The Companion Pass

Growing up, my family’s favorite vacation was to go to an amusement park. Mom liked to see the different shows and ride the tamer rides, while my dad would take us kids on thrill rides like the Scrambler and the roller coasters.

When my husband and I moved to Pennsylvania, we were fortunate enough to end up within 10 miles of Hershey, home to Hersheypark. The daily rate to enter the park has gone up quite a bit over the years, but the season passes are still reasonably priced and, since they include parking, we can go as often as we want for just the cost of gas and any food we choose to buy.

A couple of years ago, I learned from another mom about the “Companion Pass.”

Because I have a child with a disability, I am able to have my season pass marked with the word “Companion” instead of my name and a big “C” instead of my picture. This pass can then be used by anyone, so it is easy for another caregiver to take him in my place.

This has been a wonderful investment for us, as with just two passes my husband and I can take turns taking him to the park and giving each other a little time alone. Michael loves the sensory input from the rides and will go on just about anything he is allowed to, so it is a big treat for him as well.

Although we could avoid many of the long lines by using the accessible entrances, we have chosen not to do so. Our flexibility in when we go, and for how long, allows us to choose times that aren’t as busy and to help Michael decide whether he can handle the wait for a ride or wants to come back to it on another day. (I’m sure we would take advantage of this service if we were making a trip to another park for just one day!)

He still finds it fairly difficult to handle going with a larger group, but with just the two of us, we have had a lot of fun times the last couple of summers while sneaking in some work on being flexible and increasing meaningful communication.

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