‘Humiliated’ disability advocate kicked off Dreamworld ride
High-profile disability advocate Karni Liddell is devastated at being kicked off a merry-go-round at Dreamworld, despite meeting the theme park's criteria for using the ride.
Ms Liddell, 41, was reduced to tears when a young supervisor forced her to exit the Dronkey Flyer, which she was all set to ride with her three-year-old son Kai today.
The former Paralympian, who has a muscle wasting disease, walked on to the ride unaided and was sitting in the carriage when she was told to leave.
"This guy who knows nothing about me or my disease asked me a whole lot of personal questions, which were none of his business, and told me I had to get off, acting like there was something wrong with me, in front of my son," Ms Liddell told The Courier-Mail.
"It was so humiliating," she said, sobbing.
According to Dreamworld's website, to use the Dronkey Flyer kids' ride people with a disability "must be able to transfer into the seat either independently or with the assistance of a companion".
Ms Liddell, who has an annual pass to the Gold Coast theme park and has ridden adult rides including roller coasters without incident, said she tried to plead her case but was shown no compassion.
"He asked me, 'can you walk?' and I said, 'well obviously, I walked on to this ride", and then he said, 'can you walk up steps?', and I said, 'yes but you know it's none of your business'.
"I told him I'd represented Australia (in sport) for 20 years and was one of the fittest people here, and I didn't want to take my son off the ride because he would lose it, but he made me get off in front of everyone, and he couldn't understand why I was crying," she said.
Ms Liddell said she was told she needed a certificate from the first aid office before she could use any rides.
"I've been to Dreamworld a million times, and I actually thought he was joking.
"I've worked so hard to not let my disability affect my son - he shouldn't have to live with a disability when he doesn't have one.
"I am just so exhausted by this kind of discrimination."
The single mum, a motivational speaker who advocates for disability awareness and sits on the State Government's Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Council, said she had planned to spend the whole day at Dreamworld but cut the visit short at noon after the ordeal.
A Dreamworld spokesperson said the park had "a specific procedure in place for any guests presenting to attractions with any injury or using a mobility device".
"This procedure is to ensure we adhere to manufacturer requirements for the safety of our guests," she said.
"Guests with injuries or using mobility devices are requested to attend Dreamworld's Park Health facility for a rider assessment, during which a trained team member establishes whether rider restrictions apply to the guest's unique circumstances."
She said Ms Liddell was subsequently "cleared to safely enjoy all of Dreamworld's operating attractions" and declined the offer of "Ride Express for the inconvenience of time lost due to being asked to visit the facility".
Originally published as 'Humiliated': Disability advocate kicked off Dreamworld ride