Today Knoebels Amusement Resort, located in Elysburg, PA, announces it has completed the Certified Autism Center™ recertification. The Park first achieved this prestigious certification in 2019 and has been committed to continuing its efforts to provide a welcoming and inclusive experience for autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals and their families.
To maintain the Certified Autism Center designation, Knoebels completed rigorous training and certification requirements through the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). The certification process includes ongoing training for at least 80% of guest-facing staff members and the development of specialized resources and programs designed to accommodate the unique needs of autistic and sensory-sensitive individuals.
Knoebels Amusement Resort’s commitment to the autism community extends beyond the certification process. The Park offers a variety of sensory-friendly experiences, such as quiet areas and sensory guides for each ride to ensure guests know the impact of the five senses and to allow guests to choose their adventure during their visit to the park.
Additionally, the resort hosts an annual Autism Awareness Day event which is set for June 4th, 2023. This year’s event will offer three new features including: access to three rides one hour prior to the park opening with a focus on providing an experience that is more sensory friendly than during park operation. Rides will include Cosmotron with lights on and no music, Grand Carousel with no band organs, and Pioneer Train with no whistle. Knoebels will also be adding an in-park display with biographies to highlight well-known autistic people, and guest speaker Ben Hartranft who is an autism self-advocate and public motivator who shares how inclusion and kindness shaped his life with autism. More info here: https://bit.ly/KAutismAwareness2023.
“As the nation’s largest free-admission amusement park, we strive to welcome and accommodate every guest. IBCCES has made that even easier. We knew the many sights, sounds, and smells of an amusement park can cause anxiety and sensory overload for many of our visiting families. By partnering with IBCCES, we were able to better train our team members, provide a sensory guide for concerned families, and introduce a sensory room to cool down when things got too stressful. By utilizing their accessibility card, we can better plan and care for cardholder families as they enjoy their day of fun,” said Rick Knoebel, 4th Generation Knoebel Family Member.
To further enhance accessibility, Knoebels Amusement Resort implemented the IBCCES Accessibility Card (IAC) program in 2021. The IAC is a free digital platform (web and app-based) where individuals who need support or assistance while visiting attractions can register, resulting in a digital card they can present at Knoebels and other participating attractions to communicate their needs to staff. The program helps protect visitor privacy and help avoid uncomfortable conversations, as well as expedite the process so guests can enjoy the Park to the fullest. To learn more, visit accessibilitycard.org.
Mimi Geib, a park guest and mother to an autistic adult, Taylor shares her experience with Knoebels’ accessibility program, “Taylor is a 23-year-old with autism who uses the accessibility program at Knoebels. This program has been so helpful to Taylor by allowing him to enjoy attractions in a way where he’s able to manage shorter waiting times and less crowded situations. we go to several parks each year, but Knoebels is by far the most accommodating for his needs. The staff is very helpful, but more importantly, he is treated with respect and kindness. I couldn’t be more thankful to the people involved in this program and the staff members that make Taylor’s trips to Knoebels something special every time we come.”
“We’re thrilled to see the continued commitment and enthusiasm of the team at Knoebels to serving all guests’ needs including autistic and sensory-sensitive visitors. With the team’s focus on continuous accessibility enhancements and their leadership in this industry, our programs provide long-term support and resources to ensure that all guests feel welcomed and safe at the park,” shared IBCCES board chairman, Myron Pincomb.
IBCCES has been the leader in cognitive disorder training and certification for healthcare, education, and corporate professionals around the globe for more than 20 years. IBCCES is the only global credentialing board providing travel and entertainment organizations with training and certification from subject-matter experts and autistic self-advocates, and other resources, as well as long-term support that helps them understand how to better accommodate and assist autistic or sensory-sensitive visitors and their families. IBCCES also created AutismTravel.com, a free online resource for families that lists certified destinations and connects families to other resources and each other. Each destination listed on the site has met the Certified Autism Center™ (CAC) requirements.
Knoebels Amusement Resort is America’s largest free-admission amusement park and offers free parking, entertainment and picnic facilities. While at the park, enjoy over 60 rides, award-winning food, swimming at Crystal Pool, challenging games, gift shops, and Knoebels Three Ponds Golf Club, then stay overnight at one of two campgrounds. For more information, visit www.knoebels.com.
Delivering The Global Standard For Training and Certification in The Field of Cognitive Disorders – IBCCES provides a series of certifications that empower professionals to be leaders in their field and improve the outcomes for the individuals they serve. These programs are recognized around the world as the leading benchmark for training and certification in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.