Families of autistic kids sue Disney parks over policy on lines

Tue Apr 8, 2014 7:44pm EDT

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(Reuters) - Families with autistic children have sued Walt Disney Co, alleging the company does not provide adequate access to theme park visitors with autism who have difficulty waiting in long lines for rides.

In October 2013, Disney parks stopped offering autistic visitors a "guest assistance card" that let them and their families bypass lines, according to a lawsuit filed April 3 in federal court in California. Instead, the company offered a "disability access service" card to allow them to obtain scheduled return times for park attractions.

Disney changed the policy after media reports of abuse of guest assistance cards, such as visitors hiring disabled people to help them skip lines.

The 16 plaintiffs who are suing Disney said the company is violating requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They said offering a return time is equivalent to a wait, and there is no guarantee of immediate access to attractions at the return time.

In a statement on Tuesday, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts said it had "an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests."

"We fully comply with all ADA requirements and believe that the legal claims are without merit," the company added.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and asks the court to order Disney to change its current policy.

(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Comments (2)
baseball18 wrote:
Another example of the “Jackpot Mentality” of America

Apr 09, 2014 8:49am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ScruffyMatt wrote:
I really hope Disney wins this lawsuit. Going to Disney is a privilege, not a right. If your child cannot handle long lines, a theme park may not be the best place to take them. There are plenty of other family vacation spots that don’t involve long lines that may cause a ‘meltdown’. Also any child whether they have autism or not is prone to a meltdown. Should I get a pass to skip the line because my child is hot and cranky and may have a meltdown? My best friend of 20 years has an autistic child, they went to Disney 2 years ago and NOT ONCE did they ask for any kind of special pass. Mostly because they didn’t need it. They were able to control their child and if he got uppity they dealt with him. They didn’t ask Disney or other patrons to make a special accommodation for them.

If Disney loses this lawsuit or changes their policy for kids with autism I’ll tell you exactly what will happen, every child will suddenly have autism. If average joe Disney-goer sees that all they have to do is walk up to Guest Services and say “My child is autistic I want a skip the line pass” every parent will be making an immediate left into City Hall as soon as they get in the park. And because of privacy issues and “they just want to be treated like everyone else” Disney can’t ask for a doctor’s note or Autism Speaks membership card, so there’s no way to be able to differentiate who is lying and who isn’t. And if you think people won’t lie you are sadly mistaken. People paid handicap individuals to tour them around the park, if it saves them hours in line, yeah they will absolutely say “My child has autism”.

And then what? You’ve accomplished nothing because now everyone has a skip the line card, so the handicap line is now just as long of a wait as the regular line. Theme parks, especially Disney have long waits. If you or your child can’t deal with it perhaps there are better places to enjoy a vacation.

Apr 11, 2014 10:53pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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