Open To All, Our pick of the best Accessible Attractions

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Open To All, Our pick of the best Accessible Attractions

 … but are our less able passengers sold short?

A charity has recently criticised the UK tourism industry demanding that attractions be made more accessible for wheelchair users. Ted Hill of the British Polio Fellowship was astonished and called upon venues to make themselves completely accessible for all. A recent survey commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions and conducted by Vitalise ( found that nearly two thirds of Britain’s top attractions were not fully usable for wheelchair users.

With more than 11 million people in the UK with limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability with the majority of these affecting mobility, this is around a sixth of the population that need special facilities. Visit England has admitted that improvements were necessary but progress had been made in recent years. The accessible tourism market is worth more than £2 billion a year to England’s tourism industry.

Who’s Ace at Access…

A few of the best

Theatre by the Lake- For a problem-free visit

Access Theatre by the Lake is open to all and we have tried to make sure that everyone who comes to our auditoriums, galleries or café has a problem-free visit. We hope we have thought of everything but please call us in advance if you may need extra assistance. We are always ready to help.

“Thanks to all the staff for their helpfulness. I strongly recommend the theatre to all wheelchair users, for the facilities and kind attitudes.”

The nearby car park has spaces reserved for visitors with physical disabilities and we have a wheelchair to ease your passage into the theatre. Inside, all floors are linked by lifts and there are adapted toilets on all levels. Wheelchair spaces are available in both the Main House and Studio. All our brochures and programmes are available in large-print versions. We also produce an Audio Brochure on CD for which there is no charge. You can listen to the audio version of our new January – May 2014 season brochure on our Soundcloud page.

To request any of this material or to have a copy of our access guide call Box Office on 017687 74411.

Audio-described performances: Dracula – Sat 1 November, 8pm & Peter Pan – Sat 17 January, 2pm

For blind or partially sighted theatre-goers we offer audio-described performances at which a narrator describes the action on stage to patrons through headsets. Touch tours are available an hour before most performances, where you can come on stage and explore the set of the play you are about to see. Touch tours must be booked in advance with the Box Office. We are always pleased to welcome guide dogs.

Captioned performances:

Peter Pan – Sat 10 January, 2pm

Captioned performances are designed for theatre-goers who are deaf or hard of hearing. In these performances, as the action plays out the words and sound effects are described in text on a caption unit displayed on the stage – just like television subtitling. At all performances (in both the Main House and Studio) we offer free use of infra-red headsets that help amplify the sounds on stage. Headsets are available for use both with hearing aids and without. We also have an induction loop in the Main House, which is available in rows A-F in the stalls

Relaxed Performances:

Peter Pan – Wed 28 January, 6.30pm

Relaxed Performances are designed for anyone who would benefit from a more easy-going environment, including children and adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions or learning disabilities, as well as families with young children. There’s no need to worry about disrupting the show, as there will be a more relaxed attitude to noise and movement and audience members may leave the auditorium at any time. The lights will remain up in the auditorium and loud sound effects will be dampened to help those who are easily alarmed or upset. Extra staff will be also be on hand to assist with seating and access arrangements. Please call the Box Office on 017687 74411 to book for these performances.

Special tours We offer special tours of the theatre to people who book for our Relaxed Performances. On a day of your choice, one of our friendly members of staff will show you around the theatre so you can get to know it a bit better. You’ll see the Front of House areas, including the café, toilets and where the ‘chill-out space’ will be on the day of the performance. You’ll also see the auditorium, including where you’ll sit to watch the show. To book a tour, please contact Mary Elliott at or 017687 81103. For further details and to book for an audio-described or Relaxed Performance, call the Box Office on 017687 74411.

Tickets for people with disabilities

Lowest price tickets are available on request for disabled customers for all performances. Patrons who need the help of a personal assistant, carer or companion may request one additional ticket at the same rate. Also…Theatre by the Lake is to extend its work with people with dementia after receiving grants to build on activities that have already made it a pioneer among regional theatres.

For more information, contact Mary Elliott on

Woburn..fully accessible

Woburn Safari Park has worked hard to ensure they offer a fully accessible park to people with disabilities and wheelchair users. The park looks forward to welcoming you and making your day as enjoyable as possible.

Your coach is your transport around the animal reserves and all vehicles take the same route which takes around one hour. You can repeat the Road Safari route through the reserves as many times as you like during your visit.

The majority of the Leisure Area is accessible by wheelchair although movement around the attractions can sometimes involve a steep gradient. If you need assistance with boarding the Great Woburn Railway then just ask the driver and he will be pleased to help or reserve the special wheelchair accessible carriage. Wheelchairs are welcome in the Rainbow Landing Aviary and staff are available in the reception area to give advice before you enter.

All entrances into the Safari Restaurant allow disabled access and the food counter is also accessible. Staff are happy to assist with taking trays to tables if necessary. Most aisles are accessible by wheelchair in the Junglies Gift Shop and staff will even help you with your shopping. There are a number of wheelchairs available to hire, free of charge, but please book in advance. Tel: 01525 290826.

Disabled Concessionary rates are available which also applies to the carers on a one to one ratio. All keeper talks are accessible by wheelchair with space available to the side or back of tiered seating. Please make yourself known at the beginning of the demonstration.

Disable toilets are located at the main entrance to the park , in the safari restaurant, in the Mammoth Ark play area, outside the Animal Encounters area, by the gift shop and adjacent to the Badger Valley play area. Hearing Loops are positioned a till points throughout the Safari Park.

For more information visit:

Shopmobility at Westfield

Westfield Stratford City and Westfield London are exceptional examples of twenty-first century shopping and welcomes a new generation of consumer to shop, to eat and to meet.

Once in-centre, interactive kiosks ensure visitors can establish the best route to and from one store to another and concierge staff are specially trained to ‘World Host’ standards are on hand to personally answer any questions regarding the experience at the centre. Visitors craving convenience with a desire for indulgence will be met by the concierge and valet team providing services such as valet parking, hands-free shopping, UK and international home and hotel delivery, cloakroom and bag storage services and personal styling. Food is as important as fashion at Westfield and top restaurants offer group rates when booked in advance.

Westfield also offers free coach parking that can be pre-booked online. As part of the pre-booked package, visitors will receive:

• A Personal welcome into the centre by the dedicated concierge team

• Welcome packs including mall guides so you can find your way around

• Booking in for upgrades services such as Hands Free Shopping, restaurant bookings, delivery services and many more

Don’t allow limited mobility stop you from enjoying the amazing shopping opportunities available at Westfield London and Stratford City.  Free wheelchairs or motorised scooters are available to help you make the most of wheelchair friendly malls and restaurants, as well as free, large print Mall Guides to help you find your way around. (available from Concierge).

In late 2015, Westfield London and Westfield Stratford City will further enhance their group service offer with the launch of a dedicated groups brochure which will include in-depth detail on both centres as well as contact details for booking group rates in top restaurants, information on guided tour packages and also suggested itineraries for the nearby area.

Myf Ryan, Marketing Director – UK & Europe comments: “We are proud of our sophisticated concierge offer and continue to understand the varying needs of group visits to enhance our offer, ultimately providing a memorable experience. We’re very pleased this has been recognised by our visitors and we look forward to welcoming future domestic and international group visits to our London centres.”

Beaulieu Accessibility Statement

The attraction includes the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey. Beaulieu is committed to making its services accessible for all. Our staff are trained in disability awareness to the latest standards set by the local Tourist Authority and are here to ensure you enjoy your visit.

We continue to make improvements all the time and the majority of the Beaulieu site is accessible to all visitors. The nature of some of the attractions, in particular our listed buildings, require us to maintain their historical integrity and so large scale alterations are often not possible.

We firmly believe however, that targeted improvements in the right areas can make all the difference and we are working with our visitors and local access groups to identify where the improvements are most needed.

We have employed an Access Auditor to conduct regular audits of the Beaulieu site and we have formulated an access plan for improvement of facilities in the next few years.

We currently provide the following facilities:

  • Designated Accessible parking area close to the main visitor entrance
  • Accessible lavatories at two locations within the site
  • Free use of powered wheelchairs (please book in advance) and manual wheelchairs
  • Generally level tarmac paths
  • Ramped access to raised doorways at the Brabazon restaurant and Secret Army Exhibition
  • Induction loops at key reception points
  • Provision of literature in alternative formats
  • Inclusion of an accessibility guide in map form within the main ‘How to see Beaulieu’ leaflet given to all visitors
  • Visual image guides to 1st floor areas of the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Beaulieu Abbey
  • Handrails to steps in Palace House
  • A continuing programme of staff awareness and training in accessibility issues

From the findings of our access audit and in conjunction with the valuable feedback from a visitors’ survey we have formulated medium and long term plans for this year and subsequent years We welcome comments on our services so please ask for our accessibility questionnaire during your visit to Beaulieu.

If you require any advice or special help for your visit, please call us on 01590 612345.

 All Warmly Welcomed at The Curve…


This attractive and atmospheric theatre in Leicester’s convenient city centre continues to wow theatre-goers with spectacular world premieres and the opening of major national tours. Curve is located right in the heart of Leicester’s city centre in the Cultural Quarter with coach drop-off points just outside the theatre.

For groups, even those with special access facilities, this impressive modern theatre is welcoming and offers excellent services, facilities and benefits.

“We warmly welcome customers with all disabilities requiring particular assistance, and our building and facilities are accessible for everyone. Services we provide include:

Captioned performances

Screens are displayed in the auditorium running the text (just like subtitles). There is usually a ‘Captioner’ who will make adjustments to the live dialogue as the performance happens.

Signed Performances in British Sign Language 

A sign language interpreter stands at the front of the auditorium/forestage who will translate the dialogue into BSL during the performance.

Audio Described performances  

An ‘audio describer’ describes what is happening on stage to customers who have collected an audio describing headset from the Ticket Office. Infra-red and Induction loop hearing systems are also available in all of our theatres, please ask at ticket office for a headset .

Touch Tour 

Explore the auditorium/set/characters through touch prior to the performance to get a sense of what will be happening on stage, and experience the different voices you will hear. Guide dog spaces are also available upon request.

Relaxed performances 

Performances are tailored for customers who would benefit from a more relaxed performance environment. Audience members are free to make noise and while the theatre doors will close, audience members can come and go as they please.

Wheelchair spaces in all of our performance areas

Public areas are also accessible to wheelchair users, including lift access to the circle level.

Accessible toilets

Available on both stalls and circle level. We also have a changing places accessible, assisted toilet with adult hoist.

Accessible parking

Available on Southampton Street, in the NCP Rutland Centre Car Park adjacent to Curve, and we have a drop-off point on Rutland Street.

Free Essential Carer Ticket available 

Designed to provide access to customers who find it extremely difficult or impossible to attend alone.

Customers requiring particular assistance or an essential carer are asked to join our Access Register before booking tickets. Once you have joined, call Ticket Office on 0116 242 3595.

Our Access Register stores information on your personal requirements so that you don’t need to resubmit evidence each time you book. To join, download the form from our website or contact the Ticket Office on 0116 242 3595”.

Sign Language Performances: Sound of Music 19th December 7.30pm

Captioned Performances: Abigail’s Party 6th November 7.45pm

Sound of Music 8th January 7.30pm

Relaxed Performances: Pinocchio 20th December 1.30pm

Sound of Music 10th January 3pm


The award-winning Curve theatre in Leicester has added another trophy- for its accessibility by people with impairments.The venue has been awarded a Highly Commended Access for All Tourism Award at the VisitEngland’s Awards for Excellence 2014- the second time the theatre has been recognised in the national awards.

The recognition is largely due to its latest adaptation- inclusion of a Changing Places toilet for visitors who need the help of a carer.

This Christmas, Leicester will come alive with The Sound of Music as Curve theatre is presenting a brand new production of the much-loved Rodgers and Hammerstein classic from 28 November to Saturday 17 January.

In other exciting news for groups, from 7 March – 4 April 2015, Curve will be premiering the brand new musical adaptation of Sue Townsend’s The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 and ¾. But book early to avoid disappointment!

For further information on special, great value packages for groups contact Curve’s Ticket Office on 01162423595 or e-mail

All Can Enjoy Hever Castle..the Childhood home of Anne Boleyn

Historic Hever Castle & Gardens in Kent offers groups a memorable day out in the Garden of England.  Situated in the heart of idyllic countryside, the romantic castle is famous for being the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I.

The original medieval castle with its gatehouse and walled bailey was built in 1270, with the Tudor dwelling added within its walls by the powerful Bullen family who lived at Hever during the 15th and 16th centuries. Its splendid panelled rooms contain fine furniture, tapestries, an important collection of Tudor portraits and artefacts including two Books of Hours signed and inscribed by Anne Boleyn.

“At Hever Castle and Gardens we strive to ensure that all visitors have an enjoyable experience. We welcome visitors with disabilities and offer discounted rates for groups who have a special need”.

Most of the gardens are accessible to wheelchairs as they are on one level and the majority are ramped. In the castle, the ground floor only is accessible to wheelchairs (there are spiral staircases to the other floors). There is also wheelchair access in restaurants, shops, the water maze and the miniature model houses exhibition. We have a limited number of manual wheelchairs for loan on a refundable deposit basis subject to availability.

There is also now a golf buggy to transport visitors with access issues. Pick-up and drop off points are located at Top Gate and the Information Centre and the buggy operates between the hours of 10.30am and 5.30pm.

Toilets with accessible facilities are located near the main ticket office. The Moat Restaurant and the Pavilion Restaurant both have accessible facilities.

There is also an additional accessible toilet beyond the Lavender Loos to the left of the Courtyard shop. For more access information tel: 01732 861701.

Don’t miss Christmas at the Castle:  November 29 – December 24; Wednesdays – Sundays

Capture the spirit of Christmas with a memorable day out that casts a spell on all the family. Beautifully decorated Castle rooms, welcoming log fires and twinkling Christmas trees.  Bring the children to meet Father Christmas, enjoy relaxed Christmas shopping in the Gift Shops, and sample delicious festive food in the restaurants. As dusk falls, the gardens are magically illuminated with up-lighting and colour washes.

Hever Castle has a long established reputation for offering excellent service to group travel organisers and the travel trade. The Group  Visits Co-ordinator is available to help plan a unique and memorable experience for your group on Tel: 01732 861701; Email: Office hours: Monday – Friday  9.00am – 5.30pm

Hever Castle & Gardens, Hever, Nr Edenbridge, Kent  TN8 7NG

Telephone 01732 865224;  Website:

Acceptable Access…let us know your views, experiences and conclusions on accessible attractions. Email: Karen on



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