Roeschke Law LLC discusses how theme park disability access passes are sparking lawsuits.

Theme Park Disability Access Passes Spark Lawsuits

Q: Do disability access passes and policies provide reasonable accommodations for the disabled?

Disability benefits attorneys of Arizona understand that living with a disability is difficult on a daily basis. Whether the disability is a physical impairment or a mental one—or both—the pain and/or other symptoms associated with it may present the disabled child or adult (and their family) with significant daily challenges. For financial or other reasons, vacations and respite opportunities may be limited and may also present challenges to the disabled—even in the most magical places.

If you thought that qualifying for Social Security disability benefits was difficult—and it is—try navigating a crowded theme park with a disabled child or adult if reasonable accommodations to address the disability are not in place or are insufficient. 

Theme Park Accommodations for Physical Disabilities

For those with physical disabilities, accommodations like ramps, elevators, easy access to the entrances and exits of attractions and bathrooms and restaurants are often made. But meeting the needs of the intellectually-disabled can be more difficult. Particularly for the autistic population. 

Theme Park Accommodations for Autism and Intellectual Disabilities

Autism is a spectrum disorder that impacts each person differently but generally is diagnosed based on serious deficits in areas including social skills and communication. Hallmarks of autism include the inability to grasp the concept of time, inability to easily transition from one enjoyable thing to something else upon demand, inability to wait long, and inability to control what may be frequent daily meltdowns especially in overstimulating environments. Many autistic people never outgrow their love of childish things like Disney and Marvel characters, movies, and toys and other similar interests. 

The Original Disney Disability Pass

Prior to 2014, accommodations for disabled guests at Walt Disney World and Disneyland in California reportedly included a disability pass that allowed the disabled person along with a small number of their friends or family to ride any ride without waiting on the notoriously long lines. The disability pass functioned as an unlimited fast pass. To use it, the disabled person and their party would go from ride to ride and use the fast pass entrance at each ride or in the absence of one, the exit of each ride. But that all changed in 2014 as a result of immoral, healthy, and wealthy people reportedly hiring “disabled guides” to take advantage of Disney’s generous system and allowing their healthy families to bypass the lines.

The 2014 Disney Access Service Card 

Reportedly in response, Disney amended its disability pass system, resulting in a much more restricted access program that many people with autism, or with autistic children, allege is not accommodating enough for their disabilities and special needs. 

The current Disability Access Service Card “allows people with disabilities to reserve a ride in advance, like a fast pass” which means not automatically getting immediate access to the ride, but rather waiting for the fast pass window of time and then returning to ride the ride during that window. In addition, disabled patrons are now not able to ride other rides (without waiting in the regular and usually long lines with the general population) until after their fast pass ride is completed–severely reducing the total number of rides per day that a disabled patron could access in comparison to the old disability pass system. 

Many lawsuits have reportedly been filed and, after about five years, are finally starting to come to trial where the issue of the reasonableness of the disability access service card system will be decided. 

If you or a loved one needs assistance applying for Social Security disability benefits or appealing the denial of benefits, or have any questions regarding disability benefits, the disability attorneys at Roeschke Law can you. Contact our office for a free consultation. 

From our offices in Tempe, Tucson, and Phoenix, we represent disabled individuals and their families throughout Arizona in all aspects of disability benefits law.