In a series of social media videos that have gone viral since being posted Monday, an 18-year-old Marina Del Rey woman accused Six Flags Magic Mountain staff of discriminating against her due to her condition known as phocomelia.
In a statement sent to The Signal on Tuesday, park officials said that while they regret the inconvenience she experienced, their staff was following physical safety guidelines when they refused to allow her to ride X2.
In the first of three videos posted to her personal Tik Tok page regarding the incident, Berrett Huntsman said she had just been told that the X2 ride operators at Magic Mountain would not allow her on the roller coaster because of her medical condition known as phocomelia, which results in a person being born with at least one short limb.
“So, I have a hand and shoulder, but a very, very tiny, short piece of an arm,” said Huntsman in an interview with The Signal on Tuesday.
By Tuesday, her videos had been viewed more than a half-million times.
In April, Huntsman said she had visited the park for the first time and had little issue getting on X2, or any other park rides, and this prompted her to purchase a season pass. However, during her second visit to the park, staff said she needed two functional arms to ride the ride, per the X2 safety guidelines given to them by the roller coaster’s manufacturer, she said.
She would later learn that the ride’s rules do technically bar her from riding, and that staff she met on her first visit had not been acting in accordance with those rules when they allowed her on, she said.
“The safety and well-being of our guests is always our highest priority,” Alexandria French, a spokeswoman for Six Flags, said in a statement sent to The Signal. “We strive to accommodate the varying needs of our guests, but do have to restrict access to certain rides due to physical safety requirements.”
Huntsman said after the whole ordeal, a “super apologetic” guest relations supervisor, who was not there on Monday, called her directly and said the staff should have treated her more fairly, but they were trying to follow the official safety rules.
“He was super-duper apologetic, very kind and understanding,” said Huntsman. She said the supervisor then explained to her his concern over her riding the first time, with him telling her that there had been documented cases of people with missing limbs falling out of ride seats. “And I was like, ‘I’m just frustrated with how I was treated.’”
“(The Magic Mountain supervisor on Monday) was very rude, and he printed off the definition of a functioning arm for me and then put it out that with the new X2 rules that there’s a specification on just that ride that you now have to have two arms,” Huntsman said.
Six Flags staff said in their statement to The Signal that they regretted that Huntsman had been put in this situation while visiting their park.
“We make every effort to communicate those restrictions, both on our website and on signage posted outside the queue line of each of the rides,” said French. “We sincerely regret the inconvenience this guest experienced.”
The 18-year-old said she had accepted the apology from the guest relations supervisor who called on Tuesday, and was grateful that he had refunded her for the cost of her ticket and season pass. But, she added she would still like to see the park make an effort to be more accommodating for people with disabilities, saying that parks like Disneyland offer her accommodations when her arm limits her ability to enjoy an attraction.
“This is a regular occurrence for them in handling guests with disabilities,” said Huntsman, who said. “So, I think something that I would love to see come out of this is just better training from Six Flags on how to handle these situations.”