Families of autistic children sue Disney over policy on lines

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KimPossible's picture
Joined: 05/24/06
Posts: 3312
Families of autistic children sue Disney over policy on lines

Families of autistic children sue Disney parks over policy on lines — Nation — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

What do you think. Do you feel these families have a valid lawsuit on their hands or no?

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 suing Disney said the company is violating requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 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.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

I do not know enough about Autism to be able to answer intelligibly. My gut reaction is to side with Disney. ADA assures that an accommodation be made. Being able to wait somewhere else is a reasonable accommodation in my opinion.

Joined: 04/12/03
Posts: 1686

I was at Disneyland & CA Adventure this weekend. It was awesome! We stayed at the hotel so we had an extra hour. Over the course of both days, our longest wait was 35 minutes ...wait for it...to meet Captain America. Walked straight on to Star Tours, Space Mtn., and a bunch of other rides. Yes, it did get crowded toward the end of the night.

Point being, there are other options. A reserved time is only a problem because they want to do other things instead of waiting. If you're supposed to return from 7 - 8 you can't dictate how your day goes. But I think that is reasonable. Accommodations are made.

Also, we went on Star Tours, Space Mtn, and Buzz Lightyear within 15 mins. All the color had drained from my face, fought off a migraine, and thought I would get sick. I'm no expert on autism, but if the flashing lights and over-stimulation was a problem for me, I would think it could be overwhelming for an autistic child.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

As a mother of a child on the spectrum, I think it's silly. We are not guaranteed to have "no waits" for our kids. That's not an accommodation. Is it nice? Sure it is. Reserved times are awesome.

Although, personally I have never used these. My goal is to make her as highly functional in our world as possible and it includes waiting. Waiting in line at Target. Waiting to take her turn at something she wants to do. Sometimes she has a hard time and sometimes she waits patiently with some fidgeting, sometimes no fidgeting.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

I can understand the problem. The process before did not involve "no wait" just a shorter wait. It is much more difficult to return at another time with a handicapped child. It is much easier when you have to push a wheelchair around to do all the attractions that are in a certain area at the same time. I know because I have pushed my son around in a wheelchair at Six Flags many times. With this new process, by the time that your reserved time comes around you might be in another area of the park by then and you have to go all the way back. It is much more back and forth.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

Again though, how much should they have to accommodate. My dd also has issues with certain songs that may play. Can I tell the park to shut them off or do I man up and work with my child and find their known triggers.

They offered a solution that seems fine to me. Either you stay in that area near the ride or you move on and take the chance you'll make it. Like any other family.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

I agree with Gloria -
I have been to Disney many times.. the last time I did have the have the ADA myself.. to be able to avoid stairs and standing too long due to knee surgery.

Reserved times would be better if they are given out at CityHall when families first enter the park.. and when they arrive they are allowed to enter the Handicapped Access way.

It is the age old problem of a few bad apples spoiling the bunch.. I do not think that since people were taking advantage they should disallow ADA..for a select group....

I do understand the PP talking about her child that is on the spectrum.. but some Autistic Children are worse than hers.

I do think when they go to City Hall they should be told.. which rides have shorter waits.. which ones fill up quickly/faster and to go to those first thing.. also about Fast Passes.

When I went to Disneyland the last two times.. I planned my whole visit out with the shortest wait times possible as I was going with two young boys.. I went with family but was on my own with them a lot of the time.

We got there about 30min before opening.. played in the front.. and got in line 1st -5th in line.. we then sat and played games or read books together. waited about 10-15min in the line (this was our longest line). We then hit the first rides to fill up first.. ie PeterPan is one. We were on the ride after only waiting about 5 minutes... In lines I let them eat snacks.. play with new toys from the park.. I tell them stories etc.. We went land by land.. and went on EVERY ride. We also went to California Adventure and did the same.

WE picked up FastPasses as often as possible... we usually went back to the room for lunchtime/naps. Then went back later and used fastpasses for the afternoon.. and rides that I knew would be fast loading and not many people.. we also went to the shows at this time.. like StarWars etc.

At CityHall if they do not know how to plan their day this way.. have someone sit down to help them. And then issue them times for rides that they can go to.. so they will not have to wait, or rush..

My children were healthy and loved the rides and did not get overstimulated in the waiting cues... AND we were able to rush.. I do not expect people that are on the spectrum as some can be severe to be able to do what we did... I did use my ADA pass for Splash Mountain (lots of stairs) and Indiana Jones (again stairs).. but most of the time either forgot it .. or didn't worry about it.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

"Jessica80" wrote:

Again though, how much should they have to accommodate. My dd also has issues with certain songs that may play. Can I tell the park to shut them off or do I man up and work with my child and find their known triggers.

They offered a solution that seems fine to me. Either you stay in that area near the ride or you move on and take the chance you'll make it. Like any other family.

Its not about HAVE to. Disney has previously gone out of their way to accommodate handicapped guests. The way they did it before was working perfectly fine until some rich people took advantage of the system and ruined it for the ACTUAL handicapped people who needed the service. I don't think they should win a lawsuit but I don't think it is really about that, I think this is just a way to get Disney's attention and say this procedure is not a good solution for ACTUAL handicapped people. In reality handicapped people probably only get to half of the amount of attractions anyway because it takes longer to get around. Asking Disney to find a way to go back the the way they were doing it before is not a huge accommodation for them.

GloriaInTX's picture
Joined: 07/29/08
Posts: 4116

Just wanted to say my son has asked to possibly join a lawsuit against Six Flags because they have changed their policies on who is allowed to ride roller coasters. There has been a lawsuit filed by a man who has no hands because they won't let him ride any roller coasters because he doesn't have hands (how many people raise their hands while on roller coasters?). My son wanted to join the lawsuit because they also won't let him ride anymore because he has only one leg, even though he has been riding these same roller coasters since he was about 10 with only one leg. The lawyers haven't decided if if they want to make it some kind of class action and add him to the suit or not. But the point I wanted to make is that according to the lawyer I talked to, the chances of actually winning any monetary damages from this kind of lawsuit are practically none. So I doubt they have filed this lawsuit expecting to win any money, they are just trying to get Disney to change the rules back. And it would be the same for my son. He doesn't care about winning any money, he just wants to be able to ride the roller coasters again.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

"GloriaInTX" wrote:

Its not about HAVE to. Disney has previously gone out of their way to accommodate handicapped guests. The way they did it before was working perfectly fine until some rich people took advantage of the system and ruined it for the ACTUAL handicapped people who needed the service. I don't think they should win a lawsuit but I don't think it is really about that, I think this is just a way to get Disney's attention and say this procedure is not a good solution for ACTUAL handicapped people. In reality handicapped people probably only get to half of the amount of attractions anyway because it takes longer to get around. Asking Disney to find a way to go back the the way they were doing it before is not a huge accommodation for them.

I agree that it stinks that this was ruined by some people trying to work the system.

I don't think this is something that I'm worried about as a "guaranteed accommodation" for people with autism.

Please, RG, unless you know me, do not say my child is not worse off than others. She's just better at waiting. Partly, because we've always made her. Partly because she's typically okay with it in many situations. Autism comes with many many triggers...which you may know...I don't know your history or family history.

I think it's a nice offering, I don't feel like it should be a requirement for a park to do this. My typical 4 year old is worse at waiting than my ASD kiddo. I still have to work with her.

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

"Jessica80" wrote:

I agree that it stinks that this was ruined by some people trying to work the system.

I don't think this is something that I'm worried about as a "guaranteed accommodation" for people with autism.

Please, RG, unless you know me, do not say my child is not worse off than others. She's just better at waiting. Partly, because we've always made her. Partly because she's typically okay with it in many situations. Autism comes with many many triggers...which you may know...I don't know your history or family history.

I think it's a nice offering, I don't feel like it should be a requirement for a park to do this. My typical 4 year old is worse at waiting than my ASD kiddo. I still have to work with her.

I do not have to know everything about you.. Your child can stand in line.. and you explained yourself enough.. my 4 yo waited awesome in line with snack ect.

I do Know the autistic spectrum.. and of course there are children worse than yours.. you know that too.. not sure why you are upset.. it is obvious your child is intelligent enough to teach, and wait and you just said "She's typically okay" with waiting in many situations.. OTHERS on the spectrum are not... and you know this as well as me.. probably better because you have a child on the spectrum and I have only worked with them.

Let us pull autism out of the equation what about other neurological disabilities where the person looks normal..? osteoarthritx.. those with knee surgeries that don't need a wheelchair anymore.. etc etc etc..

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

Right..where does it end? They have access to the facility and they have an accommodation. We truly can't accommodate everyone's need.

I'm just saying that there are always other triggers. Like I said, hers is music. She loves music and some songs she has issues with though. Should we be accommodated to that?

Rivergallery's picture
Joined: 05/23/03
Posts: 1301

"Jessica80" wrote:

Right..where does it end? They have access to the facility and they have an accommodation. We truly can't accommodate everyone's need.

I'm just saying that there are always other triggers. Like I said, hers is music. She loves music and some songs she has issues with though. Should we be accommodated to that?

Agreed that is a good point.. What Gloria stated is that Disney was already accommodating them fine.. and changed their policy to NOT accommodate them.. That is the point of the suit.

For me.. I would not want to force a company to accommodate too much.. HOWEVER.. they already were.. and it would not be a big deal to change it back.. No added expense to the company etc.

Joined: 08/17/04
Posts: 2226

I think it was a great thing. I do hope they reconsider but I guess, business wise, the bad apples may have ruined things.

I just think suing to get back something that, to me, was a courtesy is just frivolous.

AlyssaEimers's picture
Joined: 08/22/06
Posts: 6561

Are we talking about what they should legally have to do, or what would be nice of them to do?