SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Some new additions were unveiled at Dollywood’s Splash Country on Thursday. There are now accessibility tubes for people with disabilities, and if the sights and sounds of the water park are too overwhelming, guests with special needs can now unwind in a new calming area.
Anthony Sacco got to test out an inner tube in the wave pool as lifeguards trained how to use the new resources. The accessibility tubes will be available for people like Anthony, with limited mobility.
“I like to swim, it’s my favorite sport because it helps my arms be more strong and my legs,” said Anthony Sacco.
In the past, the Sacco family struggled to have fun while staying safe in the water.
Sandra Sacco, Anthony’s mother said, “I think it’s a great thing to be able to come in and have the ability for him to now be safer and more comfortable when he is playing. ”
Two different kinds of tubes can help those with disabilities now feel a sense of security. One has a built-in seat and the other is enclosed.
Lauren Lowery, the Aquatics Supervisor at Dollywood’s Splash Country said, “They have those built-in seats, but they’re also following in our safety protocol. Which having clear tubes is part of that.”
The clear material allows lifeguards to see swimmers in the water and help visitors.
Lowery adds, “Anthony, luckily he’s a strong, independent kiddo. But I’ve seen some kids that literally would not be able to hold themselves in a tube if they wanted to. So the cool thing about these tubes is they hold them from the bottom.”
Based on the response to Dollywood’s calming room, Dollywood’s Splash Country is also offering a new calming area. Children or adults who have sensory challenges can come to the spot to take a break. It’s located in a private, gated area of the park with natural surroundings, rocking chairs and plenty of interactive objects for guests who may have special needs.
“Just some things to fidget, to play with. Different textures, different comfort things,” said Amber Davis, with Dollywood.
Anthony simple says, “I had fun.”
Both the new inner tubes and the calming area were added in response to feedback from water park guests. Dollywood’s Splash Country says staff is always looking to improve accessiblity for everyone at the waterpark.