6046 W. Lake Sammamish Parkway NE
Redmond, WA 98052
Our lovely daughter and handsome son-in-law gave us tickets to the Cirque du Soleil touring show (here till March 22), so on a very dark and very stormy night, we drove across the lake to Marymoor Park to see the show. This was the second time we had been treated to the Cirque. The first time visiting a new place can be a bit anxiety-producing both for me and my beloved pusher. I worry about bathrooms and having to damage others’ feet and coats to get to my seat; he worries about me worrying. Going to the Cirque du Soleil this second time was a known entity and so seemed easy.
Based in Montreal, Quebec Canada, Cirque du Soleil is at once magical, comic, heart-stopping, and otherworldly. The performers are beautiful and strong, and the sets are gorgeous. This version—entitled “Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities”—was steampunky—nodding simultaneously to a romanticized past with its manual typewriters and graceful phonographs, to a robotic future, and to an imagined time when people flew in gorgeous, open-cockpit, bat-winged airplanes.
Cirque does an excellent job of accommodating wheelchair visitors, beginning with the ticketing process. Tickets for handicapped spots can be purchased online or with the phone assistance of a kind staff person, and the Cirque website makes both options easy.
At the performance, the Cirque staff also kindly accommodates handicapped viewers, with only one glitch on this visit.
Parking: Cirque at Marymoor provides great parking for people with handicapped placards and plates–along with signage that is clear, even in the dark. Handicapped parking is close to the entrance to the beautiful blue-striped tent and the path from the parking lot to the tent is flat.
Entrances: The entries into the tent take you to a food area just outside the performance area and are flat and easy to navigate. Entries into the performance area and seats are ramped and covered with heavy curtains, but staff members make sure that you don’t struggle with them.
Seating and aisles: There are two “layers” of seating—a lower area and an upper area. Wheelchair spots are in the first row of the upper area, giving wheelchair travelers wide-aisled access to generous spaces. Two seats are removed for each wheelchair, which is fortunate because the seats for everyone else at the performance are tight, as is the leg/aisle space.
Once inside and seated in the big top, it feels magical. The stage is set; a performer sends paper airplanes down from a platform high above you; and you feel like a nine-year old in 1910 waiting to see things you cannot even imagine. The fact that you’re seated in a tent that looks as though you dreamed it up makes it even more wonderful.
Restrooms: “Porta potties” are located outside the tent. Did you know that there are wheelchair-accessible porta-potties? They are like a double-wide with a (steep) ramp with a railing. There is plenty of room inside to maneuver a chair, and the toilet has grab bars around it. At Cirque du Soleil, a sign identifies these as ADA bathrooms and advises people that they are primarily for handicapped users. That word—”primarily”—literally opens the door for able-bodied users to get in line ahead of you—but who can really blame them? Anyone would prefer the space and grace of the double-wide over the telephone-booth experience in the regular stalls.
The first time we went to the Cirque, the bathroom was great. This time, however, there was a leak in the roof, and the floor of the porta-potty was completely wet, making the on-foot transfer from chair to toilet terrifying. My dear pusher informed the usher of this problem, who rushed off to tell someone else. But at the program’s end when we went back to the handicapped bathroom, it was flooded. Even a little bit of water on the floor in a restroom can be terrifying to people who are using canes or who are otherwise unsteady on their feet. This was like navigating a series of small ponds with marshland between them.
Photos of interior space online: No. Photos on the Cirque website are scarce and those on Google Images are primarily performers.
Photos of entrances online: No.
Reservations taken: Yes and very graciously. Make sure you tell them that Spoken Wheel recommended them when you call to reserve your spot!
What the wheelchair pusher has to say: Aside from the hazardous conditions in the bathroom, it was really nice. The handicapped parking area was great. Outside the tent, because of the uneven ground, the rain, and the crowds, getting around the deep puddles was challenging, but that is not the fault of the Cirque. The staff was amazingly helpful.
Photo credit: Airplane image, news.xinhuanet.com