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.

Lizz wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 15:41:

Lizz's picture

This wuz yesterday's news .. Wasn't happy bout
Then & I'm not happy bout it now .. Feel like
Disney is punishing us bcuz some losers
Took advantage of our situations .. Now
We are being made to pay the pay the
Price .. I can't keep goin back & fourth
From ride to on a wait time my illness
Doesn't always allow this way 2 go Disney
& I just bought a year pass again not like
I can afford to come every day or take
Daughter out of school come on get it right

Julie Simmons wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 15:43:

Julie Simmons's picture

I have visited Disney parks on several occasions and I am visually impaired. I think there needs to be more attention paid to helping visually impaired people who identify themselves to staff in gaining front row seating to stage shows and things like World of Color of Fantasmic. I always have to make sure I'm there an hour or more in advance, waiting to get in and claw my way to the front for best seating. I know lots of people do the same, but they do not face a disability where their experience will be majorly affected by not obtaining these seats. I think this needs to be implemented into the Disability Access Services program.

maria singleton wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 15:47:

maria singleton's picture

What is going to happen when you get the time to return.Will that mess up your times at another attrication?

C Pitcher wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 15:56:

C Pitcher's picture

How would this affect guests with non-apparent disabilities? For instance, my son has a somewhat severe case of Crohn's Disease, (involving surgeries, an ostomy, etc) and he is not able to wait in longer lines, due to the need to access restrooms every 30 minutes or so. So in his case, giving him a pass to return at a later time and experience a "similar wait time" may not work. Last year we visited and were able to obtain an assistance pass...just wondering how we would handle this situation during our upcoming visit this November???

Koz wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 16:23:

Koz's picture

Please remember that Disney provides this as a bonus to people with disabilities and they do not have to provide you with any special privileges. The only thing that they are required to do is give you equal access. Be happy with anything extra that you get.

Brandi wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 17:04:

Brandi's picture

Personally, I don't see the problem with waiting, as long as you are not having to wait in line. I have a niece that gets a Disability Access Service Card because she is not physically or mentally able to stand in line and I would much rather spend the time with her people watching, walking through a store, catching a street show, hoping on another ride, etc., than standing in line and staring at the back of someone's head.

k wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 17:07:

k's picture

Very disappointing. I do not have a child with disabilities but know people who do and this new program will make it impossible for their family to visit. Their child is unable to wait in crowds due to their disability. So while they might have a fast passes for 2 rides they still have to wait around in the crowd in between. This is too overwhelming for their child and would cause major anxiety. It is sad that people ruin this program by faking disabilities. Make people get a doctors notice ahead of time and purchase these passes. Make a new position (new job!) for people to verify the persons doctor their disability. Yes way more work but it would truly show you care for your guests.

Bad move Disney. You clearly didn't think this one through. Your motto should be show me the money because that is all you care about but this one just cost you a lot when families with a member who has a disability can no longer come you will lose money.

Eddie wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 17:43:

Eddie's picture

Lizz writes as if she is
A) Fifteen years old
B) An abuser of the system in the past
C) Both of the above.

Laura wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 18:25:

Laura's picture

As a Mom of a child with Autism, I would gladly show his medical documentation inorder to keep the procedure the way it was !

Lynn wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 18:39:

Lynn's picture

I admit i am a bit apprehensive with the new changes. My husband is heavily disabled (prosthetic leg and colostomy) which makes it hard for him to stand in a queue as his stump gets really sore and he is unable to walk and may require restroom stops periodically especially if his colostomy plays up (which happens a lot) GAC was a great help but having said that, we have seen other guests abusing this system and we fully understand Disney's reasoning for the changes.

I don't think this would affect us majorly, yes it is a shame, and in a perfect situation it shouldn't have to happen but there are plenty of other distractions to pass the time. there's always a bad apple that spoils it for the rest of us.

Christina wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 18:49:

Christina's picture

Personally, I've been waiting for the change. My son is severely disabled physically and has been a Make A Wish recipient last year. We are season pass holders due to my sons love of Disney. Disney has never failed to make my son feel special or treat him any different due to his limitation, I don't believe they would begin now.
I have seen so much abuse of the GAC card over the years. Just because people are lazy or want to get on a ride faster. What they don't think about is how long they are making the line for those who really need it. On several occasions people (general guests) have given us dirty looks when I go to the head of our group and they don't see my child in the wheelchair, then the look of shame. I've had people say it isn't fair that we get to cut in line, to them I say well then perhaps you would like to take my sons place and be wheelchair bound, be blind, have seizures, stop breathing? I know it may sound harsh but as a mother of a special needs child there is a great deal of people who still do not understand. With that being said, have faith in Disney until they prove us wrong, they have my support to give my son all his dreams come true. I'm looking forward to our next trip in Nov. we try to go 2-3 times a year.

Kristen K. wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 19:02:

Kristen K.'s picture

Maria - Guests using the DASC will need to get used to scheduling their days differently than before, but different isn't always a bad thing. Using the DASC sounds like it will be similar to using a regular FastPass. DASC will be given out one ride at a time, as far as we know right now, it can be used in conjunction with the FastPass+ but few details have yet been released so that is somewhat unknown.

C Pitcher - When using the DASC guests will be able do whatever other park activities are best for them during the waiting period. You do not have to wait in a special place (ie in the queue). During that waiting period you will be able to use the restrooms as needed before returning for your ride time.

K - The American with Disabilities Act makes it illegal for Disney (or any other business) to require proof of disability, or charge disabled persons extra to obtain equal access.

Though the new system is not perfect, neither was the old one. Disney has always done its best to provide access for a vast range of disabilities, however accommodations that need to be made are not by any means "one size fits all."

Marie wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 19:27:

Marie's picture

I have to agree with Julie, my husband is also visually impaired, how will this problem be handled with them? They aren't able to do stairs & they need front row access so that they can see the shows.

Kristine wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 19:29:

Kristine's picture

Never did like the system now and past as Disability card can be taken advantage of. What is wrong with getting prove of disability from your physician and avoiding all of this conflict across the board. Proof of disability should be presented to get disability card. Disney has never requested and such document to prevent this from happening, word of mouth screamed to those that ruined it for the disabled. Thanks to those that have!

Kristen K. wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 19:44:

Kristen K.'s picture

Kristine - The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal for any private business to ask for proof of a disability to provide equal access and accommodation. What's wrong with it is that no one should have to prove that they are equal.

Marie and Julie - I have not heard specifics yet on changes (if any) being made to the show seating or access issues for people with vision impairment. The only changes I have heard of to this point deal directly with how the queues will be handled, and the addition of a photograph to the actual card. Disney has told us that more information will be released soon.

DisFreakKRL wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 20:04:

DisFreakKRL's picture

My wife has CMT (a form of MD). The disease is a weakening her calves and forearms, but she can still walk, with braces and very slow, but she gets around. Standing in line causes her hips to shift and her knees to hurt from the weakened calve muscles. Last couple of vacations we have been given a doctors note from her Neurologist and presented that at to Guest Relations every time. We have used it with a couple not part of our immediate family, but we wanted to ride the ride together, it is good up to 6 people in the party. It worked out well. We, of course, got the usual stares as if to say why do you have a DASC, but she wears capris to hide the braces. We do not abuse the system and i would say that 80% of the people that see us think we are. It is unfortunately, about the media and the things people will do to ride the rides, mostly the rich people thinking they can buy anything, but to solve the problem would be too simple for Disney,: 1. show a doctors excuse on legal letter head. 2: verify that doctor's office and patient relationship 3: log the DASC into the system for that person for that period of time (I do not think they do that as of now), this is a way to track issuing multiple DASC's for the same person on the same vacation. 4: bar code the DASC as a fastpass and have an employee scan that and verify against the computer system. That is simple enough. Some programming internally and new DASC cards, but nothing that over complicated.

richard wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 20:06:

richard's picture

Individuals are commenting that disney is abusing the disabled because of a few that abused the system. Another group that feel they are entitled. This system makes the people with disabilities that cannot wait in line equal to everyone else. That is the goal is it not?

Boatguy wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 20:21:

Boatguy's picture

So, who really suffers from a few rich people hiring a disabled to get them through a line quicker? A few kids may have to wait for the next ride car, so who cares...
I'm confined to a power scooter due to a spinal injury and I have a service dog with me for early stroke detection/prevention. I don't have a problem waiting in an ADA compliant line queue. And most of the time as a handicapped visitor I see we actually have to wait longer than a regular guest to get on a ride because of the special efforts it takes for some of us. So, are those rich really getting a bonus? I doubt it.
I had plans to bring 2 of my granddaughters with me on October 29, 30, and 31 for our 20th Anniversary. One is 12 and a normal child, her sister is 6 and has Autism. When I booked I was told I could get a special pass for her to go to the front of the line, now I see Disney is going to renege on that. This was going to be her first trip to Disney and we are very disappointed to have to now cancel our plans to bring her, I know she would have loved it. Would you like me in line behind you with a screaming autistic child? I doubt you'd enjoy the experience, and neither would I. This new program just won't work for an Autistic child, and I find it hard to believe Autism Speaks would have approved this new Disney policy. I wish we could cancel the trip now, but we bought annual passes and booked using our DVC membership points so we are stuck with going now. We will bring the 12 year old, but it is very disappointing to see Disney take this stand and penalize the very kids that need the assistance. I don't care what the reason was for the decision, there is no valid excuse.
This is going to cost Disney more than they think, I may have an annual pass for this year, but there are other places to go than a Disney park, know what I mean?

cecy wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 21:21:

cecy's picture

I think its wrong for Disneyland to take away that from your disable guests. Its like taking away the parking space for yours guest too. I know that there's a lot who do abuse but it not fair for those who really need it. I think Disneyland should reconceder! It won't be a Magical and Happiest place to visit for your DISABLE GUEST!!!!!!

DLOVER wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 21:31:

DLOVER's picture

@Boatguy - You wrote "Would you like me in line behind you with a screaming autistic child?".
I think you may have missed the point of the new program. You would NOT be waiting in the line. You would be given a pass to return to the ride at a specific time and get on. Please reconsider bringing your precious granddaughter. I think she would love it.

PoohSticks wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 21:43:

PoohSticks's picture

Maybe you should re-read the article or call Disney directly to get the details on the new program. According to what I have read, it will still essentially allow your autistic grandchild to forgo waiting in line. The difference seems to be that you will have to schedule the ride/attraction ahead of time rather than just walking up at any given time. So, if the current stand-by wait time for "Pirates" is 30 minutes, this new system will allow you to get a pass (of some sort) to come back in 30 minutes and get right on. Rather than physically waiting in line for 30 minutes (which I understand would be impossible for your grandchild), you could sit on a bench and enjoy the scenery, or shop, or whatever works best for your family. Maybe you should do some more research on the program before blasting Disney, when they are trying to prevent cheating. Or maybe try talking to people at Autism Speaks to see what they think of the new system, and maybe they can help you understand what was being accomplished by the changes. Or you can just be indignant and ticked off because a change was made ... your choice.

Amy wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 22:42:

Amy's picture

I personally have used the pass past for my autistic daughter. She falls into the aspergers category with high anxiety and disturbed by loud continious noises even when in a restraunt. We have found the assistance card as a true blessing on past trips. It has saved us from many meltdowns and stressful trips on both ends. I hope this new card will be just as good for those who are cursed with aspergers and autism.

Rose wrote on Tue, 09/24/2013 - 22:58:

Rose's picture

I feel that they should of kept the current system, BUT if you have a true disability then just show proof from your doctor. You would not be offenend. My son has autism and his physican wrote a very nice letter the first year that we went to Disney World and they didnt even want to see it. If you had to have actual proof it may not be as easy to scam the system. I could not do the back and fourth either, that may make it more difficult:( Too Bad!!!!

Barbara wrote on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 00:22:

Barbara's picture

I greatly appreciate any accommodation to any disability for anyone that needs it. As someone with severe arthiritis, I use a scooter when visiting the parks. I do not have a problem with waiting in line on the scooter. However, for those who have more severe needs, I think that Disney is trying their best to service those with REAL needs.

Barbara wrote on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 00:57:

Barbara's picture

Being permanently disabled and needing my scooter to get around, I would not be offended in providing documentation even though ADA says I cannot be asked what my disability is. I don't mind driving the cues and waiting but I do need extra time getting on rides and cannot negotiate stair. I have never had a special pass and have always been treated with respect. I feel that if a person does go to Guest relations with proper documentation of their disability they could be handled on an individual basis. I would have no problem with children with special needs being offered special consideration. If we offer the documentation Disney isn't asking for it.

wk119 wrote on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 02:52:

wk119's picture

Once again everyone is upset because their cheese has been moved. I think the new policy is a practical solution to the abuse problem. If you can't come back for your ride time what would you be doing anyways. You will be in the park anyways unless your special privilege lets you do things quicker than the rest of us and now you have to wait like the rest of us...

M wrote on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 06:35:


I hope those who keep suggesting that will eventually see that.

RobynPrincess wrote on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 13:00:

RobynPrincess's picture

I wish the ADA would relax their laws on giving proof, that truly would be the best way to get rid of the scammers - no proof = no card. In Europe the law doesn't exist and the assistance card in DLP is less abused.

C Pitcher, I have the same as your son and I welcome the change, I will still be waiting the queue without physically being in the queue line so easily can use the bathroom and make sure I visit the bathroom shortly before going to the ride. The
GAC has been invaluable over the years for me, i sadly found out about the card the hard way after having to leave a queue line and not making it out quick enough, it was so humiliating :( the next day my parents went to speak to guest services to ask if there was anywhere I could wait while one of them went in the queue (like baby swap but I was 15 at the time) and they offered the card to us. I would have been happy to wait the queue then as long as I could be somewhere not in the line, and I still feel the same now.

I understand this would not work for all disabled people, this is just from my point of view.

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 14:00:

Kristen K.'s picture

M - Two thumbs up! I know that most disabled people can provide documentation, but the very concept is not equal and it's a slippery slope down that constitutional rabbit hole. I wish more people understood, because I sound like a broken record this week. ;D

cecy - Disney is committed to providing equal access to its disabled guests. They are not taking access away from anyone, they are changing the process in which those with disability gain access and attempting to create a consistent guest experience.

richard - I personally do think that equality is the goal. I think it has to be the goal.

Boatguy- The new DASC will allow people to wait for their turn someplace more comfortable than standing in queue. Even though you can go through the queue in your scooter, a DASC for her would allow you miss that main queue. There are many other things that you could do with your granddaughter during that period. Please don't count out taking her yet. Wait for more details to come out, take a really close look at your touring style and how this can work for your family instead of against you.

Amy - My youngest daughter (age 14) is not autistic but she has PTSD and suffers from severe anxiety and panic attacks in crowded places, Disney queues are particularly stressful for her. She is actually quite excited about the new program because it will let her find a place that she's comfortable to wait away from the main crowd, she thinks it might even offer her the ability to tackle the wait time for queues on her own.

Phyllis wrote on Wed, 09/25/2013 - 21:02:

Phyllis's picture

it too bad, people don't care, so they cheat and who does this affect, ones who are disabled. As a person who has been disabled, I would like to be able to afford using a wheelchair but I cant so I am being punished for their selfishness

Peggy wrote on Thu, 09/26/2013 - 03:20:

Peggy's picture

Disney states they can't ask for proof due to privacy laws. I have to show proof from my doctor before getting a handicap parking permit from my state. That form does not contain details of my disability. HIPPA protects those who do not wish to share their medical info. If we choose to provide proof of disability, Disney should allow it. Those who do not wish to provide proof can use the new system. Glad we haven't renewed our Annual Passes yet this year.

Shelley wrote on Fri, 09/27/2013 - 05:35:

Shelley's picture

My husband and I are both in motorized wheelchairs and will be heading back to Disney in a few months with our young daughters. I have some concerns about this new program, but I will reserve judgment until we have seen it action. I do have another concern that also has to do with disabilities...if you would be so kind to indulge me...perhaps I could get some feedback here? Our youngest daughter gas a special need which causes her to tire very quickly. If she were to walk the parks all day, even with rest stops here and there she just can't keep. She has always ridden , very safely, with my husband on his chair...not just at Disney, but everywhere we go. She is a tiny little peanut, even though she is almost eight yrs old. She hangs on tightly and my husband is very careful with her. Here us our problem...we were stopped twice in the last yr at Disney Studios by management and told that she could not ride on his chair, the first time they threatened to kick us out if the park if we refused to comply. They told us that she had to either walk or ride in a stroller. So, not to ruin our girls trip we finally, after nearly two hours in guest relations in a back room hashing it out with management, agreed to the stroller. NIGHTMARE! The next day my husband almost wrecked himself and her trying to operate both vehicles, and in the process slammed into me and we thought it had broken my ankle and some toes. Cast members at the other parks were giving us a hard time saying how dangerous it was to be pushing a stroller while operating a motorized wheelchair! We finally gave up in that and just went back to letting ride with my husband. Nobody else had a problem with it anywhere else! Fast forward to this past spring and we happened to be back at D Studios and it all happened again. This time it went on for the better part if the day and involved two shifts of management and security. A cast member physically assaulted my husband...jumped in front of him, put his hands on my husbands arms to stop him and then turned off his chair! Security was called, we were told the man would be fired and then the day shift head of security (who happened to be disabled!) apologized to us and said it was perfectly fine and for us to go on our way and gave a great day, but then the night shift came on duty and next thing you know, we were escorted to the exit gate and told that if we didn't comply, then we had to leave. It was unbelievable to say the least!! I could see if we were renting an ECV or something, but these are our own personal, privately owned chairs!! Any thoughts? Sorry this is so long...I hope it was okay to ask this?!

Janet Reeves wrote on Sat, 09/28/2013 - 18:34:

Janet Reeves's picture

My family have been going to Disneyland for years and love it. My father is 89 years old and can walk small distances and is visually impaired so when we go to Disneyland he needs to use a wheelchair. Due to his eyesight using a scooter is not an option. what people don't realize how hard it is on the person pushing the wheel chair. The lines are narrow and hard to maneuver. California Adventures has some rides that have ramps you have to stop on and it is hard to start and stop on them. It can take a toll on the pusher. Also I have a bad knee and back not enough of a disability to get proof of disability, but can not walk and wait in line all day and use a scooter, so not all disabilities are long term or visible. I think when all people go to theme parks they want to have a good experience and for people that have family that have special needs it can be frustrating to make sure that family member is not being troubled or troubling other people.

Ceci wrote on Sat, 09/28/2013 - 22:44:

Ceci's picture

Last April during our visit to Epcot, I went to the Guess Services inside the park. I requested the same assistant card I have been getting for my son for the past 10 years. The girl behind the counter demanded to see my son and proceeded to ask him about his disability because he his a teenager now. (that sounded like giving proof of disability to me) I was shocked and very upset but at the same time I understood why she was doing it. My son lost part of his hand, half his foot and multiple muscles due to a lawn mower accident at very early age. He still has shards of bones left on his foot making it very painful to stand for long periods and walk long distances. We have a tag from the DMV. In the past, just by asking for the card and explaining the matter, it was given to us, no questions asked. Last August on our last visit, I was giving the card at the Animal Kingdom without my son being interrogated. I have seen the GAC card being abused, but also some very disabled people waiting in line in pain. Universal Studios has the card Disney is trying to implement. We used it last August and was pain free. We rode all the rides my son wanted to ride, some even a couple of time and the park was full. It was pretty much like getting a Fast pass, only instead of going to the machine, we talked to the teen in the queue line and got a return time. We have used the same system in 10 different Six Flags, Ceder Park and many other amusement Parks.

Beth A. wrote on Sun, 09/29/2013 - 18:31:

Beth A.'s picture

This is devastating news for my family. I have a "party pack" of medical issues which includes the necessary use of my wheelchair but I also frequently pass out. We have done so much in an effort to allow our children wonderful disney memories. We can't do much in one day, so we bought annual passes after hearing about the assistance card. Sadly, I cannot spend a whole day at disney even with my assistance card, but luckily we only live a little more than an hour away from Walt Disney. However, after a few attempts, the drive to and from paired with disney magic would put me out of commission for days. Solution??? We bought into DVC. Yep, we live an hour away, but bought disney timeshare, something which has caused many confusion. But, we finally found a way to make it work. We'd go a couple of hours in the morning, go rest in the room, and then sometimes I'd be able to go back that night. This solution relys critically on the assistance card. Now what???? My kids are now 7 and 9, so they're old enough to understand that the "Disney magic" has come to an end, at least we found out before renewing our passes, which expire next month. Thanks for giving me a place to vent, I only wish it would be able to make a difference.

Now what wrote on Sun, 09/29/2013 - 19:12:

 Now what 's picture

What now??? For those of you that do not have medical issues, there is nothing you can do to understand what it is like, unless you experience it. It is similar to a friend that tries to understand what it's like to be a mom, when she isn't one yet. No matter how hard she tries, she can't really "get it" until she is a mom herself. Here is the long and short of it. While others can go and play for a day, my experience is a bit different, but one that I had found a solution to. I think it is important to let you know that I live an hour and fifteen minutes away from disney world. But for me to let my 7 and 9 year olds enjoy disney, we have to book a room. Yes, we live about a hour away, and we have bought DVC, which is not cheap. We do this so that we can go for a few hours in the morning, go back to a room to rest, and sometimes we can go back for an hour or two at night, but sometimes I can't, so my husband relies on the "resort magic." Without the assistance card, my kids will no longer be able to experience anything at the parks. Sadly, the silver lining is that our passes expire next month, so at least we didn't just renew them. I'm devastated!!! We've done everything possible, and Lord knows, spent more money than a teacher's family can afford. So now what??? If anyone knows of someone who is in the position to help us, please share.

Kristen K. wrote on Mon, 09/30/2013 - 13:55:

Kristen K.'s picture

Hi 'Now What' - I think that feeling like you won't be able to go back with your kids in premature. Meg Crofton (President of Disney Parks & Resorts) sent out a letter last week addressing the concerns that people seem to have already. I've attached it below, and while the letter doesn't address any of the specifics i do think that it makes it clear that Disney is aware of the concerns and that they are working hard to make sure that most people will be accommodated, even if they have to change their touring strategy a bit.


Dear Friends,

Disney Parks holds a cherished place in the hearts of the millions of Guests who visit us each year. We know that is especially true for those of you who have a loved one with a disability. For many families, what would be impossible elsewhere is not only possible, but magical, at our parks and resorts. We are proud to play such an important role in so many of your lives.

Unfortunately, our current program for providing access to attractions for Guests with disabilities has been abused and exploited to such an extent that we are no longer able to effectively sustain it in its present form. After careful consideration, and with the needs of our Guests with disabilities as our foremost concern, we are modifying the current program so that we will be able to continue to serve those Guests for whom the program is intended .

Over the past few days, you have likely heard about these upcoming changes and how they might affect our Guests with disabilities. Our relationship with you is important to us, and we want to take the opportunity to clear up any confusion or misinterpretation .

Our commitment to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all our Guests has not changed. We have long recognized that people may have different needs, and we will continue to work individually with our Guests with disabilities to provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances .

As with any change, there will be a period of adjustment, particularly for those families who have developed and refined their preferred ways of enjoying our parks with their loved ones over the years. I thank you in advance for your patience as we fine-tune our new program to mitigate the current abuse, while still providing the special experience our Guests have come to expect from Disney .

Most of all, thank you for entrusting your treasured time with those you love to Disney Parks .


Meg Crofton
President , Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France

ralph wrote on Wed, 10/09/2013 - 00:23:

ralph's picture

My husband and I have traveled to Walt Disney world for the past ten years because of the guest assistance card which enable him to enjoy the park with several operations on his spine, shoulders and hips. He has difficulty in standing and walking long distances.
I hope you find a better solution than a fast pass approach. We do enjoy all the parks and hope we can continue our trips if it will continue to respect the needs of its guests. Walt Disney wanted this to be a family place to have a good time without the stress.

bobm wrote on Mon, 10/14/2013 - 23:34:

Now I get it...Disney will take the word of Guests who say they are disabled. So...the advantage of being disabled is not worth lying about. Conclusion....the disabled lose rights due to Disney not wanting to check a handicap placid or doctors note.But....what about the privacy of our poor disabled patrons. They wouldn't care if they could get consideration...common courtesy on the part of Disney. I feel America is working backwards in their respect, consideration of the weak and disabled. Disney is just another example of corporate greed, bottom line. People don't care at Disney. SHAME ON YOU....FACELESS COWARDS OF CORPORATE Disney.

bobm wrote on Mon, 10/14/2013 - 23:35:

Now I get it...Disney will take the word of Guests who say they are disabled. So...the advantage of being disabled is not worth lying about. Conclusion....the disabled lose rights due to Disney not wanting to check a handicap placid or doctors note.But....what about the privacy of our poor disabled patrons. They wouldn't care if they could get consideration...common courtesy on the part of Disney. I feel America is working backwards in their respect, consideration of the weak and disabled. Disney is just another example of corporate greed, bottom line. People don't care at Disney. SHAME ON YOU....FACELESS COWARDS OF CORPORATE Disney.

bobm wrote on Mon, 10/14/2013 - 23:39:

Does Disney remember the heart of its founder, Walt Disney. Corporate Disney is ruining his legacy. If I were a family member, I would complain to the media. Money is the only thing that will change the policy back. Policy will be a disaster.

NavyWifeGA wrote on Thu, 10/17/2013 - 17:23:

NavyWifeGA's picture

My DH is returning from 1+ year military deployment and his wish is to go to WDW - so guess where we are going? yep. My concern is I have fibromyalgia, which is not a visible illness. I have trouble more than others some days but sometimes I cannot sit or stand for long periods of time etc. I was advised by my rheumatologist to seek out the old GAC however in doing that I see this has been changed. I need to know what to do as I am not daft by any means, its just this information doesnt seem to be clear (maybe its bc you are just rolling it out?) How do I get the new DASC? Do I have to get a new one for each day/park? (we are going on the Salute to Heros 4 day park hopper) Do I need to bring proof from my doctor of my illness? What sort of benefit will this provide me over the fastpass system? Obviously I have a lot of concerns I want to make this the best trip possible for him after coming home from the middle east for a year, but I also do not want to be miserable the whole time either.

Michelle wrote on Thu, 10/17/2013 - 20:27:

Michelle's picture

I am a single mother of a 13 year old child with ADD/ADHD. On top of it all he has bipolar disorder. So within minutes he can become very impatient and loose his cool. That along with the ADHD, is not a good mix. We've been going to Disney since he was 4, but as he got older his outbursts became worse and worse. Then through a support group for special needs children I was told about the GAC. And i'll tell you, what a life saver. And because of these "special passes" I was able to travel alone, just me and my son! For 9 days we had the most wonderful vacation. As soon as I got home I heard they were going to discontinue this. I am so disappointed. It was a way for me to feel comfortable and safe for me to enjoy some time with my son alone. I did read that you can speak with guest relations about your individual situation, does that mean some people may still be able to get the GAC? Depending on your situation? I really do hope this new way really works I was hoping to go back again next year.

Kristen K. wrote on Fri, 10/18/2013 - 12:38:

Kristen K.'s picture

Hi Julie!

I'm a Fibro Girl myself and believe that this system will work fine for you. However because it has just rolled out I haven't been able to experience it myself yet and only know what Disney has put out. Just stop in to Guest Services to get a card for your stay the same way as you have in the past, a doctors note is not needed. This new system is designed to be used in conjunction with the FastPass system, so feel free to use both of them together to make your touring more comfortable. There is a Cast Member at the beginning of each queue that will make a note on your card and let you know what time you should return to the attraction. You may do whatever you like during that time. When you return you will then use the FastPass line to access the attraction.

Everything I have read online by Guests who have been using the new system since the 9th has been very positive. I believe in Disney and know that you'll still have a great trip.

Kristen K. wrote on Fri, 10/18/2013 - 12:42:

Kristen K.'s picture

Michelle -

The GAC program is gone for good, however that doesn't mean that the new program isn't going to fit your needs. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the FastPass system, so make a plan to time out the attractions that you and your son will be hitting. Disney has assured us that they will be doing everything possible to accommodate the specific unique needs of guests within the new program and guests are encouraged to have an open and honest discussion with the Guest Relations team when they get their new cards.

We here at WDWFG haven't experienced the new program yet, but we're hearing positive feedback. I don't think that there's any reason not to believe you and your son can still travel together.

Brian wrote on Tue, 10/29/2013 - 22:42:

Brian's picture

Just returned from WDW and the Mickey's Not So Scary... (date of visit 10/18- 10/25). I am disabled (2 wrecked legs and use a scooter). I have used the previous disability access card and the new program. I have seen the best and worse of people abusing the disability access (and it still continues). While waiting for the Boo To You Parade at MK I was sitting in a disabled area for parade watching when a mother pushing a child in a Disney rental wheelchair came up behind me, I asked my own children to make way so the young lady could get a better view. Subsequent conversation with the mother revealed she rented the wheelchair because her daughter's feet were tired. Sorry folk, I believe evryone gets tired feet at WDW by the end of the day.

I have visited WDW 4 times in the past 10 years.

The new programis still being filtered an many of the cast members do not understand how it is supposed to work.For instance, upon entering MK, the guest assistance peson DID NOT issue a disability card and I was told that they "use a new program" that requires people like me to secure a return time from the Fast Past cast members. I did receive the card when I visited EPCOT because I advised guest relations that the standing in line for rides absolutely killed my legs the day before. I ws advised that a "card" will be issued. The guest relations person used a IPAD to take my picture and print out a card with my photo on it. The inside of the card has lines where the fast pass issuers write the return time. You can only have ONE attraction listed with a return time on your card at one time, so you cannot plan ahead for entry into attractions. NO CAST MEMBER or GUEST ASSISTANCE person asked if any changes or accomodations needed to be made. I routinely saw almost ALL persons with visable mobility disabilities do exactly what I was doing.

The new card is nothing more than a Fast Pass system for persons with disabilities. Once you approach an attraction, you go to the fast pass distribution area and have a cast member sign your access card and assign you a time to return. the return time is based on the current Fast Pass time. This is not a big issue (for me).

The big issue is when you return to the attraction. You are asked if you can transfer to a wheelchair. If you can, the you are put into a wheelchair and join the fastpass waiting line and go in with everone else having a fast pass. If you do not wish to use the wheelchair, you CANNOT take your scooter into MOST attractions (I did bring the scooter into ToyStory Mania and transferred to a ride car, the same for the Jungle Cruise,Safari Ride and Kalihari). All shows allowed scooters (Stunt Show, Fantasmic, Beauty and the Beast, etc). You will be issued a Fast Pass return time on the card for these shows. With the previous GAC, most of the time a guest was sent into the show immediately via a unique line/entrance.

As an example when I went into the Pirates of the Carribean, I was first assigned a return time based on current Fast Pass (1 hour), then when I came back, because I did not wish to use a wheel chair, I was told to park my scooter on the very far left side of Pirates (where they park strollers) then walk back to the entrance, then walk down a rather long, inclined, DARK and WET entrance to the loading area. Folks, I have braces on both legs and a 6 inch shoe lift on my left leg..this was not ideal...but I did it so I could ride with my wife and Kids.

Almost all attractions operate this way, including waiting to meet characters. Parades and shows still have disabled people flow into disabled areas.

Almost the ENTIRE time I was at WDW I thought of the selfish idiots who abused the system and changes the way disabled persons visit and enjoy Disney parks. I also thought about the rather stupid comment made by actor Ed O'neil on the show Modern Family when they were planning a visit to DisneyLand...."all I see at Disney are fat people riding around in scooters!"

I love Disney and the joy and happiness it can bring to many. I understand behind the pixie dust that Disney is a huge busiess that exists to MAKE MONEY. I joked thatthe latest ride at Disney is a giant robotic arm that picks you up and shakes you upside down and collects the last of the change in your pocket.

Disney MUST find a way to work around this issue better. I count myself fortunate that I can go to WDW and enjoy the parks. I cringed when I saw people with disabilities far more mobility restricting than mine trying to enjoy the parks. I am a Doctor of Psychology and I KNOW there are disabilities that are not apparent and many CANNOT tolerate lines. I don't think Disney has found the right answer.....YET.

Kristen K. wrote on Wed, 10/30/2013 - 12:58:

Kristen K.'s picture

Hi Brian! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us.

Pirates of the Caribbean has always been a transfer to wheelchair ride because of how the entrance and exit are set up in different locations. Parking a scooter there isn't new. Very interesting that most attractions were asking you to transfer to a wheelchair from the scooter to use the fastpass line. I wonder what the reasoning for that is.

jill wrote on Sun, 11/17/2013 - 12:06:

jill's picture

There are a lot more stories of people struggling with this new system on McClain Special Needs Advocacy on Facebook has launched a campaign to get Disney to review and modify the program to be more accommodating to people with special needs especially those with "invisible" needs.

Mary wrote on Fri, 03/14/2014 - 17:52:

Mary's picture

Pissed at this. My 12-year-old daughter, Kierstie, has Aspergers Syndrome. We used the previous card and it was a gem. Stress free. We are now going in exactly a week so this will throw things off. Kierstie is a person of habit. She's used to getting through and getting on the ride. Guess who is going to look like the bad guy when I say "Sorry honey, we need to come back in an hour!". ME.

Haley wrote on Mon, 03/24/2014 - 12:43:

Haley's picture

Has anyone with invisible disabilities used the new system? I'd love to hear your feedback. And does the card allow you to get stamps for more than one ride at a time? From some of the comments above it sounds like it does not. I ask because the current fastpass system oly allows one fast pass at a time, and then I'm left wondering is there even a difference between the new system and the current fast pass program.

I suffer from Agoraphobia and Claustrophobia. I can do okay with both, but when you combine them... forget it. How do you tell your kids, Mommy can't take you to Disney because standing in a line of people huddled together for any extended length of time will reduce Mommy to to a wheezing, shaking, crying mess. I've always managed with the old card. the fast pass lines move fast enough that i'm able to remain in control. And after a past meltdown, I've learned to avoid the few rides that don't offer it as well as any parades. But I can't justify paying that kind of money to simply be a chaperon to my kids. And where are the fun memories, if I never get to go on any of the rides with them. Are my kids going to remember me as the mom that always needed to sit out? Needless to say I'm concerned about the changes.

I agree that I am sadden by those abusing the system, but as a person with an invisible disability, I would caution all of you not to judge people you see. I've got many hateful looks in the parks and even had comments made. It's incredibly hurtful, and multiplied by the fact that my kids are witness to it.

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