ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge has dismissed 45 more lawsuits over access to Disney theme-park rides and attractions for people with disabilities, but the lawyer handling them is already appealing them.

U.S. District Judge Anne Conway ruled in dozens of cases now that Disney made sufficient accommodations for people with autism and other developmental disabilities. The plaintiff had the same opportunities to experience Walt Disney World as other visitors, she ruled.

But attorney Andy Dogali of Tampa isn’t backing down. His appeal blasts the Conway ruling and says he has shown “extensive evidence that Disney intentionally discriminated … deceptive manipulation of disabled guests, concealment of fraudulent wait times, concealment of discrimination through deliberate ruses and covers.”

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Dogali also says in the appeal that Disney’s upper-level executives, who have said they weren’t involved in developing the program, were directly involved.

Dogali has filed dozens of lawsuits on behalf of people with disabilities or their families, alleging that Walt Disney Parks and Resorts discriminated against people with autism and other developmental disabilities when the company changed its policies in 2013. The first dismissal of his cases came in April, and dozens more were dismissed more recently.

Disney says, through spokespeople: “Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests, and we fully comply with all ADA requirements.”

In 2013, Disney ended its previous program, the Guest Assistance Card, because the older program was abused by wealthy people who hired guests with disabilities to take them to the front of a line. The new program, called Disability Access Service, no longer allowed people with disabilities to skip waiting, but it allowed them to make a reservation in advance and avoid standing in line until that time.

The lawsuits allege that children with autism or other cognitive disabilities don’t have the patience required to wait for a certain ride — even if they are not waiting in line. Those lawsuits cite “meltdown behaviors” that sometimes force children and their parents to leave the parks.

Disney has denied violating any applicable laws, codes or regulations or that it discriminated, and said it went to great lengths to provide service to its guests with disabilities.

The DAS program has been used at Disneyland in California and at Walt Disney World in Florida.

© 2016 Orlando Sentinel
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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