Navigating Universal Studios with a Hearing Loss
My name is Brendan. I have hearing loss, so I wear cochlear implants. I, like most kids, love to ride roller coasters, and cochlear implants shouldn’t stop us from doing that. So, I will share a few tips for not losing them on a ride. First, if a ride is very mild, and you can easily retrieve your cochlear implant if the coil falls off, you don’t have to do anything. Use your judgment in these situations. It’s always better to be cautious. However, if you like to ride fast rides that may even go upside down, you cannot have your processors on. They will fall off. So, wear a jacket or shorts with zippered pockets to the amusement park. Wait in line with your processors on like normal, but just before you get on the ride put them in a pocket and zip it closed. Usually, nobody is going to talk to you on the ride anyway. Then, as soon as it ends, just take them out of the pocket and put them back on. You could also try using a clip to keep them on, but on a powerful ride, something might take it off. On water slides, I wear one processor with an aqua accessory. Just before sliding down, I take it off and hold it in my hand until the ride ends.
Here is an example of a clip that has worked well for me (I have no affiliation with the company):
CI Tips Specific to Universal Studios Florida and Universal’s Island of Adventure
1. Rides with metal detectors that require you to leave cell phones, keys, loose change in a free locker. Your park ticket is scanned to give you access to the locker. The ticket is the only thing you can bring on the ride. I left my CI processors in the locker with my phone. It was no problem to go through the metal detector. The instructions for the ride were mostly written and were very straightforward. It would have been no problem to ride alone, but you may want to consider riding with a hearing friend.
- Incredible Hulk Coaster- lockers are before the line.
- Velocicoaster – lockers were in the middle of the line.
- Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit – closed for repairs that day I was there.
2. Rides with locker, no metal detector
- Revenge of the Mummy- Lockers were available, and I used one. However, phones and fanny packs are allowed, so you could definitely just use a zippered pocket.
3. Rides for which I secured my processors in a zippered pocket
- Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure
- Flight of the Hippogriff
4. Rides with clip
Audio is a big part of a lot of rides at Universal, so I tried to wear my processors with a clip when it was safe to do so. There are no guarantees that the processors won’t get lost, so use your judgment, but these are rides where I had success.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
- Harry Potter Escape from Gringotts
- The Simpsons Ride
Brendan Vasanth is a high school sophomore at Riverdale High School in Portland, Oregon. He received sequential bilateral cochlear implants at 8 and 11 months at New York Eye and Ear in New York City. He writes an educational column, answering questions for parents who have young children with hearing loss.