Dear fellow TabiFolk enthusiasts,
I had every intention of digging deep into my memory and writing a blog post about some previous travel adventure I undertook, however, an incident occurred over the past couple of weeks and I felt compelled to write about it instead.
My family and I were visiting the Parque Terra Mágica Florybal (Florybal Magic Park Land) in Gramado – in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil – when we faced a bizarre situation that felt nothing short of discriminatory.
I should start the encounter by first explaining that the region of Gramado, and Florybal Park in particular, is extremely hilly, given that it is situated in the Serra Gaúcha mountain range. I knew this was going to pose a serious challenge to me, as a manual wheelchair user, and so my wife and I were hoping that the park would have mobility scooters available. Great news… they did!
What was not so great, though, was that there was a charge for using them. I’m not talking about a deposit that you can get back once you return the scooter, no. An actual non-refundable charge. The cost for this accessibility was R$60,00 for two hours, which is roughly $12 in the US. The charges continued, however, as we would then be charged a further R$20,00 per 15 minutes additional time.
We were in the park for four hours (with one of those hours spent in the restaurant waiting for our lunch to be served) and so, had we chosen to rent the mobility scooter, the total cost would have been R$220,00 ($44).
To put this into perspective, the price of an adult ticket into the park (without concession) is R$120,00 ($24). You could say that for a person with mobility issues to enjoy the park in the same way as an able-bodied person, they’re first charged a concession price of R$60,00 and then have to pay for the mobility scooter on top. It more than doubles the cost, if considering the four hours we spent there. Actually, “in the same way as an able-bodied person” isn’t entirely accurate, because even with a mobility scooter, there are areas of the park that would have simply been a no-go.
Josh Grisdale, the founder of this very platform, said it best when he described it as being “pay-to-play accessibility”. I find it outrageous that folks with mobility issues are being financially punished in this manner. I am wondering if it is even legal here in Brazil, and my wife and I are looking into the matter further.
The park itself was incredibly difficult to get around. The hills were so steep at times that my wife had to assist me down them backward. No way would I have been able to negotiate the park alone.
In the interest of complete fairness, there is a complimentary car service that shuttles you between the entrance of the park and the bottom of its largest hill, but this service is quite limiting.
I intend to write to Florybal in the coming week to allow them to respond to my complaints.
I would be interested in hearing if any of you guys have experienced something similar.
Signing out for now,