Disney has won a lawsuit that an Orlando disability advocate filed against them on behalf of her adult autistic son to get him immediate access to the FastPass lines at the Disney World theme parks.
Donna Lorman, president of the Autism Society of Greater Orlando, sued Disney in 2014 after Disney World changed its policy regarding guests with disabilities.
Before, Disney’s Guest Assistance Card allowed guests with disabilities and their families to enter the FastPass line an unlimited number of times. That card became heavily abused by guests.
In 2013 Disney created a new system, the Disability Access Service Card, or DAS, that lets people with disabilities get return times for rides, similar to a FastPass, so they don’t have to wait in a line.
Lorman wanted 10 passes to the Magic Kingdom for her son so he could ride his favorite attractions by going directly into the FastPass line. She said the extra waiting was hard for her son who didn’t understand the concept of time.
She testified that her son, who was 22 when she filed the lawsuit, has moderate to severe autism that made communication difficult and following a routine essential. She said her son needed to visit rides in a particular order at Disney.
Disney argued it isn’t required to provide unlimited, front-of-line passes for every ride under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If they did, the general public in the stand-by lines would wait longer.
Disney’s defense team also said Lorman should have planned her visit better to adjust to the new rules.
The two sides went to trial in February and a decision was reached on June 22. U.S. District Judge Anne Conway sided with Disney, ruling it was “unreasonable” for Disney to give such access to Lorman’s son. If Disney allowed him special access, others would demand it too.
“Requiring the modification, based on the history of the former system, would lead to fraud and overuse, lengthen the wait times significantly for non-disabled guests, and fundamentally alter Disney’s business model,” Conway wrote.
Conway also said Disney could “recover its cost of action.” It’s unclear how much Disney’s legal bills are, but the fight lasted over 5 years.
“To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. I really truly believe in what I was fighting for,” Lorman wrote about the loss.
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