Disability charity sues Disneyland Paris

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iol travel june 25 Ratatouille AFP People perform during the inauguration of the new attraction Ratatouille at Disneyland Paris.

Paris - A French charity said on Thursday it was filing a suit against Disneyland Paris for discriminating against the mentally handicapped at its giant amusement park east of the French capital.

The National Union of Charities for Parents with Disabled Children (Unapei) said it was taking the step after several complaints from families and organisations.

Unapei head Thierry Nouvel said mentally handicapped people had to obtain “priority passes” for attractions at the park, which could mean a wait of up to one-and-a-half hours in order to complete formalities.

He said the mentally handicapped had to follow “different and demeaning regulations” including being forced to be accompanied by an able-bodied adult while taking rides or enjoying other attractions.

The suit will seek to stop all such “discriminatory” practices, Nouvel said.

The association also says that under current rules an able-bodied person accompanying a group of four handicapped people cannot take a rollercoaster ride as a group but has to do so individually - resulting in a huge loss of time.

Disneyland Paris rules stipulate that mentally handicapped people must “be accompanied by at least one able bodied person over the age of 18 who is able to help them.”

There are special fast-track entrances for handicapped people, once they have a priority pass.

Disneyland Paris said it was “very surprised” by the complaint.

“We have collaborated with Unapei to draft security rules,” said Daniel Delcourt, vice-president in charge of operations.

“It's because of security concerns that we want mentally handicapped persons to be identified as such,” he said.

Delcourt said that in case of a problem, firefighters had to be given information about how many handicapped people there were in an attraction at that point of time. - AFP

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