Last year the Walt Disney World Guest Assistance Card (GAC) program came under fire when it was uncovered that some guests had discovered a way to game the system. An increase in the volume of requests, growing abuse, and some very bad press coverage meant that Disney was finally forced to make changes to the program that offers access to its attractions for guests with a wide range of disabilities both obvious and invisible. These changes will be coming on October 9th, 2013 when Disney launches the new Disability Access Service Card (DASC) coast to coast at all of the US Disney Parks.
Many of the queues at Walt Disney World are already ADA accessible and guests in wheelchairs or on scooters have had to navigate the standby lines for years. This practice will continue.
The new program aims to equal out the guest experience by discontinuing back door access and instead offering disabled guests a pass with a return time equal to the attraction queue current wait time. It seems very similar to the current FastPass system that is available to all park guests. In developing the new Disability Access Service Card Disney sought input from disability advocate organizations in order to create a usable program that will offer equal access.
We were sent a FAQ from Disney about the new DASC. Let's take a look at what we know for sure about the new program.
Disney maintains that it has an "unwavering commitment" to attraction accessibility for all Guests. Cast members are currently training on the new program to offer a consistent guest experience, and Disney has said that more information will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. We will update this post as details are released, so be sure to bookmark it.
Many internet communities are in an uproar over the changes and as a disabled traveler myself, I have my concerns. However, I feel that it's important that the larger disabilities community give it a chance before passing judgement. Each family will need to wait and experience the Disability Access Service Cards before they can really know how it works for them.
Change is always hard and our members have been watching this story unfold and talking about it, come on over and join the conversation on our forum.