Disneyland Employees Accused of Laughing at Disabled Woman Before Injury That Led to Her Death

Disney faces legal action over its staff allegedly mistreating a disabled woman. Joanne Aguilar's daughters had accused Disneyland park employees of laughing at her moments before she was injured exiting a ride, according to court documents obtained by PEOPLE. During the 66-year-old's recovery, she contracted an infection that led to septic shock, which led to her death five months later. Anaheim has denied the accusations through a filing in the California U.S. District Court, claiming that Aguilar or her daughters were aware of the risks and "caused or contributed" to the injuries. In August 2021, Aguilar visited the park with her family while recovering from a knee injury, and the park's Disability Access Service provided her with a wheelchair. A lawyer representing Agulair's daughters claims there were no wheelchair-accessible boats on the Jungle Cruise ride, but Disney workers still allowed them to use another one.

The woman was able to board the boat with the assistance of her daughters, but the lawsuit says the staff "failed to assist" her at the end of the ride, creating a "dangerous and hazardous condition." According to the complaint, "cast members began snicker[ing] and giggling" as she struggled. After she "began to feel the shame and embarrassment of the situation and felt dehumanized," Aguilar lost her balance and fell back on her full weight, breaking her right leg. According to the complaint, Aguilar was transported to Anaheim Global Medical Center, where she spent 10 days recovering before undergoing rehabilitation at Oxnard Manor Healthcare Center. Her daughters claim she contracted an infection there, which led to septic shock and her subsequent death on Jan. 29, 2022. Upon arrival at Anaheim Global Medical Center, Aguilar spent 10 days recovering before undergoing rehabilitation at Oxnard Manor Healthcare Center, the complaint claims. Her daughters claim she died on Jan. 29, 2022, due to septic shock from an infection she contracted there. 

In the lawsuit, compensation is sought in the form of "all past economic damages," including medical, funeral, and attorney fees.

The theme park has been going through a rough patch as of late. There have been some fights, and Disney World and Disneyland have issued warnings. According to the New York Post, their websites now include courtesy sections about how guests should behave at the theme parks under the "Know Before You Go" section. Some of the major brawls and nasty arguments that have broken out in both parks have gone viral. The Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland, Hollywood Studios' Toy Story Land, EPCOT's Living With The Land, and the ferryboats to and from the Magic Kingdom have all seen fights. Just months after a woman suffered a head injury during a fireworks display, a large fight occurred in front of Peter Pan's Flight over the summer. There was a brawl at Disneyland during Memorial Day weekend, which resulted in several guests being removed.