"Guest Assistance Pass" changes coming?

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MrHub's picture
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"Guest Assistance Pass" changes coming?

Just saw this on Facebbook

http://www.chipandco.com/disney-discontinue-guest-assistance-card-164331/

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I know that they are changing it work like it does at DL. If a guest gets a GAC then they will be given a fastpass for the current distribution time and they will come back at that time. I have heard nothing about it working with the magicbands or it being discontinued.

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This better dern well be an actual improvement rather than a PR improvement.

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I know it's silly but it's something that I am really, really worrying about Sad I wouldn't be able to do much at all if they remove the GAC as its the queue lines I can't use, I don't object to the waiting. I've made fastpass+ reservations for September, it's the rides that aren't eligible I'm worried about...

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RobynPrincess wrote:
I know it's silly but it's something that I am really, really worrying about Sad

It's not silly - I'm worried too. However, I'm trying to remember that Disney is not looking to make this difficult for people with legitimate needs like you and I. They're looking to create a system that can't be taken advantage of by those who would exploit it. Disney is known in the disabilities communities as THE destination for accessible travel, I highly doubt they're looking to give up that market.

Mandy talks above about using the system that they have been testing at Cars Land in Disneyland for the past year. It's similar to what is used at other theme parks in the states. The guest with a GAC checks in at the ride, and is given a return time that is equal to the line's wait. Say - 45 min. The guest is then able to spend that 45 minutes in a manner that is best for them i.e. waiting in the shade, shopping, dining, on another ride or just wandering around. They return to the attraction after 45 minutes and are given access to the fast pass line. I have mixed feeling about this system, but I don't think that it's bad, and most of the time seems pretty fair.

Have faith sister - we just need to believe that it will be ok. stars
Different is not always bad.

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Oh that's how the universal card works and that would be my ideal! I sometimes feel like a fraud using the GAC and have often expressed that I wish it was like universal, as I would still be waiting, but waiting somewhere accessible. Thank you so much Kristen, you have really put my mind at rest Laughing out loud

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Glad to hear it!

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Kristen K. wrote:
This better dern well be an actual improvement rather than a PR improvement.

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muchlove

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I believe that Disney is just trying to find a way to make it harder in a sense to get a GAC and use it. I think Disney is thinking, if guests have to wait the same amount as the standby line will deter some guests from getting a GAC because the ones that do abuse it, think it's a faster way to get on a ride when in reality it just guarantees an accessible way on to the ride. Disney won't due away with accessibility because it's one of the reasons the guest service level is higher. Plus they partner with Give Kids the World.

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Here's a link to more about the changes coming to how disabled guests will be accommodated at WDW and DLR. I admit it, I'm nervous, and it's not entirely clear to me how this is going to help a number of disabilities. It seems like Disney is going from a very personalized system to a one-size-fits-all, and the fact is that one size does not fit all.

http://temporarytourist.com/no-more-guest-assistance-cards-after-10813-at-wdw-or-dl/

This article says that launch day is October 9th.

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I read the info and see no issue with the new policy. It seems fair and will hopefully stop abuse.

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Eeyore, I see problems for people who can only spend short times in the parks, for example my friend has cancer and only has the energy for a couple of hours max at a park each day, if the queues are bad that could mean only 1 ride for her. For me though, this wont be a problem. Smile

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Can anyone tell me exactly what benefits the GAP gives you? I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 10 years ago and it is getting harder for me to get around Disney. I am very stubborn so I haven't given in yet to getting a GAP but I know it's time.

Do I need any documentation from my Rheumatologist? I have a copy of my paperwork that he gave me to get a Disabled parking permit. Should I take that and show it to Guest Relations? Will my husband be able to get the same benefits as me because we are together, even though he isn't disabled?

Also, does the GAP allow you to sit closer to the stage shows that have a lot of steps? We have had to skip the Indiana Jones stunt show and Beauty and the Beast before because I couldn't walk up or down all the steps.

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This is such a difficult issue. I have spent years working with mentally and physically disabled people who fight every day of their lives to be treated the same in every respect as non-disabled adults. Then on the opposite side of the coin, there are people who exploit the systems put in place for guests that really need a few special advantages designed to make sure that they can have a vacation experience comparable to their peers. I think that to get a GAC adults should have to present some kind of doctors note or medical certificate. I think disabled children and young people should automatically get every kind of advantage that Disney can offer to them and their families.

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I think the issue is difficult because there are many different types of disabilities. I do understand the need to accommodate those with disabilities so they can enjoy the parks.

At 45 years of age, I thankfully don't have a physical disability that prevents me from moving around. Who knows what the future has in store as I get older though.

However, I honestly think one of the most confusing messages that our society projects is that "those with disabilities want to be treated the same as everyone else". This statement is confusing to me because that means that those with disabilities should have to wait the same amount of time as everyone else to get on an attraction or board a WDW bus. I don't understand why scooters are boarded first regardless of how many people are in line or when the scooter showed up.

And I think it is disgusting that some people take advantage of the GAC system when they don't need it. They should be banned from the parks for life just like criminals if caught. Seriously.

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RobynPrincess wrote:
Eeyore, I see problems for people who can only spend short times in the parks, for example my friend has cancer and only has the energy for a couple of hours max at a park each day, if the queues are bad that could mean only 1 ride for her. For me though, this wont be a problem. Smile

I see what you mean, but Disney has to provide guests with disabilities access to the same attractions as everyone else. This means they should be able to enter, exit, and ride attractions. Basically, guests should have a means of getting through/on/off the attractions as anyone else would. Waiting for an attraction has nothing to do with equal access.

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Eeyore wrote:

I see what you mean, but Disney has to provide guests with disabilities access to the same attractions as everyone else. This means they should be able to enter, exit, and ride attractions. Basically, guests should have a means of getting through/on/off the attractions as anyone else would. Waiting for an attraction has nothing to do with equal access.

I agree.

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KenJ wrote:
Eeyore wrote:

I see what you mean, but Disney has to provide guests with disabilities access to the same attractions as everyone else. This means they should be able to enter, exit, and ride attractions. Basically, guests should have a means of getting through/on/off the attractions as anyone else would. Waiting for an attraction has nothing to do with equal access.

I agree.

Okay, I agree in part and disagree in part. I think from a scooter/wheelchair perspective, Disney has the responsibility for making the rides accessible. However, for the rides that have been there forever, you'd have to redo the whole queue system in some cases. Thinking of space mountain where you walk UP. That would be a nightmare in a ECV or wheelchair. Heck, the line at the safari in AK is miserable in a scooter and that's FLAT!

I like the fast pass idea and allowing people to wait in a comfortable manner of their choosing and then coming back at a certain time. I mean, if I'm waiting for 50 mins standing/walking in line, it is fair that you also wait for 50 mins (or there abouts) but in a comfortable place.

Where I see it really hitting the fan is with the mentally impaired who may lack the cognitive or reasoning abilities to understand. This could get unpleasant for everyone involved.

I kind of feel bad for Disney. They're stuck in a no win situation with this. Too loose on the rules leads to abuse, too tight on the rules leads to unhappy patrons.

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JMUDukz wrote:
KenJ wrote:
Eeyore wrote:

I see what you mean, but Disney has to provide guests with disabilities access to the same attractions as everyone else. This means they should be able to enter, exit, and ride attractions. Basically, guests should have a means of getting through/on/off the attractions as anyone else would. Waiting for an attraction has nothing to do with equal access.

I agree.

Okay, I agree in part and disagree in part. I think from a scooter/wheelchair perspective, Disney has the responsibility for making the rides accessible. However, for the rides that have been there forever, you'd have to redo the whole queue system in some cases. Thinking of space mountain where you walk UP. That would be a nightmare in a ECV or wheelchair. Heck, the line at the safari in AK is miserable in a scooter and that's FLAT!

I like the fast pass idea and allowing people to wait in a comfortable manner of their choosing and then coming back at a certain time. I mean, if I'm waiting for 50 mins standing/walking in line, it is fair that you also wait for 50 mins (or there abouts) but in a comfortable place.

Where I see it really hitting the fan is with the mentally impaired who may lack the cognitive or reasoning abilities to understand. This could get unpleasant for everyone involved.

I kind of feel bad for Disney. They're stuck in a no win situation with this. Too loose on the rules leads to abuse, too tight on the rules leads to unhappy patrons.


I so agree with you here. Rock and hard place

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I feel that this is a right step in the right direction to help cut down on the abuse. With the way it works now, GAC=Fastpass to many people which is not the right thinking. I do agree that those with disabilities that may not understand the concept of waiting may be miserable along with the others waiting in the same line. I think Disney is just trying to figure out the right way to solve the many issues.

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AnnielovesDisney wrote:
Can anyone tell me exactly what benefits the GAP gives you? I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 10 years ago and it is getting harder for me to get around Disney. I am very stubborn so I haven't given in yet to getting a GAP but I know it's time.

Do I need any documentation from my Rheumatologist? I have a copy of my paperwork that he gave me to get a Disabled parking permit. Should I take that and show it to Guest Relations? Will my husband be able to get the same benefits as me because we are together, even though he isn't disabled?

Also, does the GAP allow you to sit closer to the stage shows that have a lot of steps? We have had to skip the Indiana Jones stunt show and Beauty and the Beast before because I couldn't walk up or down all the steps.

***These are great questions! I have RA too - diagnosed about 6 months ago and I've been wondering the same thing. I don't really have "documentation," per se - just my handicapped parking permit.
It's an interesting disease to me because some days, I can get around fine. Other days, I'm down for the count. Walking around isn't too bad for me, but standing in the lines is going to be tough. Once those joints are inactive and stiffen up - ugh.
DH and I are going to try to do the GAC pass this time, but we'll only use it on the bad days and only for the activities with extremely long lines. We're also planning to take advantage of the fast pass+ program to get assigned times for some of the more popular attractions. I'm hoping that going the first week of October means that the crowds will be lesser and the lines shorter. We found we didn't have to wait in many lines at all when we were at DL last year in April.
I hadn't even thought about shows and the stairs there. I can't believe I didn't. But you are right - the stairs are terrible.

We'll be there at the end of next week. I'll post about my experiences getting/using the GAC. We'll be there before the changes take place, but some of the info might be helpful.

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AnnielovesDisney wrote:
Do I need any documentation from my Rheumatologist? I have a copy of my paperwork that he gave me to get a Disabled parking permit. Should I take that and show it to Guest Relations? Will my husband be able to get the same benefits as me because we are together, even though he isn't disabled?

For the current Guest Assistance Program information check out this article we published
http://www.wdwforgrownups.com/articles/walt-disney-world-guest-assistance-cards

The current program (GAC) is rather personalized and works on a stamp program. The stamp you get on your card is based off of what sort of accommodation you tell guest services that you need. The one that I use allows alternate entrance to attractions, other stamps include stroller as wheelchairs, make-a-wish has a special stamp that does allow front of the line. There are about 8 stamps in total from my understanding.

Because of the stairs most of the accessible stage show seating is actually in the back of the theaters, not in the front.

Disney can not legally ask for documentation. Yes, your husband will be able to join you, the current program allows up to 5 family members to accompany you.

All of that will change (from what I'm hearing) on October 9th.

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Thanks, Kristen!! Good info!

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Thanks Kristen for the helpful info. I will also only use the GAC if I absolutely have to. I don't want to go in line ahead of anyone, or take anyone else's seat. I wouldn't feel right about that. I like the fast pass idea where we could wait sitting down somewhere, but we would have to wait just like anyone else. I would also be happy to sit in the back of performances if it meant I could watch the shows w/o using too many steps.

Every person I have ever met with a disability wishes he/she were physically, and in some cases mentally, able like everyone else. We just drew the "short straw," so to speak. I'd really like to think that the people who are exploiting the GAC are an anomaly and not the majority.

Jamieoliver, good luck on your journey with RA. I was diagnosed in my 20's and it has been a very long, hard 10 years. But, Disney makes everything "better" that's why we go as often as we can. yay

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I was offered a GAC on our last trip, the front desk knew of my disability and got us in touch with guest relations. Now my disability is no way visible, I look fit and healthy to everyone I meet. Now I don't mind waiting and queuing the thing I can't do is stay as long as everybody else, due to my illness I have to drink 4 litres a day, I can't run and I have to be out the sun. If we visit Disneyland Paris (yuk) I can stay all day but in the Florida sun, not so much. So this isn't a solution to my illness, but never mind, rides aren't as important as being healthy and not over doing it Smile

One issue I see on this and as Disney don't ask for documents... If paper fast passes are going, magic bands limit them and out side visitors can get them isn't this a way for people to still exploit the GAC to be able to get unlimited fast passes?

Until people stop exploiting the system it will be floored and also give genuinely disabled people a bad name, I got a look of awful looks and comments from guests cause I look healthy, which sadly is not the case.

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Philhowelldesign wrote:
isn't this a way for people to still exploit the GAC to be able to get unlimited fast passes?

Most of that confused me. Let me see if I can respond to what I think you've said. This is just a guess for now though since the DAS doesn't launch until Oct 9th.

Yes the new Disabled Assistance System (DAS) sounds like it will be able to be used in conjunction with the FastPass+. That leaves some wiggle room to "game" the system. In theory a disabled guest will be able to pre-schedule their 3 FastPass+ locations at the park of their choice (say you have Ride A scheduled at 1200, Ride B at 100 and Ride C at 200). Then they go get a DAS Pass For Ride D which has say a 60-90 minute wait. They also want to ride E & F which only have 20 minute waits.

1150 Pick up DAS
1200 Ride A w/ FastPass+
1230 Ride E through standby
100 Ride B with FastPass+
120 Ride D with DAS - then go get a new DAS for Ride G
140 Ride F through standby
200 Ride C with FastPass+
240 Ride G with DAS

Wow - did any of that make sense??

For a person who is actually healthy and can keep that intense of a touring strategy - sure - it might still seem like a sweet deal. I don't think that most people who have an honest need to the DAS are going to be running around like this. However they will likely use their DAS pass in conjunction with the 3 FastPass+ a day that everyone gets, which could give them a small advantage if it's planned out well. I don't see that as an unlimited FastPass, but maybe that's because I could never keep up with the schedule laid out above anyhow.

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I agree with the others that Disney is doing their best to figure out a way to stop the abuse while still allowing those that need it, a way to still not have to stand in long lines. It's not a one size fits all plan, but they are trying it seems. I do qualify for it, as I have three autoimmunes that require meds that don't allow me to stand in direct sunlight for long. I wasn't planning on getting it as it looks like the majority of things are shaded waits. For me, I have to be responsible for my own choices anyway. Just walking around in the sun, I need to constantly be aware of when to duck in the shade for a bit. I get more tired quicker and it I was going to use it, it seems very fair that I could get a fast pass and that would allow me to get in shade or rest if needed by sitting down somewhere comfortable.

I know everyone's situations are different, but I truly think they are doing their best. Oh, and if I was going to get it, I wouldn't have an issue showing documentation, but HIPPA laws will not allow for Disney to ask.

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I know we are here during a slow crowd time however yesterday it was so busy in MK that they opened the back way out after wishes, never seen them do that before (it was to go behind the shops along Main Street), that being said. Yesterday we spent 12 hours in MK, 12lunchtime till midnight. We did lots of rides, some with little or no wait, used all 3 of the fast pass plus but the big thing was that I didn't use the GAC once. I didn't need to.

Ill write a bit more about this in my trip report but I deliberately didn't use the card so that I could see how I would cope without it, plus to let others know what it would be like without it. It was FINE. I understand how our day might not have worked for everyone but it worked for us. I hope some people who are worrying will take some comfort in this though xxx

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There is a new article out on WDW News Today about the Guest Assistance Pass Changes that include details that are different from what we have previously reported. That is the only source that is being seen for these details at this point, and there is still no "official" statement from Disney regarding the details. I am currently trying to confirm this source. mickey

http://wdwnt.com/disney-finally-replacing-guest-assistance-cards-with-new-accessibility-program-beginning-10913/

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Interesting Kristen, thanks for posting.

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This is what doctor disney posted on their site.

http://www.doctordisney.com/2013/09/29/every-fact-you-need-to-know-about-the-das-program-replacing-disneys-gac-and-how-it-will-work/