As Disney prepares a replacement for Guest Assistance Cards, here's how we got into this mess
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
To the person who posted:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I think the disabled tour guides will have to find another source of income....
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
FYI Universal has GAC cards too. They will change their policy soon after disney most likely.
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.
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?
"That is by far better than this, take your photo crud. Hopefully Disney will rethink this process and make changes.
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.
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.
From 22.214.171.124 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.
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.
Universal already has a system like this in place, they've had it for years actually - since at least 2010.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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"
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.
"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.
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?
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
"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."
My son is Deaf, visually impaired, intellectually disabled, and has epilepsy. And he loves WDW.
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.
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.
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
126.96.36.199 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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-
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!
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.
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.
BTW, comments posted on here by Cast Members, while not invalid opinions, don't reflect all CMs or Disney.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
i just spoke to WDW tonight and they said that there are no changes to the GAC. It is however, "under review."
All of you people with your individual issues and reasons why you should receive preferential treatment obviously don't get it.
"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."
Wow. I am floored by the vast majority of comments. Disheartening and selfish.
Score another one for the jerks who have abused the system at the expense of people who really need assistance.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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?
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.
"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..."
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.
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.
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.
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.......
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
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.
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.
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.
Rich from NYC.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!!
Kudos to you Disney..it'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!!!!!!!!
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!
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 change.org trying to prevent the implementation of this new program-please read and sign if you agree me with. https://www.change.org/petitions/disney-prevent-the-implementation-of-the-disabled-assistance-system
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.
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.
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.
Where to begin . . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
@Summer Time - Amen! More empathy in the queues are always welcomed.
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.
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 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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