Peppa Pig Theme Park will be a certified autism center when it opens in February, executives announced Tuesday.
It was the first press conference at IAAPA, an annual convention put on by Orlando-based International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, one of the largest conventions in Central Florida that is devoted to the amusement park industry.
The Winter Haven attraction is working with the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards to achieve the designation. It also intends to have sister park Legoland Florida and the resort’s three on-property hotels certified with Peppa Pig’s park, which opens Feb. 24.
There are three components at play for the designation, starting with preplanning, said Rex Jackson, managing director for Legoland Parks in North America, after the news conference at Orange County Convention Center.
“On the website, there’ll be a lot of information for parents with autistic children to be able to identify the types of rides and attractions that are going to be suitable for the child. Upon arrival, as they go up to the individual rides, there’ll be signs that also provide autism information to those families looking for that information,” he said.
“The third and probably the most important is actually going to be training the staff — a comprehensive training program to teach our puddle jumpers how to interact with families, autistic children and how to interact with the children themselves.”
Legoland Florida and Peppa Pig Theme Park are owned by Merlin Entertainments Group. The new attraction is based on a gentle animated children’s series made in England.
There are 32 million travelers with targeted disorders in the United States, said Myron Pincomb, CEO and chairman of the board for IBCCES.
“At a survey we recently conducted of parents who have a child on the autism spectrum, only 13 percent of those families felt comfortable taking family vacations,” he said. “During that same survey, 87 percent of those families said they would be more inclined to travel if they had certified destinations.”
Peppa Pig Theme Park was designed for accessibility from the beginning, Jackson said.
“This is kind of taking the next step though from a training aspect with the certified Autism Center designation,” he said.
The Peppa Pig character made an appearance at the IAAPA Expo in Orlando and posed with a ride vehicle for Peppa Pig’s Balloon Ride.
Construction continues on Peppa Pig Theme Park, which is adjacent to Legoland Florida but will have a separate entrance.
“She is coming along quite nicely,” Jackson said. “We are less than three months away from launch, so rides are installed, training and commissioning is actually underway and the construction crews are putting the finishing touches on the overall site.”
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Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel