ODEON Luxe Broadway Plaza is my go-to cinema. I’ve always liked this cinema, especially since the re-designing of the place.
The pavement outside is wide which makes it easy to navigate. There are stairs down to the main complex as well as a long ramp, with flat pavements. The button to open the doors typically does not work, meaning I cannot get in without someone opening the door for me. The main foyer of the Odeon is very open and well-polished. There is a number of ticket machines, though these cannot be used if you have a CEA card that qualifies one carer to go free. There is also a Costa and chairs and tables where people can sit before or after the movie. The layout is very accessible.
I have found that I have had difficulty buying and transporting snacks and drinks from the counter to the screen with both my able and disabled friends. Although the pick a mix and drinks have lids, snacks like popcorn or nachos don’t have a lid. This means whomever I am visiting with usually must juggle carrying these snacks and drinks while trying to hold the door open for me!
The main problem is when we have to go upstairs and use the lift. Previously there was a snack bar upstairs which, however, the renovations have removed this snack bar which means juggling is the only way to get snacks to the screen now! Thankfully, in instances when I have had accidents or dropped food, the staff have been really kind and let me refill for free.
The lifts ensure that wheelchair users can access the upper screens. In one instance when this lift wasn’t in use, I was allowed to use the staff lift. This Odeon offers a standard sized disabled toilet, but this doesn’t include a hoist or changing table. Nor does it have a radar key lock that would prevent able-bodied individuals from using it.
When I go to the cinema with a friend, I like to sit close to them, have a little gossip before the film, talk about the trailers and laugh at the adverts. I like to feel I am there with a friend and not separated by some sort of school class seating plan that leaves me feeling isolated. The renovations done by Odeon have provided more luxurious seating and tables for those using them. Unfortunately, these changes have not provided the same level of improvement for disabled patrons.
The disabled spot does not include a table to place my drinks and snacks on. The nearest table belongs to another person seated alongside the disabled space. I am only able to use it if no one is in that seat. Even if I am to use this table it is difficult to access. The worst part about the layout is the large gap between me and my companion(s). The previous layout allowed me to sit near to whomever I was with, while the new layout has made that impossible.
Although it is manageable when visiting with an able-bodied friend, it can become much harder to navigate when visiting with a friend who is disabled. On a visit to the cinema with a friend who also has hemiplegia (paralysis of one side) I experienced how much more difficult a visit could be. I had to stay in the wheelchair space while my friend was able to use the reclining seats which were so far apart- we practically had to shout our conversation. We couldn’t pass snacks and drinks to one another with ease. This was only possible as my friend is paralysed on the opposite side to me. If this had not been the case, I would not have been able to have snacks or drinks throughout the film.
This experience undermined my attempts to be independent. Although it is great that the Odeon caters to disabled patrons, I hope in future it may consider scenarios where more than one disabled patron visited a screen, or how disabled patrons can use the cinema without someone able-bodied being with them.
While this is upsetting, the staff are very understanding of the situation and allow me to position my wheelchair towards the front of the screen where there is a space so I can sit with my friends or family. Staff have always been helpful at this Odeon. When I visited with my disabled friend, they were quick to help us getting into the lift and with opening doors.
The prices are expensive for what you can get but it’s the same for every other cinema locally. Odeon does offer a cinema pass that offers a significant discount if you go regularly.