Autism-friendly theme parks and attractions in the UK

Theme parks can be challenging places to visit for people with ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorders. They can be noisy, crowded and overstimulating. Fortunately, accessibility awareness is growing, and there are now quite a few autism-friendly theme parks and attractions in the UK. We’ve compiled a list of such places that have stepped up their efforts to be more sensitive to the needs of all guests.

Legoland Windsor Resort

Legoland theme parks are famous across the world, and have fabulous Lego brick models, rides, attractions and play areas that appeal to children and adults alike. To provide guests with a safe and enjoyable visit, Legoland Windsor Resort offers a variety of accessibility features, including the following for those with ASD:

  • free travel companion/assistant tickets
  • ride access pass to skip long queues
  • accessible toilets
  • a total sensory space that has vibrating bean bags, tactile tunnels, soft lighting, an interactive carpet and more to serve as a calm, quiet zone

The theme park also has an Accessibility Experience Team that can assist you with any enquiries you might have.

Diggerland Theme Park

Diggerland is a theme park with a twist – it uses diggers, dumpers and other construction equipment to create adventure rides. It also has indoor soft play, safari rides, and plenty of other activities for the family. There are 4 Diggerlands in the UK – located in Kent, Devon, Durham and Yorkshire. They’ve found that disabled children have a great time, and they’ve worked hard to provide a range of accessibility features including:

  • free travel companion/assistant tickets
  • disabled parking, toilets and access
  • sensory room that guarantees peace and quiet (this is available in the Durham theme park)

If you wish to travel by train to Diggerland in Durham, then the closest station is Durham, and you will need to catch a bus from there. The 13 or 14 bus operated by Go North East will take you to the theme park.

Sandcastle Waterpark

The largest indoor waterpark in the UK, Sandcastle Waterpark has a variety of water roller coaster rides, slides and wave pools for the family to enjoy. It’s an award-winning accessible venue with plenty of facilities and accessibility features for guests with autism including:

  • queue fast-track policy
  • quiet hours
  • ear defenders
  • an autism-friendly quiet room
  • floatation aids

The theme park has a sandcastle waterpark story to prepare guests with autism for their visit and what sights, sounds and sensations to expect. They also support familiarisation visits. Learn more about their rides and booking information here

Drayton Manor Resort

Drayton Manor is a theme park with rides and attractions, a zoo, and plenty of entertainment to appeal to people of all ages. While they do try to cater to the needs of guests with additional needs, their accessibility features don’t include a sensory room. 

That being said, the theme park is home to Europe’s only Thomas Land, with rides and characters from the popular television show Thomas the Tank Engine. A study conducted by the National Autistic Society found that children with ASD tend to respond strongly to characters from the show more so than to other children’s television show characters, which is why we thought it worth including the resort in this list. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the theme park, contact Drayton Manor (you could also read this entertaining account of a trip to Thomas Land written by the parent of a child with ADS).  

Camp Mohawk

Camp Mohawk is a woodland adventure centre and campsite set across 5 acres of countryside in Berkshire. The multi-functional centre is specially designed for children and young people with additional needs, primarily those with ASD. 

There are plenty of outdoor and indoor facilities – such as a wildlife area, swimming pool, sensory garden, archery range, soft play area, adventure play, ancient woods and more. And the camp has developed all of these facilities to ensure they are as accessible as possible. Some of their accessibility features include:

  • disabled toilets and disabled access ‘wet room’ bathroom facilities
  • sensory rooms to stimulate and relax the senses

There are particularly touching testimonials from people with ASD on the site, who share fond memories of their experiences there. If you travel by train to Camp Mohawk, then the closest station is Wargrave. From there you can catch a taxi or walk the 1.8 miles to the camp (the walk is partly uphill along a country road that has no pedestrian path).

The Postal Museum

Located in London, the Postal Museum is just 15 minutes walking distance from King’s Cross St Pancras Station or Farringdon Station (though the latter does not provide level access). Run by the Postal Heritage Trust, the museum has rides that go through hidden tunnels, exhibitions, and fun-filled interactive displays. 

It has a wide variety of accessibility features and has worked with Ambitious about Autism to include events and resources that support autistic and neurodiverse guests. Some of these include:

  • an information pack
  • a visual story to help guests know what to expect on their visit
  • pre-visit films
  • communication cards
  • sensory bags that contain stim toys
  • ear defenders

There are also accessible toilets and a Changing Places toilet in the museum. You can contact them to learn more.

Eureka! The National Children’s Museum

Eureka! is a children’s museum that has plenty of interactive exhibits, galleries, events, and creative and play areas. It’s designed to be accessible to all and was Visit England’s ‘Access for All’ gold winner in 2015. The museum has many accessibility features including the following for children with ASD:

  • free travel companion/assistant tickets
  • sunflower lanyards or wristbands for people with hidden disabilities
  • a sensory guide
  • Enablers who work at Eureka! and are specially trained to help guests have a pleasant experience
  • all-access toilets and Changing Places toilet
  • a dedicated quiet space or ‘chill-out room’

The museum has advice on busy periods and quiet times to help you better plan your trip. Get in touch with the museum regarding special enquiries or concerns you may have.

Assisted Travel
Some of the autism-friendly theme parks and attractions that we’ve listed above are close to train stations. That being said, we know that travelling to theme parks can sometimes be just as daunting as visiting them if you or someone you’re travelling with has ASD. If you’re looking to request assistance while travelling, then please do use Passenger Assistance. Our app has been developed to simplify booking assistance for any and all of your train trips so that you can enjoy a stress-free journey.