Families suing Disney over autism-related disabilities want to depose Staggs, Disney fights back

Posted Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:04 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Walt Disney Company and its attorneys are battling a request to have Tom Staggs, current COO, former division chair of the parks, sit for a deposition in controversial lawsuits over disabled access to theme park attractions. Dozens of families with autistic children have sued, alleging that children with cognitive disabilities don’t have the patience required to wait for a certain ride – even if they are not waiting in line. While Disney has generally declined to comment on the lawsuits, it has argued in court filings that it went to great lengths to provide service to its disabled guests.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:11 PM

As an advocate for ASD kids, this story pisses me off every time I see it. This entitlement bull**** is now going as far as demanding time from executives how likely had little to no interaction with the people who designed and built the program. Look, I've literally carried my kid out Magic Kingdom in the midst of a meltdown. I get it. But you aren't doing your kid any favors by demanding a world without boundaries. Instead, you're being grownup entitled douchebags.

A few weeks ago, we saw a family from the UK trying to contain their kid who was having a meltdown at the monorail for no reason other than they were leaving the park. I'm guessing he was 9 or 10. It was heartbreaking to see, because I knew exactly what was going on, even if we had never experienced anything quite as intense. But they did a good job containing his physical lashing out and working out diversionary strategies to get him "back." You could tell, those parents were doing it right. I wish everyone with a kid on the spectrum was more like that.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:43 PM

So with this story, I'm supposed to feel sorry for them, feel a need to boycott Disney, and root for them to win. The plaintiffs have failed on all three counts because they aren't reasonable people.

Last edited by bjames, Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:45 PM
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Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:46 PM

If they are not in the line then waiting to ride at a specific time really is no different than waiting for lunch or for the end of the day before they leave school. It's a hard concept for some of the kids but they have to get it at some point.

Last edited by Paisley, Tuesday, August 25, 2015 7:47 PM
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Thursday, August 27, 2015 9:03 AM

When your ideas come from the right place, but then get turned inside-out and you become a ridiculous caricature...

We call that "PETA'ing."

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Thursday, September 3, 2015 6:01 PM

Since I logged in... ;)

Disney's new system from how I understand it makes sense - you get told that the ride has an hour long wait, and hour later you get to go ride it. Done. Perfect system, allows people who for whatever reason cannot stand in line for an hour to go sit somewhere or whatever, while those people that can wait the same amount of time. I was involved with another system similar to this at one point.

The argument that you should get to go on the ride immediately because the person can't wait, even outside the ride, crosses a line to me. In that case, how could that person reasonably get to the park? It involves at least some driving and waiting.

The flip side too is that if the child is so stressed by waiting, what happens if the ride suffers through a downtime? Is the child going to try to escape the harness? Jump out? I would argue that this, intentionally or not, is another good safety check. Just like if you cannot safely close yourself into a ride's harness, you cannot ride, if you could be so stressed during a downtime to be a danger to yourself or others, you shouldn't be allowed to ride.

I assume that this comes from the fact that Disney used to just let them go, until they figured out that the system was being abused and people were "renting" people with disabilities to get them into rides faster, which is a complete misuse of the system. Their system is fair and actually slightly more lenient than the system that I was involved with (which, we could only have one person with a pass on the ride at a time, specifically because of the potential issues with unloading the ride for a downtime).

I'm very curious to see where this goes though, because if they somehow win it starts to open the door for a lot of other issues in the future. Unfortunately, the amusement park experience may not be for everyone, and the safety of the guests need to be the top priority, as well as ensuring that everyone is getting a fair experience. The system does that as best as is possible.

(note - may be slightly off with facts, couldn't read the article in full - darn registration - so feel free to call me out if I said something wrong.)

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Thursday, September 3, 2015 6:36 PM

I agree; what Disney has rolled out is the best way to address the concerns of all concerned.

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