According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, a U.S. District Judge has ruled in 45 cases that Disney made sufficient accommodations for people with autism. The plaintiff had the same opportunities to experience Walt Disney World as other visitors, she ruled in summary judgments, without a trial.

Andy Dogali represents the plaintiffs in the cases, many of them children who are only identified by their initials. He alleges in his appeal that judge Conway favored Disney on issues of fact that should have been subject to trial. He has filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals and states 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.”

A Disney spokesperson stated, “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.”

 

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1 Comment

  1. April Cantley

    As both a Disney fan and disabled guest, I am interested in the courts findings. While I agree with some of the rulings, I disagree with others. I live just 118 miles north of Disneyland, and have visited the Disneyland Resort more than 100 days over the years. When my children were younger I would buy Disneyland Annual Passes. I never experienced any accommodation issues with Disney’s Guest Assistance Card. However, on our last visit to celebrate my oldest daughters 18th birthday, I found that Disney’s new DAS – Disability Access Service failed to accommodate my disability.

    Unlike the developmentally disabled clients represented by Mr. Dogali, I am not a child but 42 years of age, and my disability is a physical mobility issue. I have a bone tumor on the outside of my left ankle. When I realized the new DAS was not accommodating my disability, I spoke with Disneyland Cast Members about the accommodations not meeting my needs, but was rudely accused of fabricating a disability in order to take advantage of Disney’s DAS. I generally don’t require a mobility device such as crutches, scooter or wheelchair, and I’ve never needed any of those devices before at Disneyland, because Disney always accommodated me in the past. Last time I visited Disneyland was in 2011, and I had no idea Disney changed the disability policy, or that the new policy would fail to accommodate me. Just because I don’t use a mobility device, and have a healthy appearance, does not give Disney the right to judge me or make accusations. Unless your a medical doctor or radiologist with x-ray vision, you would never know I am disabled, but I assure you my disability is genuine.

    My issue with the ruling is that the DAS — even if used properly — does not accommodate my disability due to the simple fact that it requires me to do more walking than ever before. In fact, I know the new DAS actually requires disabled guests to walk more than non-disabled guests. My reasoning is as follows: Non-disabled guests can walk directly from one ride to another, but disabled guests cannot, they must walk to a Guest Information Kiosk and wait in line to request a new return time for their next ride. A good pedometer would prove how many more actual steps are required for the disabled guests as compared to the non-disabled guests, and I believe this data should be gathered and submitted as evidence in court. So, my question is this: How can the new DAS provide a nondiscriminatory, or equal experience if it requires disabled guests to walk further to experience the same attraction? I can attest that for me the DAS was more like a punishment than an accommodation. I can also provide conclusive proof that as a direct result of the DAS failing to accommodate my disability I suffered injury to my compromised ankle. Not only did I injury my diseased bone, but for the first time I suffered a brand new injury to my Peroneus longus tendon, where it attaches to the distal fibula. The distal fibula is the exact location of my bone tumor, and my Peroneus longus tendon is torn more than one and a half inches where it attaches to my distal fibula. Doctors have advised me that a tear to the Peroneus longus is an uncommon injury, and in my specific case was literally caused by too much walking and prolonged standing. According to my doctor the injury must have occurred from my tendon rubbing against the unnatural shape and texture of my diseased bone.

    I believe the judge who made the ruling is ignorant, and unable to sympathize due to lack of being able to visualize damages because we generally cannot see developmental disabilities like we can obvious physical disabilities. Her failure to at least attempt to understand the claims of the developmentally disabled guests, and her swift and harsh judgement against them is proof of her own discrimination against the disabled guests of Disney parks. Her own close-mindedness, and perhaps bias in favor of Disney may have influenced her decision. As I previously stated, my disability is not seen with the naked eye, unless you’re viewing one of my x-rays. Just because I may appear healthy does not mean that I do not suffer from a disability. My proof is my x-rays, and medical records, which provide a visualization to something people cannot see when they look at me. Just as people have trouble visualizing my disability without x-rays, they may also have difficulty visualizing the disabilities of the developmentally disabled.

    If Disney sincerely wanted to change the previous disability policy in an attempt to curb abuse by people pretending to be disabled, there are better, more reasonable ways to achieve that goal. For example, require guests to provide medical documentation of their disability, and have a trained medical team decipher the medical requests and needed accommodations on an individual basis. Currently, Disney refuses to accept or acknowledge doctors notes and/or medical records. Even more concerning, the people whom Disney employs to make medical decisions regarding sufficient accommodations are not trained medical professionals, which is a liability. I’m saddened by the courts ruling. Judges are supposed to make more informed decisions, after carefully reviewing all the facts and possible outcomes. Close-minded, and biased judges who are not capable of empathy fail to serve their title.

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