Theme parks are a summer staple on the family vacation circuit, as they should be. With everything from cotton candy and kiddie rides to giant swings and death-defying roller coasters, there’s something for everyone. If you have hearing loss, planning out your trip to the amusement park in advance will ensure you make the most of your time there.
Theme parks like Cedar Point and King’s Island offer Teletype phone at their hotels and front offices for guests with hearing loss. King’s Island also offers assistive listening devices for their entertainment venues, which can be obtained from one of the house ushers. Six Flags New Jersey even has an annual Deaf and Hard of Hearing Awareness Day, which features interpreters throughout the park and donates a portion of their proceeds to organizations benefiting the hard of hearing community.
There is a lot of activity at a theme park: screaming kids, rowdy teenagers and a general hullabaloo all around. When searching for a spot for lunch, seek out food stands and cafes with outdoor seating and quiet corners. Excess noise and loud interior spaces make it difficult to focus on the conversation with the ones you love. Having an eye for ear-friendly locales can cut back on the stress and mental exhaustion it takes to decipher multiple sounds at once.
Hearing aid protocol
Your hearing aids are delicate mechanisms, as well as expensive investments. Since they play such an important role in your day-to-day life, it’s important to protect them on theme park rides. On extreme rides like roller coasters and water rides, you run the risk of your hearing aid becoming dislodged and lost, or damaged by water. Keep a hearing aid case in your pocket or purse so you can store your hearing aid before being strapped into the ride car. If you insist on wearing your hearing aid on a water ride, ask an attendant how wet you will get prior to boarding the ride. If the soak factor is low, wear a splash guard to protect against any residual water.
Roller coasters are the biggest draw of an amusement park, and while they provide thrillseekers the adrenaline rush of a lifetime, they also have the potential to damage your hearing in a way you might not expect.
Consider the much-publicized case of a 24-year-old man who made the innocent mistake of turning his head to speak to his girlfriend right before the roller coaster dropped. The resulting G forces hit his ear full on, bruising the eardrum and temporarily damaging his hearing. The force of the roller coaster was equal to around 180 decibels, louder than a 12-gauge shotgun. While his ear healed and his hearing returned within 72 hours, it could have been permanent.
When riding a powerful ride like a roller coaster, be sure to face forward the duration of the ride to prevent your ears from directly absorbing the full force of the roller coaster’s speed. Extreme altitude changes are dangerous enough for your hearing without the added pounding of a roller coaster drop.
Theme parks are great vacation spots for those with normal hearing as well as those impaired hearing. Knowing your resources and scoping out hearing-loss friendly spots in advance can make your trip much more relaxing than it would be otherwise. And that’s important, considering how relaxing roller coasters are not.