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Disney wins lawsuit over mother’s fight for son with autism to ride attractions without waiting

A federal judge ruled on the case this week

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FILE - In this Monday, March 16, 2020, file photo, the road to the entrance of Walt Disney World has few cars, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Two more unions have reached agreements with Walt Disney World over furloughs caused by the theme park resort’s closure during the new coronavirus outbreak. The agreements reached late Friday, April 10, apply to security guards and workers involved in facilities and operations. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

FILE - In this Monday, March 16, 2020, file photo, the road to the entrance of Walt Disney World has few cars, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Two more unions have reached agreements with Walt Disney World over furloughs caused by the theme park resort’s closure during the new coronavirus outbreak. The agreements reached late Friday, April 10, apply to security guards and workers involved in facilities and operations. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

John Raoux, Associated Press

A federal judge ruled in favor of Walt Disney World in an ongoing court case where a disability advocate sued the company so that her son, who has autism, could earn immediate access to rides at the theme park, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

“Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests. We are pleased with the court’s decision,” Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said in a statement, according to The Orlando Sentinel.

What happened:

  • In 2014, Donna Lorman, president of the Autism Society of Greater Orlando, sued Disney, saying she wanted 10 passes to the Magic Kingdom for her son — who has autism — to ride his favorite rides, according to The Tampa Bay Times.
  • With these passes, her son could go right into the Fast Pass line, The Orlando Sentinel reports.
  • The Orlando Sentinel said: “Otherwise, her son had to get an advance reservation to come back later. The extra waiting was hard for her son who didn’t understand the concept of time, his mother said, accusing the parks of not accommodating his disability. But Disney argued it isn’t required to provide unlimited, front-of-line passes for every ride under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Otherwise, the general public in the stand-by lines would wait longer.”
  • U.S. District Judge Anne Conway agreed with Disney, saying the mother’s request was “unreasonable.”
  • “Requiring the modification, based on the history of the former system, would lead to fraud and overuse, lengthen the wait times significantly for nondisabled guests, and fundamentally alter Disney’s business model.”

Some context:

  • The lawsuit hit Disney after the company had reportedly switched its policy in 2013 after tourists hired people with disabilities and terminally-ill children to help them slip to the front of the lines, according to The Los Angeles Times.
  • However, Disney created the Disability Access Service Card, or DAS card, which let people with disabilities see return times for rides, almost like a fast pass.