disneylandddDisney is calling for the dismissal of a federal lawsuit brought by families of autistic children who are challenging its theme parks’ policies. 

In April, 16 undisclosed families sued Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, saying the theme parks’ practices violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, or ADA, because they fail to adequately accommodate visitors with autism. 

Disney submitted its response last week to the U.S. District Court lawsuit, denying virtually all of the allegations. 

“Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing an inclusive and accessible environment for all our guests. We fully comply with all ADA requirements and believe that the legal claims are without merit,” Suzi Brown, a Disneyland Resort spokeswoman, said in a statement. 

The lawsuit stems from a policy, which was changed Oct. 9, to handle the way that disabled visitors can obtain shorter-line passes. The lawsuit seeks an undisclosed amount of money and a reversal of the latest policy. 

Previously, visitors could get Guest Assistance Cards that allowed them widespread access to the front of ride lines. 

Because the cards were widely abused, Disney said it changed its practice, replacing them with the Disability Access Service, or DAS, system that allows visitors to obtain one pass at a time for assigned times to board rides. 

The policy can be used in conjunction with the regular FastPass system, which is available for all visitors to get front-of-line passes on certain attractions. So a family with a DAS card could get two sets of front-of-the-line boarding passes at once. 

“Disney specifically denies … that the DAS system is in any way deficient in providing the level of accommodation required by law,” says Disney’s court document. 

The lawsuit claims that some visitors with autism are unable to wait without having meltdowns. Disney officials said they would assist guests if the rules didn’t work for them, but the plaintiffs claim Disney failed to offer adequate solutions. 

Andy Dogali, the families’ lawyer, said he had expected Disney’s denial of the allegations. 

“I don’t have any question about our ability to prove that these people’s rights under ADA were violated,” Dogali said. “Nothing leads me to think twice about that.” 

At least some of the allegations occurred at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, which includes Disneyland and Disney California Adventure, the plaintiffs say. 

Dogali said he expects the case to go to trial next year. 

Staff writer Salvador Hernandez contributed to this report. 

Contact the writer: 714-704-3793 or stully@ocregister.com

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