Musings, Norfolk

Summer Holidays and Cinema Let Downs

Schools out (17 years ago for me), it’s the summer holidays. You’ve probably noticed the rise in little people running around.

During the summer holidays I like to spend some time with my nieces, also we are a source of childcare. Just because school stops it doesn’t mean other jobs do too.

As I’ve said before it’s not always easy finding activities accessible for both energetic children and wheelchair users. A lot of things they enjoy involve climbing, swimming or jumping, none of which are in the list of my top skills.

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The 6 year old has always been a bit of a film buff, from the age of nothing she would happily sit and chuckle at the Minions for 2 hours. Although I wouldn’t encourage it all day every day, it was nice to spend a bit of chill time with her watching a movie. It gave us a common interest that I could partake in, and also an excuse for me to watch all the classic Disney films again!

I planned on having a cinema trip with my 6 year old niece during the summer holidays, to see Hotel Transylvania 3. We’ve seen the other two together at the cinema, it’s become a thing. It’s only right we should see the third one together.

Going to the cinema can take more planning for a wheelchair user than you might expect. Even this can’t really be spur of the moment for me. Surely all cinemas are wheelchair accessible? Well yes, they pretty much are. If you like sitting at the front?

Let me ask you a question… you walk into an empty cinema, you can sit wherever you want, it’s quite likely you and your gang are the only viewers. Do you EVER choose to sit at the front?

No, because you want to see the whole picture at the same time, not turn your head following each character across the screen. You want to come home without blurry eyes and a fractured neck.

This luxury of choosing where to sit at the cinema isn’t an option for myself and other wheelers. There’s a gap for our chair, and that’s where we have to park. Unfortunately due to poor design, this space is often at the front. Where no other fool will sit.

I can usually plan around this. I know which film I’d like to see, look at the websites of my 3 most local cinemas (I have seating plans and screen positions retained to memory!), and choose a time and seating arrangement that works for me, a screen where I don’t have to sit at the front. Luckily, more often than not I can find a cinema, time and day to suit.

Unfortunately this time I couldn’t.

Usually if I can’t find a film with wheelchair spaces at the back or middle on a Tuesday, I’ll go on a Friday. My time is my own, and there’s only myself to upset.

I only had my niece for that one day. She thought we were seeing Hotel Transylvania 3 (stupidly I’d mentioned that we might). I started my usual planning by checking out which cinemas and screens the film was showing in. I checked more cinemas than usual. Every showing of Hotel Transylvania 3 within a 20 mile radius of my house was in a screen where I, being a wheelchair user, would have no option but to sit at the front.

So what do I do?

Do we go and sit at the front not enjoying the film as much as we should, with a crick in my neck?

Do I upset a 6 year old, explaining the situation, saying that we’d have to sit at the front and I can’t really do that without being in pain. Making her either mad at me, disability, or the world?

Does my Mum take my niece, I go off and do something else, meeting them later. Ruining a thing that’s become an aunty-niece thing?

I don’t know if it was the right thing to do, but we told her the film was cancelled that day. She’s 6, that’s acceptable in her world. She’s disappointed, but nobody is to blame.

Well a world in which wheelchair access is still at the bottom of a to do list way too often is to blame, but does she need to know that right now? I don’t know.

There’s still summer holiday time left, fingers crossed we get to see Hotel Transylvania 3, sitting comfortably, stuffing our faces with popcorn.

26 thoughts on “Summer Holidays and Cinema Let Downs”

  1. I feel your frustration. It reminds me of a few months ago when my boyfriend and a bunch of his friends wanted to see a film, and we ended up driving miles so that we could go to a cinema with audio description, which meant I could go with them. Ok I have been to films with no audio description before, and it kind of works if it’s a low-action love story, but if there’s a lot going on, it’s hard when I can’t follow what’s happening. At home my boyfriend just does the audio description himself if there isn’t any, but you don’t want to be talking, even quietly, all the time in the cinema. So we piled into the car and went for a drive – but there are two cinemas in easy reach of where we live. One wasn’t screening audio described viewings of what we wanted to see, and the other one would have, but the equipment was broken. Hope you still had a good day with your niece doing something else.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s frustrating too, all showings should have the option of audio description. It’s good you found somewhere to go, but just another thing to make having a disability extra work!

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  2. Totally annoying… we went to see a film and the only choice were front row seats. It was only accepted as they were reclining seats, so as I rolled my head back and forth to watch the action, it was supported!
    I don’t blame you holding out for a different venue with better seating options for yourself though.
    I’m sure you found something else wonderful to do with your niece instead!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hear you Gemma! We live in a small town and there are three screens in our cinema, tqo with wheelchair spaces at the front and one with NONE as there are no lifts to take people with mobility problems up the stairs to the cinema! As someone who uses a mobility scooter, I can usually get to the two that are down stairs ok, but I struggle going up/stairs, so I have to make sure I’m there early if I want to get a seat in the middle, where the door is! xx

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    1. These designs just aren’t thought through. I also always try to arrive early just because if the wheelchair space next to seats is taken I end up sitting alone. Or there is no space for me at all. I hope your cinema improves its access too.

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  4. the cinema that we usually go to has a space in the middle for those in wheelchairs but we were someplace else recently and I noticed that there really wasn’t anyplace at all. I’m sure there must have been for legal reasons but it wouldn’t have been very enjoyable. My daughter has been bugging me to go see that one too

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  5. Oh, I know!! I can’t tilt my head up for that long without dislocating something in my neck…..I can get out of my chair, but then we have to get me up towards the back because the seats at the front are more upright – if I’m too upright my stimulator for pain relief in my back doesn’t work. I well and truly joined Lorna’s “Pain in the Neck” recently at a local theatre showing a live theatre screening from the West End….I had to sit at the front, side ways and there is never quite enough room for the chair is there?! Hope you get to the cinema……and enjoy some home movie time with your niece and popcorn!!

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  6. I’m going out on a limb here. Something different jumped out at me. Disappointment is such a hard lesson to learn, one I didn’t understand until far too late in life. I encourage parents (and favorite aunts) to help young folks navigate the reality of disappointment when the opportunity presents itself. Something tells me she’d understand. (If she didn’t, then that’s something her parents might address.) She also would have gotten an education in the many layers of challenges you face. Btw, I’m the niece of a wheelchair bound uncle. And our outings were long before wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Made me very aware, early on, not to take my mobility for granted. Make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I absolutely know what you mean, and I do agree that disappointment can come as a shock.
      Accessible toilets are getting better, but still much improvement to be made!
      Thank you for your thoughts and for stopping by.

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