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Details of Disney’s New Accessibility Program Replacing Guest Assistance Cards

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003On October 9, 2013, Walt Disney World and Disneyland will implement a new program for guests with accessibility concerns in the parks. There have been rumors of a new system coming for the last year or so, and Disney has cited abuse of the program one of the major reasons for the change, especially with recent news coverage. This has been a controversial topic on many blogs over the last few weeks, with much speculation about what the new program would bring. Cast Members at Walt Disney World have been going through training on the new system, and we got some details on how it will work.

First, I want to go over how the current (until October 9) Guest Assistance Card program works. Many have referred to this as a “front of the line pass,” and that just isn’t really true. Guests with concerns about accessing rides would visit Guest Relations, explain their needs to the Cast Member, and then (if needed) the Cast Member would provide a Guest Assistance Card. The Cast Member would then fill out information on the card such as guest name, party size, dates valid (either length of stay or two weeks), and would then mark it with a stamp (or stamps) outlining the guests needs. There was a stamp for alternate entrances, to provide a shaded waiting area, front row of ride vehicle, and so on. There was also a “green light” stamp that was used for children on Make-A-Wish Foundation trips and provided more immediate access.

The most common use of the card was for alternate entrances. While sometimes these alternate entrances were just the FASTPASS queue (hence people calling it “front-of-the-line access,” despite often having up to 20 minute waits), guests unable to use stairs or who needed a special ride vehicle were often sent to a different load area that often had much longer than average waits. Especially with rides with only one accessible vehicle (like Toy Story Mania, it’s a small world, and Kilimanjaro Safaris), the alternate entrance waits could actually be much longer than the standby line.

Not only did the FASTPASS queue entrance leave the program open to heavy abuse, but the long lines at other alternate entrances caused a very uneven set of experiences for guests. The new system looks to both end (or at least curtail) abuse and create a more consistent experience for all guests.

There are three new systems being introduced to replace the Guest Assistance Card program: the Disabilities Assistance System (DAS), the Wishes Lanyard, and the Readmission Passes (for wheelchairs).



On the surface this appears to be what replaces the Guest Assistance Card (GAC). DAS originally stood for “Disabilities Assistance System,” and it is what most people have used to refer to the new program. However, Disney has concerns regarding use of the term “disability” and is looking to change the name before launch to something like “Disney Accessibility System.” Though the final name isn’t known yet, the DAS acronym is expected to stay the same. The card will be similar in size to the previous GAC but will be green instead of red (or blue at Disneyland). On the right half of the card are several things printed (not hand-written):

  • PHOTO ID & NAME- The process to get the new DAS card will take about 20 minutes the first time because Disney now requires a photo on the card. This is to make sure the person who is meant to use it is actually there. The only exceptions are: A) a parent can have his or her photo taken in lieu of their child’s (the child’s name would still be the one listed), or B) you can refuse the photo altogether, but you must show a valid photo ID (like a driver’s license) upon presenting the DAS at each attraction.
  • DATE RANGE- DAS cards will last for up to 7 days. If you are staying longer than a week, you must get a new one after the first 7 days.
  • PARK- A feature staying the same from the GAC: Guest Relations writes which park you received your DAS.
  • NUMBER IN PARTY- Guest Relations has already lifted the rule that each GAC/DAS can only accommodate a maximum of 6 guests. Now your party size will be printed on the card. However, Disney will still try to limit it to a maximum of 6.
  • NO STAMPS- Gone are the stamps to accommodate for “alternate entrance,” “front row,” and the like. All DAS cards are created equally.

If you look on the front left half of the DAS card, there is now a contract very similar to what one might find in the fine print on the back of a park admission ticket. Things like “we are not responsible for the weather,” “attractions may unexpectedly close at any time,” and “non transferable or redeemable” are there, plus things like “this does not grant you admittance into the park” and “this is not a FASTPASS; that system is meant to be used in tandem but separately from this system.” At the bottom the guest has to sign the card. That way if a guest is found abusing the system, Guest Services can revoke the privilege for breaking the rules the guest agreed to. Also, in the bottom left corner is a QR code that Guest Services can scan. It will pull up your information the next time you need to get a new DAS card, making it a faster process than the first time. Eventually this should also be linked to your MyMagic+ account, but this is probably still a while off.

On the back of the DAS card, you will find a grid that guests familiar with Universal Orlando’s accessibility system will recognize. There are enough spots for about 30 attractions visits (if you fill them up, you will need a new card), and the columns are labeled “Attraction,” “Posted Time,” “Current Time.” “Return Time,” and “Cast”. The way this works at Walt Disney World is the greeter Cast Member at each attraction (NOT special kiosks, as has been rumored) will take the current wait time, subtract 10 minutes, add it to the time on the clock and tell them to come back at that time to enter an alternate entrance. For example, if the wait at Space Mountain is 60 minutes at 3:00 pm, the guest would be told to come back at 3:50 pm to enter the FASTPASS line. This also works at continuous shows, too: if the next show of Voyage of the Little Mermaid is 2:45 pm but the Cast Member knows the last person in line will get into the 3:15 pm show, he’ll tell the guest to come back for the 3:15 pm show. Again, this is to have the guest wait the actual length of time everyone else is waiting while also accommodating the guest’s needs. The guests can go eat lunch or see a show while they wait for the time to come up, and then come back any time after their return time. Guests can only get one return time for an attraction at a time (just like with FASTPASS). If they have a Soarin’ time, but also want to get a Test Track time, they either have to ride Soarin’ first, or the Test Track Cast Member will cross out and void their Soarin’ time and give them a new Test Track time.

On the “Cast” line Disney Cast Members are going to have a code word of the day at each attraction. For example, At Splash Mountain, Monday might be “Briar,” Tuesday “Falls,” etc. There has also been talk of different colored pens and hole punches in the future. This is all to help combat forgeries.

Disneyland’s system will be very similar except that instead of visiting each attraction for return times, guests will go to a central kiosk where a Guest Relations Cast Member will issue their times.



Previously, Give Kids the World and Make-a-Wish were given GACs with a green traffic light stamp. This meant “go out of your way to accommodate them as best you can.” For example, at character meet and greets there is no alternate entrance for GACs. However for green lights they would either send them through the exit (if it was an indoor meet) or allow them to go in front of families waiting. Now, they will not get a DAS card but a “Wishes Lanyard” with a picture of the Genie from Aladdin on it. It will also have the guest’s name, date range, and party size on the back, and it will still have the same privileges as the green light stamp on the GAC. The guest will receive the lanyard before arriving at the park (most likely by mail). Currently, it is my understanding there will not be any of these given out on property.


#3= READMISSION PASSES (for Wheelchairs)

Most queues these days are wheelchair accessible, but there are still about 10 attraction queues in all of WDW that are not. (Most are in Magic Kingdom; Star Tours is another example). Therefore, if guests cannot exit their wheelchairs or stand in those lines for the posted wait time, a Cast Member at the attraction will give them a card about the size of a FASTPASS with a return time (exactly like the DAS), and when they return they’ll be sent in through an alternative entrance. Again, this is to make them wait the time allotted without actually waiting in the queue.


Beginning October 9 any guest showing a Guest Assistance Card at an attraction will have the card taken away and will directed to Guest Relations to get a new DAS card. Due to the backlash Disney has already received, there will be extra security stationed at all Guest Relations for the next several weeks.

As with any changes there will be growing pains. Please remember that the front line Cast Members who are working the attractions or providing cards in Guest Relations are not the people who made these changes. If you try the new system and find it frustrating or have any other issues, please do not take it out on the Cast Members in the parks; they are just doing their jobs. Email Guest Communications at wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com with any concerns.

We plan on trying out the new program on launch day and will update the post with our experiences.


UPDATE: Disney released official information! On October 4, 2013, Disney published a Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card Fact Sheet online for the new program that takes effect at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World on October 9. There also is a Disney Parks Blog post that includes a letter to guests from Meg Crofton, President, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France.

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134 thoughts on “Details of Disney’s New Accessibility Program Replacing Guest Assistance Cards

  • The comments for this thread have run their course. We will have more information on the DAS program when it’s up and running.

  • I have always enjoyed this blog and forum because it has always been upbeat, fact based, and generally troll free. This has never been a debate forum, which I appreciate.

    Please touring plans staff, step in and encourage posters to express their comments and concerns and leave the debates and trolling other places. Someone over at the other sites, will be happy to engage and take their bait…promise.

    • Ginny, did you notice that sometime mid-day on October 2, Scarlett stopped responding to comments? This is because Touring Plans terminated her job. I don’t know why, just that it happened. Maybe because of this, the comments have become ruder because there is no one monitoring this article and comments section anymore.

  • Duffybear-I apologize, I had you confused withs someone else. That last comment was not directed towards you.

    • Thanks Marybeth. My family is in the same boat as your family.

  • Hey Duffybear and Helen, How dare you suggest that my child shouldnt go to Disney because they cant wait in line? When you get old, how about we take away your license because you drive 20 in a 55 and take 4 hours to make a turn? No? Of course not!! The other drivers will, as decent people do, *accommodate* you by waiting, painfully waiting, behind you. Thats life. Its called being a human being and respecting others. Try it. We all have a place here, and at Disney. Oh and if either one of you would like to borrow an autistic child for a day and try and use some of that “good old fashioned tough love parentin you all keep talking about to teach them how to wait in lines, (btw thanks for the suggestion, Id never even thought of that–genious!!) leave your address we will be happy to oblige. Ill be anxious to see how that works out for ya.

    • This must have been a very difficult decision for Disney to make. Most of the feedback thus far has been negative, but I suspect that is due to the fact that the vast majority if people who will take the time to post a comment about it online are people who are negatively affected by it. I suspect that from a vox populi standpoint, most of the feedback would be positive.
      Of course there are going to be people who are negatively impacted by this, and indeed, it’s a sad situation. But, in Disney’s defense, they had to take some kind of stance. They were getting blasted with negative press after the report earlier in the year about people cheating the system. I’m still surprised that they went as far as they did, but they had to do something; they had to draw a line in the sand somewhere. What about the person who is diagnosed with a General Anxiety Disorder? What about the person who gets “stressed out” by standing in long lines? It might seem silly or trite, but I’m willing to bet that you’d find a litany of doctors who would be willing to diagnose someone with a GAD. Should Disney accommodate those people with a GAC?
      I don’t envy the position they were put in with this, but I feel like they handled this fairly.

    • I didn’t want to get into this, but my jaw literally dropped to the floor when I read your comment, and I just can’t let it go. Did you read what you just wrote?

      Who expects to go to a theme park (*any* theme park) and not wait to get on the rides? And at Disney, that waiting can be on a bench, at lunch, at a show, on another ride… If you expect to be immediately served ahead of everyone else because you ‘cannot wait’, even under these conditions, to me, that’s the very definition of entitlement, whether you are a ‘rich Manhattanite’ or a person in a wheelchair.

      And yes, if someone (even I) were driving 20 in a 55 zone, or taking 4 hours to make a turn, then they should have their driver’s license taken away. Both situations would be highly dangerous.

      • I have never asked that my daughter immediately ride – I have explained to the CM in Guest Relations that she has a difficult time waiting after about 20 minutes, explained her behaviors as well as carrying our doctor’s script for us both. I understand wait – she can’t. We were told to use the FastPass line because it was most accessible for her wheelchair, otherwise we would have had no trouble using the SB line when the wait time was under 20 minutes. And once again, because of the limited number of FastPasses, we didn’t use them to allow them to remain available for normal guests who couldn’t get the GAC. I thought I was doing something kind….

    • Hello Marybeth, I’m sorry, but I could not not comment. If an elderly individual can only drive 20 in a 55 zone, that is not safe for the general public. Everyone must keep up to speed to ensure traffic flow. If an elderly individual cannot keep up, we should provide another way for them to accomplish their goal – perhaps pick them up to drive them to the appointment or store, or provide cab fare, for example. In no situation is the answer to the problem to just starting making up one’s own rules to the road. On a personal note, in a similar situation, we were sideswiped last week by an elderly man driving in a school zone who could no longer properly judge the distance between cars. A car being damaged is not a life-threatening matter, but imagine if he had misjudged the distance between his car and the sidewalk – a child going to school could have been seriously hurt.

      I’m not suggesting your child should not go to Disney, not at all; but I had to speak up to say I adamantly disagree with your following example. It is not the decent thing to continue to do things you are no longer able to do and subject others to endangerment to their loved one’s lives and bodies. I know this point is not related to the DAS, but I hope when you are elderly, please do not drive when you are no longer able to follow the rules of the road. It is an endangerment to not just you, but everyone else you drive past.

  • Im shocked at the negative comments calling special needs parents “whiners.” and we are “playing the victim card.” (I’m looking at you, DISNEY DAD) Tell you what. Parent an autistic child for a day-where almost every moment is some kind of challenge or uphill battle and let me know how youre doing by the end of the day. Then multiply that by 365. You’ll be whining too and feeling like you’d like just a small break. Dont get me wrong, I’d not trade my child in for a typical child for anything! But yeah, its exhausting. We spent $3500 in need of a way we could take a fun family vacation and still include him. And Disney pulled the rug out from under us with NO notice. Im not getting what I paid for with the expectation we would still have access to that GAC pass. If you booked a hotel room at the Ritz and got put at Howard Johnsons, would you be upset? The moral is, I never would have booked this expensive vacation without access to the pass.

    Oh and by the way, Six Flags, Canobie Lake Park in NH, Hershey Park in PA, and now even many carnival operations are taking Disneys lead on the GAC pass. Now that WDW is pulling the plug, others very well may follow suit. Punish the bad people who frauded the system, not us.

    Look, I realize that people waiting in lines for hours seethe with jealousy when they see a seemingly “normal” child hop on the ride right away. You dont see the whole picture, I **assure** you. You want to trade? Id gladly give you my GAC pass in exchange for my child being able to wait in a line for more than 5 minutes without losing it.

    Consider yourself lucky to have children who dont face these challenges. Dont take it for granted. Its not only hard for them, but hard for us parents who have to deal with this type of ignorance every day.

  • This system sounds fine for my needs but I was told if you have a mobility disability this will now refuse you the card and a wheelchair is the only accommodation they will offer…

  • I’ve been reading a thread over at another board with people complaining about not being able to transfer from their wheelchair over to rides like Test Track and Space Mountain. Seriously, people – if your disability is such that it forces you to be confined to a wheelchair for any duration of the day – is it really a good idea to ride attractions such as Space Mountain and Test Track?

    • Some people have lost their legs, not their ability to ride a coaster or a car ride with a seat belt that small children can ride.

    • Careful, Steven. You’re asking for common sense. It’s obviously in short supply. Imagine being the caregiver of someone ill-equipped to handle crowds, sun, overstimulation, mobility and/or dietary needs…and then choosing to take that person to a place where all those issues will be severely tested on a good day.
      The fact that Disney does the best job at meeting all those needs is a testament to their dedication to all guests.
      The fact that so many still choose to whine, even before they have the facts or have used the new system also speaks for itself.

      • Hi Disney Dad – apparently you did not experience the change in the CM’s attitude over the last few months with the GAC. They’ve become very rude & belligerent when the GAC was presented. There’s an ‘everyone is guilty of abusing the system attitude’ that has permeated Disney. We already feel very unwelcome in the parks anymore.

      • Duffy, where is your proof? And why do you waste your time making undocumented claims on this blog, instead of logically taking your issues up with DisneyParks management, the only place where you could possibly hope to get your problems addressed?
        Honestly, what can you possibly accomplish in these comment boards? You continue to go to WDW even though you complain long and loud about it. You offer unsubstantiated anecdotal complaints. Neither you nor anyone else has actually field-tested the new program.

      • Proof – you obviously weren’t in Guest Relations that day with me when I was scoffed at for requesting a renewal for my sister’s GAC. You weren’t humiliated by the CM because your family member has more than just a physical disability, but a life long mental disability at well. You haven’t been with me & my sister when we presented her GAC on attractions in which we were previously warmly welcomed & sometimes escorted to alternate entrances when available only to now receive cold responses, eye rolling and other gestures from CM’s. I’m not guessing or making claims – No – I didn’t video tape the CM’s responses, so I don’t have documentation of these CM’s actions – just experiences that have tarnished the magic that Disney once was for our family.

        I may not have had the opportunity to experience what the new system may have in store, yet just by Disney’s precautions of adding more security to Guest Relations might be an indication that even Disney doesn’t know what the result will be from their new system.

      • DisneyDad, I can see that some people might take offense at your tone, but I completely agree with your point. Disney is *not* a stress-free place unless you have done some planning and have a little patience and a good attitude. If you don’t have these things when you go, then you won’t have a good time. Even 2 year olds can deal with waiting in line for a little while (I see it all the time at Dumbo, Peter Pan, etc., and I’ve done it with my own 2 year old who had issues with activity levels and attention) and Disney has done their best to make the lines interesting for the waiters. Disabled people do not even have to wait in line at all if they use the return time aspect of the card. If that’s a problem… should the child even be going to Disney?

      • Maybe you’re right – perhaps we shouldn’t be going to Disney. Perhaps we should just stay home. We should shun ourselves from society because we have disabilities & can’t participate in activities like normal people.

      • Thank you, HelenB. It has been my experience that people who take exception to “tone” are generally short on facts. 😉
        I am a retired Special Education teacher and parent; I have a lifetime of experience and empathy to spare. I have all the patience in the world for those who do not choose to play the pity card. Life is tough for everyone, unfairly tougher on a few billion people too poor to have access to potable water, let alone afford a Disney vacation.
        I’ll take a wait-and-see approach to their new policies. Meanwhile, I like everything I have read from official Disney sources, so far, knowing that I have family who need assistance when they travel to a Disney Park.

      • I’m not putting words into anyone’s mouth. The GAC controversy has been going on for quite sometime. It has just escalated. Everyone has a right to express their opinion – regardless what it might be on this topic.

  • I am very disappointed at Disney. It truly was the one place we could go and feel special. I have a child with CP in a wheelchair and a child with autism. This system will never work for me. Sadly, Disney is not the place for us anymore.

  • Thanks for all the great information. We are Disneyland AP’s and frequent WDW visitors. We typically never even bother with a GAC card at Dland because they really serve no purpose for us there. We wait in all the same lines, typically longer as we use the WAV vehicles. At WDW, however, it seems like they used the GAC card a lot more to indicate “disabled/needs extra help” no matter what the accommodation on the card said. My 11 YO son is clearly disabled and in a wheelchair, but we would often be asked if we had a GAC card for things like WC seating. No biggie to get one or to flash it, but as I understand the new program, we wouldn’t be eligible for the DAS or it’s not designed for us. I wonder how they’ll handle this moving forward.

  • Can someone please confirm if it will be possible for one parent to go get the return time while the child waits in an entertaining area (fountains anyone?? 😀 ) with the other parent? Then of course, both parents will return with the disabled child to ride the ride at the appropriate return time. Thanks!

  • Thank you for the information. I read another article today that said there would be a central location and you would have to get a new card each DAY…I can only hope your information is accurate.
    In general, I don’t have an issue with the new plan. I think my issue is the change to both GAC and FP at the same time. I would get a GAC for my daughter who has autism but 99% of the time we would use FP~all morning and night. If it was a ride that runs out of FP, we would do that in the morning. But we have used 7-8 sets of FP in a day. So we didn’t use GAC much. But now that we are limited to only 3 FP per day with FP+, I see a greater need for the DAC, which is too bad. I would rather use FP.
    I also want to respond to Gus in terms of waiting in line and having the person meet you. I travel alone with my children. In fact the first time I attempted to get a GAC for my autistic daughter the CM would only give me a card that would allow her~at 10 years old~ to wait~ALONE~in a shaded area until we reached the front of the line. There was no explanation as to how she was supposed to get to me, or who would be responsible for her as I and my 6 year old son waited in line. It was the dumbest thing I have ever encountered at Disney. I subsequently went to another park the next day and got a GAC that would actually work for us. So, to make a short story long, it isn’t always feasible to have someone wait for you while you wait in line.

    • The initial information said there would be kiosks available to receive the return ride passes. A friend was told by a reporter he was informed that there would NOT be kiosks at Disney World, at least not for now.

      It doesn’t surprise me that a CM would tell you that your 10 year old child could wait by herself. Many of the younger CMs don’t seem to have much sense when it comes to young children.

      When we couldn’t find the disabled sign at the Haunter Mansion, I had a CM tell me that as of a certain date Disney was no longer allowed to admit wheelchairs through a different line – that it was a new ADA policy that everyone had to use the same stand-by line!! I knew this to be false, and when I went to Guest Relations to report this, the guy turned beet red and was more than embarrassed that we’d been told that! He couldn’t believe the manager of the ride was telling his CMs to tell that to people and that he’d take care of it. When we went back 6 weeks later, the disabled sign was back, just in a different place and we went a different way. My daughter can’t do the stretch room, so they allow us to go through the staff quarters hallway. I wonder if that will even be gone??

      • Ever since Disney got slammed in the media about the GAC’s, the CM’s started to behave very rudely when we showed them my sister’s card. Some of them even denied us the alternate entrance although the stamp was on her card. One CM in Guest Relations tried to deny her the card altogether even though I was just there to renew her old one.

  • So far your article has been the best written, most accurate on the past and offers the most insight to the future. I am at WDW often with my adult son who has used the GAC the last 10 out of his 30 years. Visiting since age one and obviously disabled since birth but life got more complicated the last decade. We just spent 12 days there, knowing of the change, adjusting our ways. Just the two of us working a practice run if you will. In 12 days we only used GAC 4 times, otherwise worked with the FP+ system which was great to schedule and change as needed. We planned meals, shows, characters and short line rides in between all with backup plans. When our day had to halt or shift gears, all these things were adjusted. The MyDisneyExperience worked great for that. Change is difficult for those like my son, I get that, I know what it can trigger, not fun, sometimes ugly – but that is our life and my job is to help him learn to adjust to life as much as I can because the world won’t change for him.

    Am I mad at Disney? Absolutely not! The system was lax and was abused by the healthy and the disabled alike. The fastpass lines were full of GAC cards. They had to fix it. The “breaking news” of the paid disabled tour guides was all they needed to make the big change. On the whole that was a very small group of people, the real problem was the line out the Guest Relations door of families asking for a GUEST Assistance Card. Nothing in that name says they were or have special needs – just wants. The only way to curb continued abuse is make the process more difficult and less attractive. I’m fine with info in a database, saves me time the next trip. I’m fine with a photo (and believe it should only be the cardholder or abuse continues), he did it at Six Flags, Universal and even the dentist – he knows it’s his ID card. Hopefully this will all merge to a Magicband or RFID ticket in the future – even more secure and private. The less it’s advertised by those who have it, the less others will be aware of it. Yes, it was short notice in announcing the change but again, they had no choice. Look at the response they are getting, imagine that snowballing over several months time. In the end we won’t know how it all works until it’s actually working, tweeked and given some time.

    Will it change trips, yes. We have a new system to learn. We will have to make sure we come the slowest times possible. We will have to prepare him and get creative. We will have to plan while at the same time, plan to adjust the plan. Mostly we will need to be calm, positive and relaxed so that he will not get upset. Even though my son lives for all things Disney, I also realize that trips to Disney World are a luxury with nothing owed to him or our family. While we have always been given many pixie dust memories by the CMs at the World, it is ultimately up to us to make sure he has magical trips!

    NOTE: There were RARE locations that would give you “front of the line” and it was only because there was no fastpass line. Of those we only used the speedway (too much sun on the line). But I can tell you from our trip that everything you can think of is having FP+ machines added. Using exits will be a thing of the past. Lots of new lines installed and it’s not even obvious at most. They have done a great job of blending. Rides, Meet & Greets, Parades, Fireworks, Shows, Restaurant (BOG) and more have them. FP+ is here to stay and we will adjust to that too in time.

    • Phyllis, You are a great mom. From another mom of a son who does not like change, I thank you for your input and tips. I am going to stay informed and try all these things you mention for my family. We love Disney too and look forward to learning the new system; so that abuse can be curtailed and we can keep having our fun!

      • Thank you Mel G. I make lots of mistakes but I try 🙂 Since it was just us two (which in itself can be a challenge esp the companion bathrooms) I decided to be ready each night. I would get him to bed then get out my computer, phone and park map to pencil out our day. I checked the weather, packed my backpack (not to forget the earplugs, medications, ponchos, his autograph book & special pen etc), verified my FP+ and if they needed to be changed for logistics or if we managed to do it already and set reminders for their times in my phone so it would alert me 30 minutes ahead. I took a screenshot of my FP+ so I didn’t have to keep opening my MDE. I doodled on the maps which rides, characters and shows (and showtimes) I anticipated we could handle between the FP+ and where we might like to eat as well. I tried to think through the routes so that we walked as little as possible and accomplished things in a smaller area while we waited for those FP+. I even considered short cuts to not take him by somewhere that might trigger him wanting to do something we def could not at that moment. I scoped out some good snacks that we might get so we could find a quiet spot and chill out. And the ultimate back up plan if we could not go to that park (and it happened one day – total shift of gears.) I actually felt more relaxed heading to the parks knowing we could get a handful of important attractions via FP+ without killing ourselves to get there early. He could sleep in, eat breakfast in the room without a rush, ride the buses when the crowds had passed, go through security (when just me he has to go through bag check) and enter the gate when there was no wait. Of course you never know when all good plans go up in smoke but me being prepared, staying calm, having a thought process to follow with him if needed helped. I think we did very well and the DAS card will only enhance what we were able to do. His most difficult adjustment was that I got the quick service dining plan instead of table service (I wanted to try it) and he really missed those sitdown meals to relax and regroup. I had booked SciFi Dining because eating in the cars is a must each trip for him. He began pointing to some of our regulars halfway through – lesson learned for next time, those meals are important to his day and something I can do to improve future trips. I hope you have many magical visits in your future as well!

    • I truly, truly adore this well written response and can tell it comes from a parent who doesn’t just want her son to enjoy Disney but also teach him about how to live in the world with his disability.

      That’s what I feel I am seeing SO much of in response to the new system…parents who feel their child is entitled to things, parents who feel their child will never be able to deal with change or learn any kind of patience. But it’s also these kind of parents who are really the ones guilty of abusing the system…NOT the very few who paid for the privileges, but the parents who regularly got a GAC and headed straight to the ride never obtaining a Fast Pass and always expecting to get right on a ride with no planning and no back-up to that plan. Will life be full of melt downs for a child who has difficulty waiting or adjusting to change? Yes, but part of the learning process for a disabled child is to learn about the world and how to cope with it. Parents of children with disabilities need to rely less on the phrase, “my child can’t…” What they are capable of will surprise you if you give them the tools and guidance and not rely on a system that will never challenge your child to deal with their disability and grow stronger because of it!!

      Kudos to you for being proactive for your son and teaching him how to adjust to change!! I hope you have many, many more magical trips to WDW!!

      • Helen, I don’t know how to reply to you other than to state not all disabled children look or act like what you see on TV. I know what – why don’t you visit the nearest center for Special Education children? You know, those who can’t move without assistance, have a feeding tube in their tummy or up their nose. Those who have such low IQs that even tools and guidance don’t make much of a difference. My daughter has had over 50 teachers and therapists with those tools over the 22 years she was in school, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of hours I’ve worked with her aren’t enough. She still can not understand WAIT!! It’s not that she won’t – she can’t. Volunteer in that school for a couple of weeks and say what you have said to those kids, will you? Or even the teachers. Better yet, their parents. Then I’ll listen to what you have to say. You need to ask the Tin Man for a loan….

        Up until now, it is DISNEY who made us feel welcome and encouraged us to come to their parks and spend our money. It is DISNEY who helped our kids develop a sense of entitlement and routine by OFFERING them the GAC in the first place. It is DISNEY who built more and more hotels, thus bringing in more and more people to their parks. And along with those hotels came more disabled families, because, knowing that there were few other places where they would be accepted, felt safe and wanted at DISNEY. So, they have developed a pattern for those children who visited the parks over and over again. Now, it is DISNEY who is saying, oops, sorry, but we can’t handle you and your kind anymore. Only if you are able, only if you have the capacity to understand that you WILL have to wait, only if you are strong enough to stand in line, do we really want you. You will be expected to be “normal” in our parks now. Being normal and being able to enjoy feeling normal for a few hours are two completely different things.

        God Bless and Peace be with you.

      • Thank you – I might be refreshing if the Disney employees that create these regulations spent some time there as well as ushering around our family members throughout the parks to experience our challenges 1st hand before finalizing their new system.

      • Thank you, Helen P., Mel G. and Phyllis.
        I am a retired Special Education teacher and parent who also knows change is inevitable and our responsibility is to do our best for our children, our charges and ourselves to continue to learn and grow. Disney cannot bend the laws of reality, but they make a better effort to accommodate all guest needs than any other vacation destination of which I am aware.

      • Another Helen! Great to ‘meet’ you! 😉

        Helen, I love what you just said, and I think you expressed it beautifully. There definitely is a sense of ‘entitlement’, and I see it on many of the comments regarding this new system (a system which is more than fair and still gives an ‘enhanced’ experience to disabled guests above and beyond what the ‘normal’ park guest experiences). I completely agree that children have to learn to wait and adjust to change. It is impossible to go to Disney and expect to be able to walk onto every single ride. People who instill those expectations in their children are just asking for trouble, hence all of the issues with ‘meltdowns’. I’m just wondering what these same people do everywhere else in the world, where people and businesses are not nearly as accommodating as Disney is being.

      • Thank you HelenP. We are a Disney crazy family and his passion for all things Disney almost define him more than his disabilities 🙂 but there is the real world as well. From the looks we get in public obviously people consider my son severely disabled, and they don’t even know the half of his issues and honestly I am way beyond educating them. All they get from me is my return glare and apparently it’s good cause it will stop kids from screaming too 😉 My only focus now is him, his health, his well being, his constant learning and growth and knowing he is happy <3 I've been in darker than dark places with him, I've had the scary medical scares (ongoing) and crazy diagnosises, I've waited all day for someone to come home to stay with him so I can go to the grocery, I've been at my other son's graduation to have his high school coach say "I didn't know he had a dad all these years" because my husband would stay with my special son so I got a break and could watch my other son compete (that also means Dad missed most his son's sport events), I've been there when an obnoxious kid climbed the queue fence screaming in my son's ear – causing my son to bolt taking out people like bowling pins, I've been at the Magic Kingdom in ear plugs, ipod/headphones all covered with airplane mechanic headphones yet still on the ground in full panic mode, I've been trapped outside the fence at the start of a State Special Olympics race to see him start spiraling out of control because of the starter gun …. and these aren't even some of the worst times.

        I've spent 30 years around the disabled (longer as I was born into a family with it) where most my son's peers will never live alone, hold jobs or enjoy most life's pleasures. I have a daughter that is her brother's angel, raises funds for Special Olympics and hopes to one day be a CM giving special moments. I have a son who coached Special Olympics athletes for 6 years, was a director for 4 years at a camp for special needs, mostly autistic, 5 days a week, 10 hours a day, not one day off. He was hit, kicked, bit and thrown up on. He was the first in line to take care of injuries and meltdowns. He became an expert at thinking out of the box. For 5 years he has coached a high school sport year round including many higher functioning children with autism. For 17 years my husband has volunteered at bowling and baseball most weekends year round. I say all this because our experiences with special adults and children – and their parents – are all ages all over the scale. So I do understand the day to day lives those with incredibly involved family members have, the joys, the disappointments and taking the unplanned road because of our children. Heck I've hit so many detours and forks in the road my thought process is never get comfortable cause it can get worse. As I sit here I wait on call 2 to pick up my son from his day program because he is having a really rough day. I have been on call 24/7 every day of the last 30 years. My adult son is a very young child mentally, he will never grow up and while he is mostly non-verbal he refers to himself as Peter Pan but mostly relates to Quasimodo, his best friend. I adore him and have learned to find joy each day, even the bad ones. BUT I also know that even with all his issues, even though he has limited cognitive skills he must learn to function the best he can in our society. Life is change, it is up to us to get him through these Disney changes and continue to have magical trips!

      • Phyllis, I’m not the Helen you responded to, but I love your attitude and respect your strength. You are doing the best you can for your child and are creating an environment where he can feel safe and loved. You do your best not to put him in threatening situations and deal with it when the unexpected shows up. *Hugs* to you. It sounds to me like you will be having those magical Disney trips with an attitude like that!

      • OOOPS – Two Helens 🙂 I responded to you on HelenB’s comment.

  • At the risk of sounding insensitive, with Walt Disney World being such an over-stimulating and sensory-overloaded destination, perhaps there is an assumption within the management at WDW that asking for a photograph to prove identification is really not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things.

    • Excellent point, Steven.
      And for those few who bothered to read the article, Disney policy will allow a parent or guardian’s picture instead.

  • Chris I could not agree more!!!! I never would have booked knowing they were changing the system.

  • Has Disney explained why they have provided such short notice in implementing this new policy? If more time were provided, families could plan ahead by doing things like picking less busy weeks or staying on-site to take advantage of early entrance times. Or why not wait until the new magic bands system is in place? I also think taking photos of children with disabilities is a mistake – some kids on the autism spectrum are not even aware of their diagnosis, but yet Disney wants to take their photo for a “disability” card? At a minimum, they need to delay implementation of this.

    • Hi, I’m wondering for the children you’re referring to who are not aware of their diagnosis….then how did their parents explain use of the old GAC card to them??

  • I hope this cuts down on people who rent scooters to cheat the system. So many scooters and yes, I understand some people really need them but I’ve seen abuse with them as well. Now they need to fix the bus que situation. Why do I have to wait in a long line for the bus (with a child with severe autism prone to meltdowns and self injurious behaviors mind you) only to have a person ride up with their huge family and jump the line? Perhaps THEY should be given a return time to get on the bus? One time my daughter started to have a very bad meltdown while waiting on the bus line and just when it was our turn to get on a family with a person in a scooter came along and filled the bus! Then, the scooter person got up and walked into the bus without a problem! She practically skipped onto the bus. That is so wrong! Now I had to wait 10 minutes for a new bus and ANOTHER scooter person came up and boarded the bus first! Now my DD was punching her face out of pure frustration (she couldn’t understand why we were not getting on the bus) I’m getting those “you’re a terrible mom stares” from about 10,000 people and I just want to scream (btw, people DON’T STARE IT DOESN’T HELP!!!!) luckily the manager of the bus area came to us with complete understanding and he had someone drive us door to door back to our hotel. Thank God they are so understanding because if I was cut off by another scooter jump the bus line I think I would have truly lost it. I get it that the scooters and w/c have to board an empty bus for safety but perhaps giving them an estimated time of when they can board will iliminiate this problem.

    As for the new DAS I am hopeful after some tweaking it will work. I see a few problems that could arise but Disney has always been fair and accomindating so I would hope the problems will be smoothed out after time. I hope the CM’s are not going to be the punching bags for all the frustrated guests. Remember they are just following the rules their bosses came up with. It’s a damn shame that there are so many dishonest people out there that Disney was forced to do this. The only ones hurt will be the kids who needed this the most. The scammers and liars will still figure out a way to cheat the system!

    • A smarter parent would have simply used their car, knowing full well their child’s disability.

      10,000 people in a bus line? Must have been a very long line. :-/

  • I canceled our May trip yesterday because of the new DAS system. I remember our first time to WDW when my autistic son when into a full meltdown and the stares from other guests. A CM came up and asked what was wrong and did I need help. He told us about the GAC and for the next 4 years we went to WDW often, and spent a lot.

    Unfortunately my son does not understand logical consequence. He won’t understand that when we go to the ride we don’t get on the ride. I fear the worst and the return of the meltdowns.

    I know there are other places to visit that can make a trip work for our son. As much as we loved our WDW, it is time we stop going. We think of WDW as our happy place, I hope they find a way to assist children with autism or spectrum children who just don’t understand.

    • Good. Smart move.
      One wonders just how many other life experiences you’ll be canceling before you even attempt to try simply because the world has logical consequences, regardless of our individual abilities to cope.

      • The above comment was just cold. I suspect you will always wonder just how many life experiences a parent with special needs children has had to cancel or will cancel in the future. I hope you never know. I’m sure April and the rest of us who have commented on this blog would absolutely love to wait in the regular line with everyone else and teach typical children about the hard knocks of life. Because that would mean that our kids and we as parents would have a typical quality of life. Let me tell you we have already cancelled many other life experiences starting with the idea of our kids possibly getting married, ever living on their own, going to college, speaking for themselves or even speaking at all, for the parents the possibility of having grandchildren, participating in typical high school sports, or youth sports, letting our kids drive to be able to run to the store and pick up something for us while we are cooking dinner, typical classes in school, watching your kid make friends or lose friends, but they would have to HAVE friends first, letting my child go to his Bible class at church without disturbing the other kids’ learning due to his constant stimming, getting invited to birthday parties, hearing the words I Love You with having them prompted by you first, being able to bathe themselves, and basically everything that a typical person or parent takes for granted. All we are asking for is a little bit of the fun you get to experience daily without the added extra hassles that we already experience daily. As parents we want the magical experience for our kids as well as a little bit of a break from our normal life for us, but the GAC card wasn’t giving us the total package that typical families get. It was giving us a portion of it, and we were happy to get it. With the new changes that the DAS brings, it is throwing up some of the roadblocks of life again that we were going to Disney to escape. We would rather have spent more money going to Disney to get that experience than go to the other theme parks such as Six Flags or carnivals as someone else mentioned. I think that these measures that Disney is now resorting to is going back to the direction of the other theme parks that we were already avoiding.

      • Thank you for expressing this so beautifully. I hope that someone from Disney is reading this blog & all the comments.

      • You have no idea what the new program has in store until it is actually rolled out and road-tested. All you have is internet rumors and a lot of pity-me cards to play, as if someone who dares disagree with you or insist on facts over emotion could not possibly understand. Shame on you.

      • No, sir, shame on you. I have read the blog. I know my limits and my kids’ limits. I also read that you are a retired special ed teacher. I am so taken aback by your lack of empathy. I can only imagine what attitude you expressed towards your former students and/or their parents. You can say you know what it’s like because you taught children with special needs, but even a teacher has NO idea what lengths we as parents go through to plan for the day or even the future of our kids. I am not playing pity-me cards. I am simply stating (like everyone else) that even though we have limits on what we can experience, and please don’t take what we were given away. It is not an inexpensive trip to take as anyone who has gone to Disney knows. It takes a lot of planning also as anyone who has gone to Disney knows. It takes at least twice as much planning on a family with a special needs. Look, why do you go on vacation? To have fun, relax, take a break. That is what WE also want. Disney somewhat offered that to us in the past. Even with the GAC there were meltdowns, over-extensive planning, and not much relaxing. I constantly have to have a list of ‘what ifs’ and a plan of attack for those and then some that I didn’t foresee coming. I am sorry if I am coming off as complaining and a victim. I know the hand that I was dealt and for a long time I wasn’t ready to play it, but I am more than ready now. I have learned so much from having my boys, and I know exactly why I was given them. To fix things in my life–not as a punishment. I don’t see them that way. Doesn’t everyone want the experience that they show you in the commercials or advertisements? I know that isn’t reality for my family, but if the GAC could curtail some of the reality of what is our everyday life then, sure, I was going to use it when I thought it was necessary. Apparently, you didn’t read all of my first entry on this blog. I said we didn’t use it all the time. We only used it when the wait was extremely long. I also said that I would have to wait and see how other families fared using the new DAS system before we would plan to go back. I just wish there was a way to fix the existing problem while keeping the current familiar system in play. That is all. I don’t want pity. And you may not want pity, but I can guarantee your comments are receiving it from many on this blog. They pity someone who is so foolish to say the things you have said while flashing your entitlement to do so by saying you are a retired special ed. teacher. I also agree with some of the things you said. There definitely is a crowd who uses/used the GAC for all the ‘perks’ it could possibly give. And shame on them (as you say). There will always be people to take advantage of any concession that is given. That is life.

        I am hoping that you replied without first checking yourself at the door. But it looks as though you have gone through this blog and singled out people (whom you don’t know or the road they walk every day) and just hid behind your ‘Disney Dad’ name to say what first came to mind, and you have created a posse to go with it. And if all I have is internet rumors to go by then that is all you have to say that it will be a wonderful change. I read the same blog you did, and I have been trying to figure it all out myself. I haven’t experienced it personally yet, but you never will. You just get to sit by and watch all of us try to learn the new system, and I shudder to think of you getting a giggle out of our kids’ experiencing the pains of the adjustments and seeing their maybe not so pleasant response to it. It seems as though you are saying… ‘now this is how we do it in the real world’. This is the message you are sending.

      • Thank you, Katie, for expressing what I also feel and what my life has been like since my daughter was born 31 years ago. People who have so much available to them and their children can’t possibly understand that there are NOT a lot of places where we can take our children to begin with and be accepted like we have been at Disney. It is the anxiety of the unknown that many of us are wondering if it’s worth it to continue to spend money many of us can barely afford (due to all the other monetary requirements of our children’s lives) for any entertainment. Disney is close to our home – that’s why it was chosen. We haven’t had a vacation, other then to go visit family 1100 miles away, in seven years.

        My hope is that Meg Crofton is reading these posts. That’s why we are writing them – to let her and others see our lives are not anywhere close to being equal or even inclusive. Even though we really do NOT know how the program will really work, Disney needs to be aware just how much 1) the GAC gave those like us a much needed respite and 2) how, if as written, the DAS will not afford our families the “accommodations” needed while in their parks and without them, we will NOT be able to go (to the great applause of those with no special needs children, I’m sure). Of course, Meg has yet to answer my letter with more than the same one she’s sent to the disability websites. We’re supposed to just wait and see, spend money on those tickets and transportation and hotels, only to watch and sooth our children as they meltdown 20 feet from the ride….

        I’m hoping there will be a #4 pass that will not be common knowledge until it is needed or requested. Another park that we visit already has this. Something that LOOKS like the return DAS pass so that those with normal understanding will think we’ve already waited our “equal” minutes.

        What many of these people fear is having a kid like ours – they don’t think it can happen to them. Frankly, neither did I. I was 32 when the DS raisin hit me. At that time, we didn’t have the testing available now – we didn’t know until she popped out. I was lucky because I already has some experience with mentally disabled kids so accepting my daughter was as easy as any other child. Of course, also in the hospital was another family who walked away from their newborn….

        I am anxious about this new pass because what we have learned doesn’t look like it will “accommodate” my daughter’s unusual needs, but I WILL be there on Oct. 9, to see first hand how Disney CMs will work with us to enhance our daughter’s enjoyment. Just the look on her face when her body is in motion on a ride gives my heart such joy! Considering she does not have all the opportunities available to those normal families, I have just given her the world in her eyes.

        Gotta go wipe a butt now – and it ain’t mine….

      • If I want Meg Crofton to read my opinion I send it to Meg Crofton. I’ve done it after every WDW trip. Her email address is readily available.
        She even writes back.
        I’m just sayin’. 😉

  • Hello, I have a related question. I have RA and I have a hard time standing or walking for long periods of time… I Can walk, but the thought of being on my feet all day at an amusement park is what has kept me away. If I brought a wheel chair to the park but did not use it all day, would I still have the option of the Wheelchair card?

  • Scarlett, thank you for supplying a few more details about the DAS program. I know that many guests who will be traveling to DL and WDW next week have been anxious due to the lack of information provided by Disney.

  • Its hard to believe they are giving families with special needs this much grief …as if we dont have enough to endure already.

    Susan Cunningham Okeefe:

    I am currently at disney with my daughter who needs a the pass due to her cerebral palsy, sezuires and she gets very fatigued from long periods in the heat. Dr note in hand I went to guess services and long story short I had to fight for the pass even having proof that my daughter needed this pass.i did get one but only after persisting after numerous times. If I did not have this pass available to us ,I don’t think I would have planned a trip to disney. Very sad they are doing this,they need to find a different way of stopping people who abuse this. They seem to be implimenting this already.

    • “Its hard to believe they are giving families with special needs this much grief …as if we dont have enough to endure already.”

      Well said! Thank you! Disney is doing a great job of punishing the ones that really benefited from the GAC. It would be great if they tackled the real problem which was the abuse.

      • Disney isn’t giving anyone grief. Some people are choosing to exclusively play their victim cards, though. Disney parks are about the only place on earth that continue to make every effort to streamline the experience for all guests, but even Disney has to deal with reality…unlike some whiners who have yet to even use the new system but appear to have ample time to complain about it.
        Look, if you think Disney is so awful then try Six Flags or the local county fair staffed by carnys and let us know how well they accomodated your special needs.

  • I have 2 children with autism. They have completely different symptoms from one another. One can speak, but the other is non-verbal, for example. We have been to DW twice with the use of the GAC. We didn’t use it all the time, but only if the wait time was long. We also did not get to the front of the line each time using the GAC. It depended on how fast the fast pass line was moving or how many were in that line. The problem I foresee with this change is that you take your children up to the line to ride an attraction they are very excited to ride. Then you get a time to RETURN. And you can’t ride another ride using your DAS card until you ride the first ride. Your child thinks they are going to ride when you get there the first time. You have to try to explain to them that you are just checking in to see when you can ride it, but you can’t right anything else in the meantime. Then, the meltdown comes. You have already eaten lunch, you don’t need a snack, you don’t want to walk around anymore aimlessly (this is what my child hates the most–walking with no purpose), and you still are there waiting. Believe me, I would love to not have to use either the GAC or the DAS card! That would mean that my children and myself would have a completely different future in store for us. But in order to make the experience a quality one for all of us we have to use the card most of the time. I am unsure if we will be able to return to DW in the future with this new system. Vacations are hard for us as a family, but DW was one place where everyone was happy for the most part. We will have to wait and see how it works for other guests on the spectrum.

    • I was thinking the same thing. I also think if we use the strategy of sending someone ahead to get a DAS time, without bringing the kids to the attraction, it might help a little. It’s like sending someone ahead to get a FP, while the adult with the kids do something else. (Wandering and waiting is not an option, LOL.) On the other hand, it means spending A LOT of time pre-planning a touring plan so you don’t have all that downtime in between rides. For experienced visitors, using the FP+ system could make it easier, because you can book your FP before you get to the park, and change FP times using the app. Maybe our friends at Touring Plans can create special plans for those of us who need to use the DAS and FP combined. At any rate, getting to the parks at opening and traveling at off-peak times still makes managing all of this doable. It just means that those of us with kids with disabilities now have to spend even more time pre-planning. Less magic for parents, but just to see that magical smile on my kid’s face is still worth all the effort. No meltdowns is still our goal!

      • I agree, sending a ‘runner’ ahead to book the time on the DAS seems like an obvious solution. that way you don’t bring your kids to the ride until it is time to get on.

        Also, no one says that the time you are waiting has to be ‘dead’ time. You can still use the regular FP/FP+ system to go on rides, or go to other rides or shows with a minimal wait. This new DAS system actually allows all three: use of FP/FP+, an additional ‘FP’ through the use of the DAS card, as well as getting straight onto attractions through the use of the regular standby line, if it is short (presuming they can physically navigate that line).

        Someone earlier said that ‘fair was not necessarily equal’. IMHO, this new system is fair (particularly with a bit of planning) and it’s definitely *not* equal: the DAS guests have many more options and better ability to arrange their day without having to be in long lines, as compared to a ‘regular’ guest.

      • Lori – you’re so right, Many parents of children with ASD are used to planning and overplanning for their children. A runner would certainly be helpful to get the return time as would using a touringplan. I would also suggest using social stories or visuals about having to get the return time (kind of like an appointment). Again this requires extensive planning, but if this gives him/her a better understanding of what to expect it could be really helpful. Unfortunately everyone regardless of whether or not they have ASD is going to encounter times where they might have to wait for something but accommodations such as this and the new system can make it easier when used the right way and with a good attitude.

  • This is a very helpful article, and I am grateful for the information. Our son has both cerebral palsy (falling into the wheelchair dependent group) and significant cognitive impairment (falling into the cannot tolerate long waits group). It sounds as if those in w/c are not eligible for the new card, which strikes me as unfair, and hopefully I have misunderstood this. I would be very grateful for any further explanations on the new policies. Thank you!

  • I am 81 years old and unable to walk very far or to climb stairs. I rent a scooter and have been treated very nicely by all CMs. I am usually directed to back entrances for some rides and have never had the special pass. Will I need the special pass now that things have changed or will I continue to be treated so well??

    • From the information I’ve been able to find, if you are using a mobility device, you will not be given a DAS and will be shown to the stand-by (regular) lines to wait. When you request the pass and not in a wheelchair, you will be told to get one. Several years ago, on our first vacation ever to WDW, we were told by a CM at the parade handicapped viewing area, when I asked where the seating was for people who use canes, that if I wasn’t in a wheelchair, I wasn’t disabled, even though I legally am. REALLY! When I complained about this to Guest Relations, the CM at the desk must have agreed that what we were told smelled of a “possible lawsuit” (even though I never threaten one) because our annual passes were extended for an extra year. True story. But now, I guess that’s okay….

  • I applaud Disney for this move. About a month ago, while standing in line for “Under the Sea,” I mentioned to my wife that Disney should institute a program almost exactly the same as this one. She turned to me and said “it will NEVER happen – Disney wouldn’t want to deal with the negative press.” My jaw hit the floor when I read about this a few days after we returned – to be honest, I didn’t expect it either. In any event, I think it’s a great decision and still allows for cast-member flexibility.
    At the risk of drawing coming off looking like a crotchety old man waving his fist at the neighborhood kids playing on his lawn – I hope that they also look into finding a more effective way to handle the situation of wheelchairs on resort buses; as it stands now, a large party with a member in a wheelchair can take up half of a bus. Does anyone know if Disney is considering looking into their bus-loading policy?

    • To provide further details: a large party with a member is a wheelchair can take up half of a bus WITHOUT having to wait in line for the bus.

      • That was real problem for us on a trip in 2007. My wife is in a wheelchair and when we needed to get on a bus we had to wait at the head of the line and it seemed to take forever to load the wheelchair on the bus and get it strapped in. It caused my wife all sorts of embarrassment.

        Now, we just rent a car. We don’t feel it is fair to everyone waiting in line and we don’t like the unfriendly stares we received as if we are line jumpers(which I guess technically we were).

        We will never use Disney transportation with a wheelchair again.

      • We, too, have always had problems with bus transportation. Every bus that pulls up already is full to capacity with wheelchair guests or can’t load a chair. Even finding a captain and asking to have one called for still mean a long wait, especially if it’s late in the evening when everyone is headed home or back to their hotels. We finally said we’d drive, being AP holders, and it’s much easier – except sometimes finding a place to park when park hopping, because, even though the HP lot isn’t full, it is blocked off.

      • I attempted to use the bus system with my mom in her wheel chair. It was horrible for her & embarrassing. We stopped riding the busses & I would just go to the chiropractor the next day from lifting the wheel chair in and out of the car extra times during the day because we choose to park hop.

      • We too have used our wheelchair on the bus. The drivers were always helpful but sometimes the looks and rude comments made by some of the passengers were difficult to endure. I would love it if my daughter didnt need a wheelchair in order to enjoy Disney. I would love it if we could spend a full day – but even with the chair, 3-4 hours is all she can handle.

      • 3-4 hours & Disney will make you spend part of it at Guest Relations each time & run back & forth to attractions that might otherwise have space for you in that moment. Where is the sense in that Disney?

        I’ll be there on 10/14 to experience the beginnings of this new system. I hope my sister will be able to handle the changes.

  • Thanks for this information. Also, thank you for pointing out the fact the GAC was never a front-of-the-line pass.
    I’m concerned for our own son and his ability (or lack thereof) to adapt to the changes, but I’m hoping for the best.

  • When we first started using a GAC for our son 5 years ago, we were originally told that if an attraction had a FastPass available, we were to use FastPass. So that’s what we did. On our next trip, I clearly remember showing up at the FastPass line for Toy Story mania with FastPasses for the 3 of us. The CM happened to see my son’s GAC on his lanyard, and he told us we didn’t need to use FastPass – that the GAC worked like a FastPass. And I think that is where the problems began… If CMs weren’t enforcing the rules, the floodgates easily opened — and we stopped using FastPass because we had been told we didn’t need it. And no CM said anything for another 4 years!!!

    Did we abuse having a GAC? No. Could we have used FastPass? Yes.

    On the other hand, we have a now famous expression regarding supporting people with disabilities: Fair doesn’t mean equal. Fair means everyone gets what they need. I think this new system will need some tweaking.

    Will we go back, as a family, to using FastPass? We already have. We used MagicBands in September with FastPass, and our experience was the same. We just have to make sure that we go in late August/early September when the parks are almost empty so that wait times are mostly non-existent. What other time of year can EVERYONE ride Expedition Everest 5 times in a row?????

  • Is there a list somewhere of the queues that are not WC accessible? Honestly we love to wait in the regular queue whenever possible, and only use the alternate entrances when we have to, because DH has to transfer. We’re going in a few weeks and it would help our planning to know which queues we’ll have to use the “readmission pass” for.

  • We used the GAC card 2 years ago and I can tell you that with the exception of Its a Small World, we went to the front of the line on every ride. There was no waiting, it was almost too good. I felt guilty about it, but my son has autism and can wait a few minutes, maybe 10, but after that, meltdown. But we breezed through each time. Granted it was February and less busy. Going again in Oct, anxious to see how the new system pans out.

    • In February many attractions can have very short standby lines as well. Hopefully you have equally light crowds on your trip in October. Both are great times to visit.

      • thank you scarlett!

  • We are in the process of planning our first Disney World trip, and we have an autistic son who will be 5 by the time we go. I am just curious if there will be any changes to the ability to use a stroller as a wheelchair. My son has trouble standing still for long periods of time, but he can sit in his stroller with bubbles, snacks or other toys and be calm for a good while.

    Also, is getting a DAS card still going to be based on the honor system? From what I understand, Disney is not legally allowed to look at a doctor’s note, so if that is still the case, I don’t think this new system will cut down much on the abuse.

    And I probably already know the answer to this silly question, but I am going to ask anyway. How will the cast member at a new ride know that you have already rode the previous ride? For instance if you have a return time for Space Mountain at 3:00, and you go to BTMR at 5:00 to get a return time, does the cast member at BTMR have any way of knowing for sure that you did actually go back and ride Space Mountain at 3:00 or later? My guess is that the cast member at Space Mountain will have to cross the ride off or make some other notation, but if not, I can see a lot of cheating going on with this too. Along these same lines, what happens if Space Mountain breaks down at 2:30 and is closed the rest of the day? Will there be a way to get a new return time for a different ride?

    I know some of this may not be known until the new system is actually in place, but I just wanted to get it out there while it was all still fresh in my head.


    • I don’t believe the program to use a stroller as a wheelchair will change except that you will get a return time to come back instead of immediately getting in the alternate entrance of one is used.

      They still are not allowed to ask for documentation. I believe the hope is that abusers will decide to not go through the extra steps to get return times. Also many abusers are using a family member or friend’s card and the photo ID on the card will curtail that.

      You’re correct that the return time will be crossed out or something once the attraction is ridden.

      I would guess that if a ride goes down you will be allowed to come back at another time. The CM will probably make a note on the card saying it was down. However, I don’t know for sure.

      • I used a GAC card for the first time ever this year. It made my trip doable. I was never “at the front of the line,” but also different trips (on different days) through the same line were handled differently. Also, I was always sent through the Fastpass line. I started the trip getting Fastpasses, but then felt that, since I was going through the same line anyway, I should save the Fastpasses for those who had that as their only option.

        Anyhow, I was telling a neighbor about my experience and my frustration about how I took the trouble to get a doctor’s explanation of my problem, and it wasn’t even looked at. My neighbor (who is a nurse) said that the privacy protection is not to keep Disney from asking for supporting documentation, it is to keep them from selling or using that information without your consent or knowledge. So, it seems to me that Disney can set requirements about what they want as documentation. It is up to me to decide if I want them to see it. My doctor didn’t put anything personal except what I cannot do (stand for long periods of time) in a letter. I know that people who will cheat will cheat, but I also feel that Disney can and should expect people with disabilities to provide some legitimate proof that they have that disability…temporary or permanent.

      • I absolutely agree. I had no problem in the “old” days providing a letter from my doctor stating my daughter’s disabilities and the accommodations she needed. Nor do I have an issue doing that today. If you are concerned about privacy and political correctness, don’t provide documentation and you will not be provided an accommodation. It is as simple as that.

        We utilized this system last Summer at DCA on Radiator Springs Racers and it worked out fine, but we were using GAC for everything else, so this will change how we have to approach things.

        We will be back to WDW in November and December and see how this works in tandem with Fastpass+.

        Thanks for providing an overview of the new system!

      • I fully agree – there will always be ways to cheat. Even if we are required to submit documentation, some people will get around it. – only I believe it would be more difficult and it might curtail some people from going through all the trouble of cheating.

  • A reason for the stamps on the GAC was that the guest didn’t have to explain their “need” to every Cast Member they talked to at attractions/shows (can’t do stairs, low vision etc). The Cast Member would look at the stamp and accommodate the need. It was a discreet way of letting the Cast Member know your need without guests around you having to hear about your issues at every entrance. I wish Disney would still use the stamps.

    • I agree that could be a nuisance. Hopefully they will figure out a way to accomplish accommodating different needs without the guest needing to explain again and again.

      • I’m hopeful that some of this can be integrated into My Magic+. We certainly don’t mind explaining each time that DH has to transfer from his wheelchair, but it would be nice if that info could be linked to his account and come up when the Magic Band is scanned.

      • I wouldn’t mind being required to submit a doctor’s letter. This could be brought to the nurse’s station where the nurses are required by law to keep this type of information confidential.

  • Thank you for the information. With all the shock-and-awe articles out there, it’s great to have actual facts. I’m sure there will be kinks to work out, but I hope that castmembers aren’t the victim of too many horrible people. It’s different and may be a bit more of an inconvenience for some, WDW will still be consistently more accommodating to those with disabilities than most organizations.

    • You’re welcome. I know things have been tough on Cast Members but hopefully as more details come out things will calm down.

  • For one I am happy that they changed the system. Hope this ends the abuse of it. For those with autism, Make A Wish and the others that have reasons why they need to use the pass, I hope the new system doesn’t interfere with your experience. But I’ve never understood why people in Jazzy’s and the like get to have their whole party go on line with them. Why can’t the rest of the party wait on the line and have the person in the vehicle meet them when they’ve reached the front of the line?

    • I agree with your hope that this doesn’t diminish anyone’s experience. I think the system will definitely help a lot of people.

  • Great post, Scarlett. I know that this is a hot topic for many, but knowledge definitely is power and I appreciate your diligence in breaking down all the information that is available as of now.

    • Thanks for the feedback. 🙂

      • Ditto! I greatly appreciate the information before going back to the parks.

  • Scarlett-
    It’s horrible that this just came to mind, I know.. But with all the insane abuse to the old system, this just sort of came to mind.. Do you know if the MAW lanyard will have some sort of ID card with it as well that can’t be faked etc to prevent those from being duplicated or sold on Ebay etc?
    Also I had originally seen leaked info that the card holder didnt have to be present to get the return time to get the time, but had to be present to ride. Is this still true? Also, by not using the child’s picture, how does this prevent people from using the card without the child present if their photo is on the card?

    • I would assume the MAW Lanyard will have identification just like the DAS. The practice of people buying these on eBay is disgusting and I sincerely hope it stops.

      I have not heard that the person on the card doesn’t need to be present to get the return time, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case.

      While parents with their photo on the card could ride without their child, I think the hope is that people who really need the card wouldn’t abuse it in this way. Typically abuse is seen from people who don’t actually need the card in the first place.

  • We just returned from a trip to WDW and used the GAC for my daughter (23 yrs old) who has Crohn’s Disease and was just recovering from a serious flare up. We definitely would not have been able to do what we did without the card. She suffers from severe fatigue, muscle aches etc not to mention frequent sometimes urgent need to use the restroom. Standing in hr long lines or criss crossing the parks is just not an option for her. I hope this doesn’t add to the time or waiting- I wish people would just follow common rules and had not abused this which of course makes it harder on those who need it. WDW is my daughter’s happy place where she tries to forget about all her medical issues.

    • I think with some planning the card will still work for your family. While you may have to wait a bit for your return time, you won’t be in a line. You are free to do other attractions in the area, sit in the shade and relax, and visit the restroom. It may take some more planning, but hopefully it works out. I would love to hear about your experience after your next visit.

      • This “you are free to do other attractions while you wait” part has not been thought through. Very rarely is there a long wait for Space M and nothing for buzz… yes you could go on the PM but say you are at BTM… what else is there? Splash. Hmmm another long wait there…. Surely they just do not expect you to sit around waiting… or is this a secret Stagg plan for you to go into the shops or restaurants to spent money?? (I know its not but I am sure for some it may feel like it)

  • I miss this by a day as I am going tomorrow and will be coming home on Sunday. I am more then willing to give this a shot when I am there in Dec. It sounds similar to what they did at Radiator Springs Racers when I was there in Aug and it worked well. It will require a bit more planning on my part so I am not crisscrossing the park. Do you have to return at the exact time like lets say 1 pm? If lunch ran late can I go at 1:30 with the understanding I can not get another attraction listed until I do the current one? Also is the card good at all 4 parks or do I have to get one for each park? I feel bad for the cast members that will be taking the brunt of this at the front of the lines. I for one will go into this with a positive attitude and give it a chance to work. I like the photo on it as I have no issue proving its me using it 🙂

    • It is very similar to the Radiator Springs system. My understanding is that you are welcome to return any time after your designated time, so no need to worry if lunch takes too long.

      I am sure many Cast Members will be very grateful for your understanding and positive attitude! I hope you will come back and share your thoughts after your trip.

    • Oh. And only 1 card needed. While they do designate where you got the card, it is good at all 4 parks.

      • Thanks!!

  • My biggest concern for our family is the 7-day rule. We most often visit on the weekend (we live an hour away) and this will mean waiting in line at Guest Relations every single week. The two-week GAC was annoying enough. But I don’t have the arm stamina to hold a wheelchair on a 90-minute queue ramp at Soarin’, and the brakes aren’t strong enough to hold it in place either, so I guess it’s better to go to Guest Relations every stinking time. But I suspect we won’t renew our annual passes.

    This isn’t going to stop cheating, though. Let’s say your DAS blew away, or you left it at home/in the hotel. So you want a replacement. Guest Services will give you a replacement because, dang it, this is Disney. Now let’s say a cheater holds onto their original DAS and falsely claims to have lost it. They get another one. Now they can go to Midway Mania, get a return time two hours away, and pocket the TSMM DAS. Then they take their unencumbered replacement DAS to Rock’n’Roller Coaster, get a return time an hour away, and go eat an overdose of L-tryptophan at Toluca Legs. They ride the coaster, use their replacement DAS to get a return time for Tower of Terror, and go ride Midway Mania. As they leave, they get a new return time for Midway Mania and then repeat the cycle.

    (And by the way: the Midway Mania side-load queue is a brilliant idea; many guests don’t need the ADA vehicle that you can roll onto, but just need ample time to load/unload. In fact, CMs often have to convert the ADA vehicle back into a standard vehicle by removing the ramp and rolling a back-to-back pair of seats into its place. But the real win is the tug-to-fire rope. I wish that were on EVERY vehicle — it fires more quickly and doesn’t throw my aim off!)

    • I know the 7 day rule is concerning for many. I appreciate that they are putting a QR Code on the cards to make renewing the card much speedier but obviously that doesn’t take into account the wait at guest relations. This is one of the things we won’t really know about until the program actually begins. I’m hopeful that Disney will find a way to make this process as painless as possible for everyone.

      There will always be abuse to any system. It’s sad, but true. I think the hope is that abusers will instead decide to stick to FASTPASS+ or standby queues as opposed to dealing with multiple cards and lying and running back and forth across the park.

      I agree that the separate load platform at TSM is brilliant. There is a similarly fantastic system at Forbidden Journey at Universal. I wish more attractions had them.

      • I only take my sister to the park about once or twice a month – so we too will now have to go to Guest Relations every single time we go to the park. My sister’s disability isn’t going to change. It would be nice if Disney would consider that when providing these cards. After all, her picture will be on the card.

  • I have two children with Autism and thankfully we have never needed to use the assistance card before. I have a friend with an Autistic child who relies heavily on the GAC. How does the new system differ from the old? Were guests with the old GAC really sent to the front of the line or were they allowed to just enter the Fastpass line? I’ve seen a lot of people with Autistic children getting very upset over the way the new system will be run.

    • The GACs were not sent to the front of the line. They either went through the FASTPASS line or through another entrance that would accommodate their needs. The new card will issue a return time (similar to a FASTPASS) and the guests can do whatever they want while they wait, then come back to ride with minimal waits at their designated time.

      I know Disney worked closely with programs like Autism Speaks while developing the new system to try and make things consistent for everyone while still taking people’s accessibility needs into account.

      • Ok. Thanks. Like I said, we’ve never had to use it so I didn’t understand why people were getting so upset about the change. I would think the new Fastpass+ system will help by allowing people to reserve Fastpass times. Hopefully it works out for all those who need it. 🙂

      • You might want to check media & youtube; Autism Speaks HAS NOT worked closely with Disney for these changes. The President of Autism Speaks addressed this in a video. Disney consulted with them on a pamphlet they are publishing for ASD children. They did not work with them on these GAC changes and in fact are pretty upset it is being said they did.

      • Thank you for pointing out that video. The representative I spoke with at Autism Speaks yesterday assured me that they were indeed working with Disney on the new program and I took her word for it. I will update the article to reflect what is said in the video.

      • I appreciate this site keeping up on changes within the parks and your article reflects that; thank you. I only comment now & again and I wanted to share the link for the video to you; but wasn’t sure doing so in comments was apropos 🙂

    • Honestly? When we were there last fall w/ a friend whose child was autistic and had a card we were told it depended on the ride manager as to how it was handled and we knew of/saw several times where people were sent through the wheelchair line instead of through the FastPass line. Also the old card stated if the ride had a FP to get one and return to the FP line with the GAC and the FP and I very rarely saw that occurring in all our times down there.

      • I know guests were encouraged to get FASTPASSes, but agree it was rarely used. The wheelchair lines are often much longer than FASTPASS queues, but not always. Hopefully this new system is more consistent and Cast Members stay on the same page instead of varying ride to ride.

    • It’s my belief that “a lot of people with Autistic children getting very upset over the way the new system will be run” is because about 80% of ASD children cope by planning and following a direct routine. Any changes in that routine or constant fluctuations create a tailspin. And subsequently a meltdown. I predict the brave ASD parents in the first few months will be in for a hard time & my heart goes out to them.

      • I absolutely agree. I hope the changes go as smoothly as possible for all families involved, but I’m sure it will be a tough adjustment.

      • I understand that most children with Autism have problems when there is a change. Mine do. 🙂 I guess I’m just confused what the difference is as far as how the old program worked as opposed to the new one. That’s what my question was referring to. I completely understand parents’ frustration with the idea that they will have to change they way they visit with their kids who are used to things being done a certain way. We’ve had many a meltdown on vacation when things don’t go the way my daughter thinks they’re supposed to.

      • Interesting. But, should read, “about 80% of ASD children don’t actually suffer from ASD.”

      • I have two children with severe ASD and we love visiting Disney World because it is one of the few places where we can go and feel like a typical family. Having said that, I totally understand why Disney has changed the plan and I’m not mad at them; I’m angry at the system abusers who have to ruin a good thing for children who already have so many challenges in life. What a bunch of jerks! My son can’t talk. Neither of my children (both teenagers) will ever be able to drive a car, or go to college. They will never marry and have children. But God forbid they have 6 blessed days a year at a theme park with a slight advantage to ride access. Wouldn’t want to be “unfair”, or deny rich elitists the “special treatment”.
        Anyhoo…as far as the new cards, we won’t be using them, because taking an ASD child up to their favorite ride and then taking them away is a sure recipe for a meltdown. They don’t understand the whole “we’ll come back later” concept. Any ASD parent who has approached a ride only to find it “closed temporarily” has experienced this (ask me about the “Great Test Track Meltdown of 2009” which involved my son scaring an entire Mexican dance team).
        The good news is that the new fastpass + system is a MUCH better option! My DH and I will be going it alone (sans kids!) in November, and I was able to make up to 3 fastpass + reservations per day for each day of my trip. While it does hold you to a schedule, it is much preferable than approaching each ride, checking in, leaving, and returning. This option will work much better when we return with the kids next year, as opposed to the new DAS cards.

      • My mom loved the GAC. Even though it only got her onto Toy Story & Buzz Lightyear without a fast pass. Before the GAC it was at the discretion of the CM if they let us on the ride without the fastpass. My mom passed away this April & I take my mentally & physically disabled sister to the parks in a wheel chair as well.

        I told a CM at Guest Services once that the GAC only helped my mom with those 2 rides.(Toy Story & Buzz). She was annoyed that the CM’s at the rides ever insisted that we needed a fast pass in the 1st place since it was so obvious with the special wheel chair & my mom’s obvious condition, that we were trying to beat any system.

        Disney is not taking into consideration that pushing a wheel chair around the parks is quite a challenging feat. Especially going up and down steep hills, such as we encounter at The Land Pavilion. My sister, other than Soaring, can’t transfer and needs to stay in her wheel chair for the rides. It was so nice to only go up & down that hill once in a day for her to enjoy Soaring. My mom didn’t ride Soaring, so I would get the fast pass for myself & usually need to go back later straining with that wheel chair up and down the hill.

        My sister needs extra time to transfer for Soaring. Some CM’s will accommodate her. Others just ignore our request and later regret that they didn’t give us the extra time by allowing us to board 1st.

        It’s unfathomable that Disney did not ask for any guest input before putting this new system in place. We are suffering for Disney’s inability to verify, in the first place, how to implement the original GAC the program to mitigate all the abuse it suffered.

        Will it make sense to turn people away if the wheel chair cue, ie. Toy Story, is empty just because they want to be ‘fair’ about stand by times? Or make us wait to go into a show when there are still wheel chair spots available?

        Do people even realize that when you go into a show, other than Monster’s Inc. you either sit in the last row or the very front row because of the wheel chair? – Every time – there are no variations for wheel chair bound guest to explore what a show feels like in a venue from a different seat.

        I also do lots of ‘hurry up and wait’ at the parks for the shows to make sure that we’ll get one of those few wheel chair spaces available. Have you ever walked all the way to Lights, Motors, Action show at Hollywood Studios only to be turned away because there isn’t any more wheel chair seating available, yet there is still plenty of seating in the arena? — Same for Beauty & the Beast or Indiana Jones.

        I’ve waited many times much longer than the regular stand by line on several rides because my mom & my sister must ride in the special cars. It’s frustrating to see other people enter through the wheel chair line with big parties that get to ride before us because they can transfer.

        It would be nice if Disney took into consideration that some disabled guests are limited in the number of attractions that can even enjoy as well. My sister will never – NEVER – be able to ride Spaceship Earth, The Haunted Mansion, or Peter Pan. She will never have the choice to explore the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. – I think you get the idea….

        I agree that it would appear that the new fast pass + system will be a better option. However, my sister will probably still have longer wait times because we require the special wheel chair accessible vehiclesn and may not have the ability to enter through the alternate entrance.

        I’d also wonder if Disney considering how we reserved these fasspass+ rides. Or do we need to reserve the rides in groups that they designate even if we can only ride one of the rides listed? Yes, they say we can change the rides, however, when the system really gets going and every single person that descends on the parks will now want their 3 fast passes, will there be any wiggle room at all for these fast passes?

        It’s obviously not Disney’s responsibility that disabled guests don’t enjoy the same lifestyles as those without disabilities. It’s not their responsibility to toilet them & care for their basic needs throughout their entire lives into adulthood. The GAC not only accommodated the disabled guest, it also provided a more pleasant experience for the family members that must continue to provide for their loved one’s special needs even at the parks.

      • You are so right, Duffy!! I read another blog that said Disney is making the changes because those of us with disabilities are using the GAC too much!! But for my little family (usually just 3 of us – my adult DS daughter, my husband and myself – he’s the only one that isn’t legally disabled), this pass meant freedom!!

        But this really isn’t about my needs (even though the use of the GAC made our visits bearable for me), it’s about what is going to be taken away from my daughter. Other posters have talked about how they’ve already done dry runs not using the GAC to get their kids used to it, and for them, that’s great. But my daughter isn’t high-functioning. She lets loose with a primal scream, tears and snot when ever we get stopped by a traffic light or on the interstate on our way to the parks! Don’t people think I’ve TRIED to get her to understand??? She’s on the lower end, just before profound. There just isn’t any explanation I will be able to give when we have to wait outside a ride because I can’t and will not criss cross the park like others may be able. And to be honest, I know many others with disabilities like this will also not be able to do this. Maybe Disney is preparing “meltdown zones” for those families who can’t do what is being recommended.

        We didn’t use the FastPass tickets because we had the GAC and I felt that 1) those needed to be saved for the normal guests because at least they would also have an option for riding a bit quicker, and 2) by the time we even arrive at the parks, most are already gone and the machines are covered. Because of my disability, some days it’s all I can do to get out of bed to take care of my daughter. Not only do I have to get myself ready, I have to get her ready, too. It’s like having a 2-3 year old for the next 29 years. I have to pack a “diaper” bag for her, too, even though we try not to let her go in a diaper because it took 10 years JUST to get her toilet trained. We already make 10 or more trips to restrooms – I really don’t want her reverting back to diapers just yet. And then there’s the once a month crap that I guarantee no other woman is dealing with BUT her own. Unless people are responsible for taking care of a person like her, they have no idea what many of us deal with in our daily lives. Being able to feel a little special at Disney for 5-6 hours was a dream for me, and definitely for her. She has so little in her life that she can do – normal people that complain about this perk we have received have opportunities available to them of which I can only dream!!! No, not everyone has services from their states for programs, etc. We have no respite care, we have no caregiver to come and take her into the community – nothing. I can go nowhere without taking her with me. I can’t even jump in the car and run to the grocery without packing the bag and taking her with me. But even trying to explain this to people with no compassion or understanding for those like us is like trying to talk to a brick wall. I lived a normal life until my daughter was born, and then a few years later, Post-Polio struck and stripped me of my energy, muscle tone, and walking/standing for long periods of time. I can’t use a wheelchair when I have to push my daughter’s (which I use as a walker) and her dad can’t push two of them!! ECVs are not available to me because we don’t have that kind of money. My husband takes my daughter up the long hills for me while I take forever climbing those them, while I hear “can’t you move faster” from the people behind me. I was a majorette with an adult band when this struck – I marched 5 mile parades for hours with no problem. I even marched at WDW! Do you know how I feel when I see those bands marching in the parades and I can no long be part of that???? I didn’t ask for polio when I was 4 – in fact my family HID the illness from me until after my mother passed away 13 years ago. I really am glad, when I was “normal”, I opened doors and helped others when I did come in contact with them, and did understand I really did have more than they….

    • As another commenter pointed out my statement about Disney working with Autism Speaks on the program was incorrect. Autism Speaks is working with Disney on a guide to help families tour the parks, and Disney has consulted them on the new program and received some feedback. However, Autism Speaks has not partnered with Disney on the new program and we don’t know if their suggestions were actually used.

      • I’m beginning to wonder if Disney doesn’t want guest with Disabilities to frequent their parks anymore.

        Judging from Disney’s commercials, we don’t fit their marketing model for healthy, fit, families of 4.

  • As a person with low vision, I’m very curious about what this system means for me. I don’t need to wait separately, but I used the GAC for front row seating at shows and on attractions like GMR. At shows like BATB and indiana jones, cast members would typically let me sit in the wheelchair section in the front, while at shows like American Adventure, they’d just let me enter a bit before everybody else so I didn’t have to worry about getting a seat where I could see from. I understand the reason for the change, but I’m rather disappointed that now I won’t be able to have the assistance that helped me and vastly improved my trips in the past.

    • I would guess that Cast Members will still accommodate your need for front row seating, there just won’t be a different stamp on the card. If I hear more about how they plan to handle this I will update the post and would love to hear about your experience after your next visit.

    • I completely agree with Rachel. I too have low vision and registered partially sighted. The queue for Pirates for example is dangerous for me and we were often taken around the side. How will they deal with front seating to help?

      • You should still get a card just without a specific stamp. Then at Pirates, for example, I would assume you will explain to the CM which entrance you need and they will send you that way. The same entrances will still be in use and you can still request front row seating, there just won’t be a designation on your card.

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