Monday, April 8, 2013

Respect at Disney Parks

Respect at Disney Parks

            One of my major joys of being at a Disney Park is the respectful treatment those with disabilities receive. From the obvious physical disabilities to the invisible disabilities such as Autism and ADHD Disney does its best to be respectful and helpful.
            One of my major pet peeves when at a Disney Park is the disrespectful treatment fellow guests give those with disabilities. From cutting off those in wheelchairs or ECVs as they push/drive themselves around or be pushed to stepping right in front of a person in a wheelchair during a parade or show and stopping the rudeness is shocking. That’s just what happens for the obvious disabilities! It’s even worse with the invisible disabilities.
            Both my daughter and husband have severe ADHD, and my husband has a minor brain injury that makes him nervous and easily frustrated. Neither of them look disabled at first glance or even second. It is when you are stuck in the long line with them that you see the problem. Even then you can’t tell it is a disability, you might have thought my child was a brat and my husband a jerk. Neither statement is true.
            When our daughter was very young and we were all learning how to deal with her disability and trying to figure out how to teach her to cope it was hard. She would start swinging the line chain and jumping around. I would say, “Please stop swinging the chain.” and she would reply, “Swinging what chain mommy?” She honestly would not even realize what she was doing! I did hear people behind me making comments such as, “What a brat! Why can’t those parents get her under control?” It was even worse when it was my husband swinging the chains and not realizing it!
            While the GAC (Guest Assistance Card) does help by allowing us to bypass the majority of the waiting by using the Fastpass lines and handicap entrances we still have to wait our turn. Anything over a 30 minute wait is very difficult.
            Some people call us line cutters and others say we are abusing the GAC and others have been rude enough to walk up and ask us why we need the GAC. Quite frankly it is not their business! Disney gives us the assistance we need to make the parks enjoyable. Without it it would be impossible to go to Disney.
            While there are quite a few (usually teenagers) that abuse the GAC saying they have ADHD were some other invisible disability or by renting a wheelchair thinking it’ll help them bypass line the majority of people using the GAC I know and see need them.
            Here’s a little tidbit of information about the GAC. The level of assistance you receive is based on the level of assistance you need. Not all GAC give the same access level of assistance they simply tell the cast member at the ride what assistance you need. For some people they simply bypass any stairs. For others that have wheelchairs it gives access to special entrances and ride vehicles if available. For the visually and hearing impaired it gives access to special viewing areas and visual/auditory assistance equipment.
At WDW the lines for the rides and shows are designed to meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) standards and can accommodate a wheelchair. For many rides this means a wheelchair wait in the standard queue. For some rides it may take longer for wheelchair riders to board than the standard line. The reason for this slower loading is they can only allow one or two people in wheelchairs on the ride at a time. Sometimes there are only one or two special cars that can handle and rider in a wheelchair. At Disneyland none of the lines are ADA compliant. The park was built before the standards were in place. So Disneyland has a lot of alternative entrances. Disney California Adventure was built after ADA standards so lines there to meet the requirements and like WDW wheelchairs can wait in the standard line. The old adage of get a wheelchair bypass lines no longer applies in the parks.
When you go to Disney Park be respectful please! When you see an older child or teen in a wheelchair that can obviously walk understand they may need that chair to give them physical distance from others due to autism or other disorder that gives them severe anxiety. When you see a person with the dog but they’re not blind consider the fact they may have an anxiety disorder. Everybody has some type of limitations. Some of limitations that make places like Disney Parks impossible without the little extra help.


  1. My adult daughter with disabilities uses a manual wheelchair, and pushing her through the parks is becoming more challenging for me physically as I get older. One of my biggest issues is not about waiting our turn,which I believe is only fair, but waiting on the standard queue is often dangerous, both for my daughter and other guests. People will just stop walking, and when you are behind them pushing a wheelchair, often up or down slight(or for some attractions steep) inclines, it is hard to stop quickly. Similarly, people waiting on line will step backwards and trip over the chair. And I agree the comments from others are hard to handle sometimes, and those that scam should be ashamed of themselves for creating negative feelings towards those who need assistance because of a real disability.

    But, that said, it also doesn't excuse bad behavior from those with disabilities. Had an awful experience waiting on line for the bus to MK at SSR, where a gentleman on a scooter angled behind and to my side and put both hands in the small of my back and pushed. I fell over my daughter's wheelchair and scraped my leg and ankle. Others rushed over to help me up. Gentleman loudly exclaimed that the line was for handicapped only-what did he think the wheelchair was for! Some guests wanted to call security and were encouraging me to make an issue of it, but was so upset I just wanted to get away on the bus when it came and forget that it happened.

    Disney remains wonderfully accommodating and in the end that is what counts. My daughter loves Disney vacations, and we have been doing DCL cruises as it is ideal for us.

  2. Margaret I'm so sorry that happened to you! I agree with those that said you should have called the police on that man. He clearly has issues and needs help big time! Next time he could truly hurt someone!

    I hope that my writing this will encourage at least a few others to take a moment and be kind. Slow it down and respect those with disabilities, visible and invisible.


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