Yesterday we had a fantastic family trip to watch the Gruffalo’s Child at the Marina Theatre, Lowestoft. Not knowing the layout of the area around the theatre we arrived in plenty of time and were pleased to discover that almost outside the door of the theatre there were 8-10 time limited disabled ♿ parking bays, one of which became available as we arrived. We (well my wife) unloaded the car, wheelchair, me and our LG and we set off to find somewhere for lunch. Attached to the Marina Theatre was the box office and cafe so we decided we may aswell eat there. They had great level access at the doors and the box office even had a low level till point. It led straight into the cafe where there was plenty of room. To me in a cafe plenty of room means it was easy to move around without bumping into food stands people and without making them get up to let me through. They had contactless payment so I could easily pay for lunch from my chair. As we made our way to a table (they bring your food and drink over so no worries there, I indicated to my wife where I wanted to sit as I would not be in the way of others and made my way to the bathroom. A member of staff who was having her lunch immediately got up and moved a chair away from the table to allow me to park up. Fantastic – this is the sort of service I would love everywhere. Making room for your chair is so difficult and having a member of staff so on the ball to the needs of disabled people to do that was perfect.
The one issue I would say is that the disabled toilet was snug (but then you can only work with the space you have. There was room to maneuver round once inside and plenty of grab rails so as to transfer to the toilet, although I did bang the door a few times. Pleasantly there was no hand dryer but paper towels, and this was within reach of the toilet so that I could wash my hands and dry them before redressing and transferring back into my chair. Usually the heater is on the far side and I have to dress and transfer with wet hands before getting to the dryer!
From here we went to the theatre and there was once again easy level floor access with plenty of room for my custom built larger than average wheelchair to get round and through the doors and into the theatre itself. I quickly identified that the crutches (that are mounted on the back of my chair for those few times when I have to walk a short distance) would block the view of others behind me. The staff once again were fantastic, and the lady that showed us to our seat/parking space took my crutches and put them safely away in the office. No fuss whatsoever and not once did I get that feeling I often get of “being a nuisance” and it was all the staff in the theatre.
To cap it off the performances were AMAZING, three brilliant actors kept adults and kids alike captivated for an hour. At an hour in length the show was perfect time for me so that I did not become too uncomfortable, any longer and I would have need an interval but this was ideal.
Using the toilet as I left inside the theatre, this was even smaller and there was not room for me to turn my chair around. I transferred from it to the toilet and back easily enough but needed my wife (carer) to open the door and wheel me backwards out again. It was the only slight issue but hey at least the design meant there were at least 2 disabled toilets in the complex and certainly enough staff on hand to help you out if you needed anything.
I would without a shadow of doubt highly recommend from all aspects of access, parking, facilities and staff attitude (and this cannot be underestimated) and levels of performance, a trip to the Marina Theatre in Lowestoft. It may have been an hours drive to get there but we had a lovely few hours having lunch and watching a fantastic production.
I even had enough spoons left to take a trip to the seaside (it is after all a coastal town) and watch my LG and wife make sandcastles and “skim” stones and see a ship come sailing by!