Theater Turns Away Moviegoers With Special Needs
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — When kids from a summer camp show up for a matinee, they’re hoping for a little fun out of the sun. Maybe some popcorn.
But when the 140 children and counselors from the Mayo Beach Adaptive Camp showed up at the Regal Waugh Chapel & IMAX, they were turned away. First, they were told it was because the movie had been oversold — and eventually because they were too much of a “liability.”
Brigid Bruno said she has been sending her son to the camp for years. She was appalled to find out the campers were denied service.
Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
“It’s infuriating,” Bruno said.
“He’s not one of those that’s really into the movie, so it wouldn’t really upset him. He just goes along with whatever the next thing is. But a lot of children with disabilities, if you tell them something’s going to happen, it better happen. It’s not the same as if just a few kids were turned away.”
Rick Anthony, Anne Arundel County Recreation and Parks director, said late last week he wants an apology. Until that happens, his department will stop sending its children’s camps to the theater in Gambrills.
“An apology should be the least they should do,” he said.
Regal Cinemas representatives could not be reached for comment.
Camp Director Joe Mavor said he was one of the first people to buy tickets for the Summer Fun Express Movie last week and told theater staff the 140 tickets he purchased were for a camp of children with special needs.
But when the campers arrived, the showing had been oversold and the group was told they couldn’t be accommodated, Mavor said in a report filed with his department.
Mavor said he offered to buy tickets to another showing, which would be $12 a ticket instead of the Summer Fun Express Movie special of $1 tickets. That’s when an unidentified district manager told him it would be a “liability issue” to seat the camp for children with special needs with the general public.
Joelle Ridgeway, Americans with Disabilities Act coordinator for county government, said she talked to theater management who described the issue as most likely a concern about the size of the group and not the people in the group.
Until someone from the theater company apologizes, Anthony said campers from parks and recreation won’t be going to the Waugh Chapel theater for at least the rest of the year.
“As far as returning … A lot will have to do with how they ultimately resolve this issue,” Anthony said. “We have many other options for our camps.”
Whether or not the theater apologizes, Bruno said she wants people to know what happened.
“No matter how this ends up, the community still needs to know how the theater treated one of the most vulnerable groups of people we have.”
© 2019 Capital Gazette
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC