ORLANDO, Fla. (WESH)— A federal lawsuit against Disney could force the park to return to a policy of allowing guests with autism to go to the front of the line.
The legal battle has been five years in the making, but a court date has finally been set for the issue to go to trial.
The experience of waiting in often long lines is almost always a part of visiting Disney.
Prior to 2014, guests with autism and other disabilities were allowed to go to the front of the line, eliminating the wait.
After reports popped up online that some guests were hiring people with disabilities to accompany them to the front, Disney changed its policy.
The current policy allows people with disabilities to use a Disability Access Service Card to reserve a ride in advance, similar to getting a Fast Pass.
A lawsuit set to go to trial in Orlando’s federal court argues that for someone with autism, getting a return time is the same as being asked to wait and is difficult for those with severe autism who don’t understand the concept of time.
In the lawsuit, filed on behalf of a man with autism identified only as A.L., Tampa attorney Anthony Dogali writes: “The disabled plaintiff is mentally and physically incapable oftraveling across the park to the site of an attraction only to be told to come back later. This experience will induce meltdowns in the large majority of persons with cognitive impairments.”
The lawsuit goes on to argue Disney’s current policy treats people with all disabilities the same rather than recognizing that some impairments require different treatment.
A judge has ruled the lawsuit will go to trial in federal court Feb. 18.
Disney sent WESH 2 News a statement saying: “Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests. We fully comply with all ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements and believe that the legal claims are without merit.”
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