Whilst most of this has been played out in 140-character lines, I thought it would be easier to clarify in 140 words (or about that).
Yesterday, Kim Mabbutt, our Play Development Officer phoned Thorpe Park to book summer tickets for children on our play schemes. She was told that children would be charged £17.40, apart from disabled children: they would need to pay approximately £8 more, at £25.20. This was not including a carer, who would have to pay the same rate again.
We were pretty sure there had been a mistake so we spent a while on the phone. We sometimes take children to Chessington and Legoland, also operated by Merlin, where we’ve never had a similar problem. However, the operator we spoke to was adamant and even went to check with her manager to ensure she’d got it right. In the end they insisted the prices were as had been quoted, and that if we had complaints we would need to take it up separately. We were provided an email, which we wrote off to.
Hence, we pushed the issue out on Twitter and found, as expected, that people were outraged by this (thank you for being outraged if you were). Thorpe Park were quick to respond and got in touch with us to discuss yesterday’s call. They said that prices given had been wrong (£17.40 related to a child in a group booking whereas £25.20 related to a standard rate for a single disabled child), despite having involved both operator and manager, and apologised for the inconvenience.
So there you have it: Thorpe Park doesn’t charge more if a child is disabled. If you get the right operator. Or failing that, if you kick up a fuss on Twitter.
NB This said, if others have similar experiences they should be reported. I expressed concern to Thorpe Park that this wrong information could also be given (or have been given) out to other individuals and organisations, for whom clarity might not arrive quite so quickly.