SeaWorld’s Aquatica Orlando has been designated as a “Certified Autism Center,” a first for any water park.

The distinction, awarded by the Jacksonville-based International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES), comes after park staff completed training on autism sensitivity and awareness.

“As the first water park in the world to complete the training and become a Certified Autism Center, Aquatica Orlando is proud to provide fun and memorable experiences through exceptional service,” David Heaton, vice president of Aquatica Orlando, said in a statement. “We continually strive to create safe and meaningful experiences for all of our guests, and we are committed in our efforts to offer families inclusive activities for children with autism and other special needs.”  

The resources available to guests include a sensory guide with information about those with sensory processing issues may be affected by Aquatica rides and attractions.

For example, the park’s newest slide, Ray Rush, is given low scores on a 10-point scale in the taste and smell categories, but a higher score in the sight category for “bright colors and changing scenery” and having “semi-enclosed areas.”

For guests who need a break from the stimulation, Aquatica will offer a “quiet room” with adjustable seating near Kata’s Kookabura Cove.

According to the IBCCES website, the certification is good for two years. Aquatica staff will continue to receive training to assist guests with autism spectrum disorder.

“We know that training and certification is the best way for organizations to ensure they can accommodate all families,” said IBCCES chairman Myron Pincomb.  “IBCCES is proud to work with Aquatica Orlando and other leaders in the industry to increase the availability of certified options and help individuals have a safe and enriching experience when traveling or visiting a new place. With the rise in diagnosis rates of cognitive disorders, there is a huge need for these options and for organizations to make a long-lasting commitment to their guests.”

Another park owned by SeaWorld Entertainment, Pennsylvania’s Sesame Place, became the first theme park to earn the certification in April 2018.