Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Merlin Entertainments joins global initiative to promote disability inclusion in business

Thorpe Park photography by Daniel Lewis
Thorpe Park photography by Daniel Lewis

Merlin Entertainments, a global leader in location-based, family entertainment, is pleased to announce today that it has become a member of The Valuable 500 – a global initiative aimed to raise awareness and unlock the business, social and economic value of people living with disabilities across the world. It is the first company in the leisure sector to join the campaign.

Merlin aims to be the attraction operator of choice for visitors with disabilities and, wherever possible, strives to create environments that are welcoming for guests. From changing facilities and quiet areas to modified rides and carer passes, accessibility is integral to the company’s operations and customer service. In addition, Merlin supports Merlin’s Magic Wand, a partner charity that provides memorable days out for children facing serious illness, adversity or disability.

With inclusivity already a regular agenda item for its Board, Merlin commits to a number of actions to further make its attractions inclusive to guests and employees. These include:
– Education and training for customer-facing staff in serving guests with different disabilities based on the Welcoming Disabled Customers guide*
– Encouraging people with disabilities to join and grow with Merlin as employees
– Integrate inclusive design in the development of new attractions to cater for both disabled and non-disabled guests
– Continue the roll out of Changing Places toilets across key attractions
– Actively review customer feedback to inform and influence innovations and adjustments at existing attractions.

Nick Varney, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our core purpose and driving passion is to provide magical and memorable days out for everyone, including the many guests with disabilities that visit our attractions. At Merlin we continue to make accessibility and inclusion one of our key priorities and are proud of the steps we have taken to date to create welcoming environments for both attraction visitors and our employees with disabilities.

“By joining The Valuable 500, we want to encourage our business partners and other industry leaders to get involved and discover how different thinking and innovation can drive change to the benefit of their organisations and everyone associated with them.”

Being inclusive of customers with disabilities also has economic value. In the UK alone, the spending power of people with disabilities and their families has been estimated at £249 billion. For the UK leisure and hospitality sector, the total inclusive tourism market is worth over £12 billion with families having a member with a disability proven to stay longer and spend more.

#valuable is a catalyst for an inclusion revolution that exists to position disability equally on the global business leadership agenda. The Valuable 500 was established in 2018 following EY research which demonstrates that disability is only discussed by about 4% of global businesses, with an aim to unlock the value of people living with disabilities across the world.

Caroline Casey, founder of The Valuable 500, commented: “The leisure sector is a core element within the global economy with responsibility for creating happy memories worldwide – and is a crucial industry to spread the message of inclusion. We are delighted to welcome Merlin Entertainments to The Valuable 500 cohort, as they become the first business from this sector to join the initiative and raise their voice on this vital issue.”


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