Court says autism access lawsuit against Disney must be individuals, not group

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

A group of families suing Walt Disney Parks and Resorts over its new policies for people with disabilities, such as autism, has suffered a setback. The plaintiffs must file individual lawsuits, a federal judge has ruled. Judge Anne Conway said late last month the plaintiffs' claims are too diverse to handle in one lawsuit.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

At what point are you looking at diminishing returns? Presumably at some point the number of a-holes you block becomes so few with additional steps/hurdles that it doesn't justify the inconvenience to everyone else.

In terms of line cutting, the worst parks I have seen for that are Disney parks. My family jokes that line jumping is a sport at Disney. At Disneyland last year a ride op not only watched but encouraged line jumping (bringing someone up who was never in line past everyone else who was to join a friend/family member). And with Soarin' you could have filled a bus with the number of people walking ahead to join family members and/or leaving to go to the bathroom and then returning to the line.

Jeff's avatar

I don't think you can lump in Disneyland with WDW. Seriously, I don't see line jumping issues ever. I honestly can't recall even one instance in the year plus I've been here. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but it's gotta be pretty rare. Granted, lines aren't usually all that long for 95% of the attractions in the first place.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

The experience with Soarin I referenced was at Epcot. As my experience was the same at WDW and Disneyland with respect to line jumping, I lump them together. When I took my kids for their first visit to WDW 5 years or so ago, we all witnessed multiple occurrences of line jumping. Very open and very obvious. No one said anything so we just assumed it was how things rolled at Disney. Part of the "happiest place on Earth" mantra.

We were at WDW a couple years later for a couple of days and had the same experience. We wondered if we would have the same experience in the California parks when we visited for a day a couple years later. And we did. That's why we joke that at Disney, line jumping is a sport.

No doubt its a small sample size. May well be the case we saw the exceptions. And I don't know what percentage of Disney attractions have long lines. But we spent some time during each of our visits in long/long-ish lines. Thinking back to a band trip I took to WDW this past spring, we didn't wait for anything that had a line unless we had a fast pass (which meant it didn't have a line). I don't recall seeing line jumping during that visit. But it would seem to me the less time you spend waiting in lines, the less likely you are to see line jumping.

Jeff's avatar

Lesson learned: Never do Soarin' on standby? :) You're right, if you don't get in lines, I suppose you're not likely to see any issue, but seeing it once or even three times isn't indicative of a widespread problem. I did a 40-minute wait for Seven Dwarfs last week (my kid has acquired quite a taste for that ride), and no one passed us. That's not any more a case for it never happening.

Jeff - Editor - - My Blog - Phrazy

Disneyland is a different beast than WDW. Disneyland has over 750000 annual passholders and some of them are unfortunately: abusers. They are the ones who caused the old program issues in the first place, such as 25% of Radiator Springs Racers capacity being taken by people getting in with Guest Assistance Cards. The DAS originally started as a temporary measure to curb the abuse at Racers and it worked out good enough that stand by waits went down a little bit and the DAS expanded to both resorts.

WDW has a lot less passholders and thus, GAC/DAS abuse is a lot less present than over in California.

Line cutting is not much an issue at Disney parks in the traditional ways. People line cut in more... finesse ways, such as the GAC/DAS abuse.

Overseas Disney parks deal with disabled access in different ways. Disneyland Paris demand either the government disability card or in the case of international travellers, either a governement proof or a detailed doctor's note. Once that is shown, they give a 50% discount to the disabled guest and their companion.

Inside the parks, over at Disneyland Paris, only one ride has the equivalent of a wheelchair accessible line. Just using a wheelchair will only allow one guest plus the disabled guest through the exit. If you show the proof, its the disabled person + 3. Plus, some rides got additional restrictions, such as Indiana Jones coaster, Space Mountain, Crush Coaster and Peter Pan's Flight only allowing guests that can navigate stairs and long walks. The test at Space Mountain was: leave the chair at the entrance of the station and walk the length of the train to a bench in the back. If you cannot do that, you cannot ride! It is a whole different culture.

That's a pretty crazy swing in the opposite direction. I've seen people picked up out of wheelchairs, set in a coaster seat and lifted back out at the end of the ride and set back in their wheelchairs by their companions or parents several times at Cedar Point. I can't imagine not allowing someone to ride based solely on not being able to walk the length of the station. Makes me happy I don't live in France.

I can totally imagine it, and I even get the purpose of it. What if a ride catches fire and a person cannot independently evacuate? Sometimes buildings and rides can go up in flames pretty quickly.

I'm just playing devils advocate here. I actually think there are so many different ways to allow or assist riders with disabilities. However, I get the hardline stance in France. Um...didn't mean to rhyme that. *chuckle* People unable to independently get in and out of a ride may be a danger to themselves and others in the event of an emergency, and then guess what happens when that emergency occurs and someone gets hurt or killed? Lawsuit! It has happened just like that in the states, so Disney may be being extra cautious as a result.

"Look at us spinning out in the madness of a roller coaster" - Dave Matthews Band

LostKause's avatar

I can't recall just now which rides, but I know I have worked on rides that had the rule that you have to be able to walk without assistance to be allowed to ride. The reason being that the rider needed to have the ability to evacuate in an emergency.

The ride I saw both people lifted in and out of was Blue Streak at Cedar Point. I can't really think of any likely scenario with that coaster that would make the inability to get out completely on your own without help a serious problem. Maybe for other rides it would be.

sws's avatar

I have this strange image in my head of Gonch creating the extremely, extreme VIP package which includes having your very own personal attendants paid to lift you in and out of every ride. Not because he needs to, but just because he can.

Lord Gonchar's avatar

Then I'd get REALLY fat just to make it harder for them.

Tekwardo's avatar

And then you'd come here to complain that you can't fit on an Intamin.

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Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.

But what about his brother?

Pete's avatar

If someone is lifted into a coaster, how do you get them down if the train stops on the lift and riders need to walk down the steps? I imagine it could be done by perhaps a couple of firemen carrying the person down, but it seems kind of precarious. I think it is almost a situation like "do we risk the unlikely event of a lift hill evacuation or do we risk not being ADA compliant". It's probably the lesser of two evils.

I'd rather be in my boat with a drink on the rocks, than in the drink with a boat on the rocks.

I think it would just really depend on the ride and how far up the lift hill goes, what the stairs are like and whether or not the person has brought somebody with them that is capable. The young lady I saw get lifted in was with a man who just plucked her right up and out of the coaster like it was nothing, completely on his own. I have no doubt he could have carried her down Blue Streak's hill with help just for balance, maybe someone taking her feet while he took the weight. Other coasters possibly not.

ApolloAndy's avatar

Yeah, but I can't imagine letting the minimum wage ride ops decide if the companion is "strong enough" to carry someone down multiple hundreds of feet of stairs.

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Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

TTD-120-420's avatar

It was standard procedure at Busch Gardens that if a train carrying a disabled guest stopped on the blocks or lift that health services and health services only could remove the disabled person off of the ride.

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