Sometimes yes, this does end up in a little bit of what insurance companies call "betterment" - the company that only offers online billing to the rest of us providing phyiscal bills (in braille format), priority boarding in a plane, etc... but when it comes to theme park queues, waiting the same as the standby queue rather than insta-board seems fair and reasonable.
The question then comes as to how do you ensure that your standby queue time is accurate... I was mildly irritated on my visit to Blackpool Pleasure beach to note that several rides had listed queue times on the Q-Bot system that beared no relationship with reality. Yes, its a "problem" with obvious solutions, but I can't help but wonder if the extra work and investment required if at the end of the day, this is really worth it...
I understand the need for a system that allows less abuse than the old one, but this really does penalize a lot if disabled families. My nephew gets pushed around in a modified wheelchair (which he is able to transfer out of), my niece walks, and their parents take turns pushing. They don't move very quickly and they tire out easily, which means less time in the park per day. Now add in that they have to go back to a few kiosks before every ride, find somewhere to kill time, and then go to the attraction when their time comes up. They're going to spend even less time in the park per day, and get on less than five rides per day.
The GAC is a broken system, but I fear this is breaking it further. Is there any way that this could ever lead to a system where only people with legitamite disabilities can get the assistance they need?
The way I see it, the old DAC program encouraged people to scam it because it allowed people with a DAC card to have unlimited FastPass and ride way more rides than people without DAC. That's how scammers were able to hire themselves out as line-jumping guides. DAC seemed to reward people for either being disabled or pretending to be disabled, so it was not a good program.
I think DAS is much better in that it removes the incentive to pretend to be disabled. Now, the only real perk of DAS is being able to use the exit as an entrance. No one is going to pay someone to be a "guide" for that benefit. While I think it's a bad hand that life has dealt someone with a disability, I don't think disabled people should be allowed to ride more rides than non-disabled people. Let everyone be equal and have the same chance of riding rides. I like that DAS gives the disabled person a return time to come back to the ride at about the same time someone waiting in line would have had. That's fair to me. The disabled person can now go elsewhere if he or she can't wait in the line, but that person is not getting more access to more rides than a non-disabled guest.
I think Disney should have a program where disabled people are given help to be able to ride as many things as non-disabled guests...but it's wrong to have any kind of program where being disabled gets a person MORE access to more attractions than a non-disabled guest. Human nature just encourages bad people to take advantage and pretend to be disabled to score perks.
How many more rides should disabled people get over non-disabled? This new structure seems more than fair. It's no wonder people were abusing the former system - although I expect many will continue to abuse the DAC cards.
Disabled people should absolutely have the same access - but not markedly better access - than non-disabled people. The law is about equal access - not giving a better experience than the non-disabled are afforded.
As it stands, being able to skip lines entirely, those with GACS get much better access to the park than those without. Not having to wait means that they can ride many more rides than our family can.
My child has a limited ability to stand in line endlessly. Being bumped back by entire parties wanting to skip the line process hurts the rest of us, including our family.
Having a stream of families pushed instantly to the front of the line on every ride in the park affects whether or not my child can enjoy the rides. That isn't fair at all.
If disabled guests can't stand in line, they can come back at the time on their new pass, having done other activities in the interim. Public accommodation does not mean breezing to the front of the line over and over while others have yet to have a turn at all.
The new system makes disabled guests as much like non-disabled guests as possible, the goal of anti-discrimination laws.
I think this is the best way of doing this. Its not just a Disney problem, but rather a theme park problem. Also, Disney does have quite a bit of special needs guests come to the parks. I think the fastpass is good for the people in the regular line. Of course, Disney can make special exceptions.
All in all, I think this is a change for the better!
Disney was his one joy in life, and we go three times a year. This change will freak him out.
Luckily, the annual passes for my family are up in October. We have just cancelled our trip, and for the first time in 11 years, we will not renew our passes.
I hope that this system is able to create more respect between guests as well, because I don't want to be stared down because I am using the w/c access line despite not being in a w/c. If you are someone concerned about people abusing the service, and see someone walking with no apparent disability... stop before you judge... and if you have the guts ask them to know more about their disability. You never you know, you may learn something!
I don't think the Autism thing has been addressed quite yet. As mentioned before, I was almost certain that this "change" was the unofficial rule for awhile. My grandmother who could not walk had to usually go though the lines of the newer attractions. Fastpasses just make sense to me. There are so many special needs people going to the parks (and that is great) that they probably really do need fastpasses so that the ride can still function and not stopping every couple of minutes.
I am a bit suprised at the bit premature decision not to go to Disney parks or renew your passes. I think people need to take a deep breath and see what happens. Its sad that people greatly abused the system, forcing Disney's hand, but again, it sounds pretty fair to me.
Yes the rules need to change but don't punish the true disabled persons ability to spend quality time with the family in the happiest place on earth - Disney!
The question was "But is there a better way?" than the new DAS. And the answer seems to be exactly what Disney is implementing at Walt Disney World and that is...
...the FASTPASS+ system!
When implemented in a few months, everyone can schedule times to ride 3 or 4 rides a day way in advance of the visit, I heard up to 60 days in advance. Create your My Disney Experience account, put in your ticket/resort reservation info and reserve the attractions you want to see.
No waiting, just walk up at your reserved time and walk right into the attraction. Seems like this new method is a heaven sent solution to most of your concerns. Learn it, use it, enjoy your vacation to the fullest.
The goal is that those with disabilities ride no more rides then any other park visitor. I am 47 years old and have been going to Disney since 1971 when I was 5. With the use of the GAC pass we ride on fewer rides in a day then back in 1971 along with fewer rides then I road as a young adult there several times over New Years with no fast pass and the park so crowded that the parking lots were completely full and visitors were turned away. No we've never used it to ride on a ride over and over again. We have walked in the Magic Kingdom, down Main Street, started through one of the spokes off to one of the lands, sat down on a bench, and after 20 minutes of tantruming traced our steps back out of the park, back on the bus and spent the rest of the day in the hotel room. I have used the stores on the side that go all the way down Main Street without having to go outside to enter or exit because our son couldn't deal the the noise of a parade. With our son we've never had the luxury of the time in the parks that a typical family can have. If we get a 2 or 3 hour block in a day that is good. The GAC pass allowed us to used that time to make the most of it and then we would leave. Maybe we would get in 4 rides max in that 2 to 3 hours. Now it looks like we will get in at most 1/2 that and what do we do in between to make sure he doesn't have a meltdown requiring us to walk out of the park?
Have we already had our last visit to Disney? It looks like it. He loves it he really does but should I run the risk of standing in a regular queue line and have him injure another guest (It happened once before I knew of the pass.)? He doesn't mean to be aggressive he just can't express himself. He is an 8 year old locked in the mind of a 2 year old who continues to go through the terrible 2's. Planning every trip is stressful as I have to plan for all contingencies but I've always managed because I am able to go through handicap entrances, VIP lines, and simply bypass his being trapped in close quarters with people. When Southwest stopped allowing families with children to board first I asked if it would be ok for one of us to stand in line while the other is off to the side away from the crowd so that he is less likely to have a meltdown, to my surprise they gave me a priority boarding pass. I would gladly trade places with any family and stand in line with their kids for 3 hours and allow them to take my son around dealing with all I deal with. It's not easy but I love him. I am not upset with the decision only with the people that abused the system making Disney take it away from those that truly needed it. Just remember a typical family has all day and a family with a special needs child might only get just a couple of hours. There is no way they can say that the new system is an equality for all types of disabilities and they will get to ride the same amount of rides as a typical person can. The Most Magical Place On Earth is no longer magical to many of the children who were the most obsessed with being there.
Also for example - my son has a fear of fireworks - so we ride things early because when they are about to start up he gets very panicked. He is either ready to leave. So we have to either leave before they start or go inside somewhere and put on his noise cancelling headsets. ( So is Disney going to tell us - come back at this time?)
I thought Disney was disable friendly - SHAME ON DISNEY!!!! You DON'T KNOW they fears of these children, the schedules of these children!!!
- Disney makes its own rules so why not have to show a Doctors diagnoises paper. I bring my sons everytime we go. - If you/your family member really has a disability then you will have the paperwork and not be ashamed to show them. - I do believe people are abusing the old passes. Shame on them and Shame on Disney for letting the disable suffer for the ignorant that abuse a good thing!
To help people understand: The meltdowns are triggered usually by changes to routine. This is fairly common for people on the spectrum. Unfortunately, the spectrum has become so broad that its meaning is diluted. But I digress…. An example from a recent trip: Splash Mountain was down because the animatronics were not working properly. It was down for 4 hours. My son was stressed and required 2 adults to control him for 3 of those hours. I ended up with a broken finger and several bite marks and pretty much a wasted day because his stress was high over the rest of the day.
Here is the reality: this change (minus the details that are still to be announced and that may sway my opinion) will make it impossible for my son and I'm sure many other to access the parks at all. Why? Simply because this is not the way he has done it. Before anyone jumps on me and says “but he will adjust” I will offer an anecdote. My son and I originally went to Disney by ourselves as my daughter was too young. After 2 years, my mother and daughter started accompanying me. My son insisted that they be placed in a train/log/ride vehicle that was not ours because it wasn't the same as it had been. This lasted for 6 years. Adaptation and change take time.
So what would happen if we gave the new system a try? We will go to an attraction. I will speak to a cast member. They will give me a ticket (that surprisingly is not better than a fast pass) and I will tell him we need to do something else. So then what? He will meltdown because this is not the same way it’s been done; or I will use the standby and he will meltdown because it’s not the same way it’s been done. He has gone on the same rides in the same order and used the queue in the same way for the last 10 years; changing the “same” has bad effects in his case.
So what’s the real message here? 1) People are overly simplifying the situation by throwing all disabilities into one group; my family’s needs are unique as are those of most of the others that receive the GAC. I am, nor is anyone else, qualified to say what accommodations someone with a disability needs to have.
2) People are overly concerned with “fairness” and the “law” to help support an argument that really boils down to “I don’t want people taking cuts”. I will gladly wait in every line with the rest of people if it means my son won’t need to live with me for the rest of his life or if I could do it without fear of a meltdown. Incidentally, with Disney’s ride reliability (or lack of) this will make the meltdowns more common. People need to relax, take a deep breath and do what you do when you see someone using a disabled parking space that doesn’t seem to need it. Incidentally, the Make a Wish children (life threatening illness) will still be afforded the old system. I personally agree with that decision but the argument stemming from “the law” falls apart with this not being included in the changes. As soon as you decide in some cases sympathy and compassion trump the law then the argument should shift to focusing on where the line (no pun intended) should be and where compassion takes focus over the law.
3) Too many people were abusing the system and it needs to change. Going to Disney over the last several years I have seen a dramatic growth in individuals who use and abuse the GAC. Disney has done nothing however to curb this abuse. I could count on two hands over my visits the number of times that I have been asked if my son was even in the party.
4) It’s sad that Disney has chosen to eliminate incentive for abuse as a vehicle to deal with the issue.
5) There is a large misunderstanding that the GAC provided immediate access. It allows you to use the fastpass queue without getting a fastpass ticket or having to adhere to a schedule.
6) This will eliminate access to the parks for my son and I am sure countless others. It will also hardly affect some that can understand the changes or adapt. Adaptation, unfortunately, is not the hallmark of some disabilities. There may be no perfect solution but I’m inclined to think that with all the resources Disney has they could have found a better one.
I feel for people in your situation. Perhaps where you should take issue is with the ADA. It is absurdly broad. If there was not a prohibition on allowing Disney to ask for proof or a doctor's letter, then they wouldn't have to modify this so much. Yes, the cheaters have ruined this for you, as has the ADA as it stands currently.
Robert never published my comment on the previous posting. I am very militant regarding what people claim as a disability. I had a father who lost his leg in combat, and did so and lived with that long before there were the hi-tech legs they have now. It still chaps my hide when I see people take a handicap spot and then stride into an establishment. And I have heard all the excuses about "unseen" conditions. Again I feel badly for these parents of kids who they state cannot wait for rides. But Disney must deal with this "cheating the lines" mess or face the possibility that violence will occur at some point (if I were a Disney lawyer - especially after that story ran on NBC - I would be very concerned about the liability, not just the bad press). I guess you can only live with it as is, not go to Disney, or start a campaign to change the current laws.
I see it as I have so many steps with that hip before I get it replaced and I will pick my steps. When I stand for periods, vs. walking, my hip does start to act up. So at DW and Universal I get the pass to get to the front of the line.
I think it is terrible that the rich are abusing the system and DW should think of checking the names to make sure that they are all in the same family. This would eliminate the Paid Services in getting the rich into the rides.
There has to be a better way then what they are doing and I wish they would rethink what they are proposing.
The crux of the issue is that Disney has, to their credit, been extraordinarily accommodating to guests with disabilities via the GAC. Sleazeballs have taken advantage of that goodwill and, outside of (illegally) requiring documentation in order to issue a GAC, Disney has their hands tied to eliminate the fraud.
Only real benefit of this new system are that (1) The cheaters will be pretty much out of luck as scamming a DAS is significantly less beneficial than doing so for a GAC and (2) because of that, the standby lines should be somewhat shorter. It's just a shame for those who legitimately deserve a GAC.
Once a summer I had to walk people down 150 feet worth of stairs because the ride broke. I've had to do it with people who used mobility devices they didn't have it on them at the time and it was incredibly dangerous for both of us.
I get it, my heart broke one summer when a woman with end-stage cancer bought a season pass and would ride my ride 10-20 times a day because when she was on it she, "Didn't feel sick." Her family came at the end of summer to let us know that she passed.
I get it, but if the ride breaks with them on it, odds are an Aspergers person is going to have an episode and what happens if they're on the top of the hill of Millennium Force and have to be walked down? Walk downs happen, depending on the park it either happens once a twice a season or once or twice a month.
Most of everyone's opinions are related to people in wheelchairs.Which over 90% of those people are adults with a wheelchair to simply make there life easier not a disability. My daughter with Down Syndrome is NOT in a wheelchair but certainly can not walk the parks and wait in the lengthy lines as typical children do. She also has a vision impairment and the ability to sit in the 4 row center for shows is the difference of her seeing the show or simply sitting in the dark.
I am certainly not one to pass judgement but when we were in the park in October the Handicap lines where full of ADULTS with wheelchairs most with an age impairment and not a disability. In addition they rode few rides but the children with them certainly used there pass.
A medical condition DOES NOT constitute a disability. This just makes it almost impossible for families with children that have disabilities to make disney work for a their family.
While autistic children are more susceptible to meltdowns, Disney is often a nightmare for everyone. Autism or not, all children (and parents) would greatly benefit from a GAC card. The problem Disney faces is that the GAC card policy was overly hospitable. When you eat steak your whole life and suddenly are fed SPAM, expect blow-back worse than a child who waited 3 hours for soarin', only to be told he's 1/4 inch too short.
I promise you that same family is dealing with issues you would never have thought of in between the rides. Making it thru a day at a park like Disney is no cake walk. Issues with medication, health, stamina, toileting, diet, breathing, mobility, behaviors (I could go on) all cause for incredible delays that you are not seeing as you see us "cut a line" and supposedly get an unfair advantage.
Try following me and my family around for one full day and compare your day to mine and compare the number of rides you rode to the number we rode with a GAC - I think you would be quite surprised that we are not getting more than you after all!
I find it hard to believe that Disney isn't legally able to require proof of a disability as there are a number of amusement parks that do have this requirement. There are passes that offer easier access to attractions at places like Hershey Park and Sesame Place, and you can only get them if you furnish proof that you are a special needs guest. Often for us this is registration with a particular organization that represents special needs children membership to which is only granted with correspondence from your child's physician. Not only that, but the child or someone in the family must wear a wristband that identifies them as having this pass *and* must carry around documentation that details rides they're able to go on and their age so that, for instance, an adult wouldn't be able to leverage a toddler's pass. Beyond that, employees are instructed that unless the queues are reasonably short guests can't just keep riding the popular rides over and over again -- they have to wait a bit before they can get back on.
I understand that this still seems "unfair" to a lot of people who do not have special needs (in our specific case this is Autism in which those afflicted quite often have a very difficult time staying still and standing for lengthy periods of time), but then how do you really measure how many rides a person can realistically go on in a day? Some people might just go on a half-dozen rides in a day because they only visit for four or five hours during the day. Other people could fit in tons of rides for a full day. When I was younger I could easily get in two dozen or more attractions in a day even when Fast Pass was in its infancy PLUS I was physically able to endure longer days, run from ride to ride, etc. People in wheelchairs, children with Autism or Down Syndrome, etc. don't have the same physical stamina and many times they're not going to last even half of a day at a theme park... so is it fair that they won't be able to experience the same as a younger, more energetic person who can go for twelve hours?
Again, the answer isn't to "punish" (I hate using that word since it's not a punishment) special needs guests but to put in place better safeguards to make it as difficult as possible for people to game the system... starting with actually requiring someone to be special needs or handicapped to take advantage.
I do think the new system is more fair - you wait the same amount of time as everyone else. The only exception I would give this to are people with kids with autism (and not high functioning) but as pointed out, how do you differentiate? As I stated in the previous thread on this (as a guest) my biggest complaint is I can't stand for long periods so requiring me to wait on line for Kingda Ka since it's ADA accessible is very unfair. And to the poster who suggested I get a wheelchair - Are you kidding me? I'm not paying for a wheelchair to lug around with me when I only need it for for rides with long lines. That's ridiculous. I already have a knee scooter that I would use if the parks had level terrain, which they don't. Can't ride it on cobblestone or pebbled cemented areas and walking it without my cane is even worse. As I have always stated - I have NO problem waiting the same amount of time as everyone else - I just can't do it standing sometimes.
I found this blog post that addresses concerns of "fairness" very well: http://specialneedsoc.com/2013/09/23/why-we-arent-entitled-and-why-what-disney-does-next-matters-more-than-you-think/
I hope that people commenting on this issue will try to have some compassion for people with extra challenges. I hope that Disney still will, too.
Disney isn't asking you to wait in line, only to come back at a certain time.
You see, autistic children live in a world that causes them very real discomfort. The sounds, the smells, the sights that you and I don't even notice because our brains filter these things out bombard autistic children. Their filters do not work at all. Sit in the place you are right now and listen to what you can hear and smell what you can smell and eel what you can feel. What do you hear? You hear people talking, the hvac system working, airplanes going overhead, cars, animals. What can you smell? The furniture, your own body odor, everyone else's body odor, chemicals from cleaning supplies, soap, food. What do you feel? The air moving over your skin, your own clothing, whatever you are sitting and standing on, hot or cold. While you are at it, imagine that the things you feel including your own clothing actually burns your skin or feels like sandpaper scratching you at all times. Now add in everything you can see from the tip of your nose to the blue sky and everything in between. Imagine not being able to filter any of it out, feeling, smelling, seeing, and hearing every one of these inputs at full intensity. You would probably go crazy and do anything to make it stop. You would have a meltdown too This is what an autistic child experiences every moment of every day - every sound, every sight, every smell, every touch. This is what it is like to be autistic. Or at least autistic like my daughter.
Now imagine your son has a medical condition that threatens his life. Imagine this condition makes it so he can only be active for three or four hours a day at most. Imagine that you have to schedule medical treatments into your day. That is my son.
Now imagine you are me. Blind in one eye with an autoimmune disorder. As a single mother you are all by yourself pushing a double wheelchair around all day, ignoring your own issues so your children can have a special time. (The wheelchair is a medical necessity for my son and it allows my daughter to avoid being touched as she walks through crowds which is the only way she could make it through an amusement park. Without that separation she would meltdown before we made it halfway up Main Street.)
With the old system we could go to Disney, cram in four or five rides before my son had to leave for the day. We cannot go early as the heat is too much for him so we go late. By then all of the Fastpasses are gone. With the GAC we were able to enjoy Disney for those few precious hours.
This is how the new system would work for us. Wait to get our assigned time for a ride at the kiosk. Wait for assigned time to get on the ride. Go to the ride and wait in the FastPass line to actually ride the ride. Walk all of the way back to the kiosk to get another time which means me pushing that wheelchair back and forth and waiting three times for a ride, much longer than the typical people who waited in he standby line.
And for those of you who say, "So what. You can do anything you want while you are waiting. At least you are not standing in line." I tell you this. We do not go shopping at Disney unless we know exactly what we want and run into the store to get it. My daughter shrieks in stores. Too much sensory input. We do not eat unless there is no line and even then it is nearly impossible to maneuver our wheelchair through the food areas. The kids usually eat in their wheelchair and I eat standing up which is just great for my own disorder. We cannot go on a ride with a shorter line because it is a line. We cannot go to a character meeting place (we have never, ever met a character at Disney) because there is a line. We cannot go to a show or a parade because there is a line or people pressing all around us. There is nothing we can do in Disney for the hour we would wait to get onto an attraction. After we did this wait to get on maybe two attractions we would have to leave as my son would need to go back for his treatments. What I am trying to say is all of the able-bodied, neurotypical people out there can stay at Disney for hours, we cannot. So no, this new system is not a move in the right direction for everyone.
Why do we go to Disney? I go to see the sheer joy on my children's faces when they come off of Space Mountain or Peter Pans Flight. Most of you take that look for granted or never even notice it but I notice every one of those looks. For my daughter I am ecstatic that she found joy in something in the outside world. For my son I am cataloging every one of those looks in my memory for the days after he is no longer here on this earth, with me.
Many of you are talking about "equality" and equating this with "riding the same number of rides". Equality is not that easy. You can run from ride to ride and access more rides than we can by the sheer nature of being able-bodied. You can go to character meetings, shows, parades, shops, and dining establishments that we cannot access or attend. You can get on the ferry (we cannot as we do not fit in our wheelchair) or the buses while we must drive from park to park, cutting into our time before the "witching hour". However if you must make equality about riding the same number of rides during a "typical" visit to Disney then you must consider that the typical visit is different for you and me. Since we can only spend a few hours in the park (and there are many others like us) and we paid the same amount for a ticket, isn't it "equality" if we all get on about five or six rides? You will still be able to do this in your typical day but we will not with the new system.
You think the scammers can't replicate this? Don't be so naive! Prescription pads are a joke!
I hate crowds, they make me anxious, so I don't plan Disney trips during high crowd times like Easter and Christmas. When I went at the end of August, I made RD every day (9AM) and in 2 hours had made it through every high demand attraction (MK was split into 2 days), sometimes multiple times using FP and a good touring schedule. Sorry, but I don't have much sympathy for someone going at Christmas and then complaining that the lines are too long and they need a special pass in order to make their vacation work or they will never be able to experience Disney.
I think the DAS is going to be a good compromise between the regular system and the current out of control GAC that exists today.
Any program that involves preferential treatment will attract liars, cheaters and scammers. This is a welcome change and will level the playing field for all. If you can't handle the new system then you'll have to do something else with your time.
This change is long overdue, so I want to thank those who cheated the system and got caught by the national media.
Disney has been avoiding making these necessary changes since management feared the backlash, but thanks to the televised attention they no longer could ignore the problem. In fact, that media attention now validates their decision to revise the program and they will be referencing that as they roll out this new system. Basically, Disney can now pass the blame onto the cheaters and come out looking good!
Sure there will be a few who will be angry as evidenced by the replies on these articles, but the fact that you expected this preferential treatment is almost as bad as the few who abused it for profit.
There are plenty of us who don't like to wait in line either, myself included. However, this is how the world works and the law clearly states "equal access" not "preferential access", so welcome to life and wait your turn.
1. “With the exception of people who are physically disabled,the rest of the world will have to learn patience and humility. Disney World is not cyberspace. Everything is not instantaneous”
RESPONSE:First lets define the words:Patience-the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.Humility-the quality or state of being humbleIt seems you are right the world does indeed need these based on the number of uniformed comments here. Why only physical disability? Should we take away the children with life threatening illnesses access?
2. “There are plenty of us who don't like to wait in line either, myself included. However, this is how the world works and the law clearly states "equal access" not "preferential access", so welcome to life and wait your turn.”
RESPONSE: This is how a normally developing persons “world” works. This is not how people with autism or challenges understand the world. This is a question of compassion not one of the law. If this were a legal question Disney would not have had the system in the first place.
3. “What is getting my blood boiling is the parents of "meltdown" children who are basically threatening the rest of us with bodily harm from their kids (or in some cases grown adults) if they are not given front of the line access. If there is one right my kid has at Disney, it's to not be injured by your child or adult that you cannot control.”
RESPONSE:There seem to be no “threats” in this thread. There are simply caregivers that understand the impaired and special needs person’s triggers. The point is that everyone can be kept happy and safe if the triggers are avoided. Beyond that, this is not usually an issue of safety. It is one of comfort as well. When my son was young he would meltdown if the ride broke down (for hours). I'm fairly certain those around me didn't understand and just wished we weren't there. What is the alternative anyway? Lock people up or keep them in a house their whole lives ?
CONCLUSION:These are just some of the remarks I found interesting. The facts are: People with severe cognitive and physical disabilities exist. They need special assistance through life. Their challenges are profound and will inconvenience the rest of the people in the world no matter if it's giving them special treatment with lines or watching them meltdown next to us. It is impossible for those not directly touched by these disabilities to understand the needs and the difficulty of everyday life both for those with the disability and their caregivers. A normal person suffers in line. A person with a disability suffers much more. Anyone who says otherwise doesn't get it and is displaying a fair amount of arrogance pretending they do. How society (ours) services this population of less fortunate largely determines the level of our compassion and understanding.
My question for some of the writers that seem delighted by the change is why aren't you immediately forming a mob and removing all disabled parking spaces and lobbying Disney to make sure no child faced with a life threatening illness skips the line either. I think then it will be clear who who you are and what you really stand for.
NDA won't allow me to give specifics on the new system but...
I can say, as Disney has announced (pretty much the only official press release on the topic yet) is that any and all new changes were made with input from advocacy groups for guest with disabilities, especially working with Autism Speaks, one of, if not, the larges advocacy group for Autism. These groups agree that the system is fair and workable.
Oh my, what a nice system Universal uses...
And combine Universal's system with a photo and add Fastpass, not only everyone shouldn't be complaining, they should be rejoicing at a fair and accommodating system.
Of course, there's little discussion as to how easy this system will work with My Magic+.
Robert, your description of the system is not accurate nor a fair way of describing it. It's not your fault for reporting heresay...
Disney has not yet officially released details on the new program, so hold you panic.
I will say that.
If they really wanted to make a statement, they could take the money and use it to allow special needs children to visit the parks free of charge.
The rich would have their access, Disney would have money and more children could have the opportunity of a lifetime. Sounds like a win-win scenario to me.
We have been annual passholders for several years and visit Disney World several times a year, staying at their deluxe resorts.
When our five annual passes expire, we will not be renewing them.
I have an adult son, Steven, who has significant developmental disabilities, physical and intellectually. We went to Disneyworld in the mid 90's to celebrate his "graduating" from high school. Have absolutely no idea how many rides we rode. More like a handful each day as I best recall. The focus was ensuring Steven had an overall good experience. It was his first trip out of state for sheer pleasure and all about him. Steven was more thrilled than I could imagine to meet the characters (and he loved Cinderella too); I was thrilled that it was the most accessible place we had ever been in our lives; (even told people if we ever won the Texas Lotto, we'd just go live at Disneyworld because it was sooo accessible), and Steven loved riding the boat between our hotel and Magic Kingdom. We had no expectation of being moved to the front of any line, but we were. It was Steven, a sweet aide from his school, my cousin's 14 yr old daughter, and me. Felt a bit bad going ahead of the line, but can say it was very much appreciated given the uncertainty of how Steven would react to waiting for something and the stop & go movements/process. Some individuals with neurological disabilities are not able to process change very well. As a youngster, it was near impossible to change a routine as simple as the route to the school without causing him frustration, crying, and not being able to sufficiently express his frustration because he is non-verbal. The older Steven has gotten, he has gotten better with how he deals with change. My heart goes out to the parents of young children who may be where Steven was in his younger years and for those, including Steven, as adult, that with long waits, or heat, or even the thought of standing in line to get a ticket to return, don't think Steven would handle leaving and having to explain we would return. I can see that trigger stress for many who cannot handle the change. I believe even today, if we were to stand in a long line and then turn around and leave, this could trigger frustration and might be difficult & stressful for all.
Seems to me this is why the ADA allows places of public of accommodations to provide reasonable accommodations to individuals with disabilities. When qualified, I don't view moving to the front of a line as an advantage, anymore and tying to no longer feel guilty.... If one is not able to move on ahead and get going with the ride, and if the long wait was to cause frustration to the point they may not be able to participate, then there is not equal access, in my opinion.
The world comes to Disneyworld because it's magical and special and to leave our daily worries behind. For those who may not live with someone with significant disabilities, one may not have a clue as to what it takes to even travel to Disneyworld, even if you live in Florida or even if you are a resident of Orlando. When taking a family member with disabilities out in the community for simple as a day at Disneyworld, much planning is involved. You may have a family member who is incontinent and may need tended to several times throughout the day. Families adjust accordingly. There needs to be as much flexibility provided to the individual with disabilities, not the other way around. If the rule became more rigid to return at a certain time, depending on the disability, that may not even be feasible. The person may need to rest, sleep, or eat at a particular time. The family is in the best position to know the best time to catch a particular ride or event.
It's a bit interesting to hear all the comments about people who are cheating and gosh looks like Disney sure did respond to cure this "huge" problem. Wish we could recruit you all to help with all the other cheating that is occurring in the world of disabilities. The list is endless.
Everything from Fair Housing Act consistently being violated; Air Carrier Access Act, ADA, all civil rights laws and no one is getting real upset about that. Instead, we have non-disabled people complaining about someone getting to ride a ride more than them??? If that is the true reason, well, it sounds just so childish.I'm not surprised that the answer was to make it harder on individuals with disabilities. That seems to be the trend in the United States these days....
So much for escaping to Disneyworld when one is tired of running into discrimination, barriers, exclusion, segregation, etc. in the "real" everyday world....each and every day. Funny that I've commented to friends recently - before learning about the "problems" at Disneyworld, that it is sad that in order to experience full access, one must go to the world of Walt Disney.
Hope you all come up with a solution that does not further discriminate against individuals with disabilities and some of the unique needs of the individual. After all, the ADA tells us we should be looking at the need of the individual when providing an accommodation.
Mahalo nui loa for the wonderful time Disneyworld showed my son back in the 90's. One of the very best trips ever. Steven still has his Mickey Mouse Hat & pic taken with Cinderella.
Beverly, Steven & Sophie (Labrador)Galarza
When our annual passes expire in a few months we won't be renewing them. Hell no! Not a chance!
Yes, I'm mocking some of you because you're ridiculous! You're throwing your hands up and calling it quits when you haven't even tried the new system.
The entertainment in the comments has been priceless. Seriously, Disney should revise policy more often!
I travel quite a bit and cannot believe the number of seatbelt extenders are requested and how much of my personal space that I pay as much for is invaded. And lord knows if I say something, I am the bad guy. I have had two spinal surgeries, soon to have a third and have never used it to my advantage other than periodic handicap parking.
I feel for many of the folks describing the symptoms of their children, but if they are that severe, then maybe Disney is not the place to be because it tests even the best of us.
If you are disabled or have family members disabled I strongly make this suggestion to you. FIND THE LEAST BUSY TIMES OF THE YEAR AT THE DISNEY PARKS AND GO THEN. It's not just about standing in the lines. It's about your improved ability to move through the park, the shops, the restaurants, the transportation system, effortlessly without the crowds. Maybe you will have to take your child out of school, but it will be worth it. For them and for you. The convenience will outweigh any inconveniences you have. I suggest late October or early November. The middle of January through February when the weather is nice and the crowds are low. Although this may not be a perfect solution for you, it could make the Disney experience so much better.If you want to see the Xmas lights at Disney, go at the beginning of December, instead of when the park is at it's peak. You owe it to yourself and your family to treat yourself to an off season Disney vacation. Let Disney deal with the scammers, and take control of the best family trip you can plan. Hope this suggestion helps! Denise B.
While it is a noble cause to think that works for each and every person, the one and only time a guest services worker at Disney said that to me, my response was "and that applies to my disability needs how?" then (re)handed them my proof of disability without the need for Disney asking and therefore violating the laws.
My suggestion to Disney has long been to post signage that indicates they cannot and will not ask about disabilities but that without such proof of disability, they reserve the right to deny DACs. Then randomly deny a DAC now and again when the guest refuses to volunteer said proof. I do not know of anyone that is truly disabled that wants to use the DAC that is not willing to prove they are disabled. Even with privacy concerns, there is nothing in such a policy that says the person has to prove what the disability is, just that they indeed ARE disabled. Schools, government, and other big industries require volunteering personal information all the time for credit reports, job applications, education registration, airplane flights, and on and on and on... It should the same allowances for big business in cases such as DAC.
Another suggestion to Disney was to allow only a single adult with each disabled person be on the ride at a time with each DAC issued.
Walking all day long on flat, even ground is not a problem with my particular disability and certain others might be able to as well but heaven forbid the moment the ground becomes uneven, uphill or stairs. I not only slow to a bloomin' crawl (babies on all four crawl faster than I can walk), I cannot get up stairs or into elevated bleachers. Even those so called nice even ramps they put for wheelchair use are an impediment to some slow walkers in the disabled world. With the current DAC, access to the exit ramps allows me to take my time walking without getting shoved out of the way in the standard queue lines (yes, I've been excessively shoved for 'not going fast enough') by more eager riders or to "get placed" in shows like The Lion King Show with less trouble for me and those around me.
To rent a wheelchair goes against all my doctor's recommendations. His direct instructions to reduce muscle atrophy are to "keep walking as long and as much as possible because every day you aren't using your lower body is one more day your adding to the time to end up permanently in a chair".
That stated, over the years I've expressed to Disney that they needed to change the DAC process. It has needed a policy update for a while now. I'm willing to give the DAS a try but one item hasn't been addressed in any of the many articles I've read on this subject. What does Disney intend to do for non-wheelchair bound slow walkers with lower physical impairment like me that can't get into the stadium seating and/or needs to use the exit gates even in an all wheelchair accessible park like Animal Kingdom? And how long is the window of opportunity going to be to return to the ride?
Here is a link that would explain the various challenges that surround sensory integrationd disorder people with standing in line. The same basics stand for those on the autism spectrum, people with downs syndrom & cerebral palsy, anxiety disorders & bipolars to name a few types of affected people. Basically standing in line creates a toxic environment for these people. The longer they are made to stand in line, the more apparent coping mechanism behaviors become as they try & tolerate their environment. When coping becomes too much or outside parties interject or attempt to interrupt these behaviors, meltdowns can occur which are dangerous not only for the person melting down, but for all around them family & otherwise. Caregivers come to the parks equipped with a variety of things to help the person cope & to stave off meltdowns, but we as parents & caregivers can only do so much. We do go to guest relations & do ask for accomodations to help AVOID issue with others-we do not like disturbing others & do our best to minimize disturbances, BUT we can only do soo much! We would hope others would understand coping mechanisms used by the disabled, but sadly this is not the case. The current Gac system was flawed, but the projected DAS system is even moreso. Return times are fun & great in theory until you realize that there IS no front of the line access that will or ever was granted. The Gac allowed for Fastpass entry in general & was situational at best & cm's were the ones who would make the call as to how to handle a given GAC at a given time based on a variety of factors. Sure, return times sound GREAT to those who have no experience with sensory based issues that I've discussed above, but to the initiated, it can make our job even harder as caregivers. In the case of Autism, spectrum folk generally do not understand anything other than instant gratification regardless of how much ABA they may have had etc & are creatures of ritual & habit. When you interrupt these rituals/habits, it creates anxiety which they must work to tolerate & cope with. Theme park environments are full of stimuli that can trigger coping mechanisms- & we have a variety of tools we as caregivers use to try & help our disabled cope, but there is only so much any of us can anticipate & head off before things begin to happen. It is true we spend less actual time in the parks than the usual general patrons do. The disabled often have to literally baby step thru everything that they do in the parks which is a LOT of work mentally & can cause strain on them. They are trying & want to be there & want to have the same experience as everyone else, but they also do not need to be put thru truamatic experiences which the new system seems to be full of potential for exactly that. The link I posted above outlines coping mechanisms for various triggers in general & what can happen in some cases when meltdowns occur. This is what you & yours will be standing in line waiting with in that sometimes lengthy fastpass line (while faster than standby this past summer f/p lines could be very long-45 minutes or more in some cases.) Will you as a general patron be happy standing next to someone who has taken to explitive use to cope with their overstimulation? What if you see the line is moving & dont realize that the person in front of you has a delay in processing & cannot react to the move as fast as you would like so you shout above the noise to be heard to remind them or worse bump into them by accident triggering fight or flight response (lashing out anyone? biting? outright meltdown??) These people can be aged 2 & toddlers on up to full grown adult men who are the same size if not larger than you yourself may be yet in these situations, once they melt down, they can be VERY hard to restrain/calm down by their caregivers-what if there is no way to get out of line without going backward thru the mass of people or fwd thru the masses? Who might get hurt? Both parties or only the disabled? So much to think about when making generalizations that the disabled dont want to "wait" or "cannot wait" their turn isn't it?
Bernadette ShirghioNew York
The first trip we made to WDW in Jan 2008, we didn't know about the GAC. On our first day we would get in the actual line (our son was only 8 and his chair was pretty small) and a cast member would then come and very nicely usher us into a different line. It wasn't always instant access, but it was definitely a more wheelchair accessible entrance. We were thrilled, not only to be getting into a shorter line, but the cast members were delightful. They would say hello to my son and just make us feel special. Believe me, in everyday life that generally doesn't happen. It was obvious that the employees were trained to treat special needs kids vey well. From our first day we were hooked. Yes, mostly because our lines were shorter. I will admit that. But in the end, I just felt like Disney understood. They understood that there were families out there that deserved a place to go where their kiddos were loved. I could go on about how specially we were treated during our 5 day trip. At epcot we met a family whose youngest son was also in a wheelchair. After the third or fourth line we were in together, I mentioned that I felt guilty that we were able to get in a shorter line for many of the attractions. Her response was just that this is our everyday: doctors, hospitals, wheelchairs, diapers, feeding tubes, etc. it was ok to not feel guilty about this one thing. So I praised Disney whenever I could about their amazing policy of treating families with special kids a little extra special. We felt the same after trip number 2 when our kids were 10 and 5. I started noticing on our 3rd trip that we got a few dirty looks from cast members when we'd flash our GAC. FROM CAST MEMBERS! Hello!! What happened to 'Have a Magical Day?' I was feeling embarrassed to use the pass. The only time I thought we abused the pass (accidentally) was on space mountain. We waited in the wheelchair line for 15 minutes and realized at the front that our son could not ride it bc my husband or I wouldn't have been able to sit next to him. He would have loved it. So we took turns riding with our daughter and the cast member was really nice about it. In the same line was a granny with 4 kids with her. The granny just waited while the kids rode. I felt like this was early stage GAC fraud. It is sad that a few people ruined this pass for the many families, like mine, who deal with 90 minute meals (not including Disney lines), seizures, diaper changes, feeding tubes, and medication scheduels that make it hard to come early or stay late.
Ironically, we planned our next trip for October 8-9 during our kids' fall break. One day with the pass and one day without. I'm interested to see how the new system works although I have a feeling it is going to change the way we feel about Disney. I think a better solution would definitely have been to not give a GAC to anyone who asked for one- no questions asked. That is ridiculous. Before I make any more comments, I would like to try out the new system. We will be there on day one. For us it is not entirely about the shortened lines, although it is immensely helpful and is a huge part of why we come back, It is about that magical feeling of Disney that all kids experience and Disney just seems to go one step farther to make sure that special needs kids feel it too. If that is gone this year... we'll be really, really sad.