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Dollywood Sued over Disbability Access

Dollywood: Dollywood is facing a suit over its alleged lack of compliance with the U.S. Americans with Disabilities Act.

From Anonymous
Posted March 18, 2003 at 1:48 PM
According to WATE/Knoxville , Dolly Parton's theme park is being sued by a disablility group called Access Now that claims the park is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. A Dollywood spokesperson says the park is consulting an ADA expert and hopes to find and fix any problems in the park going against ADA.


Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.

From Curtis Munsey
Posted March 17, 2003 at 6:50 PM
Sounds like a 'get rich' scheme to me,because the park hasn't been sued by a disablilty group in its history before now.

From Robert Niles
Posted March 18, 2003 at 2:42 PM
Huh?

How does the fact that no one's filed suit before now mean that this plantiff's out for money?

From Matthew Woodall
Posted March 18, 2003 at 2:44 PM
If there was a big problem wouldn't someone have done something by now? And I don't think it's too much of a stretch of the imagination to see a special interests group use individuals to pursue their own private agenda.

However, having said that, if Dollywood has contravened the ADA, then they need to be prosecuted the same as any other company.

From Anonymous
Posted March 18, 2003 at 6:46 PM
Having been to Dollywood, I would have to believe that if Dollywood can be sued for non-compliance with ADA, then there is no park safe from an ADA related lawsuit.

The folks at Dollywood not only bend over backwards to provide access. The park is hilly, but their guide for guests with disabilities points out alternative routes to get through the park.

Before jumping down managements throat, why don't we wait for the park to respond after they have a chance to review the lawsuit.

From Carey Lynn Holtsclaw
Posted March 18, 2003 at 9:34 PM
I've Always thought Dollywood was a very "Disabled" friendly Park. All the rides, Theatres and Walkways can accomidate Wheelchairs. (Of COurse, Handicapped guests will have to be able to get in to the ride vehicle, which is the same at any other park)

Dollywood is located in a Valley beetween two Mountains, so Disabled Guests do have to Climb, But Dollywood has people that wander the Walkways to provide any assistance to guests climbing the Hills when its needed.

I'm very surprised that this park got slapped for something like this. Perhaps they should look at the rest of the Country's Parks before they take anymore Actions.

From Robert Niles
Posted March 18, 2003 at 10:22 PM
I've not been to Dollywood, so I will defer to the judgment of those who have in discussing the merits (or, as the lawyers say, the lack thereof) of this suit.

But I've pushed a stroller around my fair share of parks. And while that's not in the same league as having to navigate a wheelchair around a park, it did give me some appreciation for the barriers that anyone in a wheeled vehicle faces. And I'd put Universal Studios Hollywood and Disney's Animal Kingdom on the top of my personal blacklist for stroller-unfriendly parks. Which I would think, would make them less than ideal for persons in wheelchairs.

Tough enough to be in violation of the ADA, I can't say. But they seemed less than ideal, nevertheless.

From Kelly G
Posted March 19, 2003 at 6:31 AM
Although I have never been to Dollywood, I would still like to respond to this issue. I myself have a physical disability that restricts me to a wheelchair. I have been to all four Walt Disney World parks & both Universal parks in Orlando, as well as at Disneyland and Universal Studios in California. Someone earlier responded and said something regarding people transferring from their chairs in order to get into attraction vehicles and how that is the same at every park... I can tell you that there are many attractions where that is not the case and wheelchairs can be accommodated on the actual ride. Actually, several attractions have been changed partially to accommodate this issue (i.e. Journey into Imagination). I think, especially in 2003, all attractions should have at least one vehicle that can accommodate a wheelchair, with the exception of roller coasters.

From Jason Herrera
Posted March 19, 2003 at 12:16 PM
Being involved with the disabled community, and having been to amusement parks with disabled friends, I'd have to say for the least part many California amusement parks do a good job.

There are 2 parks here in California, who could do a better job, but for the most part they're pretty dang good!

I remember I was there with a group, and one of the staff members was pushing a wheelchair down Summari Summit (magic mountain, going down towards pscyclone bay), and tripped! There goes the wheel chair down the hill!!!!

Luckly a good-hearted patron stopped the runaway wheelchair. Comical now, but at that time, it was like Oh no!!!! This happened even before Riddler's Revenge opened, so it's been long enough, I can smile. =)

From Jeff Arons
Posted March 19, 2003 at 2:18 PM
This is, well, crazy. What kind of half-assed people want to sue Dollywood for treatment to disabled people? It is crazy?

Oh yeah, thanks Ben Mills for adding a new word to my everychanging vocabulary (half-assed)! :-) (ha ha ha)

Jeff Arons

-You can't lock the barn door after the horses are gone

From Jet Nitro
Posted March 19, 2003 at 8:46 PM
As others have said here, Dollywood is a very accessible park for both us walkers and people in chairs. In fact, I think they've done ALOT more in creating accessibility in rides,eating establishments,attractions and shops for people in chairs than other, much larger park chains(hint,hint SF and disney).

Access Now is just a lobbying group that has pulled this kind of "woe is me/pitty on the cripples" crap on both public and private sector organizations for years. It seems like they're doing this legal action more to keep themselves in the spotlight and to fill their depleted coffers than actually helping out the "physically challenged". Being the relative of a paraplegic(cousin), both she and I take serious offense to organizations such as these who want to further segment our society than bring it together.

From Anonymous
Posted March 29, 2003 at 5:31 PM
I am stunned at the lawsuit. Having been to Dollywood many times in the last 10 years. It seems there are more wheelchairs and electric cars then people walking. Also, my mom is in a wheelchair and has never had to pay admission to Dollywood. They let her in for free. Sounds to me like somebody is money hungry.

From Anonymous
Posted April 25, 2003 at 4:16 PM
My husband is 27 years old and confined to a wheelchair. We have visited Dollywood twice and my husband is only able to go on one ride-the railroad. Dollywood is very kind and always gives my husband free admission which I think is very fair since he is pretty limited in what he can do at the park. We always enjoy the shows which are accessible. I will say though that it seems like Dollywood could do more to make some rides accessible for wheelchairs. When Disney rehabs a ride or builds a new ride, they typically make at least one car that is accessible to wheelchairs. The only rides this doesn't apply to is roller coasters. Because of Disney's policy, my husband can go on many, many rides in his wheelchair. I don't think Dollywood should be sued, but I do wish they would make some accessible rides.

From Jim Davlin
Posted April 26, 2003 at 10:09 AM
Never been to Dollyworld. But I go to Disneyland at least twice a week. I have read all the great emails on this subject and have come to the this conclusion. Most people would feel better if us gimps stayed out of sight. We distract you from your fun. We should go back to the old days when a family member who was "Disabled" was hidden at home. God knows it is disturbing to have to look at someone in a wheelchair. We cause the line to slow down. We take up the big bathroom stall so you can't take your stroller in there to change little Suzy. We should pay more because we cost the parks so much money to comply with those silly ADA laws. Look at all the rides that a park could build if it was not for people like me. If you people could act a 1/4 as good as your children it would be a great day in the park.

From Anonymous
Posted April 27, 2003 at 5:47 AM
My brother (in his thirties)was in a wheelchair most of last year, and I was the one pushing him, so I have a decent familiarity about such issues.

I haven't been to Dollywood, so can't comment specifically on their set-up.

I can say that a) amusement companies should comply with ADA standards, so that their parks are safe and accessible for as many as possible, and b) there are too many money-grubbing lawsuit-seekers of every sort nowadays that distract from the real issues.
For instance, there were the morons who sued McDonald's because their coffee was hot, or because they ate too much there, or because their pickle slipped out of the corner of their sandwich or whatever.

We need an end to such frivolous, petty lawsuits.

That said, law enforcement and unbiased professional inspectors should make sure that all theme parks comply with existing laws, including ADA.

From Anonymous
Posted May 26, 2003 at 9:46 AM
Well, you can see for yourselves. There's a whole page concerning this kind of stuff. Go to http://www.dollywood.com/Disability_3.htm and check it out.

IJCW

From Anonymous
Posted July 8, 2003 at 9:02 PM
I have been going to Dollywood since Dolly Parton put her name on the sign. My family and myself have always bought a season pass and will continue to do so. I might add that I have also been to the park(SILVER DOLLAR CITY) before she took it over. Anyone that has a problem with the way the park is now, should really check out the way it was. I dont beleive that anyone would be complaining about the work that has been put into that park.

From Anonymous
Posted July 8, 2003 at 9:10 PM
I would like to respond to the message about the parks past. I have also been to the park before it was Dollywood and I totally agree, that the park has had major changes. I would also like to add that for the disabled vistors to Dollywood, which I am, keep in mind its a park in the mountains.(lots of hills)

From ken Kirkwood
Posted January 8, 2004 at 3:04 PM
I worked for DW for years. The sad part about it all is that now Dollywood can no longer allow disabled and special groups like childrens homes etc the wonderful special treatment they gave them before. In the past, people in wheel chairs etc were let in free and they hosted days like "deaf awareness"day with people at shows signing for the deaf. It's sad that a great company that has really tried to meet the special needs of special guests has had to stop that because of an action like this. Seems like it may have back fired !

From Rip Henry
Posted July 4, 2004 at 11:51 PM
all you have to do at dollywood is get a park map and it tells what hills they can go up and down. plus if a place has only hills to it there is always one that is not as steep so all you have to do is use those walkways.

From John K
Posted July 5, 2004 at 8:34 AM
Never been to dollywood, but would like to go there. I could say the park is wheelchair accessible, but what about the rides, do they have ramps for wheelchairs. At magic mountain if they don't have ramp for a ride, they have an elevator, and yes they fixed the one at Riddlers Revenge.

The problem at Six Flags Magic Mountain is people get the disabilties pass just so they could skip the line and ride, and they don't have a disability problem. Some do, some don't. Let me tell you, a disabilities pass is NOT a fastlane. So therefore if the line is 2 hours long, we got to give pass to the disabled persons saying come back in 2 hours, just to make it fair for everyone.

If I were a guest at magic mountain and I heard that people get a disability pass just to skip the line, I would get into a fit. Unfortunately there is nothing the employees can do about it, otherwise we could get in trouble since it's the law in california

From Carey Lynn Holtsclaw
Posted July 5, 2004 at 5:21 PM
Dollywood has elevators for all of the raised platform rides: Thunderhead and Tennessee Tornado.

The rest of the rides at the park have wheelchair ramps or are located on level ground.

The only ride at Dollywood that cannot accommodate wheelchairs is the Mountain Slidewinder. It was built in 1987, and is basically a water slide with rafts.

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