As Disney prepares a replacement for Guest Assistance Cards, here's how we got into this mess

September 17, 2013, 1:03 PM · Disney's much-abused Guest Assistance Card program will end next month, according to a report on MiceAge. Disney will replace the program with a new Disabled Assistance System [DAS], the website said. Under the new scheme, visitors with disabilities that preclude their use of the traditional queues for attractions will get Fastpass-like return times for those rides, but only for one ride at a time. A guest with a qualifying disability will need to present a DAS pass, which include his or her photo, to get admitted at that return time. If a DAS user doesn't ride, no one in his or her party will be admitted to the attraction. Since DAS users can reserve only one return time at a time and won't be able to transfer that benefit to anyone, there should be no wait-time advantage to having a DASpass (see what I did there?) over using the park's stand-by queues. Visitors can get the DAS card at Guest Relations, and reserve return times at designated kiosks around the parks. The new system will go into place at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World on October 9.

In considering how Disney's new program will work, perhaps it's worth taking a look back to see how we got to this point.

Before the adoption of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, theme parks in the United States were under no federal obligation to accommodate visitors in wheelchairs, or those with other medical disabilities. However, industry practice was to find a way to allow visitors in wheelchairs to get on rides and into shows when they could not go through traditional, narrow serpentine queues.

Typically, the way parks accommodated these visitors was to bring them through the exit. Parks usually design wider exits for attractions, to allow people to get out quickly, so there was plenty of space for a wheelchair to access the ride from that point. But operations staff didn't want wheelchair parties clogging that space at the exit while they waited their "fair turn" to board, so custom became to load those parties as soon as possible. That allowed wheelchair parties to bypass not just the queues for attractions, but also the waits.

And once word about that got around, the attempts at abusing this practice began. When I worked at Walt Disney World's Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, I soon lost count of the number of groups of able-bodied teenagers who'd rented a wheelchair and took turns riding in it in an attempt to skip as many lines as possible. So Disney introduced the Guest Assistance Card program to try to cut down on such abuse. Visitors would need to go to Guest Relations to get a special card that would identify them as needing special access to an attraction. While many park employees continued to admit guests in wheelchairs through "back-door" entrances, many also stonewalled others they suspected of trying to cheat the system, asking to see their GAC before letting them ride.

Problem solved? Not even close. The ADA isn't just about people in wheelchairs. It also requires accommodation from people dealing with any from a much wider range of disabilities, including mental and emotional conditions that make it difficult or impossible for people to deal with confined queues or uncertain wait times. Civil and criminal penalties for denying accommodation can be harsh, so the cost of denying a GAC to someone who actually needed it was so large that saying no to such requests simply wasn't worth the risk. Just about anyone making a plausible request could get a GAC.

Let's acknowledge here that most people aren't jerks. If they see people with obvious disabilities getting to skip queues, they don't begrudge that and calmly accept letting those others go ahead. But as soon as people see others getting to cut the line who don't have obvious disabilities, or who appear (to them, at least) obviously not to have a disability, they feel less shame in asking for that same advantage, too. Over time, the number of guests with GACs swelled, and grew to include thousands of visitors who were physically and mentally capable of waiting in traditional queues. Which only encouraged more people to abuse the GAC system, lest they be left waiting behind others abusing the system, too.

Ultimately, the solution that will stop this abuse is to create a system of accommodation that doesn't allow persons with disabilities to get access to more attractions than another guest without a disability would on the same day. Building more ADA-compliant queues will address this challenge for guests using wheelchairs, by eliminating the need for them to bypass the queue. More efficient use of ride reservation systems can help accommodate guests with the mental or emotional inability to handle a queue, too.

By restricting the number of return passes, timing them to require a wait time approximately equal to the current stand-by wait, and eliminating the transfer for line-skipping privileges, Disney appears to be taking a step toward creating that more efficient system. The cynic awaits pushback from those visitors who've been abusing GACs and who will now have to wait their fair turn. The optimist hopes that at least a few instead will welcome the change and take this opportunity to atone for their participation in past abuse.

Update: Disney has confirmed the changes. Our discussion continues in this new post.

Replies (134)

September 17, 2013 at 1:30 PM · This is similar to what Six Flags does with their Special Access passes, but with the addition of a picture. It's sad that we have gotten to a point where we need such things in place, but the change should be seen as a positive overall. Those who legitimately can't wait in line are usually very understanding of the policy as they weren't looking to expedite their journey through the park in the first place. The one thing I am curious about (which we probably won't - nor should - see a publicized answer to this) is how they will handle guests that have things like autism where the problem isn't the queue, but the act of waiting.
September 17, 2013 at 1:46 PM · This makes a lot of sense. At first I thought it was a bad idea when you said "Fastpass style" passes...thinking it would work like Fastpass. But if the wait time is 60 minutes and you get a card with a time 60 minutes later regardless of FP returns, it makes way more sense. Now, I suppose this can still be circumvented if more than one member of a party can get a GAC and thus abuse the "one at a time rule." But it's definitely far LESS abuseable than the prior system.

And thus ends my dream of someday breaking my leg right before a trip to Disney and requiring a wheelchair to get around and on everything with no wait. ;)

September 17, 2013 at 1:55 PM · This is a terrible decision on disneys part. I understand people abuse this but there should just be different instructions in place to make sure people who don't need assistance can't get the cards in the first place(perhaps making the party bring a legit drs note with them).This sounds beyond insanely easier than instituting this new policy bs
September 17, 2013 at 2:00 PM · As for as person with Autism my 12 year old son has Aspergers Syndrom, part of the Autism Spectrum of Disorders. We were in Disney World in February of 2013 and the return times on the fast pass were not and issue for him as he knew when we could return and get on the ride. For the lines where we needed to simply wait we took his Gameboy DS for him to play and he was quite content, although he would still get somewhat anxious as time wore on.
September 17, 2013 at 2:36 PM · I'm glad this is being put in place. I've worked in other parks where I would get the whole "well Disney lets me get right on!" And it's so frustrating. If you need the extra assistance, you can be fair and wait a min amount to get on. Atleast you're not actually standing in line with everybody else! You can take that time to do other things, like eat, shop, use the restroom, go on a ride that has a much shorter wait, etc.. Seriously. And to the person who said they have to bring a legit doctors note, it's against the law for theme parks to ask for that.
September 17, 2013 at 2:43 PM · My concern is that people who don't have an clearly visible disability will be barred from using any form of assistance programs. I have ridiculously bad knees for someone who's not even 30 yet. If I stand in 1 place for too long, they lock in place. The GAC pass allows me to keep moving so that doesn't happen. I already get enough nasty looks from people assuming I'm just cheating the system & I feel like this will make the "judgment" even worse.
September 17, 2013 at 2:58 PM · To the person who posted:

"This is a terrible decision on disneys part. I understand people abuse this but there should just be different instructions in place to make sure people who don't need assistance can't get the cards in the first place(perhaps making the party bring a legit drs note with them)."

Ever heard of HIPAA laws? Disney nor any other company can accept a doctors note.

It's about time something like this was out in place for fair treatment.

September 17, 2013 at 3:24 PM · As someone who worked in attractions for a year, this is a huge positive for cast members and guests who don't try to abuse the system.

September 17, 2013 at 4:21 PM · I think this is terrible. My husband, a Purple Heart active duty Marine, cannot be in larger groups and lines for very long. There isn't anything physically wrong with him but emotionally he cannot be in a confined space for a long time, waiting. The pass Disneyland offers is wonderful because he can enjoy the rides with out the anxiety. We don't abuse it and often there are lines for the passes as is. Most rides we have to go to the fast pass line, which is okay too.
September 17, 2013 at 4:22 PM · I agree something should be done. The abuse of GAC cards is out of control. But this now puts a burden on the legit people that need them. When I visit in January for 4 days I will now have to use part of that small amount of time to have this processed.
September 17, 2013 at 4:28 PM · I think this is a stupid system. I am disabled and sure I have taken advantage the system many times. I am ok with then making changes but at least make them realistic.

Universal studios Florida has the best system. It is sort of like this one but has different rules. They give you a pass with your name and number of people in your party. It has a bar code on it. The rule is if the wait time is less than 30 min then you go in but if the wait time is more than 30 min then they scan your pass and it gives you a return time.

That is by far better than this, take your photo crud. Hopefully Disney will rethink this process and make changes.

And yes when we go back I'm sure everyone in my group will just get a pass for themselves with the number in our group on it. Then we can set times for multiple rides.

It's life where the winner is the person who takes what they want not stand around waiting on it.

September 17, 2013 at 4:31 PM · I am glad there are changing GAC cards because its going to make my job a lot easier. Make a Wish and Childrens Village still will be able to get immediate access which is good. GAC card abuse is out of control. Disney took long enough.
September 17, 2013 at 4:42 PM · I think there should be a small exception to this- the make a wish kids to whom that 10 min wait time may be a lifetime- I think they should be able to pick a few rides during the day that they can multi-ride without a wait. Their stamina is minimal and more than likely they wont be coming back in the future. We need to make extra special magical moments for them and their families to treasure for whatever little time they have left on this earth.. If they want to ride Dumbo 5 times in a row or meet a princess twice, I think they should be able to without waiting.
September 17, 2013 at 4:44 PM · I'm wondering how DAS pass users will be able to use FastPass if the returns times are going to be assigned by a centralized computer system. If it were like other parks where they have the ride hosts assign the times, the user would get their FP like everyone else, and then show it to the host who could then assign the appropriate time. I wonder if the DAS kiosks will be able to scan the FP and adjust the time appropriately.
September 17, 2013 at 4:52 PM · I think the disabled tour guides will have to find another source of income....

I am all for legitimate persons with disabilities being able to go through the exit line with their party, but all these stories and videos of "renting" a tour guide for the day put this in the spotlight.

I still say Disney should do an Express style perk, and make it obscenely expensive like other parks do... maybe not unlimited, but one visit per attraction, similar to Universal.

September 17, 2013 at 5:29 PM · Yea you can't ask for a doctor's note. When Guests pull them out the theme park employee, or really any employee anywhere is not allowed to look at it. It's against the law. Basically anybody who asks for assistance gets assistance. There are very rare situations where you can say no. Like at Universal if you walk in and say "I'm in a wheelchair I need a pass," you should not get a pass because all of the cues are wheelchair accessible. Key words being "should not." At Disney all the lines are not wheelchair accessible so you end up getting a pass. The catch at universal is you get a return time depending on the wait time and you can only have one at a time. Some people hate that and it's usually the abusers because they're used to the immediate access.
September 17, 2013 at 6:07 PM · To try and clear everything up, Disney cannot legally ask for any proof of disibility or otherwise when someone asks for a GAC. Becuase of this, it has become far too easy for anyone to walk into Guest Relations and, in some cases, pretend they have a reason that they "can't wait in lines." Guest Relations is obligated to issue the card if a Guest expresses a need.

For the Guests that unfairly use the cards, they are overwhelmingly increasing FastPass wait times, which in turn make the Standby wait times even more unbearable. To me, the worst part of the GAC abuse has been that it also hurts those that truly and honestly need assistance at various attractions. They either have to wait longer times or are viewed negatively for having a GAC in the first place because of the out of control abuse.

Sure the new system may end up having a few flaws or loop holes, but overall I am very excited for this change and wish it would have come sooner. This, in the long run, will make Disney experiences better for everyone...except for maybe those who were abusing the system (but I'm okay with that).

September 17, 2013 at 6:26 PM · It is amazing to see people stand in a line to get one of the GAC's. When they are asked what type of assistance they need you hear the response of... I can't wait. What?? They just waited in a line for 30 min to get a card saying they can't wait. The volume of the abuse is mind boggling.
September 17, 2013 at 6:54 PM · I am not happy about this. I have 2 children on the autism spectrum and have never abused the disability pass. It really disgusts me that people have abused the system to the point of changing everything. I wish I would have known this before booking our trip in Dec. I may have thought twice.
September 17, 2013 at 7:13 PM · Part of the ADA is that they legally are not allowed to ask for proof of the disability. although many people are happy to share, its considered discriminatory.
September 17, 2013 at 7:42 PM · I agree that there are people who where definitely abusing the system but when you have a child/teen/adult with Autism and they are having a melt down it is not an easy situation for anyone. These individuals love to visit Disney and its a shame that they will no longer be offering this pass to them. If we didn't have the pass on previous visits to Disney it would have been a disaster. I wish we didn't need the pass and my child could wait for his turn but that is not a reality in the life we live in. There are many things we have to miss out on because I have a child with a disability, because it's just not going to work, but we have always enjoyed Disney. Hope they can come up with a system that will make everyone happy. Being fair to those who really need assistance and a system that works with their disability.
September 17, 2013 at 7:44 PM · FYI Universal has GAC cards too. They will change their policy soon after disney most likely.
September 17, 2013 at 8:05 PM · FWIW, Make a Wish will be issuing special passes to its participants which Disney will honor with front of line privileges. But only Make a Wish will be issuing it.
September 17, 2013 at 8:26 PM · If you are upset because you or your family member can't stand to be around crowds or wait in line then you have no reason to worry. This will work like a fastpass. Pick a ride and wait for your turn. When it is your turn, return to the attraction and use an alternate entrance. If you are still complaining about the loss of the GAC then you are simply upset because of the wait you will be forced to incur. Equality for all, right?
September 17, 2013 at 8:38 PM · "That is by far better than this, take your photo crud. Hopefully Disney will rethink this process and make changes.

And yes when we go back I'm sure everyone in my group will just get a pass for themselves with the number in our group on it. Then we can set times for multiple rides."

People like this above are the reason for the policy. A much needed policy. Shame on you for believing your better than others

September 17, 2013 at 8:42 PM · Autism is a learning disability, but why is does it deserves a GAC? While the people here seem sincere, it reeks of "hey my kid needs special treatment". On the other hand, my 4 year old can't stand in line for longer than 30 minutes because my kid is 4 years old and has the emotions of a 4 year old.

I think Disney is correct to crack down on the practice of disability abuse. It can only be resolved by insisting on customers waiting outside of the queue lines. They must still wait. Actually, I think everyone should be able to wait outside of the queue lines, but Fastpass is only offered with a few attractions.

September 17, 2013 at 8:53 PM · Really interesting that one of the comments is from someone who says they're disabled and flat-out admits they abuse the system -- and then complains about how "stupid" the new one is.

That right there tells me Disney's probably on the right track.

As for that last line -- life is for people who take what they want, not wait for it -- then please, don't complain when people take YOUR place in line, now that you can't abuse the system. I guess taking's not okay when you're the victim of it, eh?

September 17, 2013 at 8:57 PM · From on September 17, 2013 at 2:43 PMMy concern is that people who don't have an clearly visible disability will be barred from using any form of assistance programs. I have ridiculously bad knees for someone who's not even 30 yet. If I stand in 1 place for too long, they lock in place. The GAC pass allows me to keep moving so that doesn't happen. I already get enough nasty looks from people assuming I'm just cheating the system & I feel like this will make the "judgment" even worse.

Im the same not gonna spill out all my health problems but i have a bad knee n i retain water in my legs and arms after 30 min of standing...theres more problems i have but i see your point...ive witnessed several people that popped outta the chair like the just won the lotto n here im struggling to walk...the system is going to have its pros n cons... And unfortunately the parks want to make us equal in every way, which i understand...but i think we as a country should change the law n insist a letter that the named above is with disabilities ...doesnt have to say whats wrong just proof they are. My grandma missed so much n life due to a disability n rules like this... Instead why don't us Americans make a change n help change the law..I know i would vote for that change! im not ashamed to show proof im disabled

September 17, 2013 at 9:07 PM · I think Robert made a mistake likening this to Fastpass. The person with a disability isn't going to be forced to get a Fastpass for every ride. The new system is making things fair for everyone. Before, if you had a GAC, you would be put onto the ride with almost no waiting in line. Now when you arrive at Splash Mountain at 11am and there is a 60 minute wait, you will get a card saying you can return to be put onto the ride with no waiting at noon. Now you will have the freedom to do whatever you need to do in that hour: nobody will be forced to wait in a confined space or stand still on bad knees or have their autistic child surrounded by people and a million triggers. It makes it fair for everyone.
September 17, 2013 at 9:09 PM · Universal already has a system like this in place, they've had it for years actually - since at least 2010.

It's called the Attraction Assistance Pass. It doesn't require a photo but it acts as a placeholder for someone's place in queue, much like the Express Pass. Someone else previously outlined it but not the full details.

You can only have one ride reserved ON THE CARD at a time. A return time is given if there is a wait of 30 minutes or higher. If all wait times all day are under 30 minutes and they never write them on the card, then you don't have to comeback and can experience the attractions immediately.

If there is a wait time greater than 30 minutes, you can get a return time to come back that is 15 minutes less than the wait time. In the meantime, you may chose to experience a show or a different attraction (through the normal standby queue), get food, go shopping, see characters, and then return at your assigned time and experience the attraction through the Express Lane.

If you attempt to get a return time with an existing time on the card, even if the current attraction you are at is less than 30 minutes, the TM will offer to either have you return to previous attraction and ride it fist; offer to void the previous attraction's time, in which you will have to get a new return time for them later on; or offer for you to wait in the normal standby or single riders line.

I am a big fan of this system, from both a CM and guest angle. I think it's well merited and it will help. If you can't stand in one place for very long, get a wheelchair. If you don't like enclosed areas with lots of people around, ask if attraction will let you wait in a quieter area while the rest of your party waits in the appropriate line and you can join them right before boarding the attraction.

September 17, 2013 at 9:10 PM · I find it very amusing that the reason for the change is because of the obvious abuse. Yet there are some people posting how they will abuse the new system.
September 17, 2013 at 9:20 PM · Anon Mouse

As stated earlier my child has Aspergers, part of the Autism Spectrum, we have taken him to Disney World twice and have never gotten a GAC. Maybe we are wrong in our thinkog but his mother and I feel that this is the world he needs to live and function in and there is no free pass to the front you have to take your turn. The fast pass system works just fine for him, he has his DS and mp3 player for waiting in lines if needed. If his older brother and mother want to go on a ride that he is not fond of he and I do something else, this worked great at EPCOT as he could spend hours in the Inovations area.

Some people do need to have the GAC but there are lots who are just selfish and think only of themselves, that will never change no matter what system is put in place.

September 17, 2013 at 9:28 PM · I usually refrain from posting comments when I find people that make ignorant statements, but I have to make an exception. To the person who stated that Autism is a learning disability you are entirely wrong. Autism or being on the Aspergers Spectrum is a developmental disorder that affects the way people handle social, emotional and communication skills. Standing in a crowded, over stimulating, closed in queue line is very definitely a social skill and not one that many kids on the spectrum can handle well. You may not understand the complexities of a disability but do not discount the realality of a need that you know nothing about.

I am also very saddened by Disney's decision to change the GAC program. Our Disney trips are among the most special vacations we have ever taken with my son because we don't have to stress about all of his hyper sensitivities, his lack of social graces, people looking at me strangely while I comb my son's arms with my fingernails to keep him calm while winding through the long queue. We simply get to enjoy being a family.

I understand the need for change, it just sucks that it comes at the expense of kids like mine, who look normal but have many underlying issues that the world doesn't understand.

September 17, 2013 at 9:43 PM · I am always baffled by the number of people who think GAC = front of the line. Both my husband and my son have disabilities (my son has autism, my husband is mobility impaired)and we make use of FP when possible to shorten the stay in line. We don't ask for nor do we expect to be bumped in front of others, although it has happened occasionally when a CM decided to wave us through the FP line. But often using the special entrance for those who need assistance ends up taking longer than just waiting in the regular line. Examples: AK Safari, Spaceship Earth and Toy Story Mania.

I'm not complaining at all; I am grateful for the extra help. I also agree that the abuses need to be curbed as they are hurting honest guests of all abilities. We are more than willing to wait our turn, just please make it possible for us to get a turn in the first place. For some folks, that means a pass to let them avoid hour-long lines in the heat. For us, it just means make it wide enough for my husband to roll in and shady enough for us to stand in while we wait. No system is perfect, so I am sure there will be tweaks to this one. But at least they are trying to solve the problem.

September 17, 2013 at 9:54 PM · For the poster who thinks autism is a "learning disability," I am sure those of us with family members with autism would be happy to let you walk in our shoes for a day and see what you think then. Autism is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder. That means it affects many body and mind systems, not just learning to read or count. In fact, some people with autism are quite brilliant academically, although they often are unable to understand the normal social cues you and I use to navigate through the world.

My son is 25 and loves to go to WDW every year. However, he will never be able to purchase a ticket on his own as he doesn't understand how money works. He cannot cross a street by himself, so he won't be going into a park alone. He is only semi-verbal, so he can't always ask for what he needs, and may panic if people press him for more information. He can dress himself and make simple meals, and he loves cruising YouTube for Disney videos, but he cannot do most of the things we take for granted without assistance. Yet he looks pretty darn normal, a big smiling guy with a beard.

Please understand that people with issues like autism, cardiac conditions and rheumatoid arthritis may look unaffected to you, but their "hidden" disability affects their ability to participate in society UNLESS those of us who are blessed to be without these challenges give them the chance. A GAC or other pass is just that, a chance. Not asking for special treatment, just a chance.

September 17, 2013 at 10:12 PM · I cant help but wonder how this new system will actually end up benefitting those who others wont want to wait in the overcrowded fastpass lines with...after a 45 minute wait in the testtrack line, stuck under the outside portion of the track for most of this wait (not counting the design portions of the "line" in that waittime) my perceived as "high functioning" son with autism turned into a rocking head-hitting & crashing/bumping child-there was no easy/safe way out of the line for our family much less a way to navigate the stroller out from that portion of the queue-we were stuck in the fine fastpass line as accomodation for alternate entrance which was supposed to negate my child's need for a quieter place to wait (ie away from others who might get caught in the crossfire should they bump him & trigger fight/flight or worse) this return time das straight into the already overcrowded fastpass line isnt going to make it worth trying to go anymore for our family- sure we MAY be able to fit in 3 rides that day & eat lunch too, but for those 3 rides & a meal we will pay with 2 or 3 days that have to be spent recovering from the parks in our resort room because of the poor accomodation factors- it may SEEM as if this evens the playing field, but truly it will not.
September 17, 2013 at 10:12 PM · After reading the comments saying that "we'll just have everyone in our group get a DAS card so we can have return times for more attractions," I'm glad there will only be four kiosks in Disneyland at which to get your return passes issued. This way, the cast members can catch on to your little scheme quickly and either take away the extra DAS cards or, even better, ban you from the system entirely for abusing it.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is about equal access, not preferred access.

And people who use the DAS will still be getting equal (or greater-than-equal) access to attractions compared to the average guest. Kids with autism still don't have to wait in the regular line, and families can do other things to keep them occupied until their turn comes up. If someone needs to keep their legs moving, they can walk around. If they can't stand that long, they can grab a bench in the shade and relax, maybe enjoy some popcorn.

It seems that people are just upset that they won't have an unlimited fastpass for as many attractions as they can string together anymore, but that was never the goal of the GAC to begin with.

I must admit that I am a fan of the exception for Make a Wish kids, and I'm also a fan of the fact that Make A Wish will be in charge of handing those passes out -- no matter how much someone verbally abuses a Guest Relation cast member, they can't give one of those passes out because they don't have them to give.

I think it's a very fair compromise compared to people using their GACs to sell "front of line tours" like what NBC News uncovered earlier this year, or other situations where people use their disability (or their lies about having a disability) just to avoid waiting their turn, or to get able-bodied friends/family to the front of a line that the cardholder isn't even riding.

September 17, 2013 at 10:53 PM · As someone who works at a theme park that is not Disney, I am super stoked to find this out! Disney's new system will be extremely similar to the one that's been in place at our park for years. No more will I have to hear a guest complain, "What? I have to get a return time? And I can only get one return time at a time? But Disney just lets me skip the line!"

Everyone pays to enter the park. Everyone has to wait their turn. If you have a disability that honestly makes it difficult for you to stand in line for a long period of time (emotional or physical), you still have to wait, you just get to do your waiting OUTSIDE the line, where it is more comfortable for you. You can sit in the AC, eat, shop, etc. I really can't think of anything more fair.

By the way-- it's easy to tell which guests actually need an assistance pass... it's the difference between, "I don't just go to the front of the line?!" and "Oh my goodness, this will be so helpful!"

September 17, 2013 at 11:57 PM · Sorry, last time I went to Disneyland there were 30+ people in the exit area waiting to get on Space Mountain. This is ridiculous. This new system is fair: If you can't wait in line, get your pass, go get a lemonade or walk around and come back when it's your time. Consider yourself lucky you don't have to wait in the 100 degree queue with everyone else.
September 18, 2013 at 12:11 AM · Thanks for the explanations above, Kenny Vee! I was going to address some of the same comments. According to what is reported here and on MiceChat, people who have a true need to not stand in the queue (such as the above commenters who mentioned family members with Autism and PTSD) will be able to be accommodated by the new system, as that is exactly what the pass is for! MiceChat also reported (and I didn't see it repeated in this article, but I think it deserves it because it sticks out to me) that those with mobility-related disabilities will not necessarily be using this system but would be directed to use a wheelchair, cane, crutch, ECV or "standing vehicle" or other assisting device. (This is the advice I offer to my relatives and friends when they come into the parks with me, because even in the current setup, if they were to get a GAC, there might be a plenty long wait and no where for them to sit down. And that is certainly true with waiting for shows to start, like the fireworks! So someone who might not usually use a wheelchair but has a bad back or bad knees and cannot stand for long periods really does benefit from a wheelchair or scooter. That is why they offer rentals! I convinced my incredibly stubborn grandmother that she had to use one for her last visit and to consider it more like a rolling beach chair. She didn't get pushed in it much, but it was there for her to lean on or rest in.) Every attraction in DCA is already ADA compliant for mobility and wheelchairs, and some of the ones in Disneyland are too. MiceChat reported that those attractions in Disneyland that aren't handicap accessible in the standby queue will still have accessible entrances at either the exit or FastPass lines for guests with mobility needs. And the best news following that was that is seems time and money will soon be allocated to making more attractions have full accessibility! (As far as I know right now, everything that is not fully accessible for people to ride mobility-wise, either has an alternative experience or is accessible to the point of transferring into a vehicle. The only attraction that is completely inaccessible to experience is the Sailing Ship Columbia. But most of the standby queues themselves in Disneyland are not accessible, even if the attraction might be.)
September 18, 2013 at 5:24 AM · I have an ECC I use to get around disney. I have visual, as well as, mobility issues. Getting into any que with my ECC is a scary proposition. While I try to maintain my distance and be super observant, the general public does not. I have been sat on, hit in the head with purses and backpacks, kicked by children both in their parents arms and while standing on the ground. I have been hit by either ropes or chains being played with or sat on by said children. While my access may be equal, my safety is not. Have you ever tried to get on the monorail in an ecv? Going uphill, starting and stopping, being passed by because you are going slow because you are afraid of injuring the start and stop of the people in front of you. I sometimes have to pass up rides or attractions based on the que line. Is there some way to have your party be in the que line and then get their wheelchair party when they reach the ride? I am not about being first or beating the line. I want to have a SAFE and fun time, instead of having to feel angry and saddend by the rules currently in place.
September 18, 2013 at 5:31 AM · Please remember and understand that the intent of the ADA was never to give priority access or egress to people with disabilities. The intent was to level the playing field in all areas of public activity. The hss been grossly misconstrued since it's inception. I applaud Disney for moving towards a level playing field.
As for the comment about HIPAA, any person can seek information from a medical provider regarding their own condition, and that person is free to share it with anyone they wish. If Disney, or any other company, requests proof of need (and this does not have to state what the person's disability is) and the customer declines to provide such information, they must abide by all of the rules that apply to the rest of the park guests.
September 18, 2013 at 5:47 AM · For the record, autism is not a learning disability. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder. I have high functioning autism but I do not have a learning disability. In fact, my IQ is 150. Approximately 40% of individuals diagnosed with autism do have intellectual deficits as well. I've never been to Disney but I hope to go one day despite the massive crowds, unfamiliar environment, and unfamiliar routine.
September 18, 2013 at 7:12 AM · This does not fix the problem. I know cause I've used it at Cedar Fair parks for many years because I am disabled. You get the pass that you go up to a two hour wait time popular ride and get the park operator to sign/stamp to come back in two hours. Problem solved and everyone's happy right? Alright that's two hours that gives that person and there party the freedom to do anything....maybe go on less popular rides, relax, shop, eat, see a show where as the party with a non disabled person has to wait two hours in a que being herded like cattle while watching a party with a disabled person having the freedom to do what they want when they want. This "new" plan Disney has, has been in place at many other parks for years and you still have the same problems. Any of you that think this will solve it better wake up from the fairy dust. People with disabilities rule at least in theme parks because of the freedom. Now I wouldn't go as far as to hire out a disabled person "to be a guide" for a steep price....ingenious by the way, but that is on the borderline icky feeling. The benefit of going to a park with a friend or family member with a disability is great on this plan because it offers you freedom in other wise waiting in a que for half a day. Let the haters hate they are probably the ones that picked on disabled people for being different as kids and they are waiting in those long lines. Karma is a biotch :) Kidding aside if you want freedom in any park team up with a disabled friend or family member or have lots of cash to get a "guide"
September 18, 2013 at 8:03 AM · With this change we will be decreasing our visits :( The GAC worked well for us because although my husband uses a ECV he tires quickly and our time at the parks is limited.
September 18, 2013 at 8:35 AM · "Autism is a learning disability" - Actually, it is not. It's a Developmental Disability that people are born with. The brain is wired differently from the "norm," and many with ASD are unable to comprehend things such as "wait time". It is NOT a "learned" behavior, and someone with Autism does NOT "grow out of it" or :learn to behave." Yes your 4 year old doesn't like to wait. But he will some day understand. He will go to school, get a job, live on his own.

Our 11 year old can not speak, wears diapers, can't dress himself, and will likely never be able to. His one, and ONLY diagnoses is Autism. It's called a SPECTRUM disorder for a reason; you can be mild, or you can be like our son.

Maybe it's time to stop blaming those with disabilities, and start blaming those who are normal, but feel entitled?

As Cast Members, we applaud this move. As parents to an ASD child, we still applaud. We know the changes that are coming, and we know what the new system will do, and what it won't do.

Like anything new, we urge other ASD and disabled households to stop, take a breath, and realize that Disney has, does, and always will strive to treat each and every Guest as the most important. The new system will need tweaking, and that's what Guest Relations is for, as are emails and so forth. Give it a try. If it does not meet your needs, go to Guest Relations and ask for an amendment. Speak up, because only by working together can we create magic.

September 18, 2013 at 8:36 AM · I don't understand why proof of disability cannot be shown or asked for. You have to provide proof of disability to get a handicap license plate or hang tag, why is this different?

I worked at two different amusement parks for 4 years, as an adult, and saw abuse of those parks' systems far too often. It's a shame really, but there are so many bad apples that ruin it for everyone, abled and disabled alike.

September 18, 2013 at 8:38 AM · Anon...I had the same opinion as you a few years ago before I had a nephew with autism. While his parents have yet to take him to Disney, we have visited other theme parks where it is obvious standing in a line for more than 10 minutes results in a very embarassing situation. My own 3 year old is impatient and has difficulty standing in lines like all young kids, but he won't make a scene so extreme that you would have no choice but to get out of line. My nehpew does that, and parks that offer accomodation to these children are doing a great service. Parents of autistic children just want to give their kids a fun day, and standing in a small space for long periods of time is a recipe for disaster for these children.

However, I applaud what Disney is doing here by creating a policy the is fair to everyone involved and provides appropriate accomodation. People with special needs do not have to wait in the phyical queue, but they still have to wait to board attractions. It's a win win for everyone. "Reuglar" people don't feel like guests with disabilities are getting back-doored and some type of special treatment, encouraging the deplorable acts of those that fake disabilities or hook-up with a disabled guest to get special treatment, while disabled guests avoid having to wait in a physical queue. Disabled guests will have to wait just like everyone else, they just don't have to wait in the phyical queue. I kind of equate it to a StandbyPass.

September 18, 2013 at 9:36 AM · The main problem I have with these systems is when a ride is ADA accessible and I cannot get a return time and must wait in line. I had ankle surgery with a host of complications and now have RSD/CRPS in my right leg/foot. I use a cane but I cannot weight bear for long periods of time or my foot swells tremendously and gets extremely painful. If a ride queue is considered ADA accessible I have to wait on it and that is problematic. Just because I'm not using a wheelchair doesn't mean I can withstand a long line. I have no problem waiting the same amount of time as everyone else but to be told that since a line is wheelchair accessible I must wait is ridiculous. I have a note from my doctor but that apparently doesn't matter. There needs to be a better system that does not simply go by wheelchair accessibility. Just because I don't use a wheelchair doesn't mean I'm capable of waiting in long lines. I tried using my knee scooter (which would be fine in an ADA line since I can sit on it) but due to the uneven and bumpy/pebbled terrain of many areas in most parks it is almost impossible to use without causing great stress on my knee. That's another problem. I ended up having to walk the scooter in numerous places without my cane and it made the situation worse. Get with it amusement and theme parks!
September 18, 2013 at 10:31 AM · A month ago I went to a comic book convention in the Netherlands for the first time in my scoot mobile. I had it for months but was always to sick when a convention was there. I can walk for 15 minutes but that's it and I'm tired as hell. Anyway my first time and I was torn inside, scared about the looks, of being disabled, of what people would say. I know many artists who were there and told them in advance and they all were very happy to see me, some are good friends of my. Of course I got people staring, 47 year old pale guy in a scoot mobile looking ok. After 2.5 hours I was so tired I had to go home. It was tough but in the end I was happy I did it otherwise I wouldn't have a bit of fun in my life.
I was happy with the system that was in place at Disney. I figured then when I would go I could at least do some rides before heading home again after a few hours. Unfortunately that is not possible now. Disney isn't selling ticket by the hours so it would cost me a fortune to visit all parks.

A few years ago I was already very sick but could do a bit more. I'm fortunate I can travel in low season so we went to Universal Orlando and Sea World (14 day combo card) and every ride had almost no waiting time. I could do Jurassic Park, Harry Potter and Cat in the Hat in one visit and rest enough to have a good time. Except for 1 day. I wanted to see the Grinch show. we had to wait 20 minutes in line and after the show I had to leave and was sick for 3 days.

I'm sure there are more people like me. I get it that I can't do a whole park in 1 day, couldn't do that anyway. but unfortunately the parks don't sell cheaper half day passes or stuff like that to accommodate these problems. The whole idea is not doing rides but eat and shop and because of that keep you as long as possible in the park. If I need to go to a certain location every time I need a new 'fastpass' that'll cost me to much energy.
Why not give people passes who have disable parking cards? In the Netherlands it's not easy to get that kind of card (not sure how it is in the US). At least you know these people really have some series problems.

In the end it's sad when you are sick, are disabled. I never loved waiting but Disney make's most lines very entertaining and I always used it to enjoy the scenery and soak in the details or watch the monitor as a pre-pre-show. Be thankful for your health. There will always be sad persons who abuse the system. It's good Disney wants to address that but please don't make it more difficult for the people who actually need it.

September 18, 2013 at 3:20 PM · This is great! So many people abuse the system and this is finally going to help some. For those of you upset at Disney--don't blame them for the change--blame the abusers.
September 18, 2013 at 4:13 PM · I think we need a better system. I used to work at Toy Story and people would get so angry if they had to wait in the Standby line with a wheelchair. Now the wheelchair line at TSMM is wheelchair accessible. Other attractions may only have their Fastpass line as the wheelchair accessible line. We tell our employees that Special Assistance is NOT FASTPASS, but people get so angry if they have to wait more than 10 minutes! Those with the alternate entrance pass that lets them down the Fastpass line will often abuse it and come out of the exit and try to ride again. We don't let people ride more than 2 times in a row with the GAC pass. If they get angry I explain that, "is it fair that you get to ride 3 times while those guests haven"t even gotten to ride once?" Guests who abuse are sometimes the reason wait times can be so long.
September 18, 2013 at 4:17 PM · "The cynic awaits pushback from those visitors who've been abusing GACs and who will now have to wait their fair turn. The optimist hopes that at least a few instead will welcome the change and take this opportunity to atone for their participation in past abuse."

I am not sure but is the writer claiming that anyone who used the GAC and/or is concerned about the affect of its demise an abuser?

My concern - really the only one with this change - is that this process (if I am understanding it correctly) will really just be adding an alternative long line to wait on (the kiosk to get the DAS card each time you need a stamp). If there are only 4 per park, those lines will be long. Very.

I have a son with Autism (a Developmental Disorder - not a "learning disability"). We would never have been able to attend Disneyland without the GAC. We tried once (before we knew this service existed) and it was one of the more horrific days of my life.

We were actually told about it by an employee of Disneyland who seemed extraordinarily proud to work for an organization that went out of its way to help those with special needs enjoy their park. "You may not be able to take him to the supermarket, but you can take him to Disneyland!!" He encouraged us to go back and make use of this program and we were so glad we did. It made Disneyland accessible for our child. I am no longer in contact with this man. Wonder how he is feeling about Disneyland now.

We are taking him for his birthday (which thankfully lands before the 10/9 date). As far as any return visit after that, I guess I will wait to hear from the Autism community to see if the new plan still allows our children to access the park in the same manner.

As far as those of you who are so angry that the GAC has allowed people with special needs to get a "free ride", you should probably pray that there is no such thing as karma.

September 18, 2013 at 4:18 PM · My son is Deaf, visually impaired, intellectually disabled, and has epilepsy. And he loves WDW.

He needs special accommodations, and I can guarantee you, you do not want to be sitting near him in the back of a show (because he won't be able to see) or be waiting in line for over an hour with him. You will wish that he was allowed to sit closer, and that he had expedited/easier access to the rides that he is able to get on.

If what they are saying is true, we will not be able to use the WDW parks, and therefore, we will not be buying the premium annual passes again.

September 18, 2013 at 4:31 PM · I am a Disney CM, and I am so glad that I don't have to listen to one more fat person tell me that their son can take their GAC, and ride without them. It's an incredibly abused system. People will shove their way through the exits like they own the place. Trust me, I love explaining to children why 18 people got to go through the exit of a ride, when they waited 45 minutes.

My other favorite is when people complain about waiting at the ADA entrance, especially when we provide (depending on the attraction) multiple entrances (through a fastpass, for example. That will be gone now, with the new system too). I'm SO SORRY you had to wait in a line. Who knew lines happened at Disneyland?

I do not deny AT ALL that we need ADA accessibility. I am more than happy to work with my guests who need assistance in that area. But to every person who has abused the system... shame on you. You set a poor example.

September 18, 2013 at 6:12 PM · Our family has been going to WDW for the last twenty five years. The first twenty three years we waited in the long queues like everyone else. We had no problem with that. I am disabled now and require a scooter, therefore, I have used the GAC during our last two visits. It has been a NIGHTMARE!!! I have been mistreated by a few Disney bus drivers, I have heard rude comments of many guests doubting my need for a GAC, I have received sneers from the two CM's at Guest Services in my attempt to receive one, many of the CM's have been rude to me during the loading process of an attraction, and have been the victim of MANY negative comments as I'm loaded with my scooter onto the bus back to our Disney hotel, before others. Folks seem to think having a GAC is a walk in the park. Well it is not!!! After our last trip I told myself that next time I was going to wear my handicap placard around my neck. That's how desperate I felt! With all that said I'm HAPPY they are changing the system. Maybe now some people will not doubt the validity of my disability. During our last ten day trip my daughter and myself cried nearly every day because of how I was treated. I don't like that the GAC had to be changed, but I would much rather have that happen if this change will impact the amount of guests who abuse the system, and if it means a more peaceful vacation for my family. Many people do not understand, or simply do not care how much their rude remarks can affect a young girl whose mother is being treated abusively by rude strangers.
September 18, 2013 at 6:20 PM · Fyi, there is a difference in physical and cognitive disability. A person with autism or other cognitive delay does not usually u.derstand what is going on. They see the ride and thats what is next. I see plenty of meltdowns happening with this system
September 18, 2013 at 6:46 PM · made a good point about having to stand in line regardless of a disability on rides which are ADA accessible. I have gotten disability passes on several occasions as a result of developing back pain from standing in line for extended periods. At Six Flags Great Adventure, however, I was told that I could not use the pass for Kingda Ka because it was ADA accessible. Well, I'm not in a wheelchair and don't look at all disabled but my physical limitations were such that having to stand in line for this ride placed an undue burden on me.

I think that the way the disability pass system works at most parks is entirely fair. You don't get on a ride any sooner; you have to wait it out like everyone else only not in line.
I find it interesting that protocols differ vastly from park to park. At two Six Flags parks I simply went to Guest Relations and said that I needed a disability pass; they gave me one, no questions asked. At Hersheypark, however, I was asked a number of questions such as whether I could hold onto the hand grips and whether I could brace myself with my feet if necessary. At another park - I can't for the life of me remember which one - I was asked whether I had back problems and had to lie because I didn't expect my interviewer to understand that I'm OK as long as my back is supported, which it is on a coaster; it's only standing in a ride queue without back support that causes a problem.

Back to Hersheypark - people with disability passes definitely do not receive preferential treatment; quite the contrary. They don't get a choice of seats but rather have to sit wherever the ride ops tell them to sit. I had to sit at the back of Fahrenheit, not where one would ideally like to sit when going up a vertical lift hill for the first time.

In any case, I don't think that I'll need a disability pass again. My doctors were unhelpful but an RN suggested that the reason I was having a problem is that the muscles in my back were frozen from excessive standing. She showed me a simple exercise which required me to stand on one leg, bend the other leg and pull it to thigh height, saying that it would stretch the muscles in my back. And blimey, this actually worked! I stood on one leg while waiting to get on Kingda Ka, on a rainy day in a poncho 3 sizes too large purchased at the park, at regular intervals. The other people in the queue probably thought that I looked like a flamingo or a nutcase but who cares? You have to go with whatever works.

September 18, 2013 at 7:15 PM · We went to WDW for the first time with our 6 year old twins last year. Our little girl has autism. She is absolutely stunning. She looks completely normal. She jumps around and hums and covers her ears. But besides that she looks normal. Our WDW trip was wonderful and the Disney CMs went over and beyond to make her feel at ease. She would only ride one ride. "It's a small world". We did have the pass and the adults on our trip all took turns being with her so she could ride it over and over. She rode it 27 times in the 5 days. The others in our party waited in line like everyone else for all the other rides. When we would even SUGGEST to my daughter, "lets go try another ride", she would throw herself out and have a meltdown. Now, for those of you who have never witnessed this, this is not a spoiled child throwing a fit because she doesn't get her way. This is a major disruption and quite possibly the end of a perfectly wonderful day. Doing things repetitively is how she deals with the world. She lives in a world we know nothing about. We deal with her disorder everyday of our lives. She will more than likely live with me the rest of my natural days. That trip to WDW was the one place that having autism wasn't a strike against her. We can't do a lot of things (get on an airplane, wait in long lines, eat regular food) associated with vacations. I was overwhelmed by the kindness shown and the accommodations made by Disney. I'm so saddened by this development. Mostly for her, but selfishly, I was looking forward to our next trip, where we could for once, feel as normal as we look.
September 18, 2013 at 7:54 PM · I just want to clarify some of the autism comments. There are varying degrees of functionality with autism. Aspergers is probably known to be the highest functioning variation. Other variations of autism can be high functioning and some other variations of autism can be non verbal with severe emotional problems. I have a 4 year old with autism and he will not hold up well after a couple of minutes of waiting, especially in a confined area due to his sensory issues. The waiting is not really what the parents worry about. It is the uncontrollable melt down that will essentially end the rest of the day and possibly the next day. The younger the child, even if they are high functioning, the more likely there will be a melt down. These melt downs aren't the normal child crying, but a neurological inability to cope with the surroundings that throws off the other issues the child may have. Due to the change in this Disney policy, it looks like we may now have to skip theme parks in lieu of other vacation destinations.
September 18, 2013 at 8:42 PM · My son who is 8, went to Disney for the first time this past August. He had a wonderful time, since we were able to get a GAC, that he thought was a special fast pass. You see my son does not know he has high-functioning autism. He thought he had a special "fast pass", this worked for us, because he has a trememdous fear of most rides. We visited 4 parks, during the time we were there and went on 5 rides the entire time (5 rides that are not the most popular, but still had long lines). He went on the rides he wanted to go on twice in a row and then would move onto playing the "Magic Mirror" game again. He will not understand why he will have to walk to the kiosk, wait in line, get another pass to wait another hour doing something else. Children with autism like repetiition, hence doing the same ride twice in a row. My son does not look disabled, nor understands that he is, he will not understand why the rules have changed. Many Autistic children do not handle change well. If Disney doesn't reconsider this we will not be returning. Disabilities are not one-size fits all and dealing with lines when a child has autism does not deserve a one-size fits all answer. Shame on Disney for not cracking down on the frauds and punishing the truly disabled that are not trying to cheat the system.
September 18, 2013 at 10:05 PM · This may work for people with physical disabilities, but my son will never be able to enjoy Disney again. Many neurodevelopmental problems mean that waiting is impossible, and getting somewhere at an exact time is a miracle rarely seen. I will not be able to go on any major ride with my 9 year old autistic child. We have plans to go to Disneyland in October, right in the middle of this change, and we will get the worst possible combination of testing a new system. If I hadn't already spent money on non-refundable tickets, we would cancel. It's going to be hell.
September 18, 2013 at 10:46 PM · Have they thought about Autistic Kids and Young Adults. How am I supposed to explain to my autistic son that we are going to the ride to get a pass to come back to the ride. He melts down when he has it in his mine for a specific attraction and we don’t do that first.
Doesn’t Disney think that having screaming disabled children in the regular wait lines, will not only take away from the experience of those families, but also of the families without disabled children? Have the execs ever had to be in those lines with a Downs Child, a Child with Autism or Mental Impairment when they lose it? I can’t see how this will helps things.

This blog says it all:

September 18, 2013 at 10:49 PM · My son has severe autism. Between our son and his service dog standard lines were a major hassle. My son does not understand tight spaces and would meltdown. Other guests would assault our service dog distracting him and trying to pet him. We were overjoyed when a kind cast member helped us and suggested the GAC. Our experience changed and saftey was improved. We bought four premium passes that day and continued for the next four years. Our passes are due to be renewed next month. I don't think we will renew given the changes. I fear it will be unsafe. We will miss Disney terribly.
September 18, 2013 at 10:51 PM · I'm a disabled mom, and cannot ride 90% of the rides, even if I could make it to the front of the line! I rarely use a wheelchair, but use a walker to get around. It gets too hot, and too far between rides to get through the parks.

We don't go but every 8-10 years with the kids, because everyone has to pay the same, even if they cannot enjoy the park and all it has to offer.

Making my family hold back from having fun because one person is disabled really makes us think twice before we visit any of the parks.

The last time we were in Orlando, we visited Sea World, and there are only 4 rides in that park, but lots of shows, which were very easy to get to, the times were in order as you walked from one venue to the next. Needless to say, everyone had a great time, and I didn't feel left out, nor did I feel like I was holding back any of the kids from having a good time.

Hopefully, Disney can use this cheating/fraud problem to figure out how to make the parks more enjoyable with less waiting in line by every visitor. For the cost involved, there really should be no waiting, or very little wait. The last time I was able to actually ride, we waited 90 minutes to get to the top of Space Mountain, then the line came to a complete halt, the ride had derailed, and they sent everyone (hundreds of angry people!!) out of the building without riding.
It was torture to stand and wait that long, and then to not ride was a big disappointment to the whole family.
I guess that was the end of our Disney Park visits!!

There are a lot of families with disabled children, or a parent or grandparent that just don't enjoy the parks, cannot ride the rides, and being in the sun and waiting outside in the heat is just not fun!!
Disney offers no discount to people who cannot enjoy the rides.
I don't understand how folks in wheelchairs can get up and actually get on the rides that have caution signs for anyone with ANY disability, especially if they cannot walk up to the ride!!

For the cost of visiting their parks, Disney needs to fix the wait issue for ALL the guests, and stop the 30, 60, or 90 minute waits to ride! Even on slow days, they slow down the rides so the waits happen anyway. For the costs involved, the waiting needs to stop, and Disney needs to solve the problem so people don't feel like they need to cheat to get their money's worth of amusement, and those that are disabled shouldn't have to get special passes to get on the rides, or avoid huge waiting periods.

Disney needs to offer a special low cost, along with a red stamp on your hand, for people that cannot ride the rides. We don't need to go to the front of any line, we just need a cool place to wait for our families, and a short walk from one ride to the next!

September 18, 2013 at 10:52 PM · I have a child in a wheelchair. I cannot take him on the rides that are ADA assessable without him getting hurt. His head and body are right at purse and elbow hight. I cannot tell you how many times he has been hit in the face, shoulder and arm. I would welcome a "come back" time if it means that it will be safer for my child to ride the ride. I have no problem waiting for our turn, I just have a problem with standing in line with people who are not aware of their surroundings. I wonder if Disney is going to allow for wait times for the rides that are ADA. I am all for solutions that will keep my child safe.
September 18, 2013 at 10:57 PM · So how many times will I be pushing my daughter's wheelchair back to get this DAS pass thing in a day? Only good for 1 at a time and then you have to return to get another? Will they be placed ALL over the park or someone truly disabled has to keep going back and forth in a park that some may have noticed is not a small park. So longer lines and lots of back and forth. I really really really hope this is not a nightmare when we go in November.
September 19, 2013 at 12:25 AM · As a Disney Cast Member, Working on Attractions, Im so happy something is finally being done! The GAC system was BEYOND Abused and I hated seeing a group of teenagers waiting in the GAC line! Disneyland has lines, get over it, and stop going into City Hall and complaining about everything that you don't like! Guess what the world dose not revolve around you! If you don't like it, then leave, trust me Disney will NEVER EVEN know you left!
September 19, 2013 at 4:06 AM · I'd suggest those of us with children on the Autism spectrum, who viewed Disney as the one place we could go and have a great time with our kids (because of the GAC), contact the Autism Society of America and Disney with our concerns regarding the planned change. It is quite possible Disney is not aware of the effect these changes will have on families with Autistic kids. We have always looked forward to our trips and never abused the pass. In fact, if the line was less than 15-20 minutes (my son's sensory/crowd limit) we would wait in the regular queue (with ear protection and light dimming shades of course).
September 19, 2013 at 5:56 AM · I have been to disney world with my family and I have six children the youngest has a disability- she has spina bifida- she has many issues including bowel and bladder issues but the access card did not work for us because it is for a party of six or less. Sometimes they would stop us and try to get us to go through the exit but I told them we had too many in our party- I felt bad for my older kids - they kept saying we will sit out so their sister could enjoy the ride.i don't know if the new system has a number of guests that can attend with them- but it would be nice if they could let a larger party through- there were three rides that we waited about 45 minutes in and then had to leave because of her medical needs- the people in line behind us did not understand why they had to let a party of 8 go backwards through the line. One time it was really hard at the people got upset because they did not understand English and did not want to let her wheelchair through. I wish there was a way disney could either limit the guests so the lines are not so long- or have more attractions- and the fast pass did not help much because you have such a small amount of time to go on the ride. I have done a disney cruise and that was awesome! Too bad disney cancelled my next cruise- sad that I have to pay more and wait 2 extra months-


September 19, 2013 at 6:22 AM · The ignorance and arrogance of those who say, "Well, now you all just have to wait like the rest of us" or "Get yourself a lemonade and just come back when it's your turn" OBVIOUSLY those who make those comments do not have children with Autism and don't understand how Autism works. For a child with Autism...THERE IS NO WAITING IN THEIR MINDS and WORLD!

My wife and I have 3 with Autism- one is age 5 and 4 year old fraternal twins. My daughter's favorite ride is, 'Finding Nemo' and our boys like the Train. To walk my daughter up to the Finding Nemo ride and then walk her away is going to throw her into a complete meltdown stage and the same with my sons. This new system is now being thrown in thanks to the abusers and it has ruined it for those of us who have loved ones with a true handicap. Most of this abuse is from college kids and high schoolers and even some adults. Thanks, for ruining a great system with your secular thinking.

September 19, 2013 at 11:50 AM · I find the comments on Autism to be quite amazing. While I can appreciate the condition, I cannot ignore the implications. Since when does going to the theme parks not entail waiting in lines. That's almost the whole basis of going to theme parks. In order to enjoy any attraction, shows, even dining, you have to wait in lines. The skipping of lines is a new innovation, but it doesn't change the formulation. People have to deal with crowds, usually large crowds. People must wait their turns.

Autism isn't a "physical" handicap in that people are unable to walk up to an attraction vehicle and sit in without assistance. That's one way of asking for guest assistance. Now, all sorts of "physical" handicaps are considered like Autism. Okay, the kid throws a fit. And you still brought them there.

That sort of brings up the issues of kids and strollers. Some people wonder why even allow kids and strollers. Unless you want theme parks to only entertain adults as their adult playgrounds, you have kids. Kids "learn" to wait. It is their learning experience.

Now, you have people who can't wait. Oh boy. The whole thing breaks down.

September 19, 2013 at 12:10 PM ·
I am a Disney passholder and I have a GAC. Why? Because the bones in my feet rest on nerves. I am not wheel chair bound, but it it is hard for me to stand in one place for a long time. The GAC was worked well for me, because like this new idea, I could get hand written fast passes for the wait of the ride time, and like everyone else, wait for the ride....but I could get more than one at a time.

I find it amusing that most people complaing about the system(s) are people who do not have a disabilty, or do not deal with someone (child, spouse) on a daily basis. Trust me, I will gladly had over my bad feet and my GAC to you any day. Have fun with that.

The problem with the HIPPA laws is while Disney and other companies can't ask, people with actual disabilties aren't embarassed to show you a doctors note. We know we're disabled. And as soon as you see us walk, or hear us try to talk, or realized we don't hear a single word coming out of your mouth, you know we're disabled too. So really, what does a note from a medical professional change? It changes the fact that the people who are scamming the system and causing the need for a system overhaul wouldn't be as able to get a GAC because they "sprained their ankle" while wearing their new 7 inch heels to a theme park.

The GAC system is familiar to me. It's comfortable and it works. I'm celebrating my birthday October 11-October 13 at Disneyland. The weekend they change systems. I wouldn't have chosen that weekend had I have known. I am uncertain how this new system is going to work for someone like me. People in wheelchairs have an obvious disability. People on crutches have an obvious disability. What do you tell the people who have mobility issues but do not rely on scooters and wheelchairs? "Sorry, we cheated the old system, we'll cheat the new system, better invest in a wheelchair?"

September 19, 2013 at 12:17 PM · For the past few years I have become more and more disgusted with the mis-use of the GAC's. A vacation is a privilege and not a guarantee. If you have members of your family who can't handle sensory overload or physical exercise then I would never suggest Walt Disney World as a vacation choice. Children can get a Disney "fix" in many other ways so putting them into uncomfortable situations merely tells me the parents aren't thinking it through for the true benefit of the child. Our country seems to expect everything handed to them. Just as a vacation is, life is a privilege and not a guarantee.
September 19, 2013 at 2:16 PM ·
Hmm. I am finding this one hard because I do not like abusers of a system but I hate it that the system changes for those who do need it and use it legitimately.

I am a mother of a young Deafblind child and we visited disney land just this summer and used the card to access the rides. I do not know how we would have managed otherwise. With the card we rode 4-5 rides.

I am guessing I'm questioning the only one pass at a time for a specified time. Do the time they give you call within a hour? Or could it be 2-4 hours later? Then how would you go on a ride that is less popular, while waiting, yet still manage to by pass the lines? According to these rules you can't. Many special need children cannot handle Disney Land for an extended period of time and therefore do not get to go on or see as many of the attractions and able bodied persons can. And at this time there is absolutely no discount for disabled persons.

I was fully prepared to show a doctors note and his bind identification card when I got to the park, but there was no need. It was all up to the discretion of the lady behind the counter at customer services. I think the problem is with the handling of granting the special access card, not with the system it's self.

September 19, 2013 at 2:26 PM · BTW, comments posted on here by Cast Members, while not invalid opinions, don't reflect all CMs or Disney.

Couple of things to keep in mind on this issue.

Between DAS (available to all who ask, even guest in wheelchairs) and Fastpass, there will be little time waiting for impatient guest. If a guest is on the Autism Spectrum who are unaware of the concept of waiting, taking turns or just lack patience, then don't tell them you are waiting. Disney parks are filled is exciting elements that fill any day.

For guest posting about not physically waiting in line for bad knees etc., just use a wheel chair. It's the first and most basic first step for a more enjoyable trip. If you can't literally stand in line, there is no reason to not sit in line.

For guest concerned about the dangers of using a wheelchair, keep in mind that there are guest of all ages in sizes who get trampled, bumped into and smacked by bags all the time. It happens to all guest in crowded places, sitting or standing. As for the bad attitude towards guest in wheelchairs or on scooters, it's largely because for over a decade, people have used those to game the system. Other guest know it, and more know it now since the issue has gotten media attention. While horrible, this new, fairer system should assuage those attitudes because there should be no more gaming the system.

Anything beyond making attractions ADA compatible or offer alternate access is a courtesy provided by the parks. DAS or GACs or whatever means is a courtesy that must be changed because of a mass mis-perception.

Equal opportunity and access is not the same as equal outcome and experience. For example, an older couple may take longer getting around the park than teenagers. They are not disabled and their time in the parks will not be as busy or fulling in some people's perspective. Do slower guest expect to skip lines because they took longer to get there? No. Should we let them? No. Those slower guest know their limits, aware of it or not. Some guest tire out faster. Their time in the park will be shorter than others. Should we let them skip the line? No.

My point is that a theme park is a theme park. What happens now, and what will happen is the chance for everyone to experience the attractions fairly. Parks are crowded, loud, hot. Guest are stressed, rushed, hungry and tired and we all have to wait. If these things cause extra issues for some guest, then you need to expect that, with or without a disability. Weather an older slower guest or a guest who tires out fast, or a a guest in a wheelchair or a guest with a non visible condition, going to a theme park is hard. It's hard for everyone, harder for others. But just like the crux of society, everyone must take their turn. Equal opportunities and access to experiences are not being taken away. We are now asking for equal attitudes towards the concept that theme parks are what they are, and maybe not the best place to go for all guest if it is too stressful for them.

September 19, 2013 at 3:34 PM · As a mom of a child with disabilities I HATE this new policy. Disney is now penalizing the innocent because of the actions of a few greedy jerks.

Our family has only been able to do Disney because of the benefits of the GAC. We always bring a legitimate doctor's note with us on the Children's Hospital letterhead to verify that our son is truly disabled. I'm really not sure why something like this couldn't be put in place instead?

Our child has a form of catastrophic epilepsy which eventually involved having half his brain removed to control. I understand that's not any one else at the park's problem. It's ours. But it was a blessing and a breath of fresh air that Disney acknowledged our life is hard and allowed our family for a few days forget about the heavy parts life with catastrophic disability brings and to just bask in the magic. The pass allowed not just our disabled son to enjoy the parks but also our two typically developing children. Their brother's therapy, rest and behavioral needs chip away at our ability to DO things in general. We have to say "no" to many, many things. Including theme parks. We go NOWHERE but Disney. Not for lack of desire. For lack of ability because it is just too difficult on him physically and the "fun" pay off isn't worth the trade. Disney made it possible for us. And while we were able to hop right on the rides...we also only spent a fraction of time at the parks. Our son cannot tolerate full days without inducing seizures. So we spend the mornings in the park and the afternoons at our resort. The GAC allowed us to experience the park in the mornings as if he could handle full days. Having to wait an hour to board a ride IS NOT THE SAME. And to be honest, Disney has lost at least one family. And if our family feels this way...I'm sure many MANY others feel the same.

Which is all the same to all the jealous masses who hate on the people with disabilities with their GAC passes and "entitlement" attitude, right? Trust me, it's easy to be jealous when we're passing by you in line. Of course, you wouldn't be so jealous of the long hours of therapy, in the hospital, administering meds, advocating or spending the last day at Disney this year in the Children's Hospital ER due to a seizure. Not so jealous of all that.

There are people with legitimate needs and sadly, Disney has now become anything but magical for us.

September 19, 2013 at 4:25 PM · Momma J Mye – Your expectations are so unreasonable.

"For the cost involved there should be no waiting, or very little wait."

So in your mind it's Disney's fault that there is so much demand for their attractions and they should be the ones to fix the wait times? Are you serious?

First off, Space Mountain did not derail. That would be considered a catastrophic failure for a roller coaster. The ride simply shut down for any number of possible reasons and I suspect after maintenance took a look at it they reopened the ride at some point later in the day. Events like this are routine for any theme park.

A 30 minute wait is perfectly acceptable for most guests. While I agree that 90-minutes is a bit long it seems it is not too long for others since they continue to line up.

The solution to your complaint would be to raise prices significantly (probably triple the price) to decrease the demand or limit the ticket sales making them more scarce and much harder to obtain.

The fact is there are slow days when wait times are short to non-existent. You just haven't visiting on one of those days. Also, Disney doesn't purposely reduce capacity to increase wait times. That's a lie!

Finally, Disney doesn't price their admission based on guests being able to do everything in the park. Theme parks offer a variety of attractions to appeal to a variety of people. The pricing is based on an average number of attractions you should be able to experience during an average length of stay. For Disney that number is 10. If you experience 10 things in the park then survey scores are generally good and management feels like you've gotten your money's worth for the admission you paid.

Attractions at the park are more than just rides. Just because you cannot or opt not to ride rides doesn't mean you don't get your money's worth. Shows, parades, fireworks, street entertainment, walk through attractions and just being inside the gates count as well.

September 19, 2013 at 8:39 PM · I'm tired of the excuses of not being able to wait in line. (You know who you are. You're the ones that want your child included in the regular classroom with the normal kids, yet you expect special treatment at the theme park. Oh yeah... if you're fuming by that statement then look in the mirror... because I'm talking about you.) If your condition makes you unable to wait in line then maybe you should choose another activity that doesn't require you to wait in lines!

The ADA laws were to grant equal access, not preferred access. Based on my interpretation the laws were more for people with mobility issues rather than mental issues.

We all have limitations in what we can or cannot do. So you have to accept it, live with it and tailor your life experiences to what you can do.

If the few with these conditions feel like they should be given special treatment then I'll support it if there is a limit to it. For example, you can visit with special treatment once every 10 years! However, if you want to visit monthly and have a season pass then get in line like the rest of us. That's how theme parks work. If you don't like it or can't do it then don't go! It's really that simple.

September 19, 2013 at 4:57 PM · I would sincerely hope that no one here begrudges GAC to those that actually need them and use them as they are intended. I believe the "they'll just have to wait like the rest of us" that the "they" is referring to abusers, and not those that actually need the cards.

The problem is that sadly there are a lot of people who do not need them but know that they will be given one upon demand. This was already the worst kept secret in the world, but once the hidden videos showing the "disabled tour guides" were broadcast on national media earlier this year, Disney was kind of forced to address the issue.

Also, I think the metrics of fastpasses and standby waits have probably been altered by the sheer number of people using the fastpass line with a GAC that were not issued actual fastpasses. With the new magic band system coming online at WDW, I suspect they need to tighten up these things to make it work.

I hope the new changes do not discourage those that need assistance. I can see it might not be quite as convenient but it seems that is the best they have come up with for now.

Those of you who have a disability or travel with someone who does, whether obvious or hidden, many blessings to you and I do sincerely hope you are still able to enjoy Disney parks with your loved ones.

September 19, 2013 at 6:06 PM · It's sad that something like this is going away. My son has a rare genetic disorder and he can't eat food. He is on a special formula. He has biopsies and scopes every 3 months. We had to take food away from him when he was 4. He is now 7. When we went to Disney in November it was a blessing to not have to make him stand for long times, he can't go and get a lemonade like someone else suggested nor can he eat anything in the park. At one point he was throwing up in a garbage can because his food trial he was going through was making him sick and the smell of the baked nuts in Epcot were making him sick. It was one of those moments where he felt special and didn't have to wait and smell food or watch people eating. His legs tire easily. It was nice to get him on rides and enjoy. I completely agree that people abuse this. It disgusts me how people get away with and do what they do. It takes away from everyone else. We have been to Disney and waited in lines before he was sick. No one used his pass this last time we were there unless they were going on the ride with him. But by no means should anyone on here judge or challenge what is considered a disability nor do we know what someone goes through. I would gladly show his medical information, notes and whatever they needed in order to make his experience at Disney a great time. It's not about what's fair to everyone but what's right for that person. If I could trade places for him with anyone else and gladly wait in line with a lemonade and ice cream etc I would. And I know he would. Again. No judging. Have some compassion.
September 19, 2013 at 6:19 PM · Just have people who request a handicap pass show their paperwork for their handicap vehicle placard. Even if they have a child with a handicap they can still qualify for a vehicle placard. To get a placard you need a doctor's note. Remember there are handicap people who are mobility impaired, but do not require a wheelchair, for these folks the lines are more problematic than for someone in a wheelchair.
September 19, 2013 at 6:26 PM · As a DVC member I am concerned about this change. My daughter has Cystic Fibrosis, and often you would think that she is completely healthy. Yeah except for when she caught her last cold and was on IV antibiotics for 12 weeks. Standing in lines with all those germs is not just unhealthy, but potentially dangerous. Last year we had a park employee tell us as we asked to get Snow White's autograph at the end of her signing time that my daughter looked fine to her and she was going to need more proof that she was sick before she would even consider anything. Yes people abuse the system, I get it, but how would you view my circumstance. Heck my money was good enough for the past 15 trips, and all those payments on the property, but now there is the possibility my daughter may be at risk if we go to the parks? I hope the system protects those, especially the children for whom WDW is such a magical place. Any parent given the circumstances would be just as protective.


September 19, 2013 at 6:50 PM · I have to say that this type of pass would prevent me from bringing my daughter from the parks. She has Autism. And I do understand wanting to curb the abuse, she will not understand "this is a pass to return at a later time." All she will know is that we are not getting on this ride NOW and and now is what she understands. This will cause a complete escalation and meltdown. And this would happen at every ride that we are turned away from to come back later at designated time (which she again will not understand). Our fun family day then turns into a stressful, meltdown filled, screaming, kicking, trying to run off and get into the ride any way possible day. Thank you Disney for removing any possibility of every being able to take my daughter to your park.
September 19, 2013 at 8:05 PM · 24 hours ago a petition to rethink the change format was submitted and already has almost 5,000 signatures opposing the change. Why not just require the family member to provide proof of disability and shared residence so a "hired" guide is not achievable?

September 19, 2013 at 8:49 PM · To the guy that said that it's against the law for parks to ask for a Dr's note. Uh Disney has asked us for a Dr's note. which we did produce. I think it would cut down on those that abuse the system if they consistently asked. Disney just needs to be consistent when they ask because I've seen people just ask for the pass and they get it. So Disney adds to their own problem. Require a Dr's note, see how it goes for a year.... if that doesn't help, then omit certain current "disabilities" like anxiety, agoraphobia. They don't like being around crowds anyway. Seems like Disney is going to spend a lot of money for this new system.... and will lose long time patrons like myself and money in the process. Where dreams come true will have a whole new meaning to a child with a disability.
September 19, 2013 at 9:01 PM · I had a disney annual pass and half way through my pass I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was 23 at the time, I looked normal on the outside but it is a very painful and disabling condition, #1 leading cause of disability in the United States. Having the guest assistance card was a huge help because my medication took months to work and I wasnt about to let my pass go to waste. Plenty of times I got looks from employees and other guests questioning my disability. Sadly I did not renew my pass and I dont know if I ever will again. I agree this card is abused by alot of people who dont have any sort of disability. Not once did I rent a wheelchair, I stood all times I waited. This card just minimized the amount of time I waited which was a huge relief for my swollen joints. I plan on going to disneyland soon, but this time I will be renting a wheelchair as I just had foot surgery last month and am not supposed to bear weight on my foot. I sure hope they dont question me or I will remove my boot and reveal my 3 inch scar which is still healing.
September 19, 2013 at 9:34 PM · i just spoke to WDW tonight and they said that there are no changes to the GAC. It is however, "under review."
September 20, 2013 at 12:07 AM · All of you people with your individual issues and reasons why you should receive preferential treatment obviously don't get it.

Your use of this system for your enjoyment of the parks comes at the expense of others enjoyment.

You don't have to wait in line, but the point you're missing is that someone else (actually many others) is waiting longer because you're not waiting at all. That's not fair! In fact, it's wrong!

If you or your child cannot wait in line like the rest because of some issue or condition then you should opt to do something else with your time. Theme parks are not for you!

September 20, 2013 at 4:29 AM · "I would sincerely hope that no one here begrudges GAC to those that actually need them and use them as they are intended. I believe the "they'll just have to wait like the rest of us" that the "they" is referring to abusers, and not those that actually need the cards."

The sad reality is that THERE ARE people who would begrudge us.

They begrudge our children in their schools, sports programs, playgrounds and anywhere that our child/family with disabilities might require some extra consideration. We deal with these types of attitudes EVERYWHERE. In fact, if GAC cards are done away with and we were forced to stand beside them in line they'd be annoyed with our child's behavior and either think or, more likely, say aloud something that sounds much like this:

"If you or your child cannot wait in line like the rest because of some issue or condition then you should opt to do something else with your time. Theme parks are not for you!"

See, the GAC pass isn't the problem, really. It's the attitudes of others who think people with disabilities are just a burden. Who think it's "unfair" that they have special passes and special parking places and special school accommodations. In that comment echoes that attitude "if you need a special parking place at the store then eating isn't for you" or "if you need an aide to stay in the school then school isn't for you". We feel and deal with that attitude everywhere.

Even with the GAC card we were not immune to this attitude and behavior at Disney. While it's true that many, many people are still old fashioned enough to think we should be kind to "the least of these"...there are others. Others who give evil eyes, or words. Others who trample our wheelchair stroller to get to that ride first. That character. Who move away when our kids flap or drool or make noises too loud. Because that's "fair" treatment.

With the GAC card it was like Disney acknowledged "we know you have to deal with crap all the time and we're not going to let that happen here". It was a beautiful, magical thing. It was one place where we didn't have to put on our warrior face and advocate for our kids because Disney had already done it for us.

Like I said before, with the loss of the GAC Disney also loses it's magic for families like ours.

September 20, 2013 at 5:22 AM · Wow. I am floored by the vast majority of comments. Disheartening and selfish.
I have two sons on the Autism Spectrum- one of them can't speak, has orthopedic issues, and cannot regulate his anxiety as "typical" kids do. It is unfortunate, but we've adapted and found a way to make his life comfortable.
DisneyWorld has been the one place where we could vacation. The staff was tremendous, and the ability to visit a few of the rides in succession made it a special place for our family.
To the guy who says "theme parks aren't for you"; hey, sport, do you have a child with a disability that LIVES for all things Disney? Watches videos whenever he can and carries Disney characters with him? Was your son's FIRST hug he ever gave on his own given to Eeyore at DisneyWorld-a revelation that brought a grown man to tears?
Yep, abuse is unfortunate and, yep, you should have to prove your charge is truly handicapped and unable to wait in a que.
But to take away the ability from kids and people that truly need it seems a horrible sin. Take a minute, be honest with yourself, and ask the question "what if I were in their position?" Be happy you can stand in line with your kids; some of us can't and never will.
September 20, 2013 at 8:58 AM · Score another one for the jerks who have abused the system at the expense of people who really need assistance.

It's also very interesting as a parent of a child w/Down syndrome to read all of the comments from people with no such experience. It's kind of like when childless people give parenting advice...

September 20, 2013 at 9:05 AM · I would think as a parent of an Autistic child you'd want to teach them and adapt them to fit into society as best you can and that would include learning to wait in lines. As hard as that may be you're make it harder on them by skipping the line.

Lastly, you've misinterpreted what "equal access" means. No where have I seen where the ADA laws say that some don't have to wait their turn!

If you need priority access then you can pay for it like the rest of us. It's called a VIP tour.

September 20, 2013 at 12:48 PM · I am all for Disney curbing abuse of the GAC system. As the parent of non-verbal 21 year old with autism, I have concerns of how this new system impacts the unique challenges that autism presents. I think for many disabled people this new system will,at worst, be an minor inconvenience. For those with autism, I think the changes will have more of an impact. Someone mentioned a 4 year old having a tantrum, well try the same situation with 120lb teenager/adult. To the uniformed person who made that comment, I hope you're standing right next to someone when it happens. Especially with those who are non-verbal, a common occurrence is that you pass a ride, they point and with the old system you could go into the fastpass line. Now you have to find a kiosk, stand in line (who knows how long the procedure will take) and then wait and see if you can control behaviors until you can ride. I sent a letter to Disney Park & Resort Operations (I did this prior to the announcement but now wish I had done it months ago). I received a call back from them just a few days later. If you have concerns, I encourage you to send a letter as well voicing your concerns. In the letter I included our personal experience with GAC and how it made vacations possible.
September 20, 2013 at 1:07 PM · It's an interesting to me to read the responses from everyone. Yep, there was lots of abuse of the GAC card. Yep, there are plenty of folks in scooters who leap from it to hop on a terrifying ride like Space Mountain. Yep, there are folks that rented out their pass and exploited it. For those situations, I applaud Disney for looking at the system and working to eliminate the abuse. However, the misinformed comments about Autism and what autistic children are capable of in terms of handling the massive change in the GAC, are way off base. To say,"wouldn't you want to teach hem about waiting in line and it's part of life?" Actually, I'd like to teach my Autistic son to more important things, like saying "I love you, Mom" than waiting in a line. If the line is less than 20, we expect him to try the regular line. If it's longer, we use the GAC to wait in the FastPass entrance. That's as best as we can do.

Disney has been THE only place we can vacation together as a family. The new DAS plan doesn't take that away, but for my son, who may only ride 5 rides in an entire day, he has to ride them in the exact same order, EVERY time we go to Disneyland. Taking a "break" to get a lemonade or watch a parade with will not pass the time. It will just be a source of an intense, park-leaving, day-ending meltdown. Plus, I'm not sure about your Autistic kids, but we run the other way during a loud, busy parade. I will sign any petition necessary to rethink this new program.

September 20, 2013 at 1:42 PM · Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! The definition of "Special" gets abused terribly at Disneyland! While I understand that there are a lot of people who have disabilities, Disneyland is a public park and does not compensate those of us who are not "impaired" to accommodate those who are. I don't get a discount because I'm not a burden. Blind? Use the new system, get a ticket and take this opportunity to listen to one of the many lovely bands while you wait for your turn. Broken leg? Stay home and heal, but your broken hips and injured brains are not visible to the rest of us. Just looks like preferential treatment for self-appointed-too-special-to-follow-the-rules folks. We have been Annual Passholders for 12 years and we've seen some of the most outrageous claims ever by huge parties of 40 plus people claiming to be with one kid who has ADD, and he can't wait because it will make him crazy. Try explaining to your five year old that some kid and his teeming hoard is special because he's impatient. Of course this felt like an insult on a birthday outing, but now at 12 they are just bitter and call BS when they see it. Disability is a persoanl issue, but making them opt out of waiting, which is part of the experience feels forced and insincere for those of us who tell our kids, good things come to those who wait!
September 20, 2013 at 1:49 PM · ADA is suppose to be equal access and rights. It wasn't meant to be I get to go first and have special rights. Why should those with a GAC pass get to go on 50 rides in a day when the rest of us go on 10. It is a joke. I thing the new changes are good. They will have to wait like everyone else. Go shopping, go eat, see a parade, or go on another ride that doesn't have a long wait. I hate to say this because I know it is harsh. If your kid has issues with crowd and melts down easilly. Then Disneyland peobably isn't the best place to go. it seems most of these parents are being selfish and it's them that want to go. It's like taking a 5 year old to a R-rated horror movie just because you want to see the movie. You just don't do it.
September 20, 2013 at 4:33 PM · Maybe I missed it? So with the new DAS when it is time for return is the disabled individual and party able to ride immediately? Or does the DAS pass holder and party placed in the Fast Pass line that moves more quickly?

With GAC when we needed to use it, we were typically put in the Fast Pass entrance and had a shorter wait. However, it was often still a fair amount of wait time. (Not complaining. Just stating.)
I'm just trying to figure out how this process will work. If wait is greater than 30 minutes our card will say return at such and such time to enter through Fast Pass entrance and wait with Fast Pass riders?

I'm also disappointed with the GAC change. We always try to use regular Fast Pass as much as possible and limit GAC use. If our son diagnosed with severe autism was having a calm day we could wait for the FP return time and enjoy other activities. But, on "off days" hanging out was stimulation overload. With GAC we could get a couple of his routine rides in before our park day was over. I read about equal access here. I get what is being said, but to me the GAC gave us some sense of equal access as we could access a couple of attractions in the park before having to leave. I'd love if we could go in at rope drop and stay for fireworks. We pay the same admission for at times 2 or 3 hours in the park. Not so equal.

My 16 year old son's autistic characteristics are quite noticeable, but I'm willing to sign a limited HIPPA waiver and present a dr. note.

I didn't know all of this was coming or I don't think I would have planned a January trip. My son loves Disney and I hope we can make this work.

I'm disguised by individuals who abused the system. For those who just don't get it; you likely won't until you live it. I hope you never do.

September 20, 2013 at 4:34 PM · This new program doesn't work for many on the spectrum, including my son. We have tried the system at Knott's Berry Farm, Six Flags, and Great America. It was a disaster. And, though Disney is still stressful for my son (even with the pass), he could NEVER even set foot in that park without it. So, unfortunately, due to this new change, Disney will lose a family. Its sad and unfortunate that the 1 thing our poor children can finally be a part of is taken away as well.

September 20, 2013 at 5:20 PM · "It's also very interesting as a parent of a child w/Down syndrome to read all of the comments from people with no such experience. It's kind of like when childless people give parenting advice..."

Oh, are people supposed to defer to you AND give up their space for you? I can see that every able bodied person is supposed to wait longer to cater to people who have an unfortunate situation.

I don't think everyone is giving you advice, but simply suggesting that maybe the child with Autism and Down Syndrome should be more conditioned to reality. Disneyland is trying hard to not be the real world, but life isn't so accommodating.

My kid gets access to an iPad or iPhone, which is especially useful in long lines. Using distractions is helpful. I would think kids with disabilities can't experience thrill rides anyways like Splash Mountain or Space Mountain. There are plenty of slow rides with hardly any waiting on less busy days. This won't work if your kid is afraid of dark or enclosed spaces. Oh well, nothing is perfect.

September 20, 2013 at 9:52 PM · My child has multiple disabilities. When I bring him to a ride, he is ready and able to ride at that moment. If you tell me to bring him back at 3pm, chances are good we won't make it. I can't control or predict when he will need to use the toilet or when I will have to do a full clothing change. With the proposed new system, he might just make it to one or two rides in a day. Ask for proper documentation. We've got tons of documentation. People who assume that a wheelchair user can wait in the regular line up once the queue is wide enough and there is a ramp, don't actually understand the issues with food and bowels that can come with a neurological injury.
September 20, 2013 at 10:09 PM · I may be wrong but everyone pays roughly the same price to enter Disneyland. There are a large number of folks that are abusing the GAC.
And trust me.....many of these individuals are not in need of the pass. I watched a person jump off a scooter, and run up to Alice in Wonderland. They brought six of their closest friends with them. I waited 30 minutes to their 5. Let us put this into perspective. I did not take my newborn to disneyland, in fact I didn't take either of my daughters until they were a bit older. Sometimes as a parent you need to decide what an appropriate vacation is for your family. I am a Registered Nurse and I am pretty damn good at figuring out who needs to go in front of me in these lines. I am ok with that. Disney needed to figure out a way to level the playing field and thank god they decided to do something. Remember we all pay the same price. If you want to be a VIP.......they do offer it for a price.
Oh and on this last trip I brought my 78 year old father in law who has CHF, poor circulation and has had a quadruple bypass. He waited in every line and did both parks in 2 days.....he refused to rent a scooter or wheelchair. I asked him why and he told me " sometimes people just need to know their limitations, it's life" .......powerful words.
September 20, 2013 at 10:44 PM · If I understand correctly the new pass will be somewhat like a Fastpass where the disabled person will get a time marked onto their card stating their return time to come back to ride the on that particular attraction.


Anyone that is disabled knows how difficult it is to get around in the first place. Once a disabled person FINALLY arrives at an attraction, most likely they will wait right there until they can get onto that particular attraction...disabled people arent freely able to just go wander somewhere else while they wait for their riding time. It's both difficult and time consuming trying to get from point A to point B in a given time period...there are ALWAYS obstacles that are much more difficult to navigate than an able bodied person can.

That being said will parks offer a waiting area or location nearby the attraction until its your riding time for those that cant just freely go somewhere else during their wait time?

The problem I see is that disabled people will still pile up waiting and clogging the will this be a better system.

I think that maybe one should have to show their state given Disbability ID in which a person is already proven/approved to be medically disabled by the state/DMV to even get such an ID.

September 21, 2013 at 7:01 AM · We typically will ask for the pass but only use it if the lines are really long. Still it's nice to have that option especially with the extremely high cost of going to any of these places anymore! Taking someone with autism to parks like these can be stressful enough - now we will have to add 'the clock' factor. It's a shame people who were so jealous of disabled kids getting on the ride before them can't experience what it is truely like to be the one who actually needs those accomodations.......
September 21, 2013 at 8:44 AM · Can someone explain how DAS differs from a regular Fast Pass other than 1. If all Fast Passes for the day have expired, a return time will still be given. 2. The individual must go to a kiosk rather than a Fast Pass distribution machine
Still, individual with disability must wait in Fast Pass line upon return to ride.

Is that the proposed plan?

I can understand outrage of GAC abuse, but I'm in disbelief of those who think we are trying to uphold our children as the entitled elite. Some comments are just jaw dropping...

Paraphrasing a few...

know your limitations, the park isn't for you.
For us--everywhere is a challenge. Even home is filled with accomodations. I probably wouldn't bring a newborn to Disney either, but I also would understand there would be no to little enjoyment for a newborn. Maybe it is just my kids, but at 6 weeks they wouldn't have liked a ride on Aladdin's carpet. I would, howevver, look forward to the day I could enjoy a trip with my child. Should we just stay prisoners of our home? Disney was one of few places we could justify spending our vacation dollars. For some people with autism, amusement rides can be helpful as they provide vestibular stimulation. Add to it everything that makes Disney, "Disney". It is a delicate balance, though. Disney's GAC helped us achieve this.

I can understand annoyance with kids jumping off a scooter and quickly jumping ahead in Alice in Wonderland. I would be annoyed, too. I am not suggesting this did not happen, but I was not aware of an alternate entrance to that ride, Dumbo or a few others. Those we have to skip unless Extra Magic Hours when line is tolerable. That is OK because there are other choices and our son never became accustomed to those rides. Please don't condem the whole GAC program based on those type of experiences.

Pay for VIP? Seriously? We are fortunate to go to Disney, but I'll save for the VIP tour after we pay for private therapies, equipment, summer tutors, behavioralist, education specialist, repairs to our home from outbursts (currently I have a 16 inch diameter hole in my son's room), locks, alarm systems, tracking devices, etc.

We must pay for so much assistance because we are desperately trying to teach our 16 year old to wait in line and so many other tasks. Sometimes we find success. We don't always use the GAC but sometimes it is saving grace. When GAC is unavailable and you are so pleased, please understand we are just trying to teach our 5' 10" 145 lb son to be apprpriate when standing crowded next to YOU in line. in this teaching process, he may suddenly be triggered and begin jumping, flapping, verbalizing echoed language and end with violent self-injurious behavior that will be severe head hits as he is actually trying to calm himself with pressure. We'll be trapped in the crowded long line, so sorry. I'd give him the iPad, but he'd throw it. It will be a great opportunity for you to explain neurological disorders to your children. They also need to learn how to navigate in the real world. Admittedly, it is kind of scary to see a man suddenly behave like this, but equal is equal. I guess if we had been in alternate entrance he may have handled the wait and excitement better. But, DARN IT he better learn to wait in the full line like everyone else and not let anything set him off.

I think most of us when forced to use GAC tried to be discrete. We didnt want to risk comments of guests who are ignorant of our loved one's condition. And if a group enters right after us, we always invite them to pass ahead. It is fair and we also want to establish some space if needed. If necessary we could step out of lind. If your child happens to notice the use of a GAC and doesn't feel special, it presents an opportunity to explain why abuse is wrong or why he should feel special for maintaining integrity. If jealous of someone who is disabled it presents a good opportunity to explain how blessed you are and the importance of compassion.

An early post by a mom suggested a melt down of a younger ASD child is less avoidable or something of that sort. I do not want her to feel reprimanded as this is a learning process. I hope that is your experience. I remember those days and they are difficult. Sadly, many of our kids don't outgrow meltdowns. They just get called "episodes". I am sure you are but please continue therapies. A meltdown/episode by an adult sized man in puberty and full of testosterone is hard. The individual is not being malicious it is still that same frustration as the 4 year old. But now he is strong and can be aggressive. That same stubborn determination can continue. I sincerely hope your child has improvement and this is the worst of the meltdowns. God Bless You.

(Sorry my previous post auto corrected disgusted with disguised. I am disgusted by people who abuse the GAC).

September 21, 2013 at 11:33 AM · My 12 yo son has autism and we have always enjoyed using the pass as it is intended---for him. If he doesn't ride, the riding party waits just like everyone else. The amount of ignorance and disdain shown above by some saddens me, and reflects the intolerance some of us still have in this great country.

The new system brings in-line to what other parks have done for many years. That said, Disney isn't any other park. It can, and should, do better.

Kiosks: nice idea; frees up CM time at the ride (compared to other parks).
Is 4 really enough to avoid queues there too? They better monitor this.
An assistant should be able to hump it to the kiosk. No reason to force the disabled rider do the travel. The photo enforces the 'guest must ride' rule, which is essential and the key innovation to minimize abuse.

Awaiting areas: improve dwell areas for queues. Legoland does it nicely and Disney got it with the circus Dumbo - Adults/placeholder wait while little ones/disabled rider enjoys their day.

We all travel to Disney to spend our hard earned dollars. Glad that Disney has made a move to eliminate abuses while trying to maintain its excellence in customer service.

I hope they don't forget the experience as adjustments are made to minimize the abuse.

September 21, 2013 at 11:40 AM · It is an exaggeration that the GAS pass allowed for immediate access to a ride. Have you ever had to wait for the wheelchair accessible car? You still wait with the GAS pass. What it provided us was easier accessibility. I can't wait to see how many people start to complain when the disabled are holding them up in line. If you have never had to carry a person on a moving conveyor belt to get them into a non-wheelchair accessible car, it's no fun, especially when people are complaining behind you.
September 21, 2013 at 12:24 PM · My daughter has a mitochondrial disease. She has a wheelchair but also a limited amount of energy that has to last her throughout the day along with a long list of other issues such as heat intolerance. (She can't even go to school a full day) If you can only get one pass at a time and that is based on current wait times, she would only be able to ride a few rides before needing to leave for the day. It seems like this new system will not accomodate those who physically can't be there for an unlimited amount of time. One size does not fit all. Not allowing for this would mean they were not accommodating her recognized disability.
September 21, 2013 at 12:37 PM · Rich from NYC.
Disney has taken a step in the right direction. We have been to WDW a few years in a row and have seen the problem get worse. I have seen people with lumbar cushions on their scooters get on roller coasters. Next Disney should go after bogus service dogs. I sometimes deal with service dogs and know how to spot bogus ones.
September 21, 2013 at 1:22 PM · I have read all the comments posted and now I am going to post mine. I worked in Guest Relations previously and I know exactly how the system works.

For those that are saying Disney should ask for a doctors note, are you serious? If they did that, it would only be accepted Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm and they would have to call the doctor and verify the concerns. Anyone can print out a paper and sign it Doctor Such and Such. Also, guest relations cast members are NOT medically trained so they can not and will not ask for a doctors note! People bring them in anyways and when presented they say they are unable to accept it.

My hat is off to Disney for finally providing an EQUAL solution. After all, isn't that what we all want? To be treated fairly and equally? If you or your child can not stand in lies or be in big crowds go to Disneyland during the off season when everything is under 20mins!

Also, those that will be using the DAS program technically get a leg up since they now can get two "fast passes" at a time which is not available to any other guest without a DAS.

The GAC system was being abused to the point that regular day guests and those with real concerns and disabilities were paying the price. The new system will allow guests to use the fast pass que, which I'm assuming those will real concerns were using to begin with, you just have to wait. Like everyone else. Go eat lunch, or see a show or visit something else in the meantime!

What do you do with your child when you go to the Grocery store? Or other outings? I know they don't provide assistance in places like that. Disney offering this program is a choice NOT a requirement! They could get rid of it all together. But they work hard to try and make it fair, for EVERYONE!

Just because you have a disability doesn't mean you should get preferred or special treatment. My cousin has a disability as he has never once used the GAC system. He says that he is equal like everyone so he doesn't need it. I commend him.

Some need assistance, and I understand that and this system will still help, it's just won't give you preferred treatment or allow others to abuse it anymore. So in turn, no more abuse means you'll be even more greatly helped!

Let the knew system work before you jump down Disney's throat!

September 21, 2013 at 4:01 PM · I guess we were lucky to enjoy Disney twice, with teh new system in place my Autistic daughter will not be able to enjoy a third. The few places we are not aloud an alternate entrance with a small wait, brought about a meltdown making everyone miserable. As someone else said with Autism it is about the wait, they simply cannot wait. I understand there are abuses but you have just punished every Autistic child because some people cheated. Shame on you Disney.
September 21, 2013 at 7:42 PM · I have a nephew with autism. I totally get it. However, if a person is agitated by crowds, waiting, and noise, and melts down due to a change in or lack of routine, why take that person to a crowded, noisy theme park? It seems like the worst idea ever.
September 21, 2013 at 10:18 PM ·

I've worked with the disabled since 1980. I'm 49, retired on long term disability and I've been diagnosed with early onset alzheimers. I get to go to WDW for the first and maybe last time in feb 2014. Unless I take a bad step backwards and start wearing depends, I refuse any special assistance. And when I'm too much for my family, I would never ask them to take me to Disneyland (the park I've been to 6 times)

If my family wants that to make it easier for way. They'll have to do it when my brain is mush.

I want to just enjoy my time there like other people. Fast pass, wait in line, eat a turkey leg, ice cream..whatever.

September 22, 2013 at 5:35 AM · Maybe if Disney parks weren't so greedy in the first place they wouldn't let far too many people in each day, and everyone would have an appropriate wait time. As a Mom of two children with disabilities I am insulted by this new rule. Obviously the geniuses at Disney who thought this through don't have children or family with disabilities, as they are clearly siding with the "normal" person's discomfort. They might as well hang a sign at the park entrance saying "We don't want disabled people here, turn back now" and be honest about it instead of trying to blame this new rule on us. The real reason the lines are too long is not our disabled children, it is because they are greedy and let too many people into the park each and everyday. If they really cared about making wait times fair for everybody, they wouldn't be letting too many people in each day, that would fix their problem that they creared.
September 22, 2013 at 5:41 AM · I love all these "autism" comments. I know many children with autism, my neighbors son is SEVERELY autistic and would truly need a GAC at Disney WOrld. However asbergers is a MILD form of autism. Why can't a child with asbergers wait on a long line? I feel like any kid with some sort of learning disability is slapped with a label of "autistic" and BOOM needs special treatment. Its BS.........sorry, JMO.....i'am ESTATIC about the new system amd cannot wait to hear some people I know who ABUSED the GAC program complain about it. oh, sorry you will have to wait on the long lines with your family of 6 and your friends included. I have been a frequent WDW guest, and we are honest, hardworking people, its about time Disney put an end to this very easy to abuse system. I APPLAUD the photo ID as well!!!!
September 22, 2013 at 10:03 AM · Kudos to you's about time. I think Disney has gone above and beyond providing special services. EVERBODY pays the same price to enter the parks and values their vacation as much as anybody with a disability. I think there is finally going to be fairness. Most posts I've seen about the GAC changes are from families dealing with AUTISM. Disney DID their homework. They consulted with Autism Speaks and took their input before reaching decisions on changes. Don"t knock the new system before you try it, you might like it!!!!!!!!
September 22, 2013 at 11:53 AM · I am very saddened to learn about the changes made to this program at Disney. My daughter was recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. She is covered by the ADA because she is completely insulin dependent (I am her pancreas and if she doesn't get insulin from us, she dies). We spend all day and night fighting to keep her blood glucose in a normal range, it is affected by everything from heat, exercise or lack thereof, stress, food, lack of food, you name it. We were going to plan a trip to Disney. My kids have been begging me. With the old medical fast pass, I knew that we would be able to do it. With the new program, I fear that it would not help us at all. Standing in line for long periods of time, especially after walking around the park all day will make my daughter run low (blood sugar below 80). If we get towards the front of a line and she is low, we will have to treat it with food and wait 15 minutes to see if she is within range. If she is not, we will have to get out of line and start all over. I have friends with kids with Type 1 who said that the medical fast pass is the only way their children could enjoy Disney. The new system would just mean more walking (back and forth to the new kiosks every time we need a fast pass - again, anything can mess with her blood sugar and hypoglycemia is not something you play around with). I also think of all of my friends who have kids with other medical issues, such as autism. So many people are just thinking about people in wheelchairs. There are so many other valid conditions covered by the ADA that would be affected here. Children who may no longer be able to experience Disney as other children do! How's that for fair? You have no idea what unfair is, unless you or your child have one of these horrible conditions that alter your life completely! It's devastating! I've spent the last three months telling my daughter that we will do anything so that she can participate in the things she has always participated in (school, sports, theme parks) and because of a few selfish people who abused the program, those of us who truly need it will be denied equal access for our children! I'm disgusted! And for those who shame people who don't "look" disabled, you just remember that that person might have Type 1 Diabetes (Like my daughter and it's NOT the same disease as Type 2) or Rheumatoid Arthritis (like myself - and it's a systemic autoimmune disease, NOT like your grandma's Osteo)! I do know that the system was being abused, but that just ticks me off more!! Why couldn't they just limit it to people covered by the ADA, instead just anybody who had a note that said "Joe has a bad back or claustrophobia?" Now, the people who really need it may not be able to enjoy the parks at all! Makes me sick!
September 22, 2013 at 1:27 PM · While I do agree that a change must be made for the much abused GAC, this is not the solution. I have a younger brother with autism who not only does not understand time, but who has a set routine for every single time we go to Disneyland (which is often as we are Annual Passholders). If his routine is thrown off, which would happen frequently with this new system, he is prone to meltdowns that include screaming at the top of his lungs, banging his head, and other violent tendencies. This would not only ruin his Disney experience, but also the experience for guests around him. This solution will not work. I have created a petition on trying to prevent the implementation of this new program-please read and sign if you agree me with.
September 22, 2013 at 2:33 PM · I don't understand why they can't just make it necessary to provide the autistic spectrum diagnosis - I brought mine when I got the pass and offered it but the man didn't even glance at it.
My concern with my autistic daughter is that on some lines, if she changes her mind or flips out, it will not be pretty. the other line, if she needed to turn around we could without causing a big mess. With the pass on our last trip, everything went smoothly and she didn't have a meltdown all week. I thought that was the point, so our kids don't have to annoy everyone - but obviously people are abusing the system, which is too bad.
September 22, 2013 at 3:26 PM · I think this a step in a good direction for Disney as it makes it harder to abuse the system, but still provides a good alternative to those with disabilities who can't wait in a line.

I've been reading a lot of comments, and I think some people are a little confused. Yes, anyone can still get one of these new passes just like the old GAC program, but the difference is that while you don't get on the ride instantly anymore, you still don't have to wait in a line. Say you want to go on a ride and the que is 40 minutes, but you or someone in your party has a disability that makes waiting in a line not on option. You show your disability pass, and the cast member will write on there to return in 40 minutes, and once you return at that time THEN you go on the ride instantly.

I know there are physical and invisible disabilities where this sort of pass wouldn't make things easier, but no system is perfect and I'm truly sad that there are some who won't be able to experience the awesomeness of Disney, and disgusted at the individuals who felt the need to cheat the system in the first place.

September 22, 2013 at 4:27 PM · Let's face it neither Disney, nor any other theme park, has the capability of accommodating every single guest. Each family has different circumstances and needs, and it is impossible, without the GAC, to accommodate everyone. I am SO SO sorry they had to do away with the GAC on account of greedy and impatient folks. I am especially sorry for those families with Special Needs. It is going to be even tougher going back and forth towing your kids, or adults, in wheelchairs.

Neither guests nor Disney, in general, tend to understand how difficult it is to get from Point A to Point B in a wheelchair or scooter. I know because until I was found in this situation, I was totally oblivious as to how difficult it is to get around in theme parks. There are huge crowds of people one is trying to maneuver around, and many of which are not paying attention. This includes a great MANY children who have had a scooter run over their foot, for this very reason. The congestion in the parks will only worsen now.

I think for all those who are tired of seeing GAC's go out to even those who legitimately need them, like myself, the underlying problem is the long wait times they themselves incur in regular lines. And for those who abused the system, in any respect, the problem is the same, as they, too, are sick of the long wait times in a regular line. Therefore, something HAS to be done about long lines; long wait times.

It isn't fair to ANYONE to spend thousands of dollars on a vacation only to spend it waiting in line. So the question is, what can be done to make everyone's wait time shorter?

I think the solution would be to divide the crowds' access into the parks into two 8 hour time slots, where guests can choose from maybe 8:00am-4:00pm, or 5:00 pm-1:00am. Maybe even longer hours for guests staying at the Disney owned hotels, or during the summer months when excessive crowds are prevalent. A lot can be accomplished in 8 hours if the crowds are divided in half.

The guest would have to be very disciplined in making sure they spend their allotted time at the park, to get their money's worth. But, still, with less crowds guests will be able to accomplish a lot more than spending an entire day in line.

Of course a lot of the bugs would have to be worked out, including parades, fireworks, etc. but I truly believe this could be the solution.

As far as revenue is concerned, Disney will have a lot of guests shopping and eating at Downtown Disney, and at their Disney hotels.

It's just too bad 'The Happiest Place On Earth' is proving to be just the opposite for many many families.

For all of you with these Special Needs children whose lives revolve around Disney, I am so sorry they are the ones who have to pay the consequences for all the greedy ones who will still inevitably find a way to cheat the system....somehow evildoers always find a way....

September 22, 2013 at 6:24 PM · said "Maybe if Disney parks weren't so greedy in the first place they wouldn't let far too many people in each day, and everyone would have an appropriate wait time."

Greedy? I hate the frequent misuse of this word in social media. It's not greedy to meet the public's demand for your product or service.

Disney prices their admission not with the expectation that you'll complete all of the attractions in the park.

If you people want Disney to admit fewer people then expect admission prices to triple or quadruple. However, you could also just pay more for a VIP tour!

September 22, 2013 at 8:58 PM · Where to begin . . .

There was so much that needed to be said after reading this article. Beginning with how disheartening it was that people have abused such a system . . .blah, blah, blah . . . Moving into- that despite not feeling the need for atonement, per Niles' recommendation my family would role with the punches and give the new system a try. However- as the comments piled up many took the words out of my mouth while others left me speechless- one in the same? Not really.

Yes- the past system did provide some ease for our family when we brought our non ambulatory four y/o child to Disney World eight years ago. It is not difficult to admit- being able to ride 'Its A Small World' twice before having to transfer Jax again was a nice break. We enjoyed the 2005 trip so much that we are returning again in November, this time with a family of five- and now with a 13 y/o non ambulatory teen. Regardless of the change- we are ready to enjoy the Magic. We have chosen to go at a time when lines will be short and the sun not as hot. Not an ideal time for work and school- but to create ease for a vacation such as this- worth the sacrifice. We would absolutely love to take advantage of the VIP program Eric G suggested, but with the $22,000 van conversion we need for Jax's wheelchair, plus the new van- not feasible this year. Thanks so much for pointing out that opportunity- our travel agent never brought that to our attention! ;)

For those of you spewing ignorance and lack of experience... your comments provoke chuckles. We don't want your pity. You are calling these parents selfish- when you cannot imagine how selfless they actually are. A pat on the back for my sacrifices is not sought, as just as much is given to the typical children in my family. However- compassion is welcomed- just as it would be given to you when you're dealing with a bratty, tired, hot five year old. Feel free to use us as an example to your children- as a younger sister leads her challenged older brother through a line. Or a four year old wipes the mouth of his 13 y/o drooling brother. We are never looking for handouts- but a smile verses a stare, or a hand verses a shoulder is always welcomed. And the judgments- better to think before you type. Life has no guarantees. So many are quick to judge a path they have not walked- the naivety is sad yet amusing.

Deep breaths everyone. Disney has made a change. They have provided us with boatloads of fairy dust and dreams come true in the past- surely this program will allow the fairy tale to continue...hopefully we can all get along in the meantime.

September 22, 2013 at 10:41 PM · Intresting to read. Just this year I was placed on full disability for Crohn's Disease. I never go to the parks while I'm in full flare, however with it you never know. My last trip at EPCOT while getting my GAC updated for only the third time. I was asked so many question and even showed proof that I was disabled. Now I try to wait, however to many times I left my party or if I was just with my daughter left the line due to it. I welcome a fair system but also think their should be a what that prevents the fraud. I know people who have abused it in the past and disagree with their logic. Time will tell how it will turn out.
September 22, 2013 at 11:44 PM · When I initially read the news about the demise of the GAC I have to say I was delighted. It is heartbreaking to see the abuse that has gone on, particularly in recent years. I have a personal struggle with the fact that I do not consider myself to be a disabled person yet the reality is that I suffer from a condition that can prevent me from participate in normal day to day activities. In my case I'm either at 100% or 0%, there really is no inbetween so i consider myself fortunate enough that I have never needed a GAC card. I have been in the situation where my illness has prevented me from doing things that I love doing and I have had to find ways around it.
As I see it, the primary issue with the old system was not the abuse in itself but the witnessing of the abuse. People would wave around cards that may or may not have had he correct stamp on them and this makes them stand out like a sore thumb. People, both cast members and guests would see people entering the line, time after time with no sign that they truly required the card that they were carrying. We are human and rightly or wrongly we are prone to judging others.
DL and WDW are caught by the fact that many of their attractions were built prior to the ADA. So there is no gold standard policy. You could be using a wheelchair in MK and be back entranced but go to AK and go through the regular line and the reasoning is not necessarily obvious to card users and other guests. This is the issue the new system is trying to solve. As a former cm I received a lot of abuse from parties with wheelchairs because of the confusion surrounding varying attraction accessibility. It wasn't their fault but it wasn't mine either, so as I said I welcome this new change because it will prevent 90% of the system abuse that occurs.
Many have stated that a medical note should be presented as some kind of requirement. Personally I don't agree with this and here's why. A few years ago my family did our yearly trip to Wdw. 1 night in and my mother damaged a nerve in her back. She had never experienced it before but was in a huge amount of pain if she stood for more than about 30 seconds. For the next two weeks she became a guest with a disability, thankfully a temporary one but it was still a disability none the less. She simply would not have been able to provide a doctors note had she been required to. Yet she could not stand in a line. We rented a wheelchair and only "skipped" lines where the standby line was not accessible.
I am not autistic and none of my family are either. I do suffer from certain social anxiety issues but for the most part I have learned coping mechanisms to help me deal with that. I really have been shocked by people's attitudes to people with autism and Down's syndrome and other similar conditions that are regularly lumped together as being some kind of behavioural issue. DL and WDW are meant to be places of escape. Many kids with these conditions have no concept of emotions or social etiquette. Family members will often never see them express any kind of love because they simply cannot comprehend the concept. I recently met a child with aspergers who couldn't sit still and essentially couldn't hold a conversation with anyone around him. The one exception to this was if they were talking about Star Wars. He knew every character, every planet, vehicle and weapon. He literally lit up talking about it. The joy that his family experienced with that temporary transformation was incalculable. That child is not unique. I've met other kids with different conditions that have that one thing that allows them to find some commonality with the rest of the world, that allows their family to escape from the worries of what will happen to them when no one is left to look after them. It wasn't that long ago that we clumped all of these conditions together and institutionalised people completely unnecessarily. So to those who say that these kids shouldn't go to a theme park because they are physically incapable of queuing, I'm afraid I must strongly disagree.
Right now Disney is in something of a transitional period. They are completely overhauling their entire queue system. I get the impression that if RFID and magicbands prove to be successful for the majority of guests then it may be possible to tie in other kinds of entitlements. Say one member of your party has autism. That individual's queue requirements could be tied into their band and allow other people in their travel party similar access if they enter an attraction within say 5 minutes of each other. Just imagine, regular guests wouldn't get upset because they wouldn't see anyone abusing the system. People that did need special access for whatever reason would get it without being singled out. Cast members wouldn't get abuse from rule enforcement. I'm not saying its a perfect idea but that's where I see the system going in the long term. The tough part is that right now Disney has to minimise as much of the abuse as possible and I think the option they've chosen is the most effective way of doing that right now.
Oh and as far as I'm aware Disney themselves have never been able to provide the Makeawish-style GACs, it has always been the MAW people that distribute them and yes I've seen people attempt to abuse those as well which I have to say was physically sickening. Thankfully those cases are very few and far between.
September 23, 2013 at 5:47 AM · Someone stated that it is illegal for a DWD employee to read a doctors note. I work wiht HIPAA daily, and that is totally false if the individual is PRESENTING IT to the employee. What is illegal is discriminating against the person, REQUIRING the note, or discussing the person's disability or sharing it wihtout permission. Even then, We have always HAD a note from my wife's physician asking for accomodations should one be necessary and she had no problems with anyone ASKING.

My wife has a severe degenerative bone disease that requires she uses a motorized chair and prevents her from standing more than a few minutes. We have appreciated Disney's system for years, yet we also see obvious abuse of the system. We have also experienced the rude behavior from people in the parks. I can tell you, having a family member in a chair is NOT a joy, and in a crowded WDW, it's downright brutal. Guests are extremely rude to people in chairs, they pay no attention to you, they walk in front of you and the frequent attitude is, "you have a chair, what do you care if you have to wait?". Something else that people don't acknowledge is guests using hte the guest asisstnace pass frequently miss major parts of hte attractions by using the exits or back doors to the attractions. You really don't WANT to see the back stage area of Pirates of the Carribbean or most of the park attractions for that mattter as it really kills the experience.
I also have a nephew with Autism, and I know well how difficult it may be waiting in certain cirmstances while others are perfectly fine. When lines are short or wide open and not in noizy confined spaces, we gladly wait in the regular queues. When regular queues are accessable, we do the same unless they specifically ask we use the exit queues because of limitations on space to park a wheelchair or return back down the main access queue. Many attractions have no way for a person in a chair to navigate BACK down the access route or to cross over the attraction's loading areas.

I've found that Other parks have a guest assistance program (as well as a fast pass system) that imposes far less on the regular ride queues. Hershey Parks' system works quite well actually, and those that are truly disabled should have no issue with descrbing their limitations. They still have a guest pass, but they limit how many family members may accompany a guest. Disney will allow a bus ride along if yout tell them you are all family. They limit how many times you can access major attractions with the pass on a crowded day. Hershey Park aslo makes sure it is actually SAFE for disabled patrons to be experienceing their attractions as well and they will point out attractions that are really rough, confining, or may provide excessive stimulation if a guest has condintions like autism. The park provides accessable queues or accomodations to make them so or clearly states what barriers exist. Most importantly, each attraction reserves a row for disabled persons and their party. If their party exceeds the capacity of that row, they wait while the disabled family member rides. Universal is the worst place on earth if you don't pay for their version of a fast pass.
Even if the disabled family member isn't going to ride the ride, Disney's policy had always been to allow families to remain together throughout the park, including the time spent waiting their fair turn for a ride. Disabled guests with likely still have to use exit ramps, accessable queues etc. In the end, Disney is still accomodating guests with disabilities, they will still haveto use many non standard access routes to the attractions, and they are attempting to make it fair for everyone I'm ok with seeing how the new system works.

September 23, 2013 at 12:13 PM · Good luck with this. I don't see it working with most children with autism. I have a 22 year old son with autism and have worked in the autism field for over 35 years. Individuals with autism do not wait well whether they are at the ride and in line or just walking around. It is going to be a nightmare for families as they try to puzzle together (no pun intended), a schedule for when to get to each ride, secure a Fast Pass, return to that ride, figure out something to do meanwhile, and repeat that with the other rides. Add this to the fact that children with autism often can not handle Disney for long periods of time anyway, therefore a child with autism may not be able to enjoy more than a couple of rides a day. I know that with many children with autism, going to the ride without actually going on the ride could cause major meltdowns. With 1 out of every 88 customers having autism at Disney, this will greatly affect a good portion of customers. Individuals with autism have enough issues as it is being able to secure appropriate community-based activities. WDW has always been one of the activities that these families have been able to access thanks to their Guest Assistance Cards. I realize there has been abuse, but I think a new system could be worked out in a different way.
September 23, 2013 at 7:02 AM · This concerns me because I currently have a GAC and it has been a major help to my many trips to Disneyland as a passholder. I get a lot of dirty looks when I'm in the disability lines because I don't have any visible issues... However, I suffer from anxiety and claustrophobia. I cannot handle the crowd of regular lines. My heart starts racing and I begin to get lightheaded. I mean I KNOW that nobody is paying attention to me or even looking at me, but I can't help but think that the notice me, which makes me freak out even more. Will they deny me when I request one of these new passes because my issue isn't visible?
September 23, 2013 at 7:22 AM · The original sin here is the ADA's prohibition on Disney being able to call a shot on who is disabled enough to warrant a GAC. If they were, they could separate the wheat from the chaff and keep the abuse level very small. The few disgruntled cases that fell through the cracks would have no recourse other than getting mad. But they can't, or they'll be sued into the ground, successfully, pursuant to the ADA. So they must give a GAC to everyone who asks. Of course, this results in the current mess. So all you parents of autistic children who are upset that your child's need for wait-free rides is being impaired: don't blame Disney. Blame the ADA.
September 23, 2013 at 9:12 AM · @Summer Time - Amen! More empathy in the queues are always welcomed.

This is a change, and we shall adapt like any other change. We're still planning our next trip to Disneyland with my 12 yo son with autism. We've been fortunate enough that he's progressed enough to tolerate 15 minute waits without a meltdown and should be able to do Fastpass.

My hope with that Disney staffs the kiosks enough to eliminate all lines there, and modifies their requirement to have the cardholder present at the kiosk. For the ride, definitely--and an improvement. But for the time stamp at the kiosk? There is no reason to make a disabled person travel, especially if a willing party member is willing to take on that duty.

September 23, 2013 at 10:14 AM · I took my autistic godson to Dland over Christmas and the crowds were outrageous and we worried about him getting overwhelmed and overstimulated in lines so a Cast member kindly suggested we get him a GAC (this is after waiting in line to meet Rapunzel and him having a full blown meltdown because of the crowd. We had his tests and psychologist letters in case we needed to show proof. But everyone at the park was so kind and polite (and I know they can't ask for it). I agree that a new system is necessary. But I think the new system is a little flawed. For people like my godson who doesn't do crowds well it's going to be the same problem as waiting in regular line. It's sad that it's come to this. I'll be interested to see how it develops.
September 23, 2013 at 10:20 AM · To

Thank you for clearing it up. It's like they do with Radiator Springs Racers. They give you a fast pass type thing to come back and then you can go through a "faster" line. Am I correct in that?

September 23, 2013 at 10:47 AM · I realize this is a sensitive subject because there are a large variety of disabilities. I myself had two spinal surgeries and still have issues to this day. The problem of abuse is so pervasive that it left Disney no options. Aside from the wealthy renting a disabled guide, anyone can rent a wheelchair from off property or guest relations.

I happened to be at DisneyWorld in late August and on one night at Magic Kingdom during the late extra magic hours, I literally counted over 50 wheelchairs left abandoned all over Tomorrowland, Fantasyland and Frontierland. There were so many I stopped counting. So someone needs to explain to me why someone needs a chair all day long and then can walk or run to the main gate to leave from the furthest parts of the park.

I see the same thing happening all over town with handicapped parking permits. People park in those spots and run to the store. It's sad to say but as with everything it takes a handful to ruin it for everyone. At the same time, I shouldn't have to wait in line for an hour while people abuse the system and go around me. Disney is making it as fair as possible.

September 23, 2013 at 11:54 AM · I am rather naive because I could not believe it when I read how people were hiring disabled people to get them the passes so they could go first. I have a genetic condition that doesn't allow me to walk or stand for long, long periods or I literally will collapse. We have been long term Disney World visitors since our daughters were youngsters and never abused anything let alone try to look like we needed a wheelchair. Now that I have this condition and need to be in a wheelchair is when the craziness started with these non-disabled people abusing the system. I agree Disney had to do something about this, but it sure does seem that they need to think it through a little more carefully. I even brought my handicap paperwork with me the last time we came (which was the first time I needed to be in a wheelchair) because I thought Disney would ask for some sort of proof of my needing the pass. Too bad the good, honest people have to suffer due to the oddballs and dishonest people in this world.

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