Disneyland Sued: Workers Mock Disabled Woman Who Fell Off the Ride, Later Died
Disney and Disneyland are being sued due to workers laughing at a 66-year-old disabled woman before she fell getting off the Jungle Cruise ride. The lawsuit alleges that the woman died five months later due to septic shock, presenting the most recent PR nightmare for the company.
The family of Joanne Aguilar, the woman who fell, filed a wrongful death suit during the fall, which was assigned to a judge earlier this month. The lawsuit names the Walt Disney Company, its theme park division, and Disneyland specifically as its defendants.
According to a complaint obtained by The New York Post, Aguilar visited the amusement park on Aug 21, 2021, with Zenobia Hernandez and Andrea Maullul, her two adult daughters. Aguilar, suffering from a knee injury, obtained a wheelchair from the park. However, throughout the rest of their experience, the park wasn’t so accommodating.
When the women attempted to enjoy The Jungle Cruise boat ride, employees told Aguilar that no wheelchair-accessible boats were available.
This was not true. The ride has an ADA-accessible boat that allows disabled parkgoers to board without getting out of their wheelchairs, but Aguilar decided to rely on the help of her daughters and use a standard boat.
After the ride was over, however, the family found that the steps to disembark were too steep for the disabled Aguilar. Employees allegedly placed “small, unsecured blocks” on the top of the steps to reduce their height, but Aguilar still faced difficulty. Instead of helping further, the park workers allegedly laughed at the struggling elderly woman.
The lawsuit characterizes Disneyland as cast members “snickering and giggling” and Aguilar feeling “dehumanized.”
Aguilar quickly lost her balance on the steps falling backward and breaking her right femur. She received care and was sent to a rehabilitation center, but five months later, she contracted an infection there, went into septic shock, and died on Jan 29, 2022.
The lawsuit argues that her death is ultimately due to injuries sustained in the fall at Disneyland and alleges wrongful death and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The lawsuit comes as the latest in a long string of controversies placing them under scrutiny in the public eye. Last year, their parks had issues with public brawls, despite their insistence on raising park prices for admissions and other services. While the reason for the price hikes is unknown, they came around the same time as Disney’s Strange World released, a children’s movie featuring a gay teen romance, bombed at the box office. Simultaneously, the company was facing off against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis in a PR battle for its outspoken criticisms of his administration.
However, since then, Disney has been moving towards a return to form by bringing back Bob Iger as CEO. It remains to be seen if he will manage to right the ship.