Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How the Disney disability card works: 9 tips for parents of kids with special needs

How the Disney disability card works is something a whole lot of parents have been wondering since the new one came out in October. Our family has visited Disney World a couple of times and, like many, had excellent experiences using the former Guest Assistance Card (GAC). Basically, we walked into rides using an alternate entrance, bypassing lines.

Doing Disney this way is key for Max, who has sensory issues that make standing in a crowd and loud noises scary. Although he is able to handle short waits, he can't deal with long or indoor ones—he gets anxious, loses it and starts screeching. He's also got endurance challenges; he is a good walker, but because of the cerebral palsy he is unable to stand for extended periods of time.

When you've had blissful—not to mention easy—times at Disney using the GAC card, change can be particularly hard. But it had to happen because of pervasive abuse of the system. The Disability Access Service Card is here to stay, and as parents of kids with special needs know all too well how to do, you have to adapt to it. Although it's a more intricate system, it still enabled us to avoid major waits, and we made some discoveries that also smoothed the way.  

1. First, know how the card works.
Disneyland has two parts: Disneyland Park, with themed lands including Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, and Disney California Adventure, which includes Cars Land (aka Max's Holy Land) and Hollywood Land. We were there for four days, with Park Hopper tickets. If you're at Disneyland Park, you pick up the DAS Card at Guest Relations at City Hall (immediately to your left when you walk into the park).

We got our pass at California Adventure's Guest Relations in the Chamber of Commerce (also to the left when you walk in). There were about six or seven staffers there. The one I spoke with was cheerful, respectful and nice. When I said I had a child with special needs, she asked "What kind of accommodations does your child need?"

I explained that Max has challenges waiting on lines, because of sensory issues, and that he tires easily because he has cerebral palsy. She immediately said we could get a DAS Card. She walked around the desk and snapped a photo of Max with an iPad. (If you're not comfortable using your child's photo, an adult can take one in his place.)

Although we rented a wheelchair ($12 a day) for when Max got tired walking around (he'd outgrown the rental stroller), being in a wheelchair does not give you additional leeway. Only wheelchair users who also have behavioral or sensory issues with long queues can get a DAS Card. However, if lines on a ride are too narrow, wheelchair users can still access it through the exit or alternate entrance, as before. For parents whose kids use a stroller as a wheelchair, there's a red tag you can get at Guest Relations.

The DAS Card is good for your entire family. Just one key thing: Your child needs to be present for all of you to go on the ride. The card works for large parties, too, as I learned when I was wandering around with Max and got a tweet from a fellow blogger who said she'd just spotted Sabrina and Dave at Cars Land (it's a small world after all). Julie was traveling with her extended family, a party of 12, and the DAS Card worked for all of them. It's good for the length of your stay, or 14 days if you're a local or annual pass holder after which you need to get a new one.

Based on my observations (as well as insights from cast members I asked), your best bet is getting the Disability Access Service Card at California Adventure if you plan on going there too, because the line tends to be shorter. I saw cast members head outside with iPads to talk with waiting guests and keep things moving. If you're only going to Disneyland, Guest Relations gets busier as the day goes on, so hit it when you arrive.

Once you have the card, you tell the Guest Relations staffer which ride you'd like to go on first and she checks the wait time. She writes the name of the attraction, the current time, the current wait time and an assigned return time on the card. Then she tries to guess your weight! OK, not that.

If a ride's wait time is less than ten minutes, you just show your DAS Card and head through the Fastpass queue or an alternate entrance, depending on the ride. If the wait time is more than ten minutes, you get a return time that is 10 minutes less than the current wait time. So if the current wait time is 40 minutes, you'll get a return time for 30 minutes later. (Because we were there during a super-busy time, we were assigned returns 20 minutes less than the wait time.)

If that's making your head spin, forget about it and know this: You can actually return to a ride at any point after the assigned time, on the same day, so there's flexibility there.

That said, you can't book a new ride till the last one is crossed out by a staffer.

When we got to a ride, a cast member would tell us where to go and draw a line through the ride on the card. We usually ended up in a segregated area with just a few people, and typically waited less than five minutes. When you're ready to book the next ride, you stop at a Guest Relations kiosk. There are four in Disneyland (at Main Street, U.S.A; New Orleans Square; Fantasyland; and Tomorrowland). And there are four in California Adventure (at Buena Vista Street; Cars Land; Paradise Pier; and A Bug's Land). We never had much of a wait.

Guest relations stand at Fantasyland

2. Be super-specific about your child's needs.
With the old card, you also had to explain your child's needs to a cast member at Guest Relations. (Because of privacy laws, Disney can't ask for documentation about disability.) But with the new system, it's more important than ever for the cast member to understand what a child's challenges are. Even if you think that advocating for your child in The Happiest Place on Earth doesn't seem quite right, the truth is the better they understand your child's needs, the more accommodating they can be.

In retrospect, I should have mentioned that we actually do not know whether Max will go on a ride until we are literally about to board. Even if it's not dark or loud, he just might not be into it. We'd thought a Jungle Cruise would be a nice, relaxing start to our trip and so that was our first assigned ride. We got there. "Noooo!" said Max.

If your child ends up not going on the ride you got the time for, you can use the card for instant access to another ride. But I soon realized that the whirlwind of hit-or-miss experiences at rides was going to be stressful. So after we stopped at Cars Land to meet Lightning McQueen, I headed back to the Chamber of Commerce and told a staffer that.

3. Behold: the other pass.
"I know exactly what you need," the cast member said. She ducked into a back room, then came out and handed me three of these:

This is a "re-ad," aka Attraction Readmission Pass, aka manna from Disney heaven. They enabled our family to access any ride through a Fastpass or alternate entrance without a booked time, and added some spontaneity back to our trip. I was told by one manager that families are allowed up to four re-ads a day. They are not standard issue with a DAS Card; they are doled out on a case-by-case basis.

Stuff you might be wondering at this point:

So, is it a pain to repeatedly book ride times?
Fun, it's not, but you get used to it. Your child does not need to be present to get a return time, so you or your partner or your carrier pigeon can go to the Guest Relations kiosk. Max isn't a kid who wants to go on ride after ride; in between we rode the Monorail, the Red Car Trolley at California Adventure and the Disneyland Railroad, and stalked Lightning McQueen.

How did you deal with waiting between rides?
We weren't taking Max on super-popular rides like Racers and Space Mountain, which have way longer waits than ones geared toward young children. The longest we ever had to loll around was a half hour, and we got ice-cream. In general, we didn't spend a lot of time waiting between rides. And if it had become an issue, I would have let Guest Relations know.

Can I use the DAS Card to meet characters? 
If your child can't handle the wait, let the person taking your info for the DAS Card know—you could get re-ad passes just for that. You might not even need one, though. When Max wanted to meet Sofia, but the line was overwhelming to him, I told the cast member what was up and asked him to hold a spot. We took a five-minute walk, and when we got back he immediately let Max hit on her—er, meet her.

Note: At Disney World, the DAS Card can be used at any character meet-and-greet that has a Fastpass, including Princess Fairytale Hall. (Disneyland doesn't have Fastpass character meet-ups.)

4. Repeat rides are OK. (Phew.)

I had a feeling Max would be particularly psyched about Autopia. Ding, ding, ding! He didn't even need his headphones on. The crew let him repeat his ride without standing online. One day, he went on three times in a row.    

Best five bucks I ever spent; Max showed it to the attendant every time.

This was a big score, as Max has issues with transitions. Other parents of kids with disabilities, like Emily at Colorado Moms whose son has autism, also report being able to repeat rides. Sometimes, cast members may ask that your child return to the Fastpass line then get back on, as happened at Tuck and Roll's Drive 'Em Buggies in A Bug's Land. Max did OK—he knew he was getting to ride again.

5. Use Fastpass and the DAS Card
It's a way to fit in more rides. Fastpass, for the uninitiated, is a free Disney service to help beat ride wait times; you go to the attraction, insert your admission ticket into a machine and it spits out a Fastpass coupon printed with a return time window—say, between 11:00 and 11:15 or 3:30 and 4:00 (wait times vary, and are randomly generated). You need one for each member in your party. Mostly, we used the DAS Card and our re-ads, and typically that was enough rides for Max. If we'd needed more re-ads, I wouldn't have hesitated to ask for them.

6. It really does pay to arrive early.
We were at the parks first thing in the morning. We took the Monorail from Downtown Disney; when it dropped us off at Tomorrowland, the area was still magically empty and once we were able to jump right on the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. (It was the only time Max had a meltdown—I knew part of the ride would be dark, but I'd thought his love for the movie might prevail. Nope.) Another morning, we showed up at Mickey's Toontown right when it opened. Max was first to see Mickey and explore his house, and there were minimal waits to meet the other characters.


7. Take heart, the shows are very accommodating.
Max still enjoys the Disney Junior channel, and several times a day a theater on Hollywood Boulevard in California Adventure has a Disney Junior—Live on Stage! show with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse crew, Jake and that Never Land Pirates, Sofia the Great and Doc McStuffins. It lasts about 25 minutes.

The cast members let us wait right in front, and even offered to let Max go in first before anyone, but he refused.

So we left, and returned the next day. Again, Max was fearful. An especially nice cast member, Mike, tried to coax him in. Then he said, "We're going to get him in the back way" and took off. A few minutes later, he returned and escorted us through another doorway at the back of the auditorium. Max peered in cautiously from behind a curtain. Eventually, he went in, settled down and loved the show so much we had to go see it again the next day. Mike was there, gave a big "Hi, Max!" greeting then again let him in the back way. The shows were a highlight of the trip for him. Me, too, because I loved that he overcame his theaterphobia, and I loved seeing his fascination.

8. Sometimes, it's best to split up
I knew from past experience that it would best for our family to divide and conquer, so Sabrina could hit the rides she wanted to go on (basically, everything and anything). Dave and Sabrina went off in the afternoons, Max and I did our own thing, then we'd meet up for dinner. At night, Dave and Sabrina would return to the park. I never felt like we were sacrificing family time; each of us got to spend special time with the kids, and let them enjoy the parks in their own way.

9. If you can't get help, ask someone else.
I can't say enough good things about the cast members, who were exceptionally friendly and pleasant. Many took time to make conversation with Max or note, to his delight, "I love your Lightning McQueen sneakers!" We ran into just a couple of roadblocks. After misplacing our first DAS Card, I stopped by City Hall to get a new one. The staffer could not locate our information, ditto for the manager who came out. I wasn't up for explaining Max's needs all over again, and I left in frustration and later went to California Adventure's Chamber of Commerce. A cast member immediately found our record. She told me that the manager could have looked up information by our zip code—good to know if the same happens to you, given that it's still a new system.

Another time, we wanted to board the monorail at Tomorrowland and there was no way Max would wait on the long line. The cast member basically said sorry, nothing I can do (perhaps he'd forgotten to take his pixie-dust pill). But another cast member we bumped into a couple minutes later allowed us to enter via an alternate entrance when I explained Max's issues with crowds.

All in all, we had a great time. If Disney is game to tweak the DAS system, one welcome addition would be allowing card holders at Disneyland to get boarding times at the rides. Over at Disney World, that's how the DAS system works. Being able to get return times at both rides and kiosks would give parents of kids with special needs and people with disabilities more options—and the more, the magical-er. Or something like that.

Max found a world of entertainment outside the rides. The Pixar Play Parade in California Adventure—with his favorite characters from Toy Story, The Incredibles and Monsters University—was the first parade he ever saw live, and he didn't want it to end.

Then there were the little things that thrilled him, like watching the characters pop out at the It's A Small World clock tower.

When Max emerged from the Finding Nemo ride, weepy, we passed the Mine Mine Mine birds and he cracked up. We had to keep going back to see them, and he made me shoot this video.

Take a cue from the birds: If you're at Disneyland with a kid who has special needs, tell Guest Relations exactly what will make the visit yours, yours, yours. If necessary, do not hesitate to return and ask for more accommodations for your child, or different ones. Disney's new policy says that it provides service to guests with disabilities "that is responsive to their unique circumstances." Every kid and adult with special needs deserves that.

Disneyland provided complimentary media admission, but the opinions expressed here are my own. 


  1. Excellent tips! I went to Disneyland back in November but since I was solo, I couldn't use the card. Like we went to Disneyworld and used the GAC - I cannot wait to return because like Max, Norrin is a Cars lover. I know he'll LOVE Carsland.

  2. Thanks for the tips! Sounds like you had a great trip! We were at Disney World a few years ago, but we didn't get a GAC (didn't even know such a thing existed) and we still had a good time. Like you, we did the park hopper, hit the parks early, went back to the hotel for naps and the pool in the afternoon, then went back to the parks again in the evening. The only trouble was character phobia, but since we seem to be over that now, maybe we'll give Disney another shot soon.

  3. Ellen, this is indispensable! Thanks! Given how many jerks were abusing the former system, they clearly had to change it -- sounds like they're still as accommodating as they can be.

  4. I love your pictures and the tips! We haven't been to Disney yet, and I don't think we'd need the pass, but I'm really glad you wrote this - so many parents of children with Special Needs have been so quick to vilify Disney for making changes to something that worked well for them, but you remind people that change isn't always bad. I love seeing how happy Max is there, and so glad they were so accommodating. :-)

  5. Love this article -- so helpful -- so complete! Would love to have you on the show to discuss in depth!

  6. This was the most helpful post I've seen about the new system. We're headed to WDW at the end of this month with a child who needs accommodations. So, thank you.

  7. So my question is...

    What if your child doesn't have a Specific Diagnosis? Do I need to get all "She has cognitive disabilities of an unknown nature, that causes her to have no concept of time, limited ideas of turn taking and line waiting, zero grasp on the idea of "Come back later", could suddenly change her mind at the entrance of the ride, oh, and low muscle tone that causes fatigue and epilepsy."

    Really, the lack of concept of time and waiting and that is the biggest worry.

    1. They cannot ask you for your child's diagnosis. They ask what accommodations you need so just articulate what you need & why.

  8. So grateful to have another first hand experience with the DAS. This is very helpful information. It was so frustrating to see people bash Disney and the system who never tried it.

  9. Great write up! We were just there earlier in December & had a pretty good experience although we ran into more grumpy cast members. I blogged about it too http://moriahbettencourt.typepad.com I didn't know about the re admission passes, those are exactly what we need. We're going again in February so I'll be sure to ask for those. In general I believe that a positive attitude goes a long way, it seems as though many of the cast members have been bombarded so they are hesitant but once we smiled & made it clear we were happy to work within their system they warmed up.

  10. I was at Disney World in late Dec. Having CP, Migraine disorder, and using GAC. I found it disgusting that a cast member asked me in front of a whole crowd of people what I needed and I then had to explain everything. As a parent this might be fine... you are advocating for your child. As an adult this felt down right dehumanizing. They can't ask me what my disability is called but it is alright for me to have to explain that extended time in the sun can lead to migraines and seizures? I did use a combination of fastpass and GAC but we found that at Disneyworld they were VERY strict about returning with in your allotted hour while using GAC.

    I will admit that Disney during the holidays is at its peak. I will also point out that everyone and their cousin tries to rent scooters and use the wheelchair line. That said, your photo on the pass and the constant need to explain your "limitations" in public 10 times a day should more then warrant that you get to ride a popular ride more then once in your entire trip.

    Also fatigue is an issue. If you have a 9 am fast pass and then want to ride again using your GAC (They will not let you stay on if you are on a poplar ride such as Buzz Light Year) you might be in for another 2 hr wait... many cannot stay in the parks for that long at a clip. I am lucky that in the cooler weather this is not an issue.

    Mostly, Disney used to be my favorite because I got equal access to rides, was able to keep up with my friends, and was able to enjoy shows and rides without utter exhaustion setting in. This was the ONLY place that allowed me that level of access. Now, having to go all over the park explaining how I am "different" and how that effects my ability to "vacation" just kills a huge piece of it for me. I am the "disabled" one enough in this life.

    Maybe my experience would be different if I "looked" or "spoke" as if I had more of a disability, besides just sitting in a chair. I know it would have been different if I was a child or had a parent advocating for me. But, why should my vacation that I pay for, be less of an experience now because someone without my disability is put in a place to judge my needs in any way? It saddens me so so much.

    1. Everything I've read about the new DAS system points to Disney wanting to provide accommodation, so perhaps you could try starting off by saying that you'd rather discuss your situation privately? That would seem like a reasonable request to me. Hopefully it would seem so to them as well.

    2. I hear your frustration. As a family with no issues, but loves Disney, I have managed 3-4 trips there where we never waited more than 10 minutes for a ride. It's really all about planning. The time of year you go, the time of day you go. What rides you hit first, maximizing your fast passes. Also knowing when to take a break and come back later.
      I'm sorry it is uncomfortable for you to explain your situation, but if you want the special treatment, you need to do so. Otherwise, everyone would be asking for the special treatment, making it not so special any more.
      I recall planning my last visit (before this new program went into place) a friend said to me, "Just go in and tell them your kid has issues waiting in lines, they'll give you a special pass, no questions asked. We do it all the time." Being ethical, I wouldn't dream of doing it. But I can see how the abuse was out of control.

    3. I'm sorry that this was your experience. We are annual WDW passholders and we go to the parks once a month for a weekend. We are not a family with disabilities but we do talk to a lot of other guests. We actually spoke to a cast member (on their day off and playing in the parks) and I couldn't believe she actually admitted that she tells WDW that her husband has seizures when he doesn't! They do that to abuse the system. And suggested that we do the same! No way would we pretend to have a condition just so we could get ahead in line. Shameful for this person to suggest such a thing. I hope your experience in the future in a better one.

    4. Type and print out your need for accommodations on a small card or paper. That way, you can just hand the paper to the guest relations/cast member and let them read it. Make a few copies, in case you lose any.

  11. This is awesome, my daughter has sever sensory issues and anxiety and this would make a trip more enjoyable and now possible. As she cannot handle amusement parks if we were to go like a "normal" family; she couldn't handle it. I am so glad you posted this!!

    1. My son has sensory processing disorder and anxiety too. I hope Disney World is that easy. We go in 6 months.

  12. I wonder if the band director would ask me about this before the band trip, should it be here again. I do not need it because I'm autistic and dislike using my accommodations (I call them hacks) to get a leg up. and learned to build up the patience to stand for two hours. People would look at me like "What are you doing?" if I had it.

  13. We'll written Ellen. We flew from Australia to Disneyland in December 2012 with our 2 special kiddos. The GAC was such a Blessing for us. I was so sad to hear of its demise but understand why Disney did what they did. Michelle :)

  14. We had a good experience with the DAC in DisneyWorld during it's roll-out week in October, with two SN kids in our party. It was particularly good, because each child got his own card that was valid for the whole party, so we could book a ride on one child's card while waiting for the return time on the other's. And I loved stroller-as-wheelchair, it allowed quicker and less overwhelming access to things even when we didn't have a return time or fastpass.

  15. Just back from 2 weeks at Disney World over the holidays...we found a couple of small differences, but this is a good primer.
    - Officially, the DAS card is good for six people, including the person with the disability. In practice, the staff were generally willing to accommodate our whole party, even if we were a couple of people over 6.
    - If the regular line was more than 30 mins (not 10), we got a return time. Otherwise, we just entered the FastPass line.
    - At Disney World, you get the return times from the staff at the FastPass entrance of the ride. Having kiosks that can give times for any ride anywhere would actually have been really convenient, as the adults in the party (mainly hubby) were crisscrossing the parks multiple times to get the times lined up.
    - The disabled person does NOT have to be present to get a time, only for your party to get on the ride. We had two "cast members" confused on this point (on the same ride). I spoke to someone in the Guest Relations office, and he apologized, got the names of the staff members who needed to be reminded, and gave us extra FastPasses by way of apology. Sadly, he also told me that with all the confusion and frustration over the new system, cast members have been assaulted by irate parents. Not cool.

    You may also want to have the Disney DAC FAQ bookmarked in your phone's browser:

  16. This was such a great post—both for the information and for the awesome photos of Max. If I take my kiddos to Disney, I'll definitely be back here to take notes. And kudos to those cast members who made the trip great. Little things can make such a difference.

  17. Thank you for posting about this. My son is 4 and has a lot of the same needs as your son. It is great to hear that Disney is able to make it fun for them too. I want to take him to Disneyland but was so worried about he would handle the lines and all the people and noise.

  18. It does sound like it's workable, the only thing I disagree with is having a Photo of your child with his/her name on it and having to explain in great detail in front of everyone your childs specific needs. Obviously this has to happen in some way, but for a child to have to listen to this information rattled off in front of strangers is embarrassing, I know my child would be embarrassed. Perhaps they could do a Card or Checklist system in writing with a Comments section underneath so our children don't have to be degraded in front of the entire park. If one parent can stay outside while one goes inside it's fine, but if you are flying solo?

    1. Having to explain in detail your afflictions and what your child needs is worse than a damn letter form a doctor not some half trained CM who might be a high school kid.
      There has to be a system to have a doctor note admitted into files because there is no hippa violation the park has no access to Patient files .It is lovely that it works for some but it clearly don't work for a huge number of people.

  19. Just as an FYI, as a frequent Disney Visitor with a child on the autism spectrum. Certain parks in Disney (specifically EPCOT) will not allow you to jump to a different ride without re-"stamping" the DAC. So if your child does not want to go on a ride, and you take your DAC to a different ride, they will not let you jump in line.

  20. Just went yesterday and got the das card. At first I felt a little phony asking for it since my kiddo is 22 months only and like every typical 22 month old, has difficulty waiting in long lines. He's missing some genes on chromosome 21 and is severely delayed in all areas and most people assume he's less than a year old. Didn't realize how much I needed it until I had to wait in a short line without my stroller .. It would've been impossible to wait in a line longer than 10 minutes because he is very squirmy and gets sick easily so large crowds in a confined area would have been no good. Thank you for the tips!

  21. Really I love your pictures and the tips! We haven't been to Disney yet, and I don't think we'd need the pass, but I'm really glad you wrote this...thank you card access systems

  22. The word on the street and on Disney call centers is that effectively immediately readmission passes and other accommodations will no longer be provided alongside the DAS. But with everything surrounding this messy transition, there is very little information being provided and two CMs / phone reps don't tell the same story.

    1. Disney has killed the fun

  23. Thank you... very informative. That cast member Mike brought tears to my eyes.

  24. Does anyone know if this card also would work for adults? My husband had PTSD and can not do the lines crowded spaces but would really love to do a Disney park with our girls.

  25. I enjoyed reading about your great trip - your positive attitude went a long way in making the trip a success. In all honesty, in our case, the whole process sounds like it would be exhausting. My daughter is medically fragile, quadriplegic, seizure disorder. Maybe I would change my mind once I try it, but I feel it is too expensive to take a gamble on it, at least until all the kinks are ironed out. Since it's a new system, it sounds like they are not being consistent in how they enforce certain policies, so it depends on the mood or whim of each cast member on certain things. Hopefully, it will get better with time.

  26. this is amazing, i can't believe how much they helped you and what an amazing day you all had! i think that all theme parks and attractions should do this, along with access lifts

  27. How does the DASC work with The Roger Rabbit Ride? Do you have to go through the general queue (as people with wheelchairs have to do), or do you get a comeback time. I can handle the ride, but not after the long line through all that sensory stimulation.

  28. What I don't understand is why parents subject their children to situations that could potentially cause distress? Our twins are both on the spectrum and while we know that although they would enjoy@ some aspects of the trip, it just wasn't worth the the meltdown that might occur.

    1. Disney is no different than any other place we take our children. Our children have issues everywhere - school, the grocery store, church, the park, home - everywhere and anywhere. I guess what you are suggesting is we should never take our children out of the house? I did that for the first year after diagnosis. I hid my children away from the world. Not because it was better for them. I did it because I could not take the constant barrage of criticism and comments from complete strangers. We have all been through it. It still amazes me, a decade later, how often I get negative comments from strangers and how infrequently I get offers of assistance. On a day out I get about 40-50 negative comments. On average I get about five offers of assistance a year. And my children are now both in wheelchairs. As a single mom that means I am pushing a special double wheelchair that is a beast.
      So what you are recommending is my children and I should still be hiding in our home so the rest of the world doesn't have to be inconvenienced by us?
      We take our children out because they are human beings and they are part of society. We take our children to Disney so we can see the looks on their faces as they experience the magic in a way we will never get to (and apparently most will never understand). The pictures of Max are precious. Especially for those of us who know how hard every single day is.

    2. As a mom and a special needs advocate, it is not fair to hide your child away from the world. Also, I have 5 children and it is not far to my "typical" kids to not visit Disney because of their sister. My one daughter is severely disabled, 2 of my boys have mild disabilities, 2 are typical, my spouse is disabled from cancer and I suffer from a condition similar to MS. We put off Disney for a long time out of fear, but we are finally booked for next month. I am really scared that due to endurance issues because of our disabilities we won't be able to do much in the parks. But it wouldn't be fair to my children not to try.

  29. Love this site because it reminds my of my 16 year old son when he was younger. We have only visited Disney parks 3 times (traveling from Seattle) and used the GAC. I just explained to my son that the new card rules are just like when he went to Cars a few years ago, and he agree that this is now perfect for him but it may have been too difficult "When I was younger and still a hand-flapping, anxiety ridden, non-communicative boy who loved Disneyland," (his words- verbatim) lol. He asked why, and I explained that a couple thousand people were claiming to be disabled when they weren't. He looked at me as though I said Disney now requires everyone to show up in their underwear! First, he laughed sort of quite and low, and then he practically guffawed, "People want to pretend to be disabled? What kind of twisted mind does that take?" We stared at each other and shook our heads, remembering the pain, frustration, and tears over the years from tests, therapies, schools, and food allergies. We have come a long way, and my son has grown into quite a phenomenal young man who gets a 4.0 in school every year and sells his art to raise money for Autism.
    Still, we both remember our shock at seeing a grown woman (30ish) skipping along side a man with a cane hanging from his wrist (50ish) as they passed by us in an alternate entrance while she exclaimed "How great this is." Life is like that, sometimes! Over the years I have gradually come to see them as disabled of heart and soul. They have so much to learn from this world! We will still visit the mouse and count ourselves lucky to be able to do so. Best wishes from Y & A

  30. I've used the GAC in Disney World a few years ago for myself. I'm an adult with several invisible issues. Does the new system work the same way for adults? I also need to turn the stroller into a "wheelchair" for some of my issues. Do you think I would have a problem? I could not do Disney without the GAC.

  31. We used the DAC for our 2 day trip in May and found it to be SO tiring! We were split up a good part of the day, with one of us parents going back and forth to the kiosks. We accidentally got separated and by the time we were reunited with one another, I wondered if the trip to Disneyland was even worth all the EXTRA trouble a disabled person must go through to access the ride.
    I agree that the system should be accessible at each ride's exit, so at the very least it could be made in a timely manner. We wasted so much time and precious energy just trying to schedule ride times.

    The very worst was Radiator Springs Racers (and of course my child's VERY favorite!) I took the return time and we waited the hour 1/2 off to the side, then after the time elapsed, we went to the queue. The ride was closed. I understood the ride broken... so we went on to another ride line and waited over 45 minutes in it. It was so hard. My kiddo also tires due to health reasons...afterwards we went back to the RSR and the line was SUPER long, but we thought we could enter it and get to the handicapped entrance...NO GO. We had to wait in the same line as the fastpass people (who all charged the line with re-ad cards) and ended up stuck in a maze of bodies. We couldn't get out without a huge scene, so we tried our best but it was torturous. I cant imagine treating the handicapped in such a way. Why they couldn't let us in to the handicapped queue via the exit so we could keep our sanity is beyond me. I hate the change in the DAC and pray they change it to accommodate the handicapped instead of making access harder. When I told the gal at the Carsland kiosk the trouble, she acted like she didn't even hear me and was curt in her responses. It took us 3 hours to get on the ride, so as the pass says, it may take you longer than a non-handicapped person to access. This to me, stinks of unfairness...but hey, my kid get's a front row lesson in life's not fair, and so will most who try to utilize a program they think is to help them, not hinder them!

  32. When we go to Disney with our daughter who is now 26 we have an index card that says she has autism and hold it up behind her when she is hugging the characters with a lot of excitement. The characters make a big fuss over her and she loves it!

  33. SCREW Disney! I live in Orlando and am totally BOYCOTTING ANYTHING Disney, including the parks. I have a twenty-something autistic son, and this new "system" is nowhere NEAR "equal access." If you figure out how much you, each family member, and the disabled member are paying for the Disney park that day by the MINUTE, and then figure out how many "walks" you had to take with the disabled person (whether they wanted or needed a walk or not) just to play the line game, you'd realize you were robbed. The disabled person NATURALLY slows the group down, because they have plan more carefully, take more breaks, buy more drinks, take some time out for breathers because they're overwhelmed, avoid certain areas that are loud, etc, etc, and they and the group STILL PAY THE USUAL PRICE, not discounted. Other fortunate people are constantly running around the park, teens taking off with the younger siblings giving the parents a few breaks, etc., and they are able to squeeze every dime out of their ticket prices -- WE CAN'T. But we NEVER COMPLAINED about THAT. All we EVER ASKED DISNEY was to have the ability to get on as MANY RIDES as others, see as much of the PARK as others, and MAKE UP FOR THE TIME WE LOSE because of the disability! I've even gone with friends who had a wheelchair user....we were slowed down CONSIDERABLY, and didn't get to do as much as the people rushing around the park. NO DISCOUNT NEEDED. Just EQUAL ACCESS, DISNEY! EQUAL! We need to make up for the time it takes for some in toileting issues, meltdowns, and the like, and the ONLY WAY to do that was the way it WAS -- the DISABILITY PASS. I would NEVER go to Disney if they expect my family to have to waste MORE of OUR ENERGY going back to check-in at the third reich station to report WHERE WE'RE GOING and WHEN WE SHOULD GO, and WHEN WE HAVE TO TAKE THE BREAKS, and WHEN MY SON HAS TO ARRIVE at that ride, REGARDLESS of his state of arousal at that minute. WE WANT FREEDOM to walk around that park LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, and if WE PASS A RIDE that we didn't even know was in the area, or that my son never went on and NOW is miraculously CONSIDERING much to my AMAZEMENT? I want to be able to WALK RIGHT THE HECK IN WITH HIM like EVERYBODY ELSE -- WHAT we want, WHERE we want, WHEN we want, with WHOM we want, and HOW we want to! I would NEVER go get my little HALL PASS signed by Disney to let them know we finished one ride and want to book another. We want SPONTANEOUS PARK EXPERIENCES LIKE THE REST OF THE WORLD. FOR WHAT THEY'RE DOLING OUT NOW, IT IS NOT WORTH THE TICKET PRICES FOR MY FAMILY, considering we're barely going to get ANYTHING out of that day that is COMPARABLE to what other families are getting for the dollar. SAYONARA, DISNEY. I would be MORE THAN WILLING to get THE DOCTORS NOTE to get a yearly pass or something like that, and Disney should OFFER THAT to anyone who wants to VOLUNTEER that consensus form the doctor. Doesn't need PERSONAL INFO. Just the STATEMENT SIGNED by the physician that they can CONFIRM BY MAIL OR PHONE WITHOUT having to ask for ANY PERSONAL MEDICAL INFO. Disney CHOSE to 'fast pass' the disabled people, including the children, and that was a HUGE MISTAKE, because IT WAS NOT THE LINES WE WERE COMPLAINING ABOUT ALL THE TIME -- it was the ABILITY TO BE SPONTANEOUS as we walked around the park and went on what we could WHEN we could, according to the ever-changing behavioral state of the disabled person.

    1. The "rest of the world" doesn't get to be spontaneous either. They have to get in the line and wait ~ sometimes 10 minutes, sometimes 2 hours. They don't get the accommodation of getting assigned a time to come back and not having to just sit around waiting, waiting, waiting. Disney is doing the best they can to accommodate those with special needs while cutting back on the abuse of their policies.


Thanks for sharing!

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