Disneyland’s Guest Access Card Changes & Physical Disabilities

The Disney drama.  I’m sure you are well aware of it all.  If you haven’t heard, I’d like to know what cave you live in.  (Mostly because I want to come visit.  And perhaps take up residence alongside you.)

I’ve avoided getting into the fray on purpose.  Because after a while it feels a lot like beating a dead horse.  And I wonder what I can bring to the table that is new or hasn’t been dissected 8,000 times.

Except that, as I read blog post after blog post, CNN articles, Huffington Post opinion pieces, and Facebook rants, a peculiar voice seems to be missing.  A “side” (if there can be a side in such things) that is quite silent amid the protests and anger.  The side is there…just quiet…perhaps even pushed to the side a little bit.  Or just not as organized and loud anyway.

Here’s the background: I have a daughter with Cerebral Palsy and Epilepsy.  For all intents and purposes, she cannot walk, nor can she talk.  She rocks the cutest little walker you ever did see, and can say a few things, but generally speaking she is non-verbal and requires a wheelchair for anything more than about half an hour of walking.  Or, because she is still only 4.5 years old…we use a stroller.

We also happen to have annual passes to Disneyland, and it has been one of the most magical and incredible family fun times of our lives.  I could try to explain it to you in paragraph after paragraph, but there’s just no way to describe seeing your child have genuine fun…their face light up…and feel like just one of the kids…when you so often watch them on the sidelines…watching everyone else ride bikes and play baseball in the cul de sac.  Disneyland is one of the absolute few places where we can all…every one of us…participate in the same way.  Disneyland is not a basic human right, but it’s FUN.  And in so many ways, it actually manages to level the playing field, if even only for a day.

(And just to clarify as I continue, we paid for our passes with our own moola, and yes, I’ve done a few posts for Disney…but they were through a third party and I have ZERO contact with Disney folks.  Truly.  I have about as much connection to Disney as your neighbor does.  Unless your neighbor actually does work for Disney.  Then not him.  He doesn’t count.)

(Also, yes, I am very aware of how privileged we are to be able to buy our family passes.  In fact, they expire in November, and we are having big conversations about if renewal is the best option for what it does to illustrate our family values to our children vs. the fun stuff.  It’s complicated.  And weirdly hard.)

Moving on.

I want to begin with my understanding of the history of the Guest Assistance Card at Disneyland.  The GAC was never intended to be a cut to the front of the line pass.  Or, as Fox News called it: “[the] line-jumping program“.  Sure, that’s how it worked out in reality (guests with the pass typically enter through the exits of rides and don’t have to wait in the oftentimes long lines), but the reason the card was created had nothing to do with giving the disabled a permanent Fast Pass or any kind of special privileges.  It was created originally to solve a very simple problem: people in wheelchairs physically couldn’t get through the lines.  The older, original line ups weren’t designed to accommodate wheelchairs.  They just weren’t wide enough, with large enough turns at the ends as dictated by ADA regulations.  Period.  When the GAC was first implemented (and I think it was even called something else until recently), it was a simple solution to a mobility issue.  If Jill wants to ride Peter Pan, she literally cannot wait in the line.  Physically.  Not because we feel entitled to jump the line, Fox.  Not because she gets an extra perk for being born with a disability.  But because we won’t fit.  (And before anyone points out that it’s a double stroller…yes, it happens to be…ADA requires 32″ of clearance for wheelchairs and our stroller is 29″ wide.  It’s only a matter of time until we have to transition to an official chair.)

Ever notice that the official symbol for disabilities is a dude in a wheelchair?  That’s because there was a time, not too long ago, when the vast majority of people only considered physical disabilities to be “handicapped”.  In fact, we’re not even really allowed to use that word anymore.  It’s so 1995.  And politically incorrect.

And that’s kind of the point here.

We all know that the definitions of a disability have widened to include many different disabilities…both visible and invisible.  Both physical and cognitive.  Sensory issues, Autism Spectrum, seizure disorders, spina bifida, children who need regularly cathed…and so much more.

IMG_4744

Disneyland is caught in the middle of an ever changing landscape, and what was once simply considered “wheelchair access” is now a much nuanced and very complicated world to navigate.  Never was it intended (or even considered) that kids with “invisible disabilities” would be part of that equation.  (P.S. federal law prohibits Disney from requiring proof of a disability…another conundrum Disney is caught in, which is ironic because most of us with proof have no problem showing it…I actually brought a report from our neurologist the first visit thinking we had to show something).  I do not envy the Disney folks who are having to make these decisions.

Now, I am not in any way saying that children/people with sensory disorders (for example) should not be given a GAC.  They should.  Because that’s real.  But I won’t speak to the issues of cognitive/sensory/behavior based disorders in this post simply because I cannot.  We deal with a whole host of issues, but none of these are in our repertoire.  I would be speaking completely out of turn if I even tried.

And if I’m being really honest, it feels like most of the attention/discussion/debate on this topic revolves around this “type” of disability.  Again, I’m not saying they shouldn’t have a say…of course they do…just that it seems that those with primarily physical disabilities are awfully quiet on the topic.  And I want to give a voice to them too.  Not silencing anyone…just joining the conversation, if you will.  (Like all those disclaimers?  Because I just know someone will think I’m all anti-autism or something and I am so totally not.  Love you friends!  All of you.)

So here’s how I imagine it went down: Disneyland realized that their line rides weren’t in compliance with ADA regulations (regulations which were also still mainly geared for wheelchair access).  They devised a plan that kept them from completely redesigning their park and solved the problem.  Said card was abused by some who would rent a wheelchair and pretend to be disabled.  Everyone knew there was abuse, but whatever.  At some point, if you want to be shady, go ahead and be shady.

As years went on, the definitions expanded (rightfully so) and as such, so did the abuse of the system.  You don’t even have to spend the $25 to rent a chair!  Hot dog!

In fact, even within the last year that we have had our annual passes, we have seen it.  The line to get your GAC at City Hall was literally out the door and down the street.  Andy overheard a group laughing about how they were denied the GAC this time.  You know, as he stood there with our daughter in her walker.  Super funny.  Keep laughing.  Mocking my daughter’s disability is super hysterical.  There is a special place for you, my friend.

There have even been exposes of rich Manhattan moms who pay disabled people to go to the parks with them so they can cut to the front of the line.  Apparently money really can’t buy you class.  I kinda thought that was just a saying.

So.

Disney says they want to put a stop to all this abuse.  They’ve devised a new plan…in it’s simplest form it goes something like this:

We go to one of the kiosks they will distribute around the park.  Stand in line.  Get a pass with a time to go on the ride.  The time penciled in will mimic that of what it would take for us to stand in the line assuming our wheelchair/stroller could fit.  We go off and hang out, stroll through a shop, eat lunch…ride Peter Pan.  Repeat.  For every single ride.  One at a time.

Now, in theory, this looks to be a fair option.  We can’t stand in the line, so Disneyland will artificially create wait times for us.

But there are two fundamental issues I see with this system:

1) It won’t curb abuse.  Let’s face it.  People who are ugly enough to PRETEND THEY HAVE A DISABILITY are heartless jerks who have no idea what they are pretending.   They just want to have the best time possible at the parks without all that pesky waiting in line business.  Sure, they’ll get on fewer rides this way…since they’re no longer “cutting” the line…but who wouldn’t rather wander around, eat a Dole Whip, take a breather on a bench, watch the newest parade, or take a bathroom break INSTEAD OF STANDING IN A HOT SUN DRENCHED LINE for 45 minutes?  No one in their right mind would choose to stand in line over the “lolly gagging” around approach.  Add to it a less than ideal conscience, no legal way to require proof, and the abuse will be EXACTLY THE SAME.

In the meantime…

2) I find it ironic that people with disabilities will be forced to criss-cross the park many times more than a typical park guest to get to and from these kiosks.  Particularly for those with mobility issues.  Unless Disney installs these kiosks at every single ride line, our family will be going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth.  You know, while pushing a wheelchair.  [UPDATE: We've since been to Disneyland with the new system and this is less of an issue than I expected.  Especially because the disabled person does not have to be present at the kiosk.  So I can wait with Jill and Andy can walk to a kiosk without the entire family tagging along.]

I’m not pretending to have the perfect answer.  But I am saying that this one doesn’t seem like the Right One.

A couple of other thoughts:

And then there’s THIS side of the coin:  The first time we visited the park with a GAC I told Andy “You know, I know it’s not the point, but I think that active military and anyone who deployed in the last 10 years should get one of these passes too.  Because hello, they deserve it.  If Disney is all about being The Happiest Place on Earth, it seems that would be a cool thing for them to implement.  It’s really awesome to have a day where you don’t feel bogged down by reality.”

Here’s my appeal to those of you who still think that disabled folks need to just wait “just like everyone else” and quit demanding special treatment:

Life isn’t a competition for Who Has It Hardest.  It’s not.

But the harsh reality is that we are not “just like everyone else”.  I desperately wish we were.  But, we are not.

And it sucks.

But I assure you that we’ve waited.

We’ve waited as I pace my front porch looking frantically for the ambulance to pull up.

We’ve waited for seizures to stop after 3 hours of not.

We’ve waited on hold with hospital bill collectors looking to set up payment plans that I’m supposed to magically make.

We’ve waited in hallways, wearing worried paths into the tile.

We’ve waited in clinics we can hardly pronounce the names for.

We’ve waited in world class children’s hospitals for answers, we never really found.

We’ve waited for the sick and dying children in rooms surrounding us to get even one visitor.  Knowing that even with world class care, they probably won’t ever go home to their bedrooms.

We’ve waited as insurance we pay A WHOLE LOT FOR denies life saving medication for my daughter.  THREE TIMES OVER.

We’ve waited for more test results than I can shake a stick at.

We’ve waited for trips to Target that take 3 times longer because we’re wrangling equipment.

Her siblings wait. all. the. time.  For their disabled sister.  Even when they, themselves, are not.

I’m still waiting to hear the words “I love you, Mommy.”

I’m still waiting to chase my girl around the couch.

I’m still waiting for the day my family can go camping.

I have a feeling that I’ll always be waiting for some of these things.

So we’ve waited.  A whole damn lot.

I promise you that if it meant getting to see my girl skip through Pixie Hollow, I would happily stand in lines in exchange.

All those kids who chose Disney as their Make A Wish?  Bet they’d swap the GAC they’re automatically given for your lines any day.

IMG_3788

While the intent of the GAC was not a “cut in line pass”, the truth is that Disney is in the business of Happy and Magic.

And if, for only one day, we get to skip the waiting…would it kill you?

While I don’t feel entitled to any kind of special privilege, and it isn’t the purpose of the GAC, I can’t help but think: would it be that awful to just throw us a bone?  And perhaps, when your child whines that it isn’t fair, rather than huff and puff in agreement, you kneel down and have a moment when you teach them about Compassion and Love, and how sometimes the Loving Thing doesn’t always feel like the Easiest Thing.  Kindness is a learned trait.  So is intolerance.

Life is not fair.  Nor will it ever be.  But at some point, is it so hard to even give it a try?  Even if fair to one looks unfair to the other.  For one day?

So while you hold your girl’s hand, swinging arms, watching her hang off the line railings and feeling exasperated that she’s just. not. listening., I’ll keep pushing our stroller/wheelchair, giving medications, grilling the Disney Fire Chief about emergency procedures, and praying she stays safe the whole day.

But let’s keep it fair, right?

* * * *

Also, in the highly unlikely event that someone from Disney actually reads this: Give Military Families the GAC too.

Because THANK YOU.

You’ve waited a whole lot too.  And I think it’s high time you didn’t have to.

 

****UPDATE: I actually visited the park on Days 1 and 2 of the new changes to the program.  For details on how it works and my thoughts see HERE.***

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jeannett
I'm a mom to four. A wife to one. I believe in story. I love telling you about mine and would love to hear yours. There's really no sense in wasting our suffering and not sharing in each other's joy. We're all in this together...even if it doesn't always feel like it.
jeannett
jeannett

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Comments

  1. 1

    Preach on it, sister!
    XO
    Caryl

    • 2

      I love your beautifully written and heartfelt story although it’s so very sad that you had to write it at all. I’m hoping Disneyland puts forth some effort and figures out a way to resolve this. Sending you love and lots of white light.

  2. 3

    Ok, so I’ve been living under a rock.. or in Wisconsin where we don’t hear much about California or Disneyland news. haha. As a former annual passholder (for years) I am so sad to hear about these changes. Because, like you said it sounds like this will create more of a problem for those who truly do need the convenience. The fakers will always fake and they’ll have to live with that forever, which is sick really. But, it just doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense, like you said. I was shaking my head in total confusion while reading. I’ve never understood the people who go to Disneyland and act like big jerks. Isn’t it called the “happiest place on earth” for good reason?
    I know that our family (kids 10 & 5) would be happy to WAIT in line, even a bit longer if it means that a family like yours gets to “cut” in line. I seriously hope that Disney thinks of a different way to go about things. And, I had no idea that CA was created as wheelchair friendly. That’s awesome.
    Alyson @Vintage Sunshine´s last blog post ..some days..

  3. 4

    Oh goodness. I’ve been occasionally clicking on the different articles. My mom, brother and I had a habit when I was in college and had reading breaks to fly to Florida and go to WDW for 2 days. We would always spend one of those days at Universal because that is where Barney is and that is what John cares the most about. But he does like the Disney characters as well. We haven’t been there in…3 years? But are talking about another trip in the next year or so. It will be interesting to see how we are treated.
    Katie´s last blog post ..Race Recap: Irongirl Duathlon Bloomington 2013

  4. 5

    Love this! I appreciate that you didn’t take the angry approach that so many have done. I have avoided so many of those articles because of the anger and ignorance. We are one of those families that has the card because of mobility issues. My husband has no arms and shortened legs and uses an electric wheelchair for long distances. We will continue to go to both of the Disney parks (FL and Cal) just like we always have and take things as they come just like we always have to do. Thank you!
    Joni´s last blog post ..Eighteen Months

  5. 6

    Amen to infinity! great post. I hope it finds it way to the Disney peeps.

  6. 7

    AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!
    Mommy to 10. 13 and under.´s last blog post ..Where did this past month go?

  7. 8

    This made me cry. As someone who is, to an extent, invisibly disabled from chronic pain and severe Crohn’s Disease, reading the exposes on these Manhattan moms paying disabled people to help them skip the lines sickened me. I don’t go to Disney often and haven’t really been since I have been dealing with such severe chronic pain (invisible disabilities are difficult and at 21 you get a lot of stares when you “look” as if you are totally fine.)
    I hate that Disney has not handled this better, for your family and for the thousands of families out there like yours.
    Thank you for writing this and educating others on the situation. I pray that they sort this out and that your family is able to go back and experience some of that magic.

    • 9

      Hey, Hannah,
      this is totally off topic, but have you read The Maker’s Diet by Jordan Rubin? He had Crohn’s Disease. Really really bad Crohn’s disease and wrote about it. You’ve probably already read it. If so, forget I said anything. But just in case you haven’t I thought I’d mention it. My husband and I really liked it.

  8. 10

    I hadn’t heard about any of this! Of course, I haven’t been to Disney but once and that was when I was around 7 or 8 years old. Now. we’re living an hour from Orlando (Disney World) and are seriously considering going with our three kids before Trav deploys in Feb for 6 months. I, of course, think you’re spot on, Jeannett, and I’m sorry for how this all affects you and sweet Jilly.

  9. 11

    Amen sister!
    jenn zeeb´s last blog post ..A Little Red, Teal & some Sparkle

  10. 12

    I have been living under a rock too. Until today. We are a Disney loving family and take trips from Ohio to Orlando every other year. My husband is Deaf so we don’t use the GAC but we use the interpreting schedule for shows and a few rides and it is HORRIBLE. There is no rhyme or reason to the times and you have to run from one side of the park to the other. They have special HC sections for the interpreters but they get filled very quickly by people who are in wheelchairs leaving us without a clear view to the interpreters. {not knocking the need for the wheelchairs – just the placement of the interpreters). It is extremely frustrating and does not make for a Happy Place on Earth moment for us.
    After reading about these “time card kiosk” systems, I suspect it will look much the same and I fear it will be more hassel than its worth.

    With that being said, we did use a GAC last time we went. My mother has Stage 4 cancer. It was July and and there was no way she could stand in the heat and the lines. The pass made our “lets make all the memories we can before she dies” trip so much more enjoyable. I don’t think she would have made it 4 hours much less 14 if we hadn’t have had the pass.

    I hope Disney hears all the legitimate “noise” out there and implements something that truly works.
    Melanie´s last blog post ..Imperfectly Perfect {Part 1}

  11. 13

    Another BIG strike against Disney, in my opinion. It’s a wretched thing they’re doing, and not at all what Walt would have wanted. I hope they change their minds, for you guys and everyone else who can benefit from a day of happy.

  12. 14

    As a parent of a child with an “invisible” disability I am angry at Disney. Although others don’t see Colin’s disability I see it EVERYDAY!!!!! I see it in his struggle to write and keep up in P.E. with the “regular” kids. He was born prematurely with low muscle tone. He is now 8 and huge with no other health issues but being low tone. But it effects almost everything in his life. He cannot tie his shoes (may never), he cannot ride a bike, his penmanship is atrocious, it is difficult for him to walk for long periods of time. The walking is exactly why he has a GAC. So now that will mean extra walking for a child in which walking is the difficulty. We have had Annual Passes to Disneyworld for 6 years, this year is going to be extra hard to dole out $1300 to a company who will not accommodate my child!

  13. 15

    Jeannett, what a beautifully written post. I cried at the end because everything you said really hit home. We were at Disneyland and California Adventure early last week (I kept wondering if I would see you and your fam – I know you were there just a few days before us). I was also at Disney World in Florida last November for the first time in like 20 years. I was quite impressed that Disney had these dedicated lines for those with disabilities. Never once did it cross my mind that it was unfair. In fact, I was like that is really cool of Disney to go out of their way to make the Disney experience more magical for those who are challenged every single day just doing the routine things the rest of take for granted. I thought that I had even seen some veterans or active military personnel using it and I thought that was cool as well. I have not been reading anything on Disney’s planned change in policy nor did I hear about those Manhattan moms. That is deplorable. Anyways, all this to say that you articulated beautifully what was already in my mind. Families with special needs and military families deal with enough day to day and would probably gratefully give up the privilege to not wait in line if it meant that they didn’t have the burdens that are filling their hearts. Hugs from Montreal, Canada.

  14. 17

    Great article. I’ve heard about the manhattan mom story and i thought it was disgusting. I’ve been reading your blog anonymously for a while and i admire you so much. I work in the health industry..so i know firsthand how unhelpful insurance plans can be & how frsustrating it is for honest people to get what they rightfully deserve& need.
    You and your beautiful daughter are such an inspiration.

  15. 18

    I rarely comment but I just had to today. While I have not dealt with any of the issues you are facing, I really appreciate you writing this. I knew nothing about the situation prior to reading your post, but it got me really worked up! It really is such a powerful post and I hope that people at Disney come across it and read it. In fact, someone should really send it to them! Ha. Seriously though, I love your blog and everything it stands for. Thank you for taking the time out of your life to discuss meaningful issues. And thank you for using the internet for something good and something powerful.

    I have been meaning to comment on your epilepsy posts but haven’t gotten around to it. I was actually diagnosed with epilepsy when I was a child. I had a very minor case but I had to deal with all of the medications and tests for about 8 years or so. I no longer have seizures and actually got off my medication right before I started high school (8 or so years ago). I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to share your daughter’s story and for bringing light to the topic of epilepsy. Although I no longer have seizures, my experiences with epilepsy are still held very close to my heart. Epilepsy was a huge part of my childhood.

    I wish you and your family the best! Especially with all this Disney stuff. Thanks again for being such an amazing person. I hope you realize that you, your blog, and your family make a difference!!

    -Alyssa

  16. 19

    What a great post. I know a couple months back The Today Show did an undercover piece about this (maybe that’s the Manhattan Mom you refer to? I’m not familiar.). I thought that the negative publicity was why Disney changed the policy. I love your pictures. Your precious girl looks so entranced by the experience. I hope they rethink the whole ridiculousness they call logic. It’s the sweet kiddos who are innocent and have no agenda who pay the price. God bless your family. Thanks for speaking up!
    Carolyn´s last blog post ..Chevron Scarf

  17. 20

    OMG adorable……..all of them. Don’t you wish we could all live in Disneyland….the happiest place on earth? If only.

    Hope you guys are doing well. I don’t know if you got it buy I tried to email you. If you get time, give me a holla. I need to talk to you.

    Love ya,

    Dana

  18. 21

    Thank you for this…I just love your honesty. I wholeheartedly agree that you and your family have waited enough. Disney is missing the forest for the trees here.

  19. 22

    I appreciate the honesty and agree. I can’t help but think also about those who are too weak from disability or disease to wait in or out of line to enjoy the parks. I hope they will continue to find some way to let everyone participate in the magic of Disney.

  20. 23

    love you Jeanette.
    have an awesome weekend
    xo

  21. 24

    Thank you for this! My husband is disabled – born with spina bifida – and gets around with the help of crutches. Hello. Walking with his arms. Lifting his entire man body weight with his arms to get around. It is exhausting. He uses a scooter or I push him in a wheel chair when we go to places where we’ll be walking a lot. I can only imagine the intense planning it will take for us to go anywhere once we have kids. I have been astonished time after time after time at the lack of knowledge or care towards him/us. A lot of facilities do the ADA bare minimum, but I gather that they don’t really care much beyond that. When going to concerts, we pay full price just like everyone else only to get pushed back into a corner and separated from the rest of our group. When we go through airport security…good Lord…I won’t even go there, because I’m apparently still not over our last incident. People talk over his head and ask me questions in regards to him…because they assume his physical disability means he cannot understand what they are saying. We encounter pure ignorance every where we go. So yeah, throw us just one tiny bone here.

  22. 25

    Yes, yes! Thank you for speaking your heart and standing up for your sweet girl! Because she does deserve the magic of Disney.
    SarahJ´s last blog post ..Wednesday Rambles

  23. 26
    Carole Meyer-Rieth says:

    I highly recommend starting a petition on Change.org – there have been many petitions there that have gotten national attention and positive results. Anyone can write the survey, but a personal story stands out. If you write the survey, I will sign it and encourage many others to do so, too!!!

  24. 27

    I read A LOT of articles from A LOT of sources, and I can say yours is one of the best written pieces I’ve ever read. And not just because I’m disabled and an annual passholder and one that LOVES spending time at the Park, but because your words came to life as I read. I too hope that some decision makers at Disney read your article. You and your family will forever be in my mind (in a good way) as I visit the Park and deal with whatever new system they put in place for those of us that live in our world of disabilities.
    Michael D. Lawrence´s last blog post ..Culture or Compliance?

  25. 28

    I’ve been living under a rock… I purposely avoid the news and a lot of TV, so I hadn’t heard about this. You are amazing. This totally rocked my socks off and had tears in my eyes.

  26. 29

    Love this post!

    I remember going to DIsney World five years after I was paralyzed. It was the first place where I was treated kindly, not like my chair was a big imposition for others. I remember what I breath of fresh air that was. Sad that idiots who abuse the system can ruin it for the rest of us.

  27. 30

    jeannett. SO good. grateful for every single word, and agree a million percent. and these photos? cutest of all time. i love you! press on. XO
    hannah´s last blog post ..celebrating 1,000! {SALE and giveaway!!!}

  28. 31

    Wonderful things right here. I’m just really happy to see your content. Thanks a lot and I am getting excited about get in touch with people. Are you going to please decline me a snail mail?

  29. 32

    Beautifully written! As a person with a physical disability (spina bifida) and a social worker who advocates for the disabled I couldn’t have writtnen it better myself. There is currently a petition started by autism advocates that has over 34,000 signatures http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/disneyland-discontinues.fb31?source=s.icn.fb&r_by=8808126
    These same advocates are holding a demonstration in Anaheim October 19th at 10 am. I think it’s important that those representing a wide range of disabilities affected by these changes participate. https://www.facebook.com/events/519020831525653/?ref_dashboard_filter=calendar

  30. 33

    Thank you thank you thank you. From the bottom of my heart. I agree 100% with every single word. Our trip to WDW last year gave our son a miraculous breakthrough in his speech/communication. We would happily have paid thousands of dollars (that we don’t really have) and dealt with the stress of planning a huge vacation with our severely disabled child to experience that again. Apparently that’s not going to happen now. We’ve put our plans for another trip next year on hold, possibly permanently. And it breaks my heart.

  31. 34

    You said it better. Thank you.

    xo

    …danielle

  32. 35

    Are you positive that is how the program is going to work? I must admit I haven’t read the program but I would be VERY surprised if it lays out the way you say it does in regards to guests with wheelchairs. As you say Disney has mainstreamed many of the lines for newer rides which seems reasonable to me, the majority of those in wheelchairs don’t need a shorter line they just need a line they can navigate. The GAC which had the “alternate entrance” stamp which was the stamp that allowed people to use the Fastpass line when avaialble. At each ride there is a handicap entrance, for some it’s the regular line and for others it’s a different route. If a guest is in a wheelchair there is not need for a pass, you just use this line so if your daughter has a wheelchair there should be no changes for her. I am basing this on my experience of talking our 12 year old son, who has a wheelchair, to WDW several times.

    • 36

      You are my hero today. This all has been heartbreaking to me as we have enjoyed Disney so much over the years. I have a little girl who has been a chair her whole life. And we have raised her to never feel as if she deserves special treatment. Just be thankful if you do. And Disney was the one place where we felt as if it was being said “You know what, you do have it harder than the rest of us. But while you are here let’s take that away.”

      I think a lot of this will shake out though I am starting to make some noise to make sure it doesn’t go away. Keep fighting the good fight!

  33. 37

    Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card Fact Sheet:
    http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/disney-parks-disability-access-service-card-fact-sheet/

    I understand you are upset, but it may not be as bad as you think. The early reviews are saying that people in wheelchairs are not encountering problems (unless they wait on line for a DAS, which they don’t need to do.) You don’t need to get a DAS if someone in your party is in a wheelchair or scooter. In DL , you go right to the attraction and they will direct you to an alternate entrance or give you a return time for navigable queues.

    Make a Wish and similar programs are NOT included in the changes.

    They also say that if the program does not meet your needs, you can talk to guest services for special accommodations, so it sounds like they are willing to work for you.

    I don’t know if you’re planning a trip in the near future, but it would be great to hear what your experience was like using the new program.

  34. 38

    Thank you for posting this. I’m not usually a “commenter” but I simply needed to thank you for sharing. We have an autistic 8-year old and have been to DW 3 times in the past 6 years. And in those three short trips, Disney WAS able to take away some of the hard. Even if it was just for a few hours or days. That’s what made Disney magical, and that’s what makes this all so heartbreaking.

  35. 39

    As a parent to an autistic son, I can appreciate your heartfelt comments. We never use the pass at Disneyland, although we easily could of in the past,for one simple reason. For some families, I dare say many families, the trip to Disneyland is a once in a lifetime event. They don’t have the luxury of returning again and again to ride their favorite rides. I don’t believe their trip to Disneyland should be any less enjoyable then my trip. They should not be made to wait longer then my child. My child needs to learn to exist in this world and deal with disappointment. I’m not sure what the answer is to this problem, but the abuse of the pass is a huge problem.

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    VERY WELL SAID. I agree that there are so many things in life we are waiting on and people who are blessed with non-disabled kids have NO IDEA what life is like and why it sometimes just takes too much energy to breathe.

  38. 42

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