About Me

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I am a consultant and general counsel to International Ride Training LLC as well as a practicing attorney in Avon, Connecticut. A particular focus of mine is the legal needs of the amusement and tourism industry. My focus on the amusement industry derives from my pre-law career as an operations manager with Cedar Fair Entertainment Company and Universal Orlando. Having started my career as a ride operator at Cedar Point in 1992, I progressed through the seasonal ranks and ultimately became the Manager of Ride Operations and Park Services at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I also worked in Universal's operations department during the construction and development of Islands of Adventure. Today, I am an active member of the New England Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions and the International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions. I have been invited to speak at amusement industry meetings and seminars and have worked on a variety of matters relating to this industry.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Here & Now (Pt. 3): Isn't Standing In Line An Essential Rule Of The Park .. Even For Autistic Guests?

Click here to read Here & Now (Prologue): The Question of Autism In Amusement Parks Under the ADA
Click here for Here & Now (Pt. 1): Is Immediate Ride Boarding For Autistic Guests Really Necessary? 
Click here for Here & Now (Pt. 2): Is Immediate, On-Demand Ride Access For Autistic Guests Reasonable?

What does this ...
have to do with this?

A recent lawsuit brought against the Walt Disney Company has brought into the public spotlight an issue that the amusement industry has struggled with for years:  what accommodations are legally required for autistic guests and other guests with cognitive disabilities that cannot wait in line.  Last year, Disney’s parks (along with several others, including the Cedar Fair parks) instituted a policy that dramatically changed the procedure for these guests.  Rather than being granted on-demand, immediate boarding privileges upon arrival at a ride (as had been the practice for years), guests at these parks must now check-in, either at the ride or at a guest relations location (depending on the park), and make an appointment to return, at which time the guest and his party will be immediately boarded.  The appointment time corresponds to the length of the line.  So is this procedure acceptable under the Americans With Disabilities Act?  The plaintiffs in the recent Disney lawsuit say it is not – that immediate, on-demand boarding is a required accommodation under the law.  But is it?   

The first two pieces of this series have looked at the questions of whether immediate, on-demand boarding on amusement rides is necessary (giventhat front-of-the-line access does not seem to be requested in any other publicaccommodation) and / or reasonable (given prior case law in the cruise shipcontext finding it is not).  I’m ending this series by considering the third element of an ADA claim of this sort:  Does allowing on-demand, immediate boarding “fundamentally alter the nature of” the amusement park experience?  I believe it does – in dramatic fashion.