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Disney Sued Over Disability Access Policy


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The mothers of 16 kids and young adults with developmental disabilities are suing Disney alleging that the company is failing to accommodate their children who cannot tolerate long wait times for theme-park rides like

The mothers of 16 kids and young adults with developmental disabilities are suing Disney alleging that the company is failing to accommodate their children who cannot tolerate long wait times for theme-park rides like “It’s a Small World.” (Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times/MCT)

Disney is facing allegations of discrimination, with a lawsuit charging that modifications to the company’s policy for accommodating people with disabilities at its theme parks violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The lawsuit filed last week by mothers of 16 kids and young adults with developmental disabilities from across the nation accuses Walt Disney Parks and Resorts of failing to accommodate their children’s special needs and of actively dissuading their presence at the company’s theme parks.

The move comes after Disney made sweeping changes to its policy for accommodating park visitors with disabilities last fall. For years, Disney had offered individuals with special needs a pass that often allowed them and their guests to skip to the front of long lines for park attractions.

Now, however, visitors to Walt Disney World and Disneyland can obtain a Disability Access Service Card which allows them to schedule a return time for rides based on current wait times. The system prevents those with disabilities from having to wait in line, but only allows visitors to schedule one attraction at a time.

Disney said the changes — which took effect in October — came after its existing system was “abused and exploited.” In their suit, however, the families allege that there was no abuse, but rather that the company wished to “cleanse its parks of what Disney views as the anti-Magic of such persons’ stimming, tics and meltdowns.”

The 180-page complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California details long waits and unhelpful interactions with employees at Disney parks. Moreover, the suit alleges that Disney won’t discuss accommodations with families until they have invested significant sums of money to arrive at a park.

In the suit, a mother known as M.B. alleges that she waited in line for an hour and a half to receive a Disability Access Card for her 6-year-old with autism who is referred to in court documents as A.B. Even though she offered park officials medical documentation about her child’s inability to tolerate waits, the mother says she was given no choice but to schedule a return time at “It’s a Small World” which A.B. wanted to ride repeatedly. After riding twice, A.B. faced another hour-and-fifteen-minute wait and entered a “full-fledged meltdown,” the lawsuit alleges.

In a separate case, the suit indicates that a mother known as L.C. tried to take her 7-year-old with autism, referred to as J.C., to Disney World several times since the new policy took effect. L.C. said her child has had multiple meltdowns after learning of wait times to ride “Peter Pan” and “Winnie the Pooh,” with J.C. falling to the ground or jumping up and down with arms spinning around. As a result, L.C. is no longer taking her child to Disney parks and does not plan to renew the family’s annual passes.

“Until recently, parents of developmentally disabled children universally adored Disney, because of the way Disney caringly accommodated their children,” said attorney Andy Dogali who is representing the families. “No reasonable mind could ever conclude, after investigating these facts and spending extensive time with these families, anything other than Disney willingly abandoned them.”

The lawsuit also alleges that Disney has a secret offering known as the “Magic List” whereby the company extends to select individuals five passes to gain immediate access to rides without even obtaining a Disability Access Card.

The families are seeking damages and are looking to compel Disney to alter its policies and practices.

In a statement to Disability Scoop, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts stood by their existing policies.

“Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests. We fully comply with all ADA requirements and believe that the legal claims are without merit,” the company said.

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Comments (150 Responses)

  1. Dianne Vierling says:

    I was just at Disney again this year for the first time with this change in effect. I was very disappointed as I am disabled, my husband has a disability and my mother is disabled. We spend over $210.00 a day in scooter rental, because we are not able to walk any distance or stand for an extended amount of time. I have always shared how great Disney was in how their customer service was for the disabled, but that has changed a great deal. I thought that Walt was all for helping the disabled in his lifetime.
    Please bring back the care, concern and compassion for those who have limited abilities please.

  2. Sue jozefiak says:

    Im a annual pass holder. And I do see abruse all the time like someone said about the grandmother with the scooter and the rest of the family gets to go on the ride . Then again there r people who have disabilities who do abuse it . But now the only one that do suffer r the kids some don’t understand they have to wait some can’t wait. I know for a fact my daughter would sit down and not move . So wjen we go we do get the pass but there is only one ride at mk she goes on and one a aminal kingdom. So we do not abuse it. I know one timewewentto animal kingdom on the safari ride when we got to the place to get on there where at least 20 elec scooters there and they didn’t belong to kids. It just sad how things change . Years ago we never that these problems.

  3. Elizabeth Arnold says:

    I am 62 years old and disabled I agree whole hearted lay Disney is right I have never abused thier system and never would. We as a family have been to Disney every year for 34 years. And the abuse is laughable. Whole families and I mean large families push there way through all the lines and think it funny well done Disney stick to your guns

  4. Laura Mendoza says:

    I think Disney needs to also review it’s pricing for people with disabilities given that not all their attractions are accessible for adults with disabilities and we can’t take advantage of all of what the park offers to it’s guests.

  5. Jennifer says:

    When I went with my family in 2002 one of the roller coasters almost did not fit my friend. Yes he’s big but that should not matter should it?

  6. Sally says:

    So many people now have been flipping out because of the long lines.. Welcome to spring break. I’ve heard this new card works just fine and people just need patience. Don’t yell at the cast members who are just doing their job. They didn’t make the rule, but they have to enforce it. Stay strong Disney, this will blow over soon.

  7. Celestia Ohrazda says:

    We went to Disney World Christmas Week. I was concerned about my 6 year-old niece who is medically fragile and the new disability policy they had implemented. I must say the trip was a complete dream and WDW was extremely accommodating in fact the trip went better than the prior time with Make-a-wish and when the former disability pass was in full force. I was told to just wait to see how it is implemented before passing judgement
    I have read prior Disability Forums to going indicated that people are disgusted they can no longer go directly to the front of the line. Everyone must keep in mind that when going to Disney Parks you can not expect to ride space mountain six times in one hour and there is so much more than just riding the rides (in my opinion the sites and experience are much more than the thrill of rides – if you want rides go to six flags). Our family was able to fully enjoy the experience, the cast members were so accommodating and loving. She even taught them some sign language! Probably the most precious moment was when we were outside looking in with other strangers as my niece was with Jasmine. The strangers were commenting on her experience with the princess and they were touched.
    What a magical experience. I believe Disney has implemented their new policy wonderfully.

  8. M says:

    “No reasonable mind could ever conclude”….. Autistic kids don’t have a reasonable mind! That’s the whole point! BTW those of you who idol Walt Disney, he was nothing but a racist antisemitic greedy jerk. Yea, he had his own issues BUT he was forced to change because he wasn’t “normal”, he was taught to hate those who were different.

  9. Theresa L says:

    I Agree with their card system that if its too busy that you can come back and not have to wait in line. That seems totally fair to me. But I too have a 6 year old with Autism and honestly The park should have been up front with prices, accommodations, etc. Yes a 6 year old with Autism (or even adhd) is not going to wait for hours just to get a card to go on to the rides. I will not take my young children to Disney they both have special needs and i’m scared of going through all of this myself. That is awful that this parent had to go through that. NOT only that but then you have other parents, visitors looking, staring, and judging you. Thinking you are a bad parent when you are not a bad parent. I have to go through this just taking my daughter out to pizza because of waiting and her having a tantrum .


  10. NP says:

    What absolute GARBAGE – give me a break people – this is a THEMEPARK – not your private sanctuary to take your special needs children to and be overly accomodated for. We with able bodied children have the same issues – and please this mom “MB” with child “AB” wanted to ride Its a small world over and over again?? WELL SO DO I – BUT I WAIT IN LINE LIKE OTHER PEOPLE. Maybe these parents need to teach their children what limits are and not play into their every little whim – yes you can hae autism, but you can still learn BOUNDARIES and DISCIPLINE and don’t tell me you can’t. These parents make me disgusted – this is EXACTLY whats wrong with the world today – overly ENTITLED babies – thats what the us has come to – where exactly were all these problems 20 years ago? PuLeASe.

  11. Debbie says:

    Totally agree with parents. I have 2 children who are deaf/blind and was told that is no longer a disability!! Go figure when asked about lighting n steps was not offered solution n made to feel dumb for asking. My children no longer go which is sad

  12. Mrs. S says:

    As a mother of a child with severe autism, it hurts to read the comments posted here that are so heartless and inconsiderate. I wouldn’t normally comment, but felt compelled to do so. Why is there so much hate for a family that gets a little special treatment in one place? You cannot possibly imagine how difficult life can be on a day-to-day basis. How hard,as parents, we try to do everything we can to reach our children and to help them break out of the hold this disease has on them. A small vacation at Disney used to be a great joy because for just a little bit, a little joy squeaked in. Yes, it is true. Sometimes our children only want to go on one ride repeatedly. They cannot maintain like other children, in line or understand the concept of the wait. I am just saddened that there seem to be so many out there who feel so threatened by the way the GAC used to work; for persons of all disabilities. And please try to keep in mind, children grow up to become adults. Whether they reach that mental capacity to function as such, is different for each case. When accessing the change in the system, I wanted to take persons of all disabilities in mind, of all ages, and their ability to enjoy the parks in a way that non-disabled people can. It is true that Disney has much more to offer than just rides. However, depending on the disability in question, the individual may have no awareness of it and therefore no interest/attention. Often, children on the spectrum seek movement, and thusly crave the thrill of a ride. I have also accompanied family members with terminal cancer. Just staying conscious took every effort for them, but it was done for their children or parents; to have that memory with them. Having the ability to go from one ride to the next and get on within ten minutes made that trip possible…and priceless. Some of you have said we are raising children who want entitlements. That requesting Disney go back to the previous GAC system is nothing more than an entitlement mentality. I will tell you honestly that I have yet to meet one parent of a special needs child, one parent who has lost their child to cancer, one child who has lost their parent to cancer, who wouldn’t trade complete recovery for any and all privileges you think we have. For me personally, the absolute only privilege we received was special assistance with the former GAC. It wasn’t much, but it was just enough to bring some joy, some sense of normalcy, to our lives. To allow our family to experience things what other families get to, which would otherwise be unthinkable for our situation. We receive no federal, state or local assistance. We are a family of five and barely get by with all of our medical bills adding that enormous weight to our budget. Saving up to get passes to Disney was completely worth it because for us, it truly was the happiest place on earth. Disney did not have to have a system in place like they did with the GAC. No other theme park had anything like what they had. However, what they had was indeed special. I only hope that those of you who lump us all into one category, assuming we are bad parents and just want special treatment for us and our 50 “closest” friends, will see that judgement was made in error. We only want our child, grown or young, or our very ill family member, to be able to experience the parks as you can with your family. We don’t want to be made into a public scene for an hour or more because our child is having a meltdown and can neither communicate properly nor stop the downward spiral. We also don’t want to have to leave the park because our sick family member just cannot physically bear the wait. Again, I encourage everyone to be a bit more considerate of others and to thank The Lord for your health and ability to go through life without these concerns. I thank The Lord for our difficulties because they shape us and often make us better and stronger, while pulling us ever closer to Him. God’s blessings to you all.

  13. rebecca says:

    In WDW now. Been to wDw and land with disability pass. However, this trip the staff is awful. Today there was a 35 minute wait to see buzz and Woody we asked for a return time on our pass. we were told no.We could not get a return time. The worker said well maybe we would do that for a make a wish kid. He was awful.hey are trying to flip things around and said they offered to bring hrr to the exit they were of course lying. ALso we were going on the back stage ride. I asked the worker for a return time on our pass. She said it would be only a few minutes like 10 and we did not need one There was a standing line. I explained my daughter could not stand that long. she kept talking. I had my daughter sit down. she talked until the line started to move. Inside there was a 6 to 8 minute standing show. The guest stood still on concrete.I asked to go through or for a chair. No place for her to sit. no help getting through the crowd. Tonight t star wars we came back for express pass one minute late it turned while we were waiting. they said walk in in stand by. it was walk on. my daughter explained she was a disabled person and asked to use the express lane. The distance to walk is shorter. Staff said no “It does not matter” We got on the ride using the long way. Yesterday in Epcot- in Chine we could not see the movie as it was standing on no place to sit.Had a better disabled pass experience in Land. The pas worked at some of the rides. The workers need training. The shorter walk to a ride, a chair to sit in not to stand a cool place to sit and wait not much to ask in terms of accommodation. Guest relations did not think our requests were unusual when they gave her the pass. She showed she state issued disabled persons ID, we have a letter from her dr and the disabled parking. My daughter has very bad JRA. She needs a new hip, shoulder and jaw, She can not stand that long. She can not sit that long. A wheel chair becomes painful. She walks but we have to take breaks and go slow. She just needed a palce to sit and not to stand in line.

  14. rebecca says:

    Also yesterday’s walking and inability to set places to sit made us leave early. We just needed a chair or a place to sit. The shorter path to walk. A time to return to see a charter that is inside a building and not leaving. We did the charter walk ups on the street. She sat and came to meet me. The wait was not long 15 minutes tops. However, the people running the buzz and woody meet and greet would not give us a return time for the 35 minute wait and there as no cool place to sit. the line for the charters for those who could stand was inside. No chairs inside for the disabled to sit in. No return time.

  15. rebecca says:

    We have had problems twice in land around the Disney Fantasmic package. I pay for the meal and get the special area viewing , However, we can not use the viewing area.. The first time November 2013,I explained that she could not stand that long. we were told to get her wheel chair we did. we got a seat in the back on a bench and I got to sit in her wheel chair. I could not sit on a bench. The bar came up in my field of vision. The preferred viewing I paid for was much closer. The second time in Feb 2014 I aid for the preferred viewing package again. This time they did have a disabled section that was closer but full. Suggested they let us note the need for special seating in the preferred meal package area. We did get to be sort of on the steps. I said I wanted to be in the section we paid for. They literally let the people stand in front of the people in the wheel chairs or seated on the benches. The standing people can see over the seated people. We have had to sit at concert and things and that is upfront as people can see over us, as they stand. We can not see over them when we sit. It is the two of us. We are not bringing a dozen friends. Tonight In WDW I paid for the fantasmic package. The theater only had the disabled people in the back. She can not do steps. She needs a new hip , shoulder and jaw and we have to wait until she is well enough long enough to have surgery.
    We did see Beauty and the Beast show today the options for wheel chair persons or disabled was in the back row over half was in the sun. However, the non disabled seating was sheltered. We were then told we could use a ramp and did find seats in the front under the shelter . There seemed to be cooler air , under the shelter and closer to the front.
    My daughter is physically disabled not a whining baby by any means. Just trying to have equal accommodations. Just trying to be able to sit in a place that is equal to what we paid for. Just trying to have a chair or a place to sit. A wait time on a disabled persons pass.
    Yesterday when all the standing was too much in Epcot they did let us use wheel chair to get out of the park. So the Epcot first aid station was nice but we lost the day at the park. Her disease has also made her anemic and have blood pressure issues. She is on medications. She is no a whining spoiled child. Just a person with a disease asking to be able to sit, asking not to have to wait to long or stand too long. Noticing that we can not use the areas we paid for

  16. rebecca says:

    Comment to NP- my daughter is not a whining baby. She has JRA. The disease was not diagnosed properly and is severe. It destroyed her joints. She is took sick to have the surgery at this time. She can not walk too far without needing a break. At times she has a wheel chair but that hurts too. she can not walk fast so in airports she has to use it. She can not rest. Some days her anemia and blood pressure take over. The pain she is in is unending and exhausting. Maybe you would like to trade the health anyone of your able bodied kids waiting in line with my daughter’s condition we will take it any day of the week. I will also tell you the medications she has to take can cause cancer and problems having children. We use the disabled persons pass , so she can have some fun in life. You are only seeing part of the pass. Someone has to go to the ride or in land a special area and get the pass return time. Then you have to wait your time and return. We get to go one as it is like we have been in line. NP I think 20 years ago my kid would have been dead or in an institution so I guess you did not have these problems then.

  17. Marlaina says:

    We just went to Disney for Memorial Day and we used the new disability access card. I don’t know that it is the best accommodation for ALL disabilities. My son is autistic, 6 years old, and having to wait in any line, even if it is for 10 mins can be challenging for him. He definitely experienced a lot of sensory overload while waiting in line. Being in small spaces with strangers is basically frightening and painful for him. I do appreciate the accommodation but I wish Disney still had it where you can skip the line entirely. And I also find it a bit troubling that people consider it abuse of the system just because your whole party rides together. If you are vacationing with your able bodied family you want to ride together so why shouldn’t a disabled person ride with their entire party? Also don’t make assumptions about someone’s status as disabled just by what you see; many disabilities are invisible in passing.

  18. Chris says:

    What no one is realizing is that with the new card, yes you get a return time. I think that’s fair. But you have to go to the attraction to get the return time (not easy if you aren’t ambulatory). It would be better by miles if you could schedule the return times at kiosks or via the app. The other issue, if you get a return time to an attraction that is two hours, you have to use that return BEFORE you can schedule a second attraction. If you are only able to spend a third of the day at the park, this makes for a very incomplete experience. This was my family on Sunday. It has a ton of room for improvement.

  19. Myrna says:

    For those not understanding why a whole family gets in with the disabled person.. We went several times with my mom-in-law who was battling cancer. She wanted nothing more than watching her 7 grandkids who she knew she would not live to see grow up, enjoy Disney as much as she did. They let families on together just for that reason. She wasn’t there to ride by herself. She was there to create memories for her precious grandchildren to have after she was gone. Last fall she finally lost the battle with her cancer, but her family now has these memories of grandma laughing and enjoying her favorite place on earth with her favorite people on earth. She could not have left these memories for us if we would have been in a seperate line. All together our family sometimes added up to at least 20 people. But she is gone now and those of us who got to enjoy bring with her are so thankful we were there.

  20. John says:

    I live in Orlando and have worked at WDW. I can tell you that as a company, their policies are far more inclusive and fair than other similar organizations. The old policy was rife with fraud and abuse. In a perfect world perhaps the system would have worked, but it is not. Families went to the extreme of hiring disabled persons for the sole reason of getting the preferential passes. Whole groups jumped line while others waited. The new system may not suit all, but it substantially levels the playing field.

  21. cheryl says:

    Let me address the heartless cruel people that have no disabled child These parents go to Disney exactly the same reason you do….to go to “fantasyland” where everything is fun. These precious children are not “equipped” with the same function ability as your children who can wait in line. They are not wired in the same fashion. So the hell with them? There is NO EQUAL playing field when time is NOT on your side, heat is a major contributing factor, and there are parents, yes, parents in line that do NOT watch their children while they are fighting and pushing in a line and hurt people that are disabled by stepping on their feet, landing on them while in a wheel chair, spraying their water bottle and thinking it is ok to get someone wet. NO it is not ok. It is not ok to spray someone when it is hot out with their water spray bottle—maybe that person has medication on their body that they need to keep there. SO, these people should not enjoy life because someone is sick and they should stay home and not have any fun time? The new passes don’t work and this was my experience 2 weeks ago.

  22. Scott Allen says:

    My experience with the new system was horrid. On a previous trip, I had gotten the disability access card, but I didn’t need it for my son (on the autism spectrum), so I never used it. We used the fast pass system they had at the time and also waited in a few lines. My recollection was that you went to the ride and got a pass for later. The new system makes you wait in line to register for the 3 rides you want and to set the times you will be ready to ride them. Then instead of giving us a printout, we were told to get out a cell phone and take a picture of the screen.

    I guess their intent is for us to all use apps for the fastpass stuff and to register on their app (on the phone that is apparently mandatory), but caregivers of disabled kids and adults are already overwhelmed and frankly having to jump through a bunch of hoops just to enjoy the park is exactly what they are trying to avoid.

  23. carol maruszewski says:

    I wish I had know their policy change before we spend over $2000.00 to visit Disney World for five day and got to ride on four rides. We have visited Disney almost every year for the past 20 will never go back. I have always raved about Disney never again.

  24. Daniele Serrano says:

    Been going to Disney yearly for 10 years now….I am at Disney as I write this….I was almost crying myself today. I have a daughter with a rare disease who has difficulty tolerating temperature changes as well as heat and humidity….it can cause reactions that range from vomiting or cuteness reactions to life threatening reactions. Every year I take her to Disney because of the compassionate way they treated persons with disabilities and how accommodating they WERE….Today I was shocked at the lack of compassion, no help whatsoever with my daughter’s needs despite physician’s letter as well as areas that were designated for handicapped or special needs GONE….now you can pay an extra $60 per person instead in addition to your park tickets to just see the frozen fireworks from a decent place (if you’re in a wheel chair good luck!). Cast members are rude. Staff is rude and uncaring. Also the hotel Coronado Springs made drastic changes. Refil mugs are now microchips and you pay for them by the day. Food is consistently bad. My husband was so sick immediately after dinner he missed a whole park day the following day and can’t eat anything . I am here for a Martial Arts tournament and heard many say they won’t be back as well.

  25. Daniele Serrano says:

    Phone typing….”cutaneous”….not cuteness.

  26. Carol Sutton says:

    I live in New York and I sure hope when I go to Disney in four weeks I am allowed the old type of pass I have a severe chemical sensitivity problem that causes asthma attacks If I cannot bypass the lines and have to hang out at the park all day with sunscreen smells and perfume smells and many other smells I will not be able to enjoy my days In Disney with my family and my 5 grandchildren my trip is costing me over $9000.00

  27. Michael Sullivan says:

    If my child had severe issues with heat, crowds, food, lines and loud noises and I chose to take him to any amusement park for a day, let alone a vacation, I hope someone would call CPC on me.
    I have been to many public venues with all kinds of people. No one treats guests with more patience and respect than Disney.

  28. Jen says:

    Why is always parents of children with autism? What exactly makes autistic kids more special and therefore deserving of special treatment than anyone else, especially those who also have cognitive issues? Kids with Downs have a lot of processing issues too, and so do kids with mental illnesses like schizophrenia – and yet I’ve never seen a parent of one of these kids decide that their child is so entitled as to not wait in a line. Most of those parents know that if their kid wants to be out in society he/she will have to learn some basic coping skills including patience and waiting in lines.

    Plus, with the new DAS your child does not have to wait in a long line! They get a return time, and when they come back they get to go right in. The desks where you get the return times are in many cases nowhere near the rides, so your kid doesn’t see them. So what exactly is the issue here?

    The issue is parents wanting their child to be allowed to “loop” and essentially ride the same rides repeatedly. “They only like a few rides” Well can’t the same be said about everyone? I would LOVE to be able to ride Space Mountain over and over, but guess what? Life doesn’t work like that. My dad has a disorder that makes him very intolerant to heat and will pass out easily and will little notice. So he goes to Florida in the months of less heat (late fall/winter) will “browse” in stores and utilize their AC. Now is it fair that he because of his condition he has to spend a large amount of time standing around inside to stay cool when other people are waiting in lines and/or going on rides? No, but it’s the cards he was dealt and makes the best of it he can.

  29. Jessica Rabbit says:

    It’s odd to use the term “physically melt down” to describe the effect to these young persons in the lawsuit.
    They are not plastic or candles in the hot weather, which do, in fact, “melt down” physically.
    Instead these children do not comprehend limits placed upon them and have a reaction to these limits. The reaction may be: continued crying without sign of abatement, distress due to their perceived need not being immediately gratified, and or ‘tantrum’s’ of a physical nature that may be violent to others or to themselves.
    A ‘melt down’ is not a medical term, it is a parental term that parents use when they lose physical control of their child or children. These ‘melt downs’ are not limited to children with cognitive disorders and are not the basis for receiving fast-tract services in any other part of life.
    Doctors office: everybody waits
    Post office: everybody waits
    Grocery store: everybody waits
    Line at the movies: everybody waits

    And then for a parent to say to others that those who disagree with them are without compassion to their parental difficulties; this is ludicrous. There is difficulty in all walks of life. Everywhere. LIFE is not a score card of misery! Your child is ALIVE and with you in a theme park, there are other parents who are now childless that would gladly take your worst day instead of their lonely future. So yes. Yes to you parents who fill out the ‘score card of misery” – we do expect you to wait along side the rest of us who are also waiting in lines, every day of our lives. You don’t get a misery exemption, and neither do we.

  30. Kate72 says:

    I am kind of torn on this post. I would love to take my daughter to Disney world, but I doubt in reality she would really enjoy it at all. She has autism and mitochondrial disease and it really is beyond annoying to read posts from people on here who obviously have NO IDEA what a parent of a child with just autism alone has to deal with on a day to day basis. A melt down is not a temper tantrum. It is a child who is overwhelmed by their environment and cannot process all of it at once. It is usually worse with a lot of noise, people, flashing lights…which to be honest, well that’s Disney World! These are not spoiled children, they just are not able to regulate their emotions and in some cases a child may go so far as to physically injure themselves because they aren’t able to regulate those emotions with a hectic environment. Parents of autistic and medically fragile children are usually always tired and stressed and could badly use a vacation because they have tried every therapy they can and been to specialists in different states just to try to get some help for their children, so to say this is just a case of lazy parenting…that poster wouldn’t dare say that to my face and lets just leave it at that I think. I am torn because knowing how my own daughter reacts to crowds and noises and just generally being overstimulated I would think unless there is an off season, and I mean like for some odd reason everybody decided NOT to go to Disney that week, this park seems like an all around bad idea. I don’t believe there is a need for anyone to be able to ” loop” or continuously ride something over and over while jumping the line every time! If you have a child in a wheelchair or one that normally needs assistance, let one person ride with them. You are going there for the child, the whole family tree should not be jumping on for a free ride. I would love for my daughter to have the opportunity to enjoy Disney and all the characters she loves but, it is Disneyworld and it is kind of a given that there is going to be fireworks, lots of people and commotion and this isn’t going to change. I think at the least Disney needs to come up with a better plan, would it be so bad to have an area of the theme park that was more geared to people with disabilities, easier to get on and off rides, more benches, rest areas? Maybe multiples of the same type of rides to reduce lines ? Rides/shows geared towards people who use assistive devices. An open area playground with special needs equipment so there is something to do if there are long wait lines for rides. If it helps children/adults who have a harder time wouldn’t it be worth it? With so many children and adults with disabilities wanting to come to Disney world it isn’t as if they wouldn’t profit from doing something like that. Just a thought.

  31. Darlene Watson says:

    As I read these comments about the different experiences people have had, I can not understand what has happened to our society. To make a comment about parents who deal with children with disabilities, seen or unseen, is so cruel. I too have a grandchild who has cystic fibrosis. Unless you personally have to deal with a child of special needs on a daily basis you have no right to judge these others.
    Our family is planning a trip to disney over Thanksgiving holiday. We will have two people with disabilities traveling with us, not one of which we hired. I am hoping for some compassion from the employees but also recognis

  32. Darlene Watson says:

    Recognize that we chose a very busy week to go to the park. I would love to see some compassion from the people visiting the park. The last time we were there my husband, who also is a disabled veteran, was about mowed down when using his cane a few times. God knows when people go on vacation they are “trying to have fun, don’t get in there way”

  33. debra says:

    I would think this is more of a legal concern of discrimination after reading this case in detail for a class project. It seems that people are missing the point how can disney let one group (disabled individuals in wheelchairs and scooters) at the front of the line yet make (disabled people with cognitive) issues wait in line longer or return. From a legal perspective that can be a form of discrimination.
    Also before people jump to conclusions on how or what the situation is they should research what Cogantive disabilities are and how it impairs people and read the Disney Parks access service card fact sheet and the facts of the case. I think maybe the full picture would really shock most people this is Disney’s attempt to make a profit and nothing more and curb complaints from a society that lacks education on the facts of Cognative disibilities in my personal opinion.

  34. Nikki says:

    A lot of these comments just seem like people using their disabled children as an excuse for their neglect to parent their children. I’ve seen many autistic and disabled children who were mindful and respectful because they were not raised as spoiled brats.

  35. Susan says:

    the new law requires that people with disabilities be treated the same as everyone else. I work at Disney and if you tell me your have no arms and no legs, I CAN NOT offer you a wheelchair accessible room UNTIL YOU ASK FOR IT.

    Basically,,,,,Disney got sued for treating people differently,,,,,,,now you all have to suffer and be treated the same as everyone else,,,,,,,and that means no special treatment.

  36. Donilda says:

    I hope they sue the pants off Disney. What they’re doing now is not EQUAL ACCESS. No one ELSE is having TO REPORT BACK TO DISNEY ON EVERY RIDE THEY GO ON TO GET PERMISSION FOR THE NEXT RIDE, LIKE SOME KIND OF SCHOOL HALL PASS! Zero spontaneous park experience! EQUAL ACCESS IS THE GOAL!!!

  37. John Smith says:

    I just returned from a trip to Disney and was actually rather upset with the way they handle disabled customers. I do not understand how being disabled should get you to the front of a line. I mean no offense to anyone who is disabled, but you get to sit while you wait in the same line as everyone else that alone is a plus. Watching endless people (most who are probably abusing the system) get to the front of the line while we are left to wait for endless hours to get on rides is just ridiculous. The ADA was put in place to guarantee access to everyone. To make sure we can all go the same places and do the same things, however it does not say anyone has the right to get there faster. In fact at its absolute base the ADA was put in place to give equality. Equality meaning equal should in turn mean that if an non-handicap person has to stand in line for an hour, a person who is disable should equally wait in a 1 hour line. What about being disabled makes one unable to wait? All of this in turn results in a few thing in my opinion… With priority access and shorter then average wait times to get thru attractions this results in a much quicker and pleasant experience. This in turn makes for a better experience, while the rest of us mull about like cattle. ALSO if you are able to make your way thru the parks at a faster pace you can theoretically book a shorter vacation and save money, which can with Disney equal BIG savings. What may take a non-disabled person 7 days to do with full wait times could take 5 for someone with faster access. The most ridiculous place this happens is Disney transportation. Again while you stand in a line 200 people long at park closing waiting for bus after bus to come until you can finally get a ride back to your resort after a long day of walking everywhere, Disabled people get to go to a special line and have priority access to the buses. How again does this make sense? anyone?

  38. Jon says:

    We have a autistic 10yr old boy and just finished our WDW vacation. We found much of the same issues as described in the other comments to be true. It started with guest relations being evasive about the existence of the pass and issuing it to us this year. We’ve been to WDW many times and used both the old policy and the new one. We used this new policy last year already when it was first changed. I have to say that even between last year and this year under the exact same policy, Disney’s implementation has changed dramatically. One example is, last year we were able to go to the exit of a meet and greet with a large line and within a few minutes we would be allowed access to Them. This year we were told that unless there was a fast pass line we would have to wait with everyone else. We tried that with one meet and greet, which ended with a full melt down of the 10yr old autistic child. We choose to leave the line which lead to meltdown number two of our non-autistic 3 yr old who adores Mr. Incredible. On top of that with the changes to their fast passes, not only are there ling waits in the standby line but now there are 10min + wait times in the fast pass lines as well. The abuses that are sited under the old policy were isolated and should have been dealt with on a individual basis. Instead they choose to implement changes that punished the many for the abueses of a few. Shame on you, Disney! This trip to Disney was deplorable and after 30yrs will probably be our last. I’m 49 and have a 3yr old of my own and a 2 1/2yr old grandson and its a shame that they won’t be able to experience the Disney of my childhood and my older children’s childhood. I’m sure Walt would be appalled!

  39. ECA says:

    To the John Smith’s and those who do not want to understand Disabled Kids. Have you ever had a disabled kid or family member that you have to care for for the rest of your life? Have you ever had to push a wheelchair for a member of your immediate family? And if you did, did you ever find yourself with the disabled person and a wheelchair loosing a wheel on a slope? Or having suddenly stop the wheelchair in Disney World because of the rude people jumping over your wheelchair or crossing in front to get in front of you? Do you know the different types of disabilities, one being a cognitive disabled and others non-cognitive or brain damaged that do not understand but they know something they like? i.e. Disney World. The disabled kids that suffer from seizures and the heat is a factor to trigger them. Have you ever been trapped in a line in Disney World and your family in a wheelchair starts seizing and you can not get out? Have I given you enough examples because I have been through all those scenarios given for 19 years with my son that was harmed at 2 month of age. If you do not understand don’t try and make all of us as bad people. As Jon said, there may be a bad egg in the basket, deal with the bad egg but keep the basket! We are all very useful too.

  40. engineer says:

    The ADA requires equal access. If the general public has to wait two hours (with no access to any other rides while they wait in line), then so does a disabled person. Providing them with a place to safely wait meets the intent of the law. That’s equal. Waiting in line at an amusement park on a nice day is a part of the experience. Only time I’ve ever not waited in line was on a rainy day. Want to skip the lines? Watch the weather forecast and wait for rain!!!

  41. L.L says:

    It’s disheartening to read posts of those that think people with disabilities just want to go to the front of the line. I don’t expect to get a free pass to the front of the line, however there are several things you don’t see or are overlooking. With the old guest assistance pass I was allowed to enter via the fast pass line, I was then directed through to where they loaded those with wheelchairs. Most rides only have one “car” that accommodates a wheelchair. If you can transfer you would be loaded quicker but if you have to go on in your wheelchair the wait time is not “going to the front of the line”. Furthermore, able bodied folks can enjoy the disney parks from open to close if they so desire, I cannot. Like so many other disabled people, three to hours and that’s it for me. I cannot ride or access all the attractions either. I am just as affronted with those with no morals that would abuse a system set up to help the handicap, then again I am equally disgusted with able bodied people that use handicap parking and handicap bathroom stalls. Its not that handicap people want to cut in front of you in line, we just want to be able to ride the handful of rides we are able to before our physical limitations dictate that it’s time to call it a day. I would much rather enjoy disney on my own two feet, pain free, all day long, lines or not.

  42. Jennifer Warren says:

    I visited Disney for the first time with my trach/vent dependent daughter in 2011, when she was 7 years old. The experience was amazing, and I absolutely loved their disability policy. It was like a dream! I”d never been anywhere that was so accommodating to my child. We visited several times since, and once after the policy change of 2013 (and I’d love to go again, as soon as I can afford it!) Personally, I’d welcome it if they brought their old policy back. It was amazing. However, Disney is still the most accessible park I have ever experienced, even with the new policy. How many theme parks have rides that actually allow a person with a wheelchair to ride it — in their wheelchair? Several rides – even fun ones, like Aladdin’s Magic Carpets – accommodate a person in a wheelchair, who is unable to transfer. I’ve even taken my daughter on the iconic Dumbo – and they actually held the ride up a few moments to allow the transfer of my daughter, and her ventilator, from her wheelchair to my lap, so that she could experience the ride. The staff – er Cast members – still speak directly to my daughter (even though she is non-verbal), and always with respect. They always call her Princess! The most frustrating thing at Disney, to me, is not the park’s policies; but the people who take advantage of their disability policy and abuse it. It does take some planning, but in my experience there is still no more magical, accessible park than Disney.

  43. Shooter mcgaven says:

    Get a grip people. The old system was very abused and you get the opportunity to get reservations. If your kids can’t handle that then maybe they shouldn’t be going to the park. I wish I could do that for my kids as well but unfortunately we have to stand in line…with meltdowns to boot

  44. Raymond Lattanzi says:

    I went with my wife and she was denied a disability pass even though she has arthritis. We don’t plan on returning.
    Shame on Disneyland!

  45. karen says:

    disney’s system allows the disabled access to thier rides, w/out having to be stuck in line. unlike other poeple they can roam the park while they’re ‘waiting’.he had a meltdown cuz he didn’t get what he wanted: continous, repeated rides of its a small world. there’s accomadating and then special treatment. 1 kid shouldn’t be allowed to ride multiples times in 1 hr while another is stuck waiting over an hr for just 1 ride. this woman just wanted her son to be able to take the ride and never have to come off basically.

  46. Cole says:

    I agree I have a brother that is handicap and we just went to Disney world I have so many complaints

  47. Jamie says:

    I have a son with autism and waiting is very hard. There are times that I am not going to put him through the wait, but there are more times that I do. I try to follow Temple Grandin’s suggestions. She specifically states that autistic kids need to learn to take turns and wait. That being said I was very grateful when we didn’t have to wait in line to see the Liberty Bell in Philly. If they wouldn’t have let us jump to the front of the line, then we wouldn’t have seen it. My son was not in the mood. Still in my opinion, I don’t feel this is a best practice for Disney. There are an increasing number of autistic kids and unlimited riding with no wait comes at a cost and expense for both Disney, and the child that needs to learn to wait. The park is already over stimulating so meltdowns are going to happen. We let my son watch Netflix while we waited in line. It didn’t always work perfectly but we made it through. When we went to Hershey Park, again he was overstimulated. He actually didn’t like the rides at all so we spent the entire day at the water park there (its awesome with different sections that all gated in). At the end of the day he got way too overstimulated and there wasn’t even a wait or line for anything. Meltdowns are going to happen. Fortunately we talked to an employee who helped us get out the park quickly. Keep your heads up parents. It is a lot of work. It is going to be hard. Pray for strength.

  48. Arnold Saurin says:

    Disneyland. It wasn’t the happiest place on earth. They issue you a disability pass depending on what’s wrong with you. Isn’t that illegal to question it?

  49. Tee says:

    This was disheartening to learn the policy change after telling a friend that is disabled, that she would be able to use the disable entrance and was told she could not. I google’d and realized the policy change in Fall 2013. I do feel sorry for those that need the ability to have a short wait to attend the attractions.

    The sad part about it is there were those not disabled who would rent a wheelchair just to skip the lines. A family member worked an attraction there for a few years and said that these same families would basically smirk at the cast members as they traded off who would sit in the chair next to get on the next line. Cast members had to comply even when they truly knew the family member was not disabled. These are the people who took advantage and I see tat Disney had to do something.

    However, if a child has a documented disability and Disney has it confirmed, they should be allowed to follow the old process of getting in line. Even adults with disabilities should be able to as well.

  50. michele says:

    I am disabled and took my kids and grandkids to Disney on many occasions. I did use a wheel chair, but I and the children waited in line. It is wrong to not wait in line because you are disabled. When it was too much for me physically, we left for the day. I was disgusted by the number of people using wheelchairs that were not disabled, and they bragged about doing so to get to the front of the line. As far as the “mentally” disabled, like autism and ADD, I saw them throwing fits. Those kids scared me because there temper tantrum and flinging things about could seriously hurt someone, especially a physically disabled person with a serious spine issue, like me. I am sorry, but if your kid can’t wait in lines, no matter what the reason, don’t go to to theme parks. As far as proving a disability and waiting in a line to do so, is offensive. People should be able provide medical evidence before purchasing a ticket, and should be able to do so via online or fax. My kids are grown, and I have been to Disney enough, not to mention my doctors do not allow me in crowds or on amusement rides, so I can’t comment on the new policy.

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