on social media which went viral, Becky Cheetham said it had 'ruined their day' and they were reduced to tears by the insensitive attitudes of staff.

Hannah, who has cerebral palsy, was told she was only allowed on children's rides despite being in her 30s.

Alton Towers has now invited the family to return to see the improvements the theme park is making.

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Katie McBirnie, head of product excellence, said: "We are deeply sorry for this incident, which falls well below the high expectations we have for our employees.

"At Alton Towers Resort, we pride ourselves on being an inclusive resort and we really value the feedback that Hannah and Becky have given us. We have certainly listened and we want to do better."

The petition on the change.org website called for employees to be given disability awareness training. In just one week, it was signed by 47,846 people.

Ms McBirnie confirmed additional training is now in place that ‘focuses on communications around ride restrictions to guests with disabilities’.

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On September 28, the group obtained a disability access band and headed for the Smiler.

Becky saw a sign saying users must be able to walk 25 metres unaided and mentioned it to a member of staff.

Becky said: "The lady then turned to her co-worker and shouted across, ‘She can’t walk’, and shut the door behind us.

"My issues with this situation is Hannah is a human. Please speak to her directly. Do not embarrass her by shouting out her insecurities across the ride for a crowd of people to hear.

"We passed three lots of workers, and not one of them thought to explain the rules of the ride before we got up there and had to turn around.”

They headed to Rita, where Becky lifted Hannah into a seat and workers strapped her in.

As thrill-seekers were ready to start, a member of staff asked if Hannah could walk unaided in case the ride broke down. She was told to get off in front of everyone else.

They were later offered a refund after spending £40 per ticket.

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