Richard Ross, a father from Pennsylvania, says the family vacation he and his wife spent two years planning was ruined last week after they arrived at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom in Florida only to be told their disabled 7-year-old daughter would not be able to enter the park without wearing a mask.
The Rosses left halfway through their pre-paid 8-day stay, because the girl could not leave their hotel or pool, since she is unable to wear a facial covering due to her diagnosed sensory processing disorder.
What are the details?
On Aug. 6, the Rosses arrived in front of Magic Kingdom's bus depot, assuming their child would be able to enter without a mask due to the medical exemptions allowed by Orange County — where the park is located — just as she is exempt everywhere in Pennsylvania. But a worker explained that everyone must wear a mask into the park, and that no exemptions are allowed at all.
Ross became upset, and pulled out his phone to take video of the exchange as it continued, asking the Disney worker, "Can my daughter — who is autistic with sensory issues —enter your park without a mask because she medically can't wear a mask?"
"Sir, I apologize, I know you're frustrated," the worker says in the clip. "At this time...at this time we ask that anyone entering our park ..."
Ross cuts him off, saying, "Just answer the question: Are you refusing to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act laws?"
"Hey, we're not talking about any of that right now, we're talking about our [inaudible] to come into the park," the worker replies, finally conceding, "If she comes into the park without a mask, we would refuse her entry, regardless."
"It's a disgrace," Ross told TheBlaze regarding how his family was treated by Disney. "For someone with sensory processing disorder, [wearing a mask] is literally torture to them. Their brain cannot process the signals it's receiving — her heart starts pounding, she can't breathe."
In further video Ross posted online, he describes his anguish following the ordeal.
"Listening to somebody tell you it's okay to discriminate against your handicapped child, do you know how hard that is?" he can be seen saying, through tears. "Do you know how hard it is to hear someone say, 'Well, it's okay for us to tell your kid [that] because they're different, that they can't do it."
Mimicking Disney, he continued, "Now that you've paid all this money and you're here — everywhere that you live in Pennsylvania when you have a medical issue you don't have to wear a mask — but now that you're here, thanks for your money, sucker. Your kid's different, so you can sit in your room for a week."
He says he spent thousands of wasted dollars on the vacation, and feels like Disney dragged out the ordeal to keep his money while refusing to find a solution while he was in Florida.
What did Disney say?
TheBlaze reached out to Disney's public relations department, and a representative quickly responded via email to find out the reason for our inquiry. After sharing Ross' story and his videos, TheBlaze has not yet received a response from Disney after several days and follow-up attempts.
In a separate incident last week, a family was asked to leave a Disney store in Ontario, Canada, because their autistic 6-year-old little girl was unable to wear her mask properly. A Disney representative told CTV News in reaction to that scenario:
We are always focused on the health and safety of our Cast Members and Guests. At all of our Disney stores we have implemented a number of enhanced measures, including a face covering requirement. During these unprecedented times we all have a shared responsibility to do our part. We regret the family was disappointed.