Continuing on from previous posts about the difficulties in booked / accessing entertainment venues I thought I would share my recent experiences at Cineworld in Whiteley, Fareham. Booking was okay this time....it was the seating arrangements. As described below in my cathartic "feedback" e-mail:
I have just put all of this in one of your feedback forms, but thought I quite fancied a response so decided to e-mail in addition.
Yesterday I made my first visit to Whiteley Cinema. I booked my tickets online without any difficulty and attended with my husband and two children. I am a wheelchair user. I sometimes transfer out of my chair into a seat but since I didn't know the layout of the cinema, and there is no accessibility statement on your website, I decided to book a wheelchair space. I booked the space near the back, along with the adjacent seat. I also booked two seats the row in front assuming it would actually be the row in front as is normal.
Unfortunately on arriving at the cinema we were split up! I, along with one son, was taken upstairs to an "access booth". My husband and other son went into the main auditorium. I was in a little "keep the disabled people away from the normal people" box!! This was a good 6 foot above where my husband and son were sitting. My sons decided they wanted to sit together but they are young enough to still need supervision so they both came in to the box with me. Problematic because my husband was now not with us. We had to choose between my husband being near me to help with any medical problems I may encounter and someone supervising our children.
I cannot possibly fathom what went through the designers' heads when they decided this was a good idea. How on earth am I supposed to go to the cinema with my family? Apparently there are wheelchair spaces right at the front but, quite frankly, who wants to sit there?! The problem is compounded by the fact that the auditorium is stepped rather than sloped, meaning that I cannot even get to a decent seat and transfer out of my wheelchair. Were any wheelchair users (or indeed people with mobility problems) consulted during the design process?
I am afraid I find it difficult to express how utterly demeaning the whole situation was. From being taken to a "special lift" to being put in a box; the whole thing was quite frankly appalling.
I won't be going back to Cineworld because it would be impossible for you to rectify the problems without major work, and I most certainly won't be recommending it to my friends with disabilities.
Dr Gillian Jones
Won't be going there again....