Disney is fighting allegations that changes to its policy for accommodating people with disabilities at its theme parks are in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
In a 93-page filing with the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California this week, Disney rejected charges brought in a lawsuit earlier this year by the mothers of 16 kids and young adults with developmental disabilities who said they were not properly accommodated by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
The families alleged that visits to Disney theme parks became marred by long waits and unhelpful interactions with staff after the company made broad changes last fall to its approach for accommodating park visitors with disabilities.
Previously, individuals with special needs were provided passes that often allowed them and their guests to skip to the front of long lines for park attractions. Under the new system, however, those with disabilities can obtain a card which allows them to schedule a return time for rides based on current wait times.
The lawsuit cited cases of children with developmental disabilities who experienced meltdowns at Disney parks since the changes took effect allegedly because the kids could not tolerate long waits for rides, among other problems.
Changes to disability accommodations at Disneyland and Disney World were prompted by “widespread” abuse of the old system, Disney officials said.
In its point-by-point response this week, Disney told the court that it works individually with guests to meet their needs and said “all guests with disabilities are provided the level of accommodation required by law.”
Disney is now asking the court to dismiss the families’ suit.
“Disney was not required under federal or state law to provide unlimited, repeated, immediate access to its rides and attractions as the only available accommodation for purposes of reasonably accommodating plaintiffs’ alleged disability,” wrote Rhonda Trotter, an attorney for Disney, in response to the lawsuit.