Mother sues Disney World for refusing to let autistic son, 22, skip ride lines

A mother has lost a court battle with Walt Disney World over its refusal to let her 22 year-old son with autism skip to the front of lines for rides. Donna Lorman sued the entertainment giant in 2014 after being refused 10 FastPasses for its Magic Kingdom park, with a judge finding in favor of Disney late last month after a six year legal battle.

Lorman, who is president of the Autism Society of Greater Orlando, sought the FastPasses so her son could go directly to the front of the line at the Florida park and ride his favorite attractions without having to wait in the resorts lines, which can be hours-long.

Her lawsuit said that it was unfair to make her son wait around because of his disability because he could not understand the concept of time.

She said her son’s autism meant he needed to follow a strict routine which involved visiting rides in a certain order, and that any changes to this would cause him mental distress.

Lorman accused Disney of failing to accommodate her son’s disability – but US District Judge Anne Conway last month ruled that the mom’s request was ‘unreasonable.’

Judge Conway said that forcing Disney to hand out line-jump passes in circumstances like Lorman’s would leave its queuing systems open to widespread abuse if other families saw what was going on and demanded the same special treatment.

In a ruling seen by the Orlando Sentinel, Judge Conway wrote: ‘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.’

Judge Conway also agreed with Disney’s defense that Lorman could have gotten around the issue by planning her visit to the Magic Kingdom more thoroughly.

Lorman sued Disney a year after it changed its policies for disabled guests, on discovering fraudsters were taking disabled or terminally-ill guests to its parks in order to skip lines. Those guests were given special Guest Assistance Cards which allowed them to skip to the front of the line for rides an unlimited number of times.

Disney’s new system – which Lorman sued over – is called the Disability Access Service Card, and gives guests a time slot for a busy ride so that they can return when it is their turn without having to stand around.

Speaking in the wake of her loss, Lorman told the Sentinel: ‘To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. I really truly believe in what I was fighting for.’

Lorman’s court battle against Disney went to trial earlier this year. Judge Conway says the entertainment corporation can now seek to recover costs from Lorman after the lengthy six year legal battle.

Disney offered a demonstration of how handing out passes could affected wait times, and said that giving disabled guests two passes to its Seven Dwarves Mine Train would increase wait times from 39 minutes to 108 minutes.

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