A group of guests have filed a lawsuit against Disneyland and Walt Disney World alleging the new Disabled Access System (DAS) violates the American with Disabilities Act, specifically for guests with cognitive impairments, such as autism. The main argument of the lawsuit is that prior to the new DAS system, Disney was much more accommodating allowing families to have wonderful experiences together. And because Disney had the knowledge to provide those accommodations then, to not provide them now is discriminatory. The lawsuit gives multiple examples of guests who are unable to comply with the new DAS process without risking a meltdown from the impaired individual.
As you might expect, the lawsuit systematically excludes evidence that doesn’t support its theory. For nearly everything it lists as examples of Disney’s bad behavior, I’ve read first hand accounts of the exact opposite behavior from Disney. But that’s how a lawsuit works.
Some of the facts in the lawsuit are incorrect or border on the incorrect. It mentions that a photo of the disabled guest is added to the DAS, but then states that it is related to the entry to the park, which it’s not. It’s related to making sure the person who is using the DAS is the disabled person, not someone who picked it up off the ground.
They also accuse Disney of sponsoring videos to make the ‘rented invalid’ problem seem worse than it was. I would like to see the evidence for that.
What is true, is that Disney changed their procedures and they are not as accommodating to those with cognitive impairments as they were in the old system. But it does not also follow that that change now places Disney outside the boundaries of the protections the ADA provides.
I guess that is now for the courts to decide.
An outrageous story in the NY Post has been making the rounds today. According to the story, some rich New York moms are taking advantage of an unofficial $130/hr Disney World VIP concierge tour service that utilizes Guess Assistance Cards (GAC) to shorten some of the waits for the party. If true, this is a horrible abuse of a system that really is needed by those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy Disney’s wonderful theme parks without some assistance.
If you ask me, something is a little off in the story including some factually challenged details. The mom in question claims to have skipped a 2.5 hour queue for “it’s a small world.” Let me assure you that even on the 4th of July, the queue for IASW does not get that long. (Ask me again after MyMagic Plus adds totally unnecessary fastpass access to IASW, that fact may change.)
As if on cue, Disneyland just announced the addition of audio-descriptive service for outdoor areas for those with visual disabilities. Earlier this week a class action lawsuit was certified against Disney parks for not accommodating those with visual disabilities. Disneyland and Walt Disney World has had this device for over a year now, but now it’s even more useful. I like the device it’s very rugged and quite an amazing experience, even for those who don’t have visual problems.
Disneyland Resort guests with visual disabilities can now explore Disneyland in a new way through this Disney-designed device that provides detailed audio description of outdoor areas. An interactive audio menu allows guests to choose the type of information they would like to receive about outdoor areas—from a description of their surroundings to information about nearby attractions, restaurants and entertainment. The new outdoor service is an enhancement to the audio description that debuted over a year ago, which provides guests detailed audio description of key visual elements for more than 20 attractions at Disneyland and California Adventure.
A good PR move from Disney, but a bit obvious.
Update: The full press release is below the jump: