Friday, May 31, 2013

Disabled Disney Tour Guides

Disabled Disney Tour Guides

This morning NBC TV Today Show had a special report about Disabled Tour Guides at Disneyland Resort.  This is the second such report in as many weeks. The first report was in a newspaper and reported it was rich New York families that were hiring disabled tour guides at WDW.
Once again I will start by saying I believe that Disney does the best job of making rides and attractions as accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of disabilities. Disney goes way above the industry standard for accessibility and makes it more than possible for anyone to enjoy the park. Having family that has disabilities and use Disney’s Guest Assistance Card (GAC) we appreciate it and would NEVER think of abusing it!
This is what is happening. Disabled people are offering their services as tour guides. In New York there is a tour company that hires the disabled to act as tour guides to help the rich families bypass the lines in the parks. In California it is independent entrepreneurs advertising on Craigslist and in other ways their services. In Walt Disney World they were charging as much as $1000 per 8 hour day and in Disneyland is between $50 an hour and $200 for the day.
You may say, “What is wrong with this? The disabled are getting some much-needed money and a day of fun and those it can afford it are being able to bypass lines.” Here’s the problem, the GAC is meant to help the disabled and those with them have access to attractions that their disability may have otherwise made it unable for them to enjoy together.
The GAC is not intended to be a cut the line pass. For those that can’t do stairs it gives you a way to bypass the stairs. You may have to stay in the regular line to the point that you can bypass the stairs. If you have autism, ADHD or a panic/stress disorder and you can’t take being in a long line confined with a lot of other people, depending on the ride you may be able to go up the exit or have an alternate quiet place to wait for your turn to ride. If you are in a wheelchair and the line cannot accommodate a wheelchair you may have to wait longer to get on the ride. This is especially true for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and Space Mountain. Radiator Springs Racers has a unique GAC policy. In a way you have to get a Fastpass for the attraction. But don’t worry if the Fastpasses are gone for the day they have a cast member that will give guests with a GAC a special Fastpass with a return time to get in the standard Fastpass line. The wait time to return will correspond with a Standby Line wait time.
So now you know how the GAC should work and how some are abusing the system. If you are disabled and need the GAC ask for it! If you have one please don’t abuse it! If you see someone abusing it please report it! If we, the guests don’t work together to support Disney in controlling the situation we won’t be able to continue to have the GAC access. If we do not Disney will be forced to do something drastic and we may end up losing the positive assistance we now have. Please help stop the abuse. Report ads you see for disabled tour guides to Disney. If you see someone in the park that is abusing their GAC report it!
Disney’s response to the situation, so far is to say they are looking into the situation. They are watching Craigslist and other ad sites. When they find offending GAC users abusing the GAC they are revoking their GAC and if they are an Annual Passholder there are revoking their pass. I think this is more than fair.

NBC Today Show Report
CNN Report on WDW

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