Autistic Kids Proceed to Trial Against Disney

By William Vogeler, Esq. on August 23, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Disneyland is famous for Mickey Mouse and really long lines. And that's a problem -- the long lines, not Mickey Mouse.

According to plaintiffs in a class-action, the lines at Disney's theme parks are even worse for them. They are autistic children, and they want to cut to the front.

In A.L. v. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts US, a federal appeals court said the plaintiffs may proceed. It doesn't mean they will get a pass, but at least they'll get a trial.

Autistic Children

According to reports, Disney has been sued at least 44 times for allegedly not accommodating children with autism. That's just in the past four years.

After the ruling from the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, attorney Anthony Dogali said it's about time they got a trial. The court reversed summary judgment on 30 cases in the consolidated ruling.

"They're relieved but it's been a long time coming to bear," he told Courthouse News. "They've just wanted an opportunity to prove that Disney discriminates against guests with severe cognitive impairments."

The plaintiffs say, through their parents, that autistic children have "an inability to comprehend the concept of time, defer gratification, and wait for rides." Disney attorneys countered that the parents managed to get their children to the parks in rides on board cars or planes.

"Guest Assistance Card"

Disney used to provide "Guest Assistance Cards" to visitors with disabilities that allowed them to skip the long lines. That included children with autism.

But the company changed its program several years ago because of rampant abuse by people selling and using counterfeit cards. Under a new "Disability Access Service," guests with disabilities may present identification at attractions and receive a scheduled time to return to the front.

The autistic plaintiffs say the new program doesn't work for them because they need routines. If they have to wait, they risk "over-stimulation or meltdown."

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