April 8 (Reuters) - Families with autistic children have sued Walt Disney Co, alleging the company does not provide adequate access to theme park visitors with autism who have difficulty waiting in long lines for rides.
In October 2013, Disney parks stopped offering autistic visitors a "guest assistance card" that let them and their families bypass lines, according to a lawsuit filed April 3 in federal court in California. Instead, the company offered a "disability access service" card to allow them to obtain scheduled return times for park attractions.
Disney changed the policy after media reports of abuse of guest assistance cards, such as visitors hiring disabled people to help them skip lines.
The 16 plaintiffs who are suing Disney said the company is violating requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). They said offering a return time is equivalent to a wait, and there is no guarantee of immediate access to attractions at the return time.
In a statement on Tuesday, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts said it had "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," the company added.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and asks the court to order Disney to change its current policy.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)
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