Nothing beats the energy of a live show but it can be daunting going to a big event if you are unsure about the accessible facilities. Last weekend our family went to see the Harlem Globetrotters at Quodos Bank Arena in Sydney. While the Harlem Globetrotters show isn’t as major as say seeing Ed Sheeran in concert, it was a reminder that there are special arrangements which can be made for wheelchair users when booking a major show or event. Many of our Have Wheelchair Will Travel Facebook community have commented on how difficult it can be to get tickets and I found exactly the same issue. The kids were so keen to go I didn’t give up, but getting tickets, without going insane, came down to a tip from one of our readers Marlena. So given our experience I thought I’d share a few tips to help when booking a major show.
Trying to book tickets to the Harlem Globetrotters was sending me nuts. As we were wanting to use BJ’s Companion Card (meaning one adult accompanied him for free) I needed to contact the ticketing company by phone. I tried at different times of the day but didn’t have any luck getting through. After checking with one of our savvy readers Marlena, she gave me the tip to tweet Ticketek. I decided to message them directly via Twitter rather than tweeting my request publicly. I had a phone call in response within 10 minutes and the booking was handled swiftly. So, if you can’t get through via the phone number listed for special needs bookings, I suggest contacting them politely through social media or emailing them. Have your Australian Companion Card number handy.
Marlena has also advised, for major events, it can be good to make contact ahead of tickets going on sale. Marlena says, “Always ask about access to ALL price categories not just where they say access is . Often now a days they have packages which include great seats so they legally are unable to say we can not have access in these areas . Do this prior to pre sale and make touch directly with venue and also promoters. Have had great access when working with them.”
PHONE CONTACTS FOR TICKETS TO MAJOR EVENTS FOR WHEELCHAIR SEATING, COMPANION CARD & MORE
Keep in mind, the promoters of an event or show decide the discounts and seating options available to guests. So although the Australian Companion Card is accepted by the majority of promoters it isn’t a given that it is available to all events.
Venues and promoters allocate seats at their events to cater to:
- Wheelchair seating
- Companion card holders
- Seating with limited steps
- Vision and hearing impairments; and
- other accessibility requirements
Accessible seating requests can be made for Ticketek events via:
- Telephone – select your region below for contact information; or
- Email – contact via our online form
NSW venues special needs bookings phone contacts – Ticketek website.
QLD venues special needs bookings phone contacts – Ticketek website.
ACT venues special needs bookings phone contacts – Ticketek website.
VIC venues special needs bookings phone contacts – Ticketek website.
SA venue special needs booking phone contact – Ticketek website.
WA venue special needs booking phone contact – Ticketek website.
For the majority of events, public transport is included in the price of the ticket. When AJ and I went to Ed Sheeran recently I was so impressed with the arrangements in place and the speed with which we were loaded on a bus and home again after the event. I recommend checking the website for the particular event to look up the availability of transport, including accessible options.
PARKING AT THE VENUE
Every venue’s rules and regulations will be different so I recommend making an enquiry direct with the venue or search their website. This can be worthwhile as Quodos Bank Arena offers visitors with Disability parking permit a discount on parking. For an event the size of Ed Sheeran you would need to book in advance. On Saturday night we didn’t book ahead and took a photo of BJ’s parking permit on a phone with our parking ticket to the parking payment window and received half price parking ($12.50).
BOOKING ACCESSIBLE PARKING
As an example, at Quodos Bank Arena you must book at least 10 working days prior to the event to allow for delivery of your parking ticket by mail. Pre booked accessible parking costs $12.50 (plus booking fee).
COMPANION CARD TICKETS
If you use a Companion Card to purchase tickets you’ll need to collect tickets from the venue and show your card. Allow extra time for this.
SECURITY & ENTRY
There is usually an aisle reserved for wheelchair access with no turnstiles at the entry. Staff approached us as soon as they spotted us and guided us through.
The ushers can be your friend. We had such a helpful lady at the door who went out of her way to assist us. We had booked non-wheelchair seating as it was cheaper by the time I got through to make my booking. We arrived early and chatted to her to ask about storing the wheelchair and working out the logistics of getting to our seat just before the show started (BJ would be restless just sitting waiting). By the time we returned to take our seats she said she had changed where we were sitting and were we happy for BJ to stay in his wheelchair in another area with three seats beside him for the rest of us. We were thrilled with the offer and happily took up the new seats. She was also super helpful in getting BJ’s merchandise signed. We had been told the Harlem Globetrotters would be autographing merchandise and BJ had bought a basketball and we knew he’d be thrilled to meet the team but it would all be happening centre court. When we enquired how we would get down to get the basketball signed she offered to take us down in the lift a little early to give us the best chance.
Our tip, don’t expect this service but it’s always good to chat through your needs and see if you can get assistance.
We received an email a few days before the event to advise that back packs were prohibited into the event. We took a small esky lunch bag to save money on food and drinks but stuck to the limits. If you need to take in a larger bag for medical reasons I’d contact the venue directly in advance.
The arena had stand-alone unisex bathroom facilities but again, check the venue website you are visiting.
Queues for food and drink were long.
A hydrating station is available at Quodos Bank Arena for refilling water bottles as once again, limits apply.
A big thanks to Marlena for her tips, Catherine the awesome usher from Quodos Bank Arena and the Harlem Globetrotters’ manager who took us under the rope so BJ and AJ could meet the guys. We had an awesome night and highly recommend seeing the Harlem Globetrotters for a fun dynamic night out. The tickets are well worth the money. We hope these tips help you book wheelchair access at the next major show.