Disney gets autism ADA federal lawsuit moved to Orlando

Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2014 10:54 AM | Contributed by Jeff

A federal judge has transferred a California autism discrimination lawsuit against the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts to Orlando, after Disney argued for the transfer. The suit alleges that Disney’s Disability Access Service, which began in 2013, discriminates against autistic children because it no longer allows them to skip lines. Disney started the DAS program after ending its previous program, the Guest Assistance Card, because the older program was abused by wealthy people who hired guests with disabilities to help them skip lines.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 2:36 PM

If Disney installed FlashPass, this wouldn't be an issue. Wealthy people could still pay to skip the lines, and people with disabilities could just use the same system that they have been over the years.

But seriously, I don't see a problem with getting a return time. This system provides that the person with the disability doesn't have to wait in line, which is the solution to the problem. They only have to wait outside the line. It's a lot like how Cedar Point operates their system. It's also how the cheapest Flashpass works. Because it's already industry standard, I thin Disney has a chance at winning this one.

I'd love to see Judge Judy take this one on her show. Can you imagine how awesome that episode would be? lol

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 2:38 PM

This lawsuit continues to piss me off. In many ways I feel like it's anti-awareness for autism spectrum kids because it implies that all kids have the same problems and can't function. There is no question that some kids can't understand queuing. They're literally not wired to understand why it makes sense. I've said it before, I'm lucky, my kid can queue like a pro, but he can't understand mechanical closures. But what Disney is offering is so obvious: The kid doesn't have to queue. In what universe is this not good enough? While you virtually "wait," go do something else! Certainly don't tell the kid they're virtually waiting, just go to the attraction when it's time.

I really don't think this is about the kids at all... I think it's about the parents. We haven't used it, but we have talked to families who have, and they almost universally seem to feel like it's a win.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 2:42 PM

LostKause said:

Judge Judy...


Does not compute.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 3:18 PM

Disney should file a countersuit and make these selfish people pay for all their costs involved in this nonsense lawsuit. That would discourage this kind of ridiculous action against them in the future!

Last edited by super7*, Tuesday, September 30, 2014 3:19 PM
Tuesday, September 30, 2014 3:22 PM

I'm pretty sure that a multinational company suing people with ASD kids would not exactly be a great PR move.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014 3:27 PM

I'm still not sure what to think of this and I'm autistic. I don't feel entitled to skip the lines. I'm high functioning, and you couldn't tell I'm on the spectrum just by looking at me. I can be anti-social at times. I know there's cases alot worse than me and some can't even talk.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 12:03 AM

Like Thabto, you can't tell that I'm on the spectrum by looking at me, but I'm there.

I agree with Jeff. This lawsuit seems to be about the parents, not the kids, which is sad.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 2:35 PM

Jeff said:

I'm pretty sure that a multinational company suing people with ASD kids would not exactly be a great PR move.

It's sad in this country that having a disability gives you a free pass to initiate bogus lawsuits and waste resources. In the end, the customers end up paying for this as the costs have to be absorbed.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 3:25 PM

I honestly don't think these people have a leg to stand on, and the costs likely won't be reflected in Disney pricing. I'm no financial analyst, but if this is quickly resolved, it will probably be a drop in the bucket. What bothers me more is that the obvious frivolity does absolutely nothing positive for autism awareness. I'm basically reiterating a bit of what Jeff said, but I fail to see how the Disney system is not enough. I have friends with children on the autistic spectrum (one more severe than the other), and THEY are displeased with this lawsuit. I understand that people want the very best for their kids, and sometimes they take it a bit too far, but how are these people wronged? I'm just not getting it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 4:37 PM

It isn't just rich people who abuse provisions intended to be used by the handicapped. All you have to do is rent a wheelchair (If you don't have one left over after Grandma or Grandpa passed away), then have one member of your party sit in the chair and they don't have to worry about having to cope with ques. I once saw a family who had twin boys, and I saw the boys CHANGE PLACES between rides! If I had seen this at the beginning of the day instead of less than a half hour left in the day, I would have SCREAMED BLOODY MURDER and gotten the attention of the staff.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 5:02 PM

As I said in one of the prior threads, if your Spectrum child can't adapt to the accommodation that Disney has made, then the child can't be trusted to handle an e-stop and evac without endangering the responder.

And after I posted that the last time, I saw a window tag on the back of a van that said [autistic person verbiage] "may not respond to verbal commands".

That's game over. Fun and Safety guides demand that you have the physical ability (able to sit up, minimum number of limbs, and dimensions of same, etc). Potentially not following verbal commands certainly falls into that category.

Life's not fair, I agree. However, Disney has made a fine accommodation,

Much like I see support dogs in the parks now. I want the owner to fall and act like they're having a seizure and I want to see fido jump into action.

Last edited by CreditWh0re, Wednesday, October 1, 2014 5:17 PM
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 7:36 PM

Regulus said:

...then have one member of your party sit in the chair and they don't have to worry about having to cope with ques.

Not at WDW. The same rules apply as the ASD kids. A lot of attractions also have wheelchair accessible queues as well. Remember that the original policy change was because of the "rent a wheelchair bound person" problem, not parents of ASD kids.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 7:40 PM

In California, I believe that DCA's queues are 100% wheelchair accessible. Disneyland obviously isn't (in fact most of the attractions don't have accessible queues).

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 7:51 PM

Yeah, WDW is like that too, as it's so obvious which attractions are newer just based on the queues. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Voyage of The Little Mermaid and Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor all have crazy wide queues. A lot of renovated queues are like that too, like Pooh.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 8:51 PM

CreditWh0re said:

Much like I see support dogs in the parks now. I want the owner to fall and act like they're having a seizure and I want to see fido jump into action.

I hope you are kidding here. And if you're not you have a meager understanding of a support dog's actual function.

Thursday, October 2, 2014 2:11 AM

This is in reply to Regulus's previous post...

I understand the anger, but you just don't know for sure. I always tell myself that it is really none of my business. The twins you speak of could have both been somewhat disabled, and sharing the wheelchair when they get tired. Observers do not have all the information to be able to assume anything about them.

It's like when people talk bad about the people using the scooters at Walmart, or Target, or wherever. I regularly hear people complaining about some of the people who don't look like they need a scooter using one. Again, they do not have all the information to make any kind of assumption.

The truth is, a disability sometimes isn't obvious. My mother looks healthy, but she has had a few back surgeries, fusing a many of her vertebrae together. She has a hard time shopping for more than ten or fifteen minutes without needing a scooter. She often tells me that she is self-conscious that people will judge her for using the scooter. It took many tries many years ago for me to talk her into ignoring that and start using the scooter anyways.

I feel it's not my place to look at someone and make assumptions that someone is or is not disabled. But that's just me.

Not calling you out or anything, Regulus. I am just telling you how I would react to seeing the twins do what you saw. I wouldn't have even thought about getting the attention of the staff.

Friday, October 3, 2014 12:00 AM

Speaking of Judge Judy.... this fall UC Berkeley is offering "Freshman Seminar - Arguing with Judge Judy: Popular "Logic" on TV Judge Shows."

From the course description: "A fascinating aspect of these shows from a rhetorical point of view is the number of arguments made by litigants that are utterly illogical, or perversions of standard logic, and yet are used again and again."

Friday, October 3, 2014 12:53 AM

If I had seen then switch places earlier in the day I would have gotten vocal, and let officials call the shot. If they indeed had a bona-fide disability, I would stand corrected and apologize.

Nine years ago I actually caught someone cheating on the rules. It wasn't at an amusement park, this took place in an electronics store on what I like to call "The National Day of Insanity" (That's "Black Friday" for those of you in Rio Linda!). Two store employees were turning away customers who wanted to purchase some laptop computers they saw on the flyer, the employees were telling them they had to have a coupon to purchase the laptops at the sale price. I had the flyer in my pocket and there was no coupon nor anything on the flyer saying they had to have a coupon. So I MADE NOISE!!!. I caught the attention of the manager came over to see what all the fuss was about. I told him that the two people beside me wanted to get the laptops but were told the had to have a coupon. Turns out the employees were holding the laptops back until their friends came in. The employees were fired on the spot, and the customers got their laptops. I liken what I did to a Coach questioning a play the opposing team did. He questions the play, and lets the referees (in this case the store manager) "call it as they see it" If the coach is right, the play gets called back, otherwise the game continues. I wouldn't intend to case harm, but on the other hand sometimes you have to take a stand and defend your rights as well as them. If you lose a word war, the only thing hurt is your pride.

Friday, October 3, 2014 1:07 AM

What strikes me is that in the case of the computer customers, you knew the employees were in the wrong.

Whereas with the kids trading off out of a wheelchair -- maybe the family was abusing the system, or maybe the kids had a legitimate reason to be sharing the wheelchair.

Screaming "bloody murder" just doesn't seem to me be the appropriate response; telling a cast member what was seen so the cast member could, politely, check out the situation would be better.


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