Dollywood drops free admission to disabled guests

Posted Monday, November 3, 2003 5:01 AM | Contributed by LadyLegolasGreenleaf

Dollywood is dropping its free admission policy for guests in wheelchairs or those who are blind or deaf. The park says they're responding to a lawsuit alleging that the practice violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Read more from AP via WBIR/Knoxville.

Monday, November 3, 2003 5:08 AM
Interesting. It's not often you hear the ADA invoked in this manner. Usually it's about accomodating the disabled for the equal treatment, not taking away something.

Nice gesture on Dollywood's part to have offered it, too bad the "equal treatment" means they need to take it away.

--Greg, aka Oat Boy
My page
"Friendship -- more lasting than love, more legal than stalking."*** This post was edited by GregLeg 11/3/2003 10:09:58 AM ***

Monday, November 3, 2003 5:13 AM
And this, my friends, is what happens when the 'me-first' attitude plays itself out. I only wish the paper published her name and driver's license photo too.

In Minnnesota, it's actually unlawful for bars to have Ladies' Night thanks to some litigious, penny-pinching alcoholic dude who claimed it was discriminatory--and in technical terms, he was right. Never mind that he could be a beneficiary of ladies' night as dim lighting and alcohol are great friends to the needy...


The CPlaya 100--6 days, 9 parks, 47 coasters, 2037 miles and a winner.....LoCoSuMo.

Monday, November 3, 2003 5:56 AM
They took it away because it made them feel different and not equal? In a way I see their point, but if I were disabled, I would be mad cuz now I have to spend $40.

I am one.
I am Turbo.
Top Thrill in the front row... anything else is lame

Monday, November 3, 2003 6:11 AM
Does that mean disabled people who go to the front of the line on the rides is also unequal treatment? I haven't heard anyone complaining about that.
Monday, November 3, 2003 6:11 AM
Was the person who sued blind? Or was she sueing because she wasn't blind and was offended that blind people got free admission? Either way, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me.
Bob M.
Monday, November 3, 2003 7:18 AM
Pete's avatar Disabled people who go to "the front of the line" are not cutting in front of other guests. I think that they have to wait for a time period corresponding to how long the line is before riding. Many parks have the ride exit as the special access gate.

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

Monday, November 3, 2003 7:41 AM
Always like when a park gets sued for doing something nice for some people.


Monday, November 3, 2003 7:53 AM
The Americans with Disabilites Act of 1990 is one of the most well-intentioned, poorly written, and horribly executed piece of legislature our country has ever seen. As an architect, I have to deal with the ADA, but find it interesting that it is being used this way. There is a notion gaining support in Congress to expand the ADA to residences. Any new home must be accessible to disabled persons. No more stairs, bigger bathrooms, handrails in front of low windows...let's hope this doesn't become a reality. The ADA is necessary and obvious, but needs a major revision to bring it in line with real-world design, construction, and financial issues.


Monday, November 3, 2003 7:57 AM
"Disabled people who go to "the front of the line" are not cutting in front of other guests."

Yes they are. Don't get me wrong, I am sympathetic to handicapped patrons... but a MAJOR problem exists. Where do you draw the line? Because parks fear lawsuits they cannot and often do not make determinations of who is, or who is not, considered handicapped. So the system gets obscured and handicap perks get mis-used.

" think that they have to wait for a time period corresponding to how long the line is before riding."

This, would seem fair... but it is not an active practice. Most parks allow handicapped guests to enter through the exit and in order to shuffle them through, they get them on the ride as soon as possible. Numerous handicap guests can back up (since most parks have a policy of only allowing one handicapped rider on a ride at a time no matter how many trains etc. are running.) But bottom line, people often "fake" or "milk" a handicap because it gains them and their friends exit access and minimal waits.

"Many parks have the ride exit as the special access gate."

And there-in lies the problem. Not only does this create a bottle-neck at the ride's exit... but it also makes it difficult for the legitimate handicap patrons to get there. It's the fish swimming upstream effect.

By today's standards, queue lines are required to be wide enough to accomidate wheelchairs. But, even though they are made wide to accomidate them, parks do not utilize them. Instead they use the exit... for several reasons. Often the exit can be made into a series of ramps, whereas queue lines often have stairs to climb etc. Also, because rides are often designed so that you exit to the opposite side from which you boarded, this negates the opportunity for wheelchair bound person to enter through the main que. Ohterwise there would be a need to "pass" the wheelchair across the ride platform.

IMO, I cannot believe parks have not wised up to a simple solution to this. They could make the handicap person wait while their companions wait through the regular queue. Or they could make the loading side of coasters wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair, and have a special accessible exit on the load side. Or utilize a special Lo-Que system that times out a wait for a ride so that the handicapped person is instructed to return to the ride after an equivilant wait period.

Having been a ride op, I know it is just as frustrating to the crew as it is to the guests to see a flurry of handicap people continually shuffling up the exits with special priveleges. What is worse it 9 times out of 10, the handicap patron requests a prime seat.

I used to shudder at having to approach those who had been waiting over an hour for a front seat ride, and ask them to wait while a kid with an ingrown toenail took their seat.

I obviously witnessed some severely handicapped patrons too who legitimately deserved the special access... however poorly it was orchestrated by the park.


*** This post was edited by Shaggy 11/3/2003 1:14:07 PM ***

Monday, November 3, 2003 9:26 AM
Shaggy alot of parks have changed there policy's on Handicap riders. PKI for example makes it so you have to wait though the the line and if you want a front or a backseat its 15 min more. It makes it a little more manageable.

Hi.....whats your name again? Theme park photos and more. Your new home for the Jeff Siebert fanpage

Monday, November 3, 2003 9:45 AM
PKI hasn't changed there's much.

Perhaps on the rides with wide-enough queues?

But what about older rides where the queues are not wide enough? Like Beast, Thornberries, Racer and Vortex. Or the rides where the queues have steps or hard to manuever areas, like Top Gun and Drop Zone.

Just yesterday I saw a line of Handicaps at the exits of most every attraction I passed at the park. Also, it seems SOB consistantly has handicaps coming up the exit... all related to getting the wheelchair across the tracks I believe.


Monday, November 3, 2003 10:22 AM
as a follow-up to this:

Dollywood, which seems to hate the idea of being forced to do this, is now going to make donations to different charities/societies/funds that help the handicapped. the donations will be in the same amount that they would usually have given in free admissions.

take that evil woman who sues for no real reason!! (except that maybe she thought she was handicapped by greed and stupidity and was refused free admission)

mela en coiamin Legolas...
it aint the size of the arrow, its what you do with the bow

Monday, November 3, 2003 10:24 AM
Mamoosh's avatar "They could make the handicap person wait while their companions wait through the regular queue."

I've seen this practice at both Knotts and SFMM.


The only 2004 Wood Coaster Calendar still available, plus holiday & all-occasion cards. All at S&D Greetings.

Monday, November 3, 2003 10:33 AM
I only had a few people do this at SFA while I was operating the Chaos. There is an akwardness of letting one disabled person on, and their non-disabled attendants. But, sometimes it was necessary, as we're were not allowed to assist the guest in anyway into their seats. The real shady area for me was deaf patrons. I don't see how being deaf precludes you from waiting in a regular line, which a lot of deaf patrons did (there's a major university for the deaf in D.C.). But, as were told in our ride op orientation, you weren't to question the disability, even it was something such as alcoholism.
Did anyone ever bother trying out the seats on the KMG Tango? And if so, were they male?
Monday, November 3, 2003 11:33 AM
The Americans with Disabilites Act of 1990 is one of the most well-intentioned, poorly written, and horribly executed piece of legislature our country has ever seen

You have just described almost every law congress passes these days. We're not allowed to say this though! Shame on you. We're just supposed to look at thos good intentions and ignore any real world results. They meant well. Nevermind if the outcome is a dismal failure. The fact you had the nerve to say this means you hate the disabled (put any other PC word of choice in here for any other social law of choice)! You pathetic loser! How dare you!

**Please note the sarcastic tone of the piece**

Give me wood! :-)
328 and counting!

Monday, November 3, 2003 11:35 AM
What part of the ADA is the lawsuit based on? This is just so stupid.

I think that's great that they are going to donate the cash they make. It's still not as good as giving the discount to someone who deserves it though.


Monday, November 3, 2003 1:11 PM
Frankly I was surprised that this was evan an issue at Dollywood. I've been attending the park since 1989, and they've always treated disabled guests very well. I Can't help but feel that this woman might have been doing this for publicity, considering it was Dolly Parton's theme park and all.

Perhaps the people who brought up this case should visit there nearest Six Flags, then figure out who needs to be corrected.


*** This post was edited by Dukeis#1 11/3/2003 6:13:37 PM ***

Monday, November 3, 2003 1:35 PM
A slightly more detailed article is now available at,1406,KNS_347_2387169,00.html

Monday, November 3, 2003 4:47 PM
ADA, Title III Section 302 -

(a) General Rule.--No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.

I'm not sure how that can be interpreted to apply to non-disabled persons, but apparently it has been.



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