Dutch theme park Efteling is facing claims of humiliating treatment after a Brussels woman shared the story of her family visit at the end of the summer holidays in a Facebook post.
“My autistic son was humiliated in Efteling,” wrote Liza Kurukulasuriya above a long Facebook post detailing her experiences with a staff member in the amusement part on Sunday evening, who visited the park with her husband and two children.
The story has since been shared thousands of times, with people commenting that she should sue the theme park and that the employee should be fired as well as people threatening to boycott the park and never go there again.
Efteling, however, says it has not managed to get in contact with Liza or her family, a spokesperson told The Brussels Times.
“Efteling is shocked by this story. We heard that there was a commotion in the amusement park on Sunday. However, the situation that is known to us does not correspond with the story that is outlined on Facebook,” he said.
The park’s management has been trying to get in touch with the family since it was made aware of the incident, they said, but have no other way to reach them than via an email address.
We are shocked by this story. We have heard that there was an incident in our park. However, the situation as it is known to us does not correspond to the story outlined on Facebook. That is why we are now investigating exactly what has happened. ^Webcare
— Efteling (@Efteling) September 3, 2020
“And, unfortunately, the family is not responding,” the spokesperson said, adding that the park prefers to speak directly to the family to resolve the issue, rather than through the press.
The story that Liza shared on Facebook details how she and her 8-year-old son, who has autism, went to queue to go to the toilet before going home, a little before closing time.
After at least 15 minutes of standing in line, a female staff member suddenly said that the toilets were closing, according to her. Liza’s son, however, had an increasingly difficult time, and started jumping on the spot, nervously waving his hands, and kept repeating that he needed to pee, she wrote.
Liza asked the employee if her son could also enter and use the toilet, explaining that he had autism and showing her facility card for guests with a disability that they received from the park.
The staff member, however, reportedly said that the card is only valid for the park’s attractions, not the toilets, before getting angry and yelling at them that the toilets were closed. After that, she also muttered “you black bitch,” according to Liza’s husband.
With some pushing and pulling, mother and son managed to enter the toilets. The park’s security then arrived, and held her for two hours until the police arrived. When she wanted to file an official complaint, she was told that the Efteling employee had already filed one against her.
As a result, according to the post, she also had to spend the night in the cell. “She was treated like a criminal. Scandalous,” wrote Liza’s husband. “After seventeen hours at the police station, it turned out that the complaint was dismissed because there was no criminal intent on my wife’s part.”
According to the man, the incident weighs heavily on his family. “I will never forgive Efteling for making my autistic son so stressed and frightened. I will never forgive them the tears my children shed when they saw my wife treated like this,” he said, adding that he will never set foot in the park again.
“It goes without saying that we find it sincerely unfortunate that this family was left with a negative feeling after their visit to the park, while a day at Efteling should always be carefree,” the spokesperson added.
The Brussels Times