December 28, 2023,
A California resident is suing Six Flags over its disability access policy. The plaintiff in the case, which has been filed in federal court, is seeking class action status for the case, which ultimately could affect how people with disabilities are accommodated not just at Six Flags but also at Universal and other theme parks that use the same system.
The case, I.L. v. Six Flags Entertainment Corp. and Magic Mountain LLC [1:23-at-01058], was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The unnamed plaintiff claims to be a disabled veteran who was denied access to rides at Six Flags Magic Mountain on multiple occasions, despite completing an online application for an IBCCES Accessibility Card, as required now by Six Flags.
IBCCES [International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards] is a Florida-based LLC that works with the amusement industry not just to provide disability access certification but also to designate Certified Autism Centers (which is a trademark of the IBCCES). In addition to Six Flags, Universal Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood ask its guests to obtain a IBCCES Accessibility Card [IAC] before coming to the park if they need accommodation for disabilities.
Many fans have complained that the IBCCES process is a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act, which requires venues open to the public – such as theme parks – to provide access for people with disabilities. However, many other fans have complained that able-bodied park guests are abusing accommodation services simply in order to jump queues and get out of waiting their turn in line, inflating wait times for everyone else in the park.
Parks began using the IBCCES system in order to relieve guest relations staff and park visitors from having to spend long periods of time to determine precisely what accommodations the guests need during their visit. Guests are supposed to complete an online survey in advance of visiting the park in order to get their IAC, which they then are to present at guest services upon arrival at the park to get set instructions on whatever their accommodation will be.
The lawsuit details several instances when the plaintiff was denied entry to rides at Six Flags Magic Mountain while using the park’s accessibility pass. However, several of the reported instances detail what appear to be misactions by park employees – including ripping up a paper printed copy of the IAC – rather than a refusal by the park to provide accommodation as a matter of policy.
Still, the suit also alleges that the fact that Six Flags is requiring park guests to go through the IAC application process is, by itself, a violation of the ADA. If the case proceeds, that could be an interesting legal question that might affect operations not just at Six Flags, but also Universal and any other park working with IBCCES. You can read the lawsuit filing at the link below