I’m often seen describing difficulties with Access at various places. I’ve seen enough horror stories over the past few years and it’s really eye opening.
However, access shouldn’t be a horror story. It should just be an integral part of going out.
I went to ABBA voyage on 2 July. They were celebrating Pride and it was just a delight, but what was better? An amazingly easy access experience.
It started being able to books the space I needed online and it being clearly wheelchair accessible seating. Often disabled people have to go through a huge process to be able to book tickets, and often by phone. So this was great.
The information on access was readily available online and a quick read told me I could pre book a blue badge parking space. This was fantastic for us as whilst the purpose built ABBA arena is opposite a step free station, public transport can be difficult as we would need a lot of planning to find a route that worked and if it’s busy don’t get let on tubes by other passengers.
I was also sent a form shortly before the date to ask if I wanted a seat or a space. Amazing. It felt like they understood some disabled people need to stay in their wheelchairs, others need an easy access space. The pre booking experience was amazing.
We were also able to pre buy drinks and snacks for the evening. A great idea for us.
On the day we arrived and the signage made it easy to find the blue badge parking, although we nearly drove past the gate, it wasn’t too hard. We were met by some lovely people (David I think) who had my name on a list and let us straight in.
We were offered help and guidance to get into the arena. A lovely sloped entrance into the waiting area. Bag checks were done and we were in. David explained what would happen when and where to go.
We found a great large accessible loo and got to looking at the merchandise. I love to be able to look at merchandise and usually end up buying something lol. It was ok getting into the shop areas, although a bit of adjustments to the queue ropes might have made it even easier. Tills weren’t too high and I was able to get everything I wanted to see brought over to me.
The collection point for pre ordered drinks was clear and a lowered counter so that was easy and our purchases came in a paper bag so easy to transport.
The outfits people were wearing were awesome and so many people celebrating pride as well. It was a great place to people watch!
The doors opened and we were ushered to the front of the ramped entry. I knew we were going to have an amazing night just by the entry and the arena itself is amazing.
There had been a slight mix up and there was a seat where there should have been a space, but this was resolved really quickly by the team there.
Some of the staff are just amazing. Juan is probably the best asset to the whole staffing team at the arena. I have never met someone so friendly and excited to do their job. His energy was infectious. William and David who were the access hosts we’re just great too. Explained how it would be best for us to wait til the majority of the crowd had left at the end before we leave the arena. They were on hand throughout the show to help if we needed to leave to use the loo or get more drinks (I was determined not to miss a second of the show though!!). The whole staff team were amazing but Juan definitely stood out.
I’m not going to ruin any of the magic of what happens. It’s a multi sensory experience, a concert, a sing along, a party, a night out, new and nostalgia all rolled in to one! It’s an experience not to be missed. Totally recommend it. And do dress up if you feel like it!!
The arena had been planned so that the people in the seats in front of wheelchair users could stand and party without disrupting our view or experience. It was so well planned.
This really showed how access can be done well when it’s included throughout the design phase and training of staff. It was Ana amazing experience and I thoroughly recommend it for everyone. It definitely won’t be my last visit.
Thank you ABBA Voyage for showing how inclusion can work.