Disneyland staff laughed at Joanne Aguilar before she fell off ride: lawsuit

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Disneyland staff laughed at Joanne Aguilar before she fell off ride: lawsuit

Disneyland workers laughed at a 66-year-old disabled woman before she fell getting off the Jungle Cruise ride — and died five months later from septic shock, a lawsuit alleges.

The family of Joanne Aguilar filed the wrongful death suit in Ventura County, California, in the fall, and it was assigned to a judge earlier this month. The lawsuit names as defendants the Walt Disney Company, its theme park division and Disneyland.

According to the complaint obtained by The Post, Aguilar visited the Anaheim amusement park on Aug. 21, 2021, with her two adult daughters, Zenobia Hernandez and Andrea Maullul.

The family obtained a wheelchair from the park for Aguilar, who was recovering from a knee injury at the time.

When the women went to ride the Jungle Cruise attraction, Aguilar was told by employees that a wheelchair-accessible boat was not available.

Joanne Aguilar, 66, broke her leg while getting off the Jungle Cruise ride in Aug. 2021, and died from septic shock five months later.
Joanne Aguilar, 66, broke her leg exiting Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride in August 2021 and died from septic shock five months later.

The ride has an ADA-accessible boat that allows disabled parkgoers to board without getting out of their wheelchairs, but Aguilar decided to ride a standard boat with the help of her daughters.

At the conclusion of the ride, park workers allegedly placed “small unsecured blocks” on top of the steps in the boat to reduce the height of each step, but Aguilar had a difficult time going up them.

Instead of helping the family, according to the complaint, Disneyland cast members began “snickering and giggling” at the woman’s struggles, leaving her feeling ashamed and embarrassed.

Aguilar “felt dehumanized” by the situation, the lawsuit alleges.

A federal lawsuit claiming wrongful death and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act alleges that Disneyland workers laughed at Aguilar before she fell.
A federal lawsuit claiming wrongful death and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act alleges that Disneyland workers laughed at Aguilar before she fell.
Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag

Moments later, Aguilar lost her balance on the steps, fell backward and broke her right femur. She would spend the next 10 days at a hospital before being transferred to a rehabilitation center.

The woman remained at the Oxnard, California, facility for five months, before she contracted an infection there, went into septic shock and died on Jan 29, 2022.

According to the lawsuit, the woman died as a result of injuries sustained in the fall at Disneyland. The federal complaint alleges wrongful death and violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

ANAHEIM, CA - DECEMBER 03: General views of the Walt Disney 'Partners' statue at Disneyland on December 03, 2022 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
Disney attorneys have denied all the allegations and requested that the lawsuit be dismissed.
GC Images

Aguilar’s family is seeking unspecified damages for physical pain, mental suffering, and humiliation, as well as all the medical costs, funeral expenses and attorneys’ fees.

“My clients went to Disneyland with the hopes of creating life-long happy memories and instead are left with the memory of a lack of dignity and respect for their mother which ultimately led to her final demise,” the family’s attorney, Michael Jeandron, told the Orange County Register.

In court filings, Disney has denied all the allegations, claiming that the company was not at fault for Aguilar’s injuries and that the woman and her daughters knew the risks of coming to the theme park.

The company requested for the lawsuit to be dismissed.

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