New Disability Access Service Card Program Launching at Disney Parks October 9th, 2013

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.

Accessible Queues at Disney Offer Plenty of Room to NavigateAccessible Queues at Disney Offer Plenty of Room to Navigate

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.

  • How will the new Disney program work?
    The Disability Access Service Card will offer Guests a return time for an attraction based on the current wait time. Guest Assistance Cards will continue to be in effect until Oct. 9. [Disney] looks forward to sharing more information as [they] gets closer to implementation.

  • Did Disney receive assistance in developing the Disability Access Service Card?
    Yes, Disney is engaging disability groups, and Autism Speaks was instrumental in providing feedback as [Disney] developed this new process.

  • Why is Disney making these changes?
    Given the increasing volume of requests Disney receives for special access to [Disney] attractions, [Disney is] changing our process beginning Oct. 9 so that it creates a more consistent experience for all our Guests while providing accommodations for Guests with disabilities.

  • Who will be eligible for a Disability Access Service Card?
    [Disney's] goal is to accommodate Guests who aren't able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities).

  • Will Guests on wish trips also use Disability Access Service Cards?
    No. Guests who are visiting through wish-granting organizations will have access through a separate program.

  • What should Guests do if they have concerns? Guests should contact [Disney] Guest Relations to discuss their assistance needs.

Visit Guest Relations to Discuss Assistance NeedsVisit Guest Relations to Discuss Assistance Needs

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.

Additional information was gathered from the following source, source, source, and source.

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 03/24/2014 - 13:58:

Kristen K.'s picture

The new system is designed to work in conjunction with the systems that are available to everyone. For instance you can only get waitlisted for one ride at a time on the card - however while you're waiting for that ride if you have a FastPass+ reservation you can use it, and you can also go on another ride with a short line while your waiting for the ride that you signed up for. If you use everything available to you the system works well, if you only use one thing, not so much. You have to take advantage of all the changes, not just one.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly. If you have a Gravatar account associated with the e-mail address you provide, it will be used to display your avatar.

More information about formatting options