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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Disney’s disability policy was great — so great that fakers gamed the system

Disneyland in Anaheim
Crowds pack Main Street at Disneyland park in Anaheim.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Like disability rights scholar and advocate Kevin T. Mintz, I use a wheelchair and love Disneyland. First I went as an able-bodied child; later I walked with a cane. Then I rented a wheelchair and finally went in my own chair. (“Disney rides thrill me as a wheelchair user. But park changes for disabled visitors ruin the fun,” Opinion, Dec. 13)

I remember when people in wheelchairs got on rides with no waiting. It was great — so great, in fact, that able-bodied people starting renting wheelchairs from Disneyland so they wouldn’t have to wait in line.

Some disabled people don’t look disabled, so Disney employees cannot accuse people of faking a condition just to skip the line. Disneyland solved the problem by making the line for FastPass holders, who use a timed reservation system to significantly reduce wait times but must still queue up, wheelchair accessible.

Disabled guests can now get an appointment to ride and do something else until their appointment time.

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Lake Nofer, Woodland Hills

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To the editor: It was disheartening, although not a surprise, to read another op-ed article outlining the greed pervasive in our society. I chose, however, to focus on his joy at being on the ride Space Mountain and his friends’ kindness in making it possible for him to bypass the wheelchair backup by carrying him.

Access to that level of joy should be available to everyone, no matter the cost. I commend those young students for offering the help and Mintz being able to accept it with love.

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My only hope is that since corporations are people, Disney will gain some human perspective and truly make sure that its theme parks are the happiest places on Earth for everyone.

Patti Steffen, Thousand Oaks

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To the editor: I sympathize with Mintz’s disappointment that Disney’s change in disability policy no longer allows him to skip the lines at its attractions. He now has to use a FastPass reservation like anyone else who wants to avoid the long lines.

But I can also understand the change.

Mintz points out that people can have a wide range of disabilities, some of which are not visible. This makes it impossible for park personnel to verify whether someone is really disabled or just pretending to be in order to skip the line.

This is the same problem that the airlines are dealing with regarding “emotional support” animals. Who really needs an animal for their emotional needs, and who just wants to avoid having to ship their pets in the airplane’s luggage hold?

People take advantage of loose policies, and an inevitable crackdown follows.

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Wayne April, Pasadena


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