Rockin’ on Wheels: 5 Tips for the Ultimate Concert Experience

It’s summertime!  Pools are open, weather’s warm, and music is in the air! That means pool parties, picnics, and often the kick-off of several summer concerts at local venues.

For new wheelchair users, the thought of attending an event with large or even small crowds in unknown territory can be daunting for sure.  Where to park, what entrance to use, and where to stay cool are just a few questions that may arise.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) puts forth specific requirements for accessibility in public arenas. Thankfully, many venues have taken steps to assure all concert goers have a great experience.  Some facilities have done a better job with this than others, and have lots of info available on their websites to assist attendees in any way they can. Others have little in the way of online resources and simply tell you to call ahead.  The Firefly Festival  website offers a great example of an ADA friendly venue.

At Magee, we don’t want to see a physical disability get in the way of rocking out.  Here are a  few tips compiled with input from Magee wheelchair sports coordinator, wheelchair user and frequent concert goer Keith Newerla for a hindrance-free experience.

  •  Call ahead.  Bottom line is no two places are alike.  Although some venues have great info available on-line, always call ahead to verify.  Let them know you are a person with a disability and what your exact needs are.
  •  Know your ticket options.  You should be able to purchase tickets through disabled services for yourself and your group, and most sites have a variety of options to accommodate different situations.  One companion seat is required to be provided in the same area as the accessible seat. For outdoor music festivals with only general admission, a regular ticket is purchased, but some venues have special elevated areas or platforms for attendees using wheelchairs to have clearer views of the stage.  Just ask.
  •  Be picky when picking your seat.  Well, maybe not picky, but specific.  Wheelchair seating is available throughout most venues.  A wheelchair seating ticket assigns you to a specific space that you are entitled to occupy and can roll right up to.  You will use your wheelchair as your actual seat for the duration of the event.  Typically, there are also several aisle transfer seats located throughout a venue.  These seats have armrests that fold up for easier access to transfer in and out of.  Be specific about which type of seating you are seeking when you call.
  •  Know what you need and where it’s located.  Find out where important things are located relative to your seats before you go, such as  accessible bathrooms, shaded areas for cooling down, power sources for charging scooters, chairs, or ventilators.  If you are transferring into a stadium seat during the performance, ask where your wheelchair can be safely stored during the show.
  •  Make sure there’s room for Spot.  Service dogs should be welcome and  able to rest in the seating area with you rather than in the aisle.  It’s always a good idea to mention this when purchasing tickets or when calling ahead though to assure there’s room.  If you find a place that is not accommodating to service animals… let us know.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be ready to rock! Now it’s your turn…

Been to great venues with great accommodations and accessible services?  Please share with us so we can share with others!

Have you encountered any venues that were not ultra-accessible?  Tell us!  We’d love to help give them some tips!

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  • Mike DePetris

    I’m not in a chair but my SCI has its challenges. I’ve been to several shows, both indoor (less 250 people) and outdoor (over 25k people), in the last 18 months since discharge. Take a friend or two with you just in case. Every place has been accomodating and understanding. Don’t count on the web, call and speak with a human the day of the show. Don’t let your injury prevent you from enjoying great music and events!

  • Magee Rehabilitation

    Thanks for the tips, Mike!