A federal court ruled April 28 that Disney did not discriminate against people with disabilities in October 2013 when it changed its line policy for people with disabilities at its theme parks.
Previously, certain people with disabilities could obtain a “Guest Assistance Pass,” allowing them go to the front of the lines, if they have autism spectrum disorders or other disabilities that prevent them from waiting in lines for long periods.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, which argued that park patrons were abusing system, replaced the GAP with the Disability Access Services system, which allows these individuals only to go to the front of lines at certain prescribed times for each ride.
Dozens of people with disabilities subsequently filed lawsuits against Disney. The parties sought to consolidate the lawsuit into a class-action lawsuit, but the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled in November 2014 that the lawsuits must proceed individually.
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that places of public accommodation, such as Disney theme parks, take steps to ensure people with disabilities are not discriminated against in the “full and equal enjoyment” of their services.
The two plaintiffs in the lawsuit, who regularly attended Disney World in the past, argued that the DAS system failed to reasonably accommodate them by subjecting them to longer wait times. They also argued that Disney, by only allowing them to go to the front of the lines at certain times, forced them to participate in the parks’ attractions along a preordained route.
The three-judge panel of the Middle District of Florida disagreed, finding that the requested accommodation, to return to the old system with the Guest Assistance Pass, exceeded Disney’s ADA obligations.
“Plaintiff was given an opportunity to experience Magic Kingdom in a similar manner as guests that do not need accommodations…the DAS and readmission passes afford Plaintiff a similar, or better, experience as those not needing them,” the Court stated.
The plaintiffs have not yet decided whether they will appeal the ruling.
“The order is unsound, and we are evaluating our options and next steps,” attorney Andy Dogali, who represented the plaintiffs, told Deadline Hollywood.
Similar lawsuits are currently pending in the federal court in Los Angeles, Deadline reported.