Disney Controversies: The Guest Assistance Card as a Front-of-the-Line Pass

Disney Controversies: The Guest Assistance Card as a Front-of-the-Line Pass

The article below has been re-published with permission from disneylovinspectrummom.blogspot.com.

The Guest Assistance Card (GAC) is intended for use by guests with Special Needs and can be obtained from Guest Relations at any of the Disney theme parks. The GAC is typically utilized by guests with “invisible” disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorders) and it is distributed according to the guest’s specific needs. Guests using wheelchairs or ECVs generally do not require a GAC as their mobility needs are more easily recognized by Cast Members who will automatically direct them to the wheelchair entrance and/or loading area of each attraction.

Disney World Guest Assistance Pass.

Disney World Guest Assistance Card.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, not exactly…

It seems to be a rather common misperception that the GAC is a “front of the line” pass – in fact, I read that very phrase in a recent post by a Disney blogger (who shall remain nameless). This well-intentioned person earnestly advised his readers with special needs to step right up to Guest Relations and get their Golden Ticket, as it were, so they could “go to the front of the line” at all the Disney attractions. This information is completely misleading!

Our family has utilized the GAC during at least seven visits to Walt Disney World and so I am quite familiar with it. Whenever I hear how “lucky” we are that our family can go right on all the rides without waiting I literally have to squelch the impulse to groan and roll my eyes to the heavens.

“The GAC truly is a help, but it really doesn’t get us to the front of the line,” I say patiently. “Actually it gets us to the end of the line – the FastPass or alternate entrance line.” That is because my son’s particular accommodation allows us to utilize an auxiliary entrance because of his autism/sensory issues. The auxiliary entrance may be the FastPass entrance, if there is one.

But, according to PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, the GAC can be issued to guests who require a variety of accommodations:

*Using an auxiliary entrance if you cannot wait in line due to health problems, cognitive disabilities, autism ADHD, and related fears. You’ll still likely wait — possibly even longer than if you’d waited in the queue – you’ll just wait in a different location.

*Waiting in a shaded spot out of the sun if the attraction’s queue has you standing in the sun for an excessive amount of time.

*Using your stroller as a wheelchair in queues and through the same auxiliary entrances that wheelchairs and ECVs are allowed to use.

* Sitting up front at shows if you have visual impairments.

It can be stressful enough planning a trip to Walt Disney World with a family member who has a disability without the added worry that you are being put in the position of asking for special (read: unfair) treatment and will be perceived by others as doing so. The GAC offers reasonable accommodations to people with invisible disabilities and their families so that they can enjoy Disney to the fullest, despite their specific challenges.

I recall having only one negative experience using the GAC at Walt Disney World. Once, while we were being admitted to the FastPass queue after presenting our GAC to the Cast Member a man waiting in the standby queue loudly sneered, “Must be nice!” My husband turned, walked up to him and handed him our GAC.

“Here, Buddy,” he said, “I’ll make you a deal. You can have this card if your son could be autistic for the day and my son could be normal. Then I’ll stand on the longest line Disney’s got and like it.” The guy shut up, quick.

End of controversy!

Thanks Kathy for letting us re-publish this article on our site. To view the original post and learn more about Kathy, click here.

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86 comments
Familyisfirst
Familyisfirst

I live in KY and  have a daughter who has cerebral palsy/quadriplegic and this has been our vacation for the last seven years because they are so accommodating. It not only lets her enjoy more but our other 2 children can enjoy the rides that my daughter can not ride without making her have to wait for very long or separating the family to have to go in different directions. I would gladly change places and wait in the lines with everybody else if I could also change places with them for the rest of the year. Us parents of special needs children have more responsibility, struggles, and stress on a daily basis that parents of healthy children will never know. And trust me when I say this, that when we do go on vacation that it in itself is stressful. How many of you have to make sure you pack tube feeding supplies and enough ensure for how ever many days you stay (she eats every 3 hours), adult diapers and wipes (she is 19, can not walk or talk), not to mention all the medication she is on and the anxiety she gets when she has to sleep somewhere other than her bed. So 5 days to a week, I don't think is to much to ask that our family get a little special treatment. It isn't our fault that people cheat the system. The people with real special needs would be more than willing to fill out some sort of paper or even having something signed by a Doctor. So I obviously don't agree with the policy change. It will only make things more difficult/stressful for the whole family.

FancifulWhimsy
FancifulWhimsy

I too have a child with a disability and was lucky enough to obtain a GAC pass when we went to Disney this past summer.  My child has stage 4 cancer.  Unlike the apparent trend here, however, I realize the real impact of the pass.  It is not a "front of the line" pass ALWAYS, but sometimes it is.  There were only a few instances where we ended up having to wait for any significant amount of time.  Even in those instances, our wait time was slashed by HOURS! 

"It seems to be a rather common misperception that the GAC is a “front of the line” pass...Golden Ticket, as it were, so they could “go to the front of the line” at all the Disney attractions. This information is completely misleading!"  Entitled much?  Don't fool yourself to think the "Fast Pass" lines are anything but a blessing that shaves multiple hours from each line.  That is even if "Fast Pass" is offered.  If there is no fast pass offered, you only have to wait behind other people with the GAC.

People without these passes only get to ride a few rides per day as well.  Not because of any limitations of their child, but because that is all there is time for in the day after spending the entire day waiting in lines. 

I do see the point of the pass and thank Disney for making it available, however, I find the entitled approach in this article to be unbecoming.

Does it make things easier?  Absolutely!  I couldn't imagine having to wait in those long lines with my children.  In fact, I wouldn't go to Disney without one for precisely that reason.  The lines are so long it would take away more fun from the trip than is worthwhile.  I'm sorry if I don't join the pity party for people with children with disabilities.  Life is rough for everyone in different ways.  One thing I have noticed since my daughter's diagnosis, however, that this is a common problem.  Having your child diagnosed with such an illness makes too many people feel like they are owed something.  I am not OWED anything.  Life throws you curve balls.  Every person's curve balls are different.  Don't just assume your child's illness AUTOMATICALLY qualifies that you have a harder life.  You don't know that.

iamdollie
iamdollie

I have been invited to be part of a roundtable discussion with other parents of disabled family or disabled adults all over the US this evening (Tues. 9/24) about the changes to the GAC. The discussion will be a podcast on http://specialmouse.com/ in the near future.  I agree with everything Phil2013 and the Guest have said, and as a discussion group, we're going to figure out how best to contact the Disney company about our concerns.  From what we have learned already, it seems that those with unseen disabilities will be treated the same as those in wheelchairs.  I have myself been told by Disney personnel that if I'm not in a wheelchair I'm not considered to be disabled.  I will have a Special Needs Are Universal post here on OI in the next couple of days about our discussion, so check back!  Also, my husband, disabled adult daughter (physically and mentally) plan to be at Epcot on Oct. 9, the date of the new pass roll-out.  The rumors have been confirmed by Leanne Jakubowski, Director of Social Media, and you can read that email here: http://www.disneylovinspectrummom.com/2013/09/disneys-guest-assistance-card-to-be.html .

Phil2013
Phil2013

And another thing Disney should really think about is extending the passes to include all family members, meaning, if my son is have a sensory issue and only will go on 2 rides (his comfort zone) then the rest of the family be in the same boat. I can not split up my family and have my twin boys wait 1-2hours for splash mountain while I sit with my autistic son waiting for them or wandering around… by the time the day is through my twin boys only get to experience a hand full of rides or events.. I am not being selfish at all but after being a DVC member for 15 years and experiencing this is almost a waste of money to do this. There should be consideration for the entire family of the disabled individual because it effects the entire family.

Phil2013
Phil2013

I completely agree…it is not a get to the front of the line free pass..  having a son with autism and twin boys is difficult enough but being forced to wait on a hour line with a child that has extreme sensory issues completely destroys any magic that Disney works so hard to maintain. If it weren't for these passes my wife and i and our child would go on NO rides at all and we are not LUCKY by any means. If I had the choice of having a child with a disabilities or a neurological typical child I would gladly wait on the 1-2 hour lines with my child, however this is not the case.  This is very difficult on parents and we find no joy in doing this however, what are our other choices?  

Guest
Guest

Very interested in the outcome of this.  I am a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, who will not understand that they will have to wait 75 minutes to ride on the ride, and will not take too kindly being told go see some characters, or watch a parade, or get lunch.  When we go in, he expects to ride on Test Track.  Obviously this program was not instituted with people with developmental delays in mind.  

iamdollie
iamdollie

recal575,  I'm debi dame, the author of the blog "Special Needs are Universal" here on the OrlandoInformer.com.  We were at Disney World on the August 15th and had no problem getting our pass.  However, in the past, as annual passholders, we were given a 2 month period to return on a GAC, but the cast member said big changes were in the works and would only give ours for 2 weeks.   What those big plans are, he wouldn't give me a hint.  

Did you ask to speak with a supervisor?  Did you present a note from your doctor? I always recommend that you do both of these items.  Did you ASK exactly what those new rules are?   I have addressed these issues in several of my articles here on OI.  Please visit these pages:

SNAU: Theme park planning for disabled guests;

SNAU: Visiting Universal Orlando & Walt Disney World with hidden disabilities

I am VERY concerned about these changes because, as the parent of an adult person with Down Syndrome, who is also Autistic and has scoliosis, if it were not for this pass we would not be able to be annual passholders - and we just renewed our passes 3 months ago!  I am also disabled with TWO muscles diseases; my husband cannot push 2 chairs at the same time.  I use my daughter's chair as a walker but am in pain within 2 hours of going through park gates, even with the GAC and frequent rests.  It already bothers me that Disney does not consider those who walk with canes, walkers or other aids as "disabled" even though many are, legally - I was verbally told this by a cast member when I asked why there was no seating available in the disabled parade viewing areas.  Then why do I go?  Because our daughter has few joys she can experience in her life and Disney World and Universal mean the world to her!  As long as the parks can make allowances for families like ours (as is determined by the Americans with Disabilities Act), I will go until I drop! 

And to judd1 - I am sorry I did not see your post.  Please see the post on hidden disabilities that I mentioned above. 

Please know that anyone with disability questions can write to me at [email protected] and I will be happy to find the answers to help you!  Please make sure you put "SNAU" or "disability question" in the subject line in your email. 


rcal575
rcal575

I need advice. I have Scoliosis and I've gotten the GAC card before, but it expired. I just went to Disneyland on 8/19/13 and was denied the GAC card. They said there was nothing they can't do for me. I told them that I've was given a GAC card before. They said they have different rules now. So as a disabled person, what can I do to retrieve a GAC card?

judd1
judd1

Hi, i hope someone knows the answer to my problem, my husband and i are taking 3 grandchildren to disney next year, 2 have ADHD and learning difficulties, i just wondered if we would be able to get guest assistance cards?

kersten
kersten

Karma is right! Sometimes you can't "see" a disability!

OrlandoInformer
OrlandoInformer

UPDATE 1/9/13

Are you looking for assistance with issues related to visiting Orlando’s theme parks with special needs family members? We would like to help! Please visit this blog post for more information.

Mom
Mom

We are planning our first trip to Disney and my 10 year old son will need a GAC card.  He is a normal healthy boy on the outside.  On the inside, he only has half a heart. He has had three open heart surgeries and numerous procedures in the hospital and is on lifelong medication.    The extreme heat or cold bothers him and he gets fatigued easily.  He needs to sit a lot and does not have the stamina or a healthy child.  When rude people make comments about him or roll their eyes at him or say rude things to us, it hurts him.  He is intelligent and very aware of his disability.  He feels bad about himself sometimes due to the hurtful actions of others.  So I hope that all of you who are lucky enough not to have a child or someone in your family with and invisible disability see a child and a family get on a line a little bit before you do, that you hug your child and thank God that you are so blessed that you do not need this card because as many of other people have said before I'd trade places with you in an instant.

Stephanie
Stephanie

I never thought I would be able to go back to Disney and it turns out we get to go back this Spring. It's very expensive and not in our yearly budget but thanks to family we will get to go back. I never heard of the GAC until 2 yrs ago when a friend of mine who is all about Disney and has a son with Autism told me about it. We did Disney (1 day in MK) when the kids were very young and it was a night mare. The last time we were there (2 yrs ago) we had the GAC card and had the best day of our lives.

I know the CM's can't ask for a doctors note or anything but I would be glad to get one to show proof of an invisible disability (even though it's not so invisible all the time!). I just want people to know what it's like to take an autistic child on vacation. Sometimes it's not a vacation to them, they have to be in new surroundings, crowds and even the hotel can bother them, it takes them away from their routines and there is nothing Homey about it. But we have to try new things and let them experience life too. Try to be more understanding of people and maybe you will thank God you and your family are able to do many things that these children w/disabilities can not. :)

iamdollie
iamdollie

Stephanie, bless your heart!  I HAVE experienced meltdowns; my former dil's brother is Autistic and my own daughter has Autistic tendencies, which is where we believe her meltdowns lie.  I also worked for years in an SED center (severely emotionally disabled) and even though I was in the office. had to learn tools on not only how to calm these kids but to protect myself.  It's NOT always a fun life and I appreciate your honesty.

And Tim, you are right about those who are using the system.  Unfortunately, it is against the law for parks to ask the condition of the person requesting the pass.  I've said before, I don't agree and wish special rules could be written to help weed out those who are pretending.  Parks can not ask for a drug script, they can not even ASK for a doctor's note.  If you wish to provide one in order to make your request go more smoothly, that is up to you.  A couple of years ago we met up with my husband's best friend from Virginia.  His wife has end-stage MS, leans over in her chair, can hardly use her hands, let alone her legs.  (Due to the lack of companion restrooms at Universal/IOA, it was disturbing to me to see him have to push or carry his wife into the mens restrooms, but that's another topic.)  We also had another couple come from Yonkers to meet up with us (an Air Force buddy reunion of sorts), so we had 7 people instead of 6.  Universal honestly was NOT going to give her a pass like we had!  They did end up allowing us to have 7 on ours, only because my wheelchair friend would not be able to do a lot of the "rides", accommodations or not.  I really wasn't comfortable having that many people on our pass, because I KNEW how others would look at it, but we did have 2 people in wheelchairs in our party.  We actually only used the pass 4 times that day.

Thanks, OI, for provided this forum for those of us with disability questions and concerns.  To do this may help educate those who have never experienced anyone with the lives we live and I'm hoping that through this, we may begin to see more compassion from the "able" community.  And maybe, those who are "using" it will see that they are NOT helping those who really need the accommodations.  Of course, speeders still speed, tickets or not....

Tim
Tim

I actually think that everyone posting here is in agreement. I don't have need of the GAC card and I certainly wouldn't wish to swap places with those who do, but the problem is the families who abuse the system by using the card just to jump the lines.

I had never heard of the GAC until I read "advice" on another site telling visitors to get one to save waiting in line. It even said which conditions to say one of your party suffered from that couldn't be challenged.

I think the problem lies with Disney who should make more effort to screen out these bogus applications. Most visitors in need of a GAC will be on some form of medication, so why don't they ask to see a bottle of pills prescribed to the guest needing the GAC?  In the few cases where that isn't possible, I'm sure the family could get a letter from their doctor confirming the condition.

If everyone knew that GACs were only available to genuine cases, they would be more sympathetic to those using them.

stephanie
stephanie

I have to say having a child with Autism has been a curse more than a blessing. Yes, I have learned to see the world in a different light, but what my family has been through the last 12 years has been nothing short of torture. Everyday is pretty much guaranteed to be ruined by a meltdown or an argument. Have you ever seen a meltdown from a child/tween w/Autism? I can tell you, you wouldn't want that happening next to you in line and ruining your day anywhere, let alone Disney. I can't tell you how many times I have left a store in tears because my child doesn't have a clue how much $1 or $50 is when he is looking for a small reward or something for having a good day and I have to wrap him like a pretzel in a shopping cart and run out of the store. He takes 3 medications to get through the day w/out being aggressive and sometimes it takes the edge off but he still gets very frustrated over little things. He also is mildly mentally retarded and I have 2 other children who experience these things everyday as well. They can't have friends over and at the ages of 15 and 11, they have been instructed to take care of their brother if need be when they are older. SO MY POINT IS...if we as a family can get a few days of happiness and pleasure by not having to wait as long as you do, I am not going to feel guilty because every other day of the year is a challenge that no one should have to experience. If my life could be as ordinary as my childhood was, I would gladly stand in line with a smile but it's not. If you haven't experienced life with Autism, then you have no idea what it's like. So please don't assume we are using a GAC for a cranky, tired, or fussy child. We are using it to spare you a massive meltdown with possible foul language, hitting and uncontrollable crying for the entire time we are in line. Thank you.

Nicole
Nicole

I think both sides have some vaild points and both sides could be more understanding. I completely agree that there are those who abuse the cards. Personally, I think a Dr. note should be required. Most people with legitamite issues are use to handing over a note to recieve accomodation. This would help others realize that those holding the cards really do need them.

Secondly, I understand how people can get irritated when they hear "I need a pass bc my child gets, tired, cranky, hot, bored, etc. waiting in line." What child doesn't? It seems to me that when it comes down to it, there are people on both sides that don't understand the difference between, not wanting to because it is unpleasant and physically not being able to. This leads to abuse of the cards and assumptions by others that anyone who doesn't look like they are dying must be abusing the card.

Something no one has mentioned yet is that lines at Disney aren't like other parks or carnival lines. Most have interactive exhibits / walls to entertain kids with pre movies, games, and stories. There are numerous things to look at and stimulate a child and hidden mickeys to look for. I actually enjoy most of the lines and usually don't feel like I am "waiting." I'm not saying this means your kid can handle that. For alot of kids this would be too much overstimulation, but some may be able to handle it. For my family, the queue areas are part of the fun, and bipassing them alltogether would make me feel like I was missing out on something, on part of the story. As others have stated, if you plan ahead, you can avoid waiting without any passes. We have walked straight onto almost every ride when we go using touring plans. I'm only stating this because I know a few of you are undecided on if you really need the cards or not. I suggest you get the card, but try the lines first. You may find its not as bad as you think.

Having said all that, those of you who don't want to see teenagers using a GAC, don't go this May. That's when my sister and her friends will be there, and if I catch her and her friends running around and laughing, I'll smile at them and dare anyone to say anything. To look at her, she looks like a completely normal teenager, and you know why that is? Because she's really good at putting on a brave face, smiling and telling everyone she's ok. She doesn't want anyone to worry about her or ruin any one else's vacation. But underneath she's not ok. Kids with disibilities/chronic illnesses are really good at hiding their symptoms beacuse they want everything to be ok. It makes me so mad when I read negative comments about people who are not in wheelchairs or are "obvoiusly fine" using passes, but I understand that this comes from ignorance and not hate.

My sister has Crohn's, a disease with no cure. She will be on meds and in and out of the hospital her whole life. She takes enough medicine to open a pharmacy each day and will never be able to go off it. These are serious drugs, steroids, immunosuppresents, chemo drugs, chemicals and biological agents. She pretty much feels like she has the flu 24/7, and her meds cause horrible side effects like nerve damage, fatigue, nausea, and can even cause cancer. She has to have blood tests done every couple of weeks to monitor the effects of all the meds to make sure they don't permantly damage her organs. She physically can't be in direct sunlight due to the meds she takes. Her energy level is zero, and my worst fear is that we spend a ton of money on tickets and then get there, and she is too weak to do anything but sleep in the hotel room. I know at best we will have a few hours to a half day of park time each day. There will be no getting up early, staying out late, as we have done in the past. I've actually been trying to talk her into going on a different vacation as I don't feel we will be getting our money's worth this trip. So like others have stated, I'll trade your being able to spend the whole day at the park while waiting in line to my few hours we will manage before she is too exhausted to go on.

So before you judge someone maybe think about my story for a sec. My sister has all her arms and legs, her hair, she walks and talks, jokes and smiles, she looks completely normal but that doesn't mean that she is. You are seeing her "public face." You don't see her private one. You don't see her in the hospital or missing going out with friends or going to school events because she can't physically handle it. You don't know that due to her meds she will get sick if she is in the sunlight, or that she can't physcially stand or walk for long, or that she has to have quick easy access to bathrooms and can't be trapped in a confined area without an exit. You don't know that she may have spent all night up sick or even hemorraging as she did on our last vacation or that debilitating cramps might hit her at any second making it impossible for her to stand as also happened on our last vacation.

So, yes, we will get a GAC. We may not use it all the time, but it will be there if we need it. We aren't looking for the front of the line; we are looking for accomodations to meet her needs. We need a shaded area to sit and wait that will allow us to leave and go to the bathroom and then come back. We don't mind waiting. I really do like the queue areas, but that is just not an option for us this trip. So next time one of you sees a kid / teenager / adult who is "obviously abusing" the GAC, maybe you want to think twice about if you'd be willing to switch places with them or not. Are you so very sure they are healthy because I'm sure my sister would love to trade her health for yours.

pippa
pippa

my husband and I are taken my son and daughter to Disneyland,first time. My son sadly has autism. My daughter however doesn't and she is ok with waiting but obviously gets cranky and tired just like any child does. However my son finds it painful to wait,not just in ques but waiting is a foreign thing to him. Even the shortest waits can have him in tears,he just doesn't understand what wait is and for those who say 'explain it then' • my son has a mental age of a toddler,explain that to a toddler? But I've decided to first try the regular lines with my son and if it is excruciating for him,I will ask for a pass which I find hard  due to ignorent others. I will not go straight to guest services before trying the regular lines,though waiting for 1 minute at a small holiday resort fair was a great deal for him

 

Xx

Tracey
Tracey

I have to come to Matt's defence........sort of. I am speaking from PERSONAL experience so there is no need to jump down my throat based on what I heard and saw. While planning my last Disney trip, many friends explained that I should bring my elderly father (who cannot walk) along so that we could take advantage of the short lines. That's a great idea......the man can't stay out in the sun for more than 20 minutes because he will pass out and driving in the car makes him vomit. So sure, lets go to Disney dad!! NOT. But to my surprise, a dozen or so aquaintances did just that. One person rented a motorized scooter in Orlando but had no disability at all. Short lines for his party of 14. Considering he was sitting down, he could have handled the regular lines on most rides.

I watched a woman who was morbidly obese and had to use oxygen to breathe get wheeled straight up to the front of the boarding area with her party of 8. No fast pass lane, no waiting. Come to find out, she ate herself to that size and smoked like a chimney. Glad she found her reward!!

On another note though, I have watched people with Down syndrome wait in regular lines. I've watched kids with autism wait in regular lines. There will always be people who will abuse the system. And if you don't believe the pass is called the Golden ticket, just do a google search some time!!!!

Eric
Eric

Hello, I am taking my family of 6 to Disney world for Christmas. I have my 9 yr old daughter that has ADD and we have trouble keeping her focused and has anxiety when waiting in lines. We usually avoid places like this because she gets stressed out. Will Disney help us out with the GAC if we request it?

Dan
Dan

Here's the thing: the "Alternate Entrance" stamp on the GAC is basically an fully unlimited Fastpass. And unless there's a downtime, fastpass lines average 5-10 minute waits (Toy Story, Soarin', being two exceptions off the top of my head). MK and Studios no longer give out the wheelchair stamp alone - they are now required to be accompanied by the "Alt. Entrance" stamp, so little Johnny with his sprained ankle - even though he is perfectly fine sitting in a wheel chair and requires no other accommodations gets the unlimited fastpass stamp. GACs are even sold on 192, online, given to relative and/or neighbors (true story). The problem is not accommodating those who truly need it. The problem is that those with disabilities are supposed to be treated equally as everyone else. Not worse and not better. However, that it exactly what this card does: treats some people better than others.

AC
AC

For those with legitimate mobility impairments, I see no problem with the GAC.

HOWEVER, for those of you who have kids who "get bored or frustrated in long lines", who "get anxious and impatient in large crowds", and who "don't like standing in the heat for extended periods of time", I have three words for you: Join. The. Club.

I don't know a single human being alive who doesn't suffer from those "symptoms". You people are also tremendous hypocrites; you insist that you want "equal treatment", but then have no problem lecturing other people about your "disabilities" while you sit in the shade and enjoy your special treatment...

Melady
Melady

We are going to Disney in Dec and I have a child with CP who cannot sit, walk, or talk and is developmentally delayed AND my young son is autistic. Going to parks would be utterly pointless for my children if there werent any accomodations. I wonder if I should get a T Shirt that days "Autistic" for my son so people dont question us, I think my daughters wheelchair and the fact she  is a bobble head should make it clear she is disabled. How about the fact my daughter who has less function than a 2 yr old has to pay full price despite an 18 month old gets in for free. WHat is the difference? And when we bring a personal care attendant who is paid to care for my daughter, that person needs to have a ticket too, you dont have to pay for a service animal, the PCA is the arms and legs for my daughter. THe park benefits in that the PCA will spend money to eat!

lisa
lisa

hi my son is 13 next year when we go disneyworld - even though you cant tell by looking at him - he does have  a disability . he was born with meninjatas and has affected him throughout his life -he has a poor memory - gets fusstrated very easyily , gets bored in que - cant stand still for long without getting bad tempered because he,l forget why hes in the q in the first place so will constanstly ask the same questions over and over.

will this entiltle him to a pass? what docoments will we need to how? he goes to a special needs school so has a sp statement ?

thanks lisa

Jen
Jen

I'm not a parent nor do I have anything that would require a GAC but it seems like a wonderful thing.  I see many children with a variety of sensory issues at my job (we even offer a night were things are turned down or off for them.)  I actually enjoy seeing the parents a bit more these nights because they can relax a bit.  When their child has a meltdown, the other parents aren't going to stare at them as though they are terrible parents.  I've heard from a few people with kid who are autistic that it is the simple things that get them through some days.  If this card makes a trip to Disney just a teeny bit more enjoyable for the family, I don't see the issue.  Especially since an outsider is only seeing the child at that moment (like the one parent described how her daughter's anxiety would drop just seeing the cars) and not what they can be like when they are waiting or something sets off a sensory issue.  I would gladly let a family with one of these cards (whatever the issue may be) on ahead of me.  Its Disney.  Let the children (and parents) have a moment of happiness.

 

and to "art", I would love to met your son!  I've had some wonderful conversations with kids who have Downs.  They are amazing people.  I bet your son is as perfect as you describe.  Have a magical visit in December!

Heather
Heather

I have lived here for 3 years. I do get different reactions from different cast members. Which makes it wishy washy how some give certains stamps and others say it is not needed only to get all they way there and have to go back because the proper stamp was not given. I do get looks when using the card, I have heard you all look fine. Well, good for you, I do not need to tell every grumpy person in line why I have my card. PERIOD! You dont have to live with my medical issues or my kids medical issues. If you have disabilities and chose not to take the card good for you. ANd if you use it, fine also. As for spliting up a family because some is upset your family can be you?? seriously? should I let my 4 year old go alone because someone is offened? I think not. As for 8 plus people. The card says 6. If a cast member let someone in with more, ask the cast member. Dont intimadate the family. geez! It seems some people that don't have to deal with major medical issues just do not get it. I agree with the other poster... KARMA.....

Fred
Fred

I've been doing a lot of research on this subject lately as we are considering taking my special needs nephew next time we go.  What strikes me most is that many people could do without the hastle and stares of a GAC if they planned their trip a little better.  I went with a 2,4,6 and 8 yo in August.  Hot and crowded!  We refused to wait in a line listed as longer than 20 minutes.  The only thing we truely missed out on was Toy Story - it had just opened at the time - the line for a fast pass was longer than 20 minutes and standby line was well over an hour.  Between getting there first thing, using fast passes and child swap, and researching touring plans before hand we did basically everything we wanted to with limited wait.  Please don't flame me as I realize some people just can't do certain things and the GAC is essential, but what I'm saying is there are other ways to get the same benefits for many people without a GAC - especially when it seems thag GAC usage can be Cast Member specific.

As to the abuses some people talk about, they are everywhere.  I know of a person who uses a relatives car with handicap license plate during the holiday's to get better parking even when the relative isn't with them.  She's said, "Nobody is going to question me because they don't want to look like a jerk and have it be an "invisible" disability."  I feel for people who truely need accomidations and they aren't there for them to use because people who didn't need them abused the system.  The fact of the matter is you can let it bother you and have it truely be an abuse of the system or risk that it bothers you and find out the person truely needs the special accomidations.  Why worry so much about judging others?  Why not just enjoy the ride!

Harold
Harold

I know that the GAC can be truly beneficial to so many needed families, but my complaint is that like all things it is over-abused.  For example, my sister just emailed me asking if she should pay $75 for the use of someone's GAC card for a couple of days.  I told her emphatically no way.  That is a special pass only to be used by people with disabilities, but I bet that happens so, so much.  That is why when I see a group of teenagers who are all laughing, running from ride to ride with one of these passes I get a little ticked off, because I bet you that there are way too many abuses of this pass.  Also, there is a whole range of disabilities.  My son has ADHD, but I wouldn't think that diagnosis would equate the need for use of this pass.  I think people have got to evaluate their own individual circumstances and really be honest with themselves and not just an excuse to have a front of the line pass.  Nobody wants to stand in a two hour line and thank goodness that Disney had the foresight to create FastPass and I'm sure every group could find an excuse to say well I have a really bad back, bad knee, etc.  The GAC pass is truly designed for a small group of people with significant disabilities and not for everyone who has a complaint.  Also, for those people who sell their GAC passes for others to use - shame on you.  By the way, there are many great books designed to help entertain you while you are in line.  Also, create new friends while in line.  The lines are part of the whole Disney experience - don't fear the line.

Everyone have a magical Disney day.

paisleyk
paisleyk

@FancifulWhimsy 

Fanciful, just wanted to give you a ((hug))  Take care

concerned
concerned

I agree 100%. Everyone struggles in some way or another--that's just life. Your life (not your life, Fanciful--I am addressing the opponents of the new DAS program) may be complicated and negatively affected by the fact that you have a child with a disability (be it physical, emotional, cognitive, etc.) but who are you to say that your life is so much worse or harder than someone else's? Consider, for example, a mother whose child has died; a child whose parent was murdered; a victim of sexual or physical abuse; etc. We all have crosses to bear and claims that those without a sick family member have it any easier are sometimes totally inaccurate.

I have yet to hear of a situation (among all of these sob stories) wherein a physical/emotional/mental ailment cannot be reasonably accommodated by the provision of a "FastPass"-type card that allows guests to wait out the queue in a more comfortable and less crowded location. 

With the exception of an end-stage terminal patient (specifically, a "Make a Wish" participant), a guest's physical disability should not entitle him/her to a front-of-the-line pass; it should just entitle him or her to reasonable accommodations.  

What's next, a financially-challenged person skipping the lines because he can only afford to visit Disney World once every 10 years and is therefore owed the opportunity to experience everything during this one visit in order to make up for the fact that he cannot vacation again for a decade? Heck, while we're at it, let's let the Blacks and Jews skip the lines too--like the poor disabled Americans, they, too, are/were historically prone to persecution, injustice and unfairness.

We begin a descent down a slippery slope when we start comparing our trials and tribulations; such topics are, in my opinion, better left to God or no one at all.


Guest
Guest

I have ADHD, it's not a disability...get a fastpass

Tim
Tim

"Unfortunately, it is against the law for parks to ask the condition of the person requesting the pass.  - Parks can not ask for a drug script, they can not even ASK for a doctor’s note"

I had no idea - I now see the problem facing parks management.

I guess I'm part of the "able" community, and the best advice I'd give to anyone observing those you think shouldn't be using the GAC - believe in Karma - I won't even park in a disabled space at 6am when the car park is empty because I don't ever want to be in a position where I need to use one!

Tracy B
Tracy B

Tim said:

"I think the problem lies with Disney who should make more effort to screen out these bogus applications. Most visitors in need of a GAC will be on some form of medication, so why don't they ask to see a bottle of pills prescribed to the guest needing the GAC? In the few cases where that isn't possible, I'm sure the family could get a letter from their doctor confirming the condition."

It is against the law for Disney to ask to look at prescription bottles or to require a doctors note. Even if they could do that, how would a Cast Member be able to determine who could get the GAC? Unless they were a doctor or had a pharmacy degree that information would be useless to them.

Is there abuse? Definitely, but in the grand scheme of your vacation (the general you not specifically Tim) with your family/friends shouldn't people be more concerned about having a good time rather than who is using a GAC?

iamdollie
iamdollie

pippa, I SO understand what you are saying.  Please read my other posts above as so you can see what I've already said about my Downs daughter.

Take a doctor's note with you (although it's not required) and get the pass from the beginning.  It's not fair to your son or your family to do otherwise.  You DESERVE to have a happy day, just like everyone else.  It's a real shame that so many have chosen to take advantage of something that was meant for children and adults like our family members.  Our society has just become one of "me first" and take what you can get anyway you can, so it puts us at a real disadvantage many times.  There ARE older adults who should also be granted the "golden pass" as enjoying a trip to a theme park, but some people don't think the elderly has the right to even be there.  Both Disney and Universal are VERY strict about the number of people who may enter the fast pass/express pass lines on a GAC and that limit is 6.  When people see parties of 14, it's probably NOT the disabled pass that's being used but those that have PAID for special escort or even the Express Passes that Universal now sells instead of offers free like Disney still does.  If there's a person in a wheelchair they "assume" that it's the GAC being used.  Unless they have actual knowledge, spoken with the party or KNOW them, I take these statements with a grain of salt and I do NOT let their comments make me feel badly about my family member!  I have learned many valuable lessons from my daughter, had moments of sadness but also many of great joy in what she has accomplished.  It's taken her 30 years but she finally can put on her own shirt!!!  She will never date, marry, have children, go to college, run a race or do most of what those who make those thoughtless comments take for granted.  That's one thing I've seen growing in our society - a lack of compassion for those around them.    I'd give the world to have my daughter understand WAIT!!!  But it means no more than "pick up your toys" does.  Sure, there are Autistic and Downs people waiting in regular lines but they have higher levels of functioning than our children.  It makes a great deal of difference, but there are some who just will never understand, just like our kids!

Take your son and family and have a GREAT DAY!  Smile at those people who frown at you - they'll never understand anyway.  It's their loss, not yours.

Tracy B
Tracy B

Eric, to lessen the waits for your family I suggest a couple of things:

- A good touring plan, something like www.touringplans.com . With a paid subscription they have plans you can follow to map out your day in the parks, they have a crowd calendar to let you know which parks to avoid on what day, and they have a phone app called Lines which can let you know the wait times of each attraction while you are in the park.

-  Get to the parks at rope drop if you can, it is easier to get things done within the first couple of hours of park opening than latter on in the day.

-  Use the fastpass system.  It is free and gives you a time frame to come back and go through the fastpass line instead of waiting standby.

iamdollie
iamdollie

Having raised a son with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), it is not considered a disability but is a condition.  Kids with ADD usually have high IQs are not mentally disabled, say, like Downs syndrome.  They are able to understand "wait" and all other behaviors that all humans experience.  ADD is like a short in the brain, making it difficult for the person to focus on just one of the many tracks going on in thinking processes at the time.  We always waited in the regular lines with our son and used the waiting as an opportunity to help him overcome his being distracted.  Actually, this can be a great tool because it helped him adjust to what is expected of adults, to wait patiently.  Take a favorite book, involve her in conversation, ask her questions about what she sees around her.   ADD does not normally have the physical outbursts seen in those with ADHD.  We only used the mediation with our son long enough for him to understand what it felt like to be in control of those tracks, to pick and choose the one he needed to focus on at the time.  I know - I have it and was raised in a time when the disorder did not exist as a learning condition.  I was always being told to "pay attention" and I would do it IF someone could only tell me HOW!  I developed my own tools when I was in high school, many of those tools are used today with ADD kids, by the way.  I played music while I studied - kept me from hearing all the outside noises when I needed to focus on what I was reading.  I still use many of the tools I developed now because I am also easily distracted and can't stay on focus sometimes.  But as a parent, I would NOT use the GAP pass in this instance.  I know when we did do something like that our son took it to mean we didn't trust HIM to be able to do it on his own, it made him feel handicapped when, in fact, it is NOT a handicap.  I KNOW the difference because I have a Downs daughter who, to this day, throws fits in the car when we stop at a traffic light because she just want to keep moving and she does not understand we can't and this carries over to waiting in any line, be it at a theme park or the grocery store.  Please - do not make your daughter EVER feel disabled with ADD because she is anything BUT that!  Just my take on this since I've lived with both ends of the spectrum....

art
art

"The problem is that those with disabilities are supposed to be treated equally as everyone else. Not worse and not better. However, that it exactly what this card does: treats some people better than others."   ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!    And let me ask you Dan,  are you one of those people who stare at my son who has Down Syndrome??  if so then YOU are the problem!   "this card treats some people better than others."....your damn strait it does!  I bet your one of those families who moans and complains when I show the GAC pass....and my 2 daughters and my son, walk right by you.  I will make you a deal..Dan...walk one day in his shoes and i will never again ask for the GAC.   Oh by the way..we will be there from December 11th thru the 19th just in case you want to meet and apologize to him.  most likely riding Pirates of the Caribean over and over.

Ann Onimous
Ann Onimous

@AC How about our children with type 1 diabetes? Do you know what heat does to the insulin which they need to live?  It's not that we don't like standing in the heat for long periods of time.  This kind of thing is detrimental to their health.

DiNap44
DiNap44

AC,

Some disabilities do not affect a child's mobility nor are they apparent at first glance. As a parent of a 16 year old son who was diagnosed with Asperger's Sydrome at the age of 3, his issues are not external. So without the commendations Disney provided he would not have been able to enjoy the our trip. I won't go into great details but long exposure to crowds causes mental & physical pain. And that just one of his issues. So try to be understanding if you see a family jump the line. You may not see the disability but I can almost guaranty it's there. And when you think about it what's the cost to the people who need to wait a little longer so a child with a life long disability can enjoy the park.

Btw, to get a disability fast pass at Disney you need to provide a letter from your primary health provider explaining why the pass is needed and proof the disability such as a IEP which is services provided to the child in their school system issued by the your state's board of education. So in other words, they don't just hand them out at the front gate.

Sidebar: not to leave Universal out, the Express Pass was a god sent.

Tom

Bill
Bill

Melady,

You made me laugh when you said "bobble-head."  Your sense of humor and your ability to laugh at your adversity is a sign of strength.  Good for you.

I can totally understand your issue with your PCA in the park.  It was a strategic decision to charge everyone to enter and not check wristbands or take tickets at every ride.  For the large majority of people, not having to juggle tickets at every ride is a blessing.  For you, it's a curse.  I really don't see any way around that, unless they offer a discounted ticket price for your PCA who is specifically present not as a family member but who is caring for one of your children.  But that's a tough one for the park, and it's ripe for abuse.

Heather
Heather

One more thing for the grumpy people that just do not understand. There have been MANY times my wait is LONGER. To accomodate me. It is not a front of the line pass. And sometimes, we have waited in shaded areas to join in when its our turn. EVEN when YOU didn't see it.

pippa
pippa

Thank you for your reply.:)

Its very hard to live with a child with autism even harder when you have the world judging and assuming. I am a very honest person,if a shop keeper gives me too much change, I would tell them. I don't abuse things or take things for granted but if there is something which can help my son then I would love for him to have it. Its ashame that we have to be terrorized  by ignorence in order to have it. I'm a sensitive person and what people think about me matters though I really wish it didn't. Its unfair to those like yourself and I who generally do need the assistance and do really appreciate it.

I think as a society we need to have faith in the good,this would help those who do need the pass but it would benefit ourselves also as our hearts and minds will not be angered,upset or untrustworthy-all feelings which don't help one self especially when your spending the whole day at Disney! :) x

iamdollie
iamdollie

Darn, Art.  I couldn't have said it better!  Would have written sooner but I've been busy for 2 months putting my daughter through tests to rule out cancer.  We finally got all back and cancer has been negated, so we can once again hit the parks and annoy those people who aren't lucky enough to have a special needs person in their lives so they can get a GAC!!

Tracy B
Tracy B

Tom, I completely agree with you about hidden disabilities and the need for the GAC.

I need to clarify some things. The GAC is NOT a "disability fastpass". It is a card that states the needs of the name of the person on it.

Also you do not need a letter from your doctor or an IEP. Disney CM's can not ask for proof and do not use paperwork to determine if a GAC is needed. They do not hand them out at the gate, you have to go to guest service with the person in need of the card and state what needs you have.

DiNap44
DiNap44

Tracy,

You are right. GAC is not a disability fastpass. I only used that description because we were allowed to use the "Fast Pass" lines instead of waiting which helped alot. On the subject of proof, we were informed by our Disney travel planner to have a letter from our doctor just in case because of our son's diability not being obvious. We bought along a copy of the IEP just in case being overally prepared parents (it comes with the territory). But as my wife reminded me after I wrote my last post, Guest Services did not ask us for written proof, only that our son was present.

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