Funtastia Waterpark in Drogheda has issued an apology to a group of autistic customers after a Facebook post triggered an outpouring of support for the special needs group who was mistreated during their visit.
The Irish Independent reports that Aisling Byrne, who was part of a group of mildly autistic teens visiting the popular water park, posted to the Funtasia Waterpark’s Facebook page about the mistreatment she encountered from the park’s staff.
Upon arriving at the park, the group showed staff their autism cards, which usually permits the group to skip long lines as autistic people have difficulty waiting in line.
The staff member reportedly "looked blankly and said they don't do discounts.” Later, when the matter was brought to the attention of a manager, he was described as "very dismissive and said he couldn't help us".
"We asked if the children could be brought in ahead of the queue as children with autism find waiting hard,” said Aisling Byrne, “ -- again the staff member hasn't a clue and said I don't know, I don't think so."
Additionally, the group was tormented by another patron who was waiting in line. "He was shouting, screaming and using derogatory comments about our special needs children... not one staff member came to our assistance when they all could clearly see what was happening."
In the wake of the horrible treatment, Byrne posted to the waterpark’s Facebook page describing the treatment. Her post, much to her surprise, received 8,000 ‘likes.’
Funtasia Waterpark said it was "amazed at the number of comments.”
"We fully accept that people are entitled to voice concerns and opinions, but we have seen at first-hand the dangers that social media can do to a business and its reputation,” said Funtasia Waterpark following Byrne’s posting.
The company did go on to issue an apology on Facebook, and the general manager spoke with Byrne.
The manager said “Business in this climate is tough and we hope the negative comments do not have a material negative impact on our business.”
"We are determined to react in a positive way and implement the necessary changes to ensure this type of incident doesn't happen again."
Since the apology, Byrne’s comment has since been removed from Funtasia Waterpark’s Facebook page, though a few other negative comments do remain.
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