Appeals court says Disney line waiting cases for autism can move forward

Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2018 11:44 AM | Contributed by BrettV

Thirty lawsuits filed by Disney visitors with autism who alleged they unfairly waited for attractions should go to trial, an appeals court ruled Friday. The crux of the court case is whether Disney accommodates the most severely disabled guests and gives them the same experience as other visitors. The courts previously ruled in Disney's favor.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018 11:52 AM

I don't see a different outcome on appeal. Disney is doing the right thing to accommodate here. We used it one time when my kid was younger, and it worked fine, and it was fair to everyone. He's since become reasonably zen about queuing, but even if he didn't, there's no world where we couldn't have made Disney's system work.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018 11:37 AM

This is a matter of self-entitlement by the plaintiffs. Disney's system was reasonable and fair, especially considering the number of people they have to accommodate. These people think that they should have everything handed to them first.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018 11:54 AM

I think if anything, parks should have to have imposed max capacities that are a lot lower than they currently are to curb the possibility of excessive lines. It would also force guests to have to think of ways to get to parks other than Saturdays. I don't think that anybody is getting their money worth out of a ticket when they have to wait 90 minutes to two hours to ride anything. Personally, I'm pretty aggressive and knowledgeable about only going when I know that a park will be dead, but the basic consumer (trying to avoid the word GP) doesn't think like that.

If lines weren't so aggressively out of control, it would be easier for parks to accommodate special needs guests without making the regular guests wait unreasonable times.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018 2:11 PM

Who would impose these max capacities? If it's not a safety issue, and only a convenience and/or guest satisfaction issue, then it's not an issue.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018 2:48 PM

My stance on the term GP has changed a bit from the previous thread where I mentioned my hate for it. There isn't any harm in using it to simply describe the general public without any sense of entitlement. I hope my prior comment was not the reason for Trackmaster's wording.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018 3:21 PM

Back to the original topic at hand, when I was a Disney Cast Member and we would get these entitled people coming to complain, I would often ask a very simple question. "Did you fly here (to Walt Disney World)? Overwhelmingly the answer would be yes. I asked how the child/teen/person with a disability handled the wait at TSA screening and the wait to get on the plane. I would then tell them that they would not have to worry about any of that here because they would receive a special time to come back and do anything they wanted while they waited for their time. Several times the child would say that sounded great, only for the parent to interject. Alternate questions we would ask would include "Have you had to wait for a table at a restaurant? For an appointment?" etc etc.

In 2013 when the first version of the current procedure went into action, I can not tell you how many parents of children who truly needed alternate accommodations praised us for creating a fair system that could not as easily be abused. We quickly learned that those who became irate about it were the ones who did not actually need it.

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Wednesday, August 22, 2018 3:36 PM

I found this line from the article linked above interesting:

"The crux of the court case is whether Disney accommodates the most severely disabled guests and gives them the same experience as other visitors."

Doesn't the current procedure give them a more equitable experience than the old one or the one that they want?

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Thursday, August 23, 2018 9:38 AM

Vater said:

Who would impose these max capacities?

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Thursday, August 23, 2018 10:26 AM

That's just it, it tends to be the parents looking for the shortcut for their convenience. This is a cultural point of disagreement among people advocating for ASD causes, because some excessively (in my opinion) frame the challenges and support issues of the parents above those of the kids. Believe me, no one appreciates more than I do that parents need that support, but there's a difference between accommodating the kids and accommodating the parents.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018 10:55 AM

I support the max capacity idea. It's no fun to be shoulder-to-shoulder shuffling through DisneyWorld parks.

Have you ever seen those articles that show you what popular attractions really look like? Full of people instead of the spacious and interesting press photos?

Last edited by T2, Thursday, August 23, 2018 10:55 AM
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Thursday, August 23, 2018 11:06 AM

So how would this max capacity thing work, particularly at WDW? Do you cap the number of pre-sold tickets and risk not reaching max capacity because walk up sales lag behind? Do you turn away all walk up business on a particular day when the number of pre-sold tickets gets to a certain point? I've heard max capacity thrown out with respect to where I work and the thing that people don't understand is that video of crying kids saying, "they wouldn't let us in," sounds way worse than "it was crowded and I had to wait in a lot of lines." Disney offers plenty of opportunities for premium, max capacity events at Magic Kingdom and, if that's the experience you're looking for, they are well worth the extra charge.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018 11:39 AM

It's a horrible idea, inviting all kinds of outrage. The reality is that Disney does a pretty remarkable job with crowds.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018 12:02 PM

Parks already have max capacities. Just that outside Disney they pretty much never reach them (and from what I understand Disney doesn't really either very often). But its up to the various parks to determine what experience they want to offer (and at what levels they offer in terms of up-sells). No outside entity/group should mandate parks to set any type of max capacity (beyond safety issues such as fire marshalls stating max capacities for evacuation purposes, etc). Determining max capacities is part of that determination. Let the parks decide.

And who gets to determine what experience is acceptable in terms of crowds? Seems to me the parks/owners should get to make that determination. Let the people paying determine if they are getting their money's worth. What is worth it to you may not be the same to other people. Saying no one is getting their moneys worth when its very crowded seems like a variation on the theme "no one goes there any more; its too crowded."

In terms of the autism issue, we have discussed it at length previously. But I do not think there would be any issue had Disney not had the prior policy (which was more favorable to the families with disabled kids). Had they started with the current policy, I don't think there would have been the issue they have now (sure some people may still want more but you wouldn't see a lawsuit and with them pointing out what they view as a more reasonable accommodation which is something Disney at one time offered). It understand Disney had problems with that prior policy. But its an example of once you give someone something, it can be a challenge to take it away.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018 8:55 PM

I have to agree. Max capacities are already in place in the form of free will.

Trackmaster, suggesting that "basic consumers" as you refer to them now don't have the wherewithal to choose another option other than standing in lines on a Saturday is really just you projecting your value structure on them. You choose other days (aggressively, whatever that means) but those who don't, have no issue with the crowds or at least not enough of one to choose something different.

There are no victims attending parks. That's the power of consumer will. It's pretty awesome actually.

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Thursday, August 23, 2018 9:55 PM

bigboy said:

So how would this max capacity thing work, particularly at WDW? Do you cap the number of pre-sold tickets and risk not reaching max capacity because walk up sales lag behind? Do you turn away all walk up business on a particular day when the number of pre-sold tickets gets to a certain point? I've heard max capacity thrown out with respect to where I work and the thing that people don't understand is that video of crying kids saying, "they wouldn't let us in," sounds way worse than "it was crowded and I had to wait in a lot of lines." Disney offers plenty of opportunities for premium, max capacity events at Magic Kingdom and, if that's the experience you're looking for, they are well worth the extra charge.

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Friday, August 24, 2018 9:28 PM

One day years ago when dreaming of my model park (yeah... I know...), I decided I would cap attendance and only sell a certain amount of tickets per day. Sold out? Select another day, please. I was so obsessed with and frightened by “busy days” and “wait times” that I saw it as the only viable and convenient solution. And it works for concert halls and stadiums, so why not amusement parks. Right?

Now I’m strictly of the mind that if an extra 10,000 people show up at my gate any given day then hell yes, I’ll gladly let them in. And not for free, either, btw.

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Sunday, August 26, 2018 11:44 AM

I haven't been to Disney since a kid so I read the article to get idea of their new policy.

My step-son has severe Autism, so I tend to read this stuff more than I used to. 15 minutes seems like a fair time to wait. Any more than that could result in a meltdown if crowded. He does not do well in crowds. We haven't taken him back to CP since they changed their policy. I've heard it works well. Their old policy allowed instant access once-per-ride-per-day. If you wanted to ride again, you had to wait the allotted time, which I thought was fair.

Max capacity was mentioned, which made me think about max number in group. In our experience, Four seemed like the standard number that would be allowed to use special access. Which is nice for a couple that might have two kids and they could all ride together. I would be ok if it was handicap +1. Parents could take turns riding. I know when waiting in line and seeing larges groups constantly get on from exit can get annoying. So I understand there needs to be a balance.

Our worst experience was at Six Flags St Louis several years ago. Our slip from guest relations even had and "I" stamped on it which meant instant access. most rides, we had no issues but a couple rides we had arguments with ride-ops about it. They were telling us we had to wait the allotted time and we would point to that "I". On the way out, I stopped at Guest Relations and learned they had changed the policy and the person that gave us slip screwed up. Would have been nice to know so it would have prevented the arguments with ride-ops. I hate the idea of talking back to them, as they do not make the rules. i go to CP enough to see what they go through and have a lot of respect for them.

This has gotten to be touchy subject for me since getting married. The Autism Spectrum is pretty wide. Some have the ability to live a somewhat normal life, where others are on the extreme end. I've heard people say, "why take him if he has issues so bad?". So, should we just lock him up in a room and not let him out to experience things that everyone else can?

I think that parks have really made strides in recent years to help families who deal with Autism. I just think people, in general, need to be better educated!

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018 2:45 PM

"Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

Seriously, if there are enough people who are willing to be in a crowded park to make it a crowded park, who is losing here? And why impose an artificial capacity cap rather than just increase the price until people stop coming?

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018 3:50 PM

Re: autism

I'm high functioning autistic, but I still have issues. Being in a crowd of people I don't know is uncomfortable to say the least. I can't predict how people will behave.

That's why the vast majority of my amusement park outings are for ACE events. I know many of the people and the crowds are light.

I've been to SF Great America with people who are excited to go to an amusement park with me. I always warn them up front I'm good for about three hours before I start getting overwhelmed and have to leave.

Also, what ApolloAndy just said.

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