Two weekends in a row I’ve had problems visiting my local cinemas with my friend who is also a wheelchair user. It’s meant to be a relaxing activity to enjoy with family and friends however, it takes a lot of organising for me to go. I thought in light of the problems, which I briefly touched base on in my last post, I would share some of my top tips that I have for visiting the cinema.

Always check the screen layout before you visit.

Firstly, this tip is due to the problem that I spoke about previously, and it’s the fact that there is sometimes only one wheelchair space in a cinema screen. The problem I had last weekend was that there was only one wheelchair space for a movie that my friend and I wanted to go and see but, we are both wheelchair users. This meant that we weren’t able to go together. When we also went to the cinema yesterday, there were two wheelchair spaces, but they were at opposite sides of the screens. Now I know we’re at the cinema, we won’t be talking to each other anyway, but who wants to sit on their own? Luckily my friend was able to transfer into a standard cinema seat however, not everyone can do that.

We were meant to go to the Odeon yesterday but, there lift was broken. Instead of saying this on the mobile app though they just blocked off the wheelchair space which caused a lot of confusion.

I also love it when I check a cinema screen and the wheelchair spaces aren’t right at the front. I know there is a lot of complaints about how 9 times out of 10 wheelchair users have to sit in the front row, I don’t like it either. However, I love going to the cinema so I kind of just get on with it if I have to. Things should be different though.

Image of myself sitting at the front of a cinema screen

Book before you visit if you can.

When I am looking at the screen layouts, I use the mobile apps for either cinema. This is also what I use when booking my tickets. I only started to do this around 2 years ago because I turned up for the cinema to see a movie and all the wheelchair spaces were full. As I’ve said it takes a lot of organising sometimes to go out to the cinema, especially fitting around the rota I have for my carers. When you only have 1 to, usually 4, spaces that you can use, it can be a hit or a miss to get a ticket when you turn up. Especially on a busy Friday or Saturday afternoon/evening.

There is a problem booking tickets online though, they’re usually more expensive. Online for the Odeon it is £9.75 and for Cineworld it is £9.70 however, if you buy them in person it is cheaper. I visited Cineworld on a Monday afternoon and went to book it online and it still said £9.70, I thought it will definitely be cheaper during the day, during the week. So, I took my chances and it was only £7 for an adult ticket. Therefore, it is up to every individual if they want to spend the extra money, I think at the weekend it is £1 cheaper booking when you arrive. The way I think about it though, I’d be wasting petrol driving to the cinema and not being able to see a movie.

Get a CEA card for a carer to get free.

I need someone with me wherever I go; friend, family member or carer. Even if I’m with my friend I usually also have a carer with me and it wasn’t there choice to go to the cinema, so why should they pay for a ticket? Therefore, instead of me having to pay double to go to the cinema, I have a CEA card which allows me to get a carer in for free. It’s such a great card to have, it costs £6 and is valid for a year. Even if you just go to the cinema twice a year, paying £6 still saves you money. It states on the CEA website that 90% of cinemas accept this card, I know that the Odeon, Cineworld and VUE accept they but, best to double check with independent cinemas.

Image of my CEA card.
My CEA card.

Try to find the most comfortable seating position for yourself.

Like I said before, chances are you’ll probably be in the front row of the screen when visiting the cinema. My electric wheelchair tilts back which allows me to be able to sit comfortably when watching a movie, meaning my neck doesn’t get sore. I leave my wheelchair on the tilt movement during the movie so that I can easily adjust my position and I put my phone (on aeroplane mode) over my controller so the light doesn’t annoy other people in the screen. Unfortunately, some wheelchairs don’t have this tilt function so, find the best position for yourself and take plenty of snacks. I always have a selection of sweets that I take in my handbag, although I do love the nachos as well.

Enjoy.

Finally relax, switch off and enjoy the movie. There’s nothing better than getting lost in a movie for a couple of hours.

I have review Odeon in Dundee and Cineworld in Dundee on Euan’s Guide if you would like to read about their accessibility.

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