There is so much exciting news at the moment – accessible travel opportunities, inclusive summer fun, new disability-related initiatives – that it’s easy to miss something amazing. Here’s a round-up of everything that’s caught my attention lately. If you have any hot tips, please share them in the comments or over on our Facebook page!
Experience Christmas Bricktacular at the ultimate indoor LEGO® playground in Melbourne
A brand new LEGO® Christmas Tree has been unveiled at LEGOLAND® Discovery Centre in Melbourne. The tree is constructed of 30,000 LEGO bricks, by Master Model Builder Miller Keyes (with the help of guests visiting the centre), and it will be on display until Christmas Eve.
The tree is part of LEGOLAND Discovery Centre’s Christmas Bricktacular activities for families, which also includes visits from the new LEGO Santa costume character, festive brick building, colouring-in and the opportunity to post a letter to Santa.
Located at Chadstone Shopping Centre, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre is also home to MINILAND Melbourne, two rides, multiple build and play zones, soft play zones, a 4D cinema and a LEGO retail store.
Anyone accompanying a person with disability and holding a valid carer or companion card is entitled to free entry. The LEGOLAND Discovery Centre offers a comprehensive guide to accessibility on their website.
Dylan Alcott AO meets his wax replica at Madame Tussauds in Sydney
Dylan Alcott AO has become Madame Tussauds Sydney’s first-ever figure in a wheelchair. His wax double sits in an identical replica chair to the one he played in when he won his ‘golden slam’ last year.
Dylan met his wax figure at Madame Tussauds on the day of the unveiling, and said it was “an absolute honour and a huge moment in what has been a great year”.
After designers worked with Dylan, taking 100 measurements and 300 photographs, it took a team of highly-skilled sculptors 170 hours to mould the wax figure – and that’s all before specialists added hair and contouring!
Visitors to the Darling Harbour location can now see Dylan Alcott (the wax version) on display, and try the ‘Serve Like Dylan’ experience – testing their serve speed in a new interactive (accessible!) experience, with commentary from Dylan (the real version, recorded).
Madame Tussauds is already one of our favourite indoor activities around Sydney, but we’ll have to make another visit to check out the new addition!
A ‘digital concierge’ app for exceptional (accessible!) experiences
Belgravia Leisure, in partnership with app developer Cérge, has created a ‘digital concierge’ app for guests with disabilities.
Picture this: you use a free app to alert a venue, ahead of time, your accessibility needs and service preferences. It sounds simple, but for people with a disability, it could make a huge difference and reduce the anxiety that comes with going somewhere new.
Check out this introductory video to see how it works.
You could request express check-in or skip the queue, have accessible equipment set up before your arrival, arrange guided tours of accessible experiences – anything that would make your trip or stay truly exceptional.
For the staff at venues using the app, it takes the guesswork out of offering great personalised service to a guest with additional needs. We all know that ‘one size’ does not fit all when it comes to travel experiences.
Experience the best of Melbourne from SEA to SKY!
SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium and Melbourne Skydeck have teamed up to offer the SEA to SKY ticket, pairing two iconic (and accessible!) Melbourne experiences.
Your ticket will take you from the depths at SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, up to the highest deck in the Southern Hemisphere at Melbourne Skydeck.
It’s about 15% cheaper than buying the tickets to each attraction individually. Plus, the tickets are valid for 30 days, so if you’re not up to doing both in one day, you can take a breather in between. At the time of writing, tickets are $63.75 for adults and $42.50 for children. Both SEA LIFE and Skydeck accept companion cards and provide free of charge entry for these carers.
We love the SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium, and they offer a truly excellent accessibility guide on their website, so be sure to check that out before you go. More accessibility information for Skydeck can be found on their FAQ page.
Riverside Holiday Resort Urunga goes for gold!
Riverside Holiday Resort Urunga has won Gold for the third time at the 2022 NSW Tourism Awards, for ‘Excellence in Accessible Tourism’. This is a relatively new category for the awards, introduced in 2019 after Riverside Manager Rebecca Beaton raised the issue of the lack of a category recognising accessibility and inclusion for NSW tourism operators (good on her!).
If you haven’t yet been, Riverside has great self-contained accommodation in the tranquil coastal town of Urunga in Bellingen Shire. There are 21 ground-floor accessible and five wheelchair-accessible units. It’s also one of our favourite destinations with a pool hoist if you feel like a splash this summer. From the resort, you can take a five-minute walk or wheel along the shared accessible cycleway to the town’s gorgeous boardwalk and shops. Find out more on their website.
Up, up, and away! Accessible hot air balloon flights in the Hunter Valley
Cessnock City Council has announced a NSW-first: accessible hot air balloon rides above the picturesque Hunter Valley.
Specifically designed for people who use wheelchairs and/or live with mobility restrictions, the balloon basket has an access door, seat, and harness to ensure patrons with various mobility considerations are safe and secure during the flight.
Plus, a wheelchair accessible mini bus will transport passengers directly to their accessible hot air balloon flight, and the flights can carry up to eight people, so people with a disability can share this incredible experience with loved ones.
This news is so hot-off-the-press that it doesn’t look like the provider’s website has been updated yet, but keep an eye on Balloon Aloft – we’re sure more info on tickets will be coming soon!
Hidden Disabilities training rolled out to more iconic locations
We love the Hidden Disabilities program, that allows people who might need extra support to discreetly signal staff with a sunflower lanyard. Travelling through Town Hall Station the other day, we saw that people with the lanyard will now get additional assistance from staff on the Sydney train network. That prompted me to check out the Hidden Disabilities ANZ Instagram page (I highly recommend following them!). It looks like a whole bunch of iconic venues and destinations have adopted the Hidden Disabilities program!
The program is now run at Madame Tussauds Sydney, Wild Life Sydney, Sea Life Sydney, Yarra Trams, and (as mentioned) Sydney Trains.