Sunday, September 8, 2013

Guest Assistance Card Changes

Guest Assistance Card Changes

Due to a few people being caught abusing the Guest Assistance Card (GAC) the system is being reworked. First let me explain what the abuse was. People with a valid GAC were advertising themselves as tour guides to the park where they would “cut lines” for the people that paid them. Some were charging $50 per hour while others were charging $200 a day at DLR and the price was even higher at WDW.

The GAC is designed to help those with special needs (and those that accompany them to the park) enjoy Disney Parks. For those with limited mobility it gives access to rides with alternative entrances that bypass stairs or lines that cannot accommodate an ECV or wheelchairs. (Disneyland was built before the ADA Laws so it has more lines that require the GAC.) For those with problems staying in the sun it gives places where they can wait in the shade for their turn to ride. Families with children that have ADHD or Autism this is a life saver allowing the group (of up to 6 people including the person that requires the GAC) to go up the Fastpass lines without a Fastpass. There are also alternative waiting areas that are quiet and calm for the comfort of the person needing the GAC and their group.

In the recent past those having Annual Passes and needing GAC could get passes that were valid for 2 months. Because of the abuse they now have to be renewed every two weeks. More changes are coming. Rumors run from the GAC being eliminate all together to it being limited to just those with mobility issues.

Logic says, “Bring a doctor’s note to verify your need for a GAC. Let the Doctor describe what is needed.” The problem with that are the laws protecting patient confidentiality. Disney is not allowed to look at any doctor’s note you bring. Plus how could they verify it is truly a note from your doctor or in truth really from a doctor at all.

I know the system has to work on an “honor system” and those that truly need a GAC must keep asking. For those with “invisible” special needs such as ADHD, Autism, Panic Attacks, and PTSD it is hard to prove your need. Some people with these disabilities “look” perfectly normal and capable to stand in a regular line, but they can’t. They get agitated and can lose self-control. I know that putting a person with any of these invisible disabilities in a long line can lead to a meltdown of epic proportions.

I know some people think that those with special needs should not go to the parks. “It is not for them if they need pampering.” “It is not fair they get special treatment.” “Life is not fair so what if they can’t go.” If you are one of “those people” I say shame on you! You do not realize how much they can learn and grow by going to the parks and how much a visit can change their life! A little girl with traumatic brain damage I know increased her vocabulary 30% during a week stay at Disneyland Resort! Some one that could not stand in line at the grocery store for 10 minutes can now stand in line calmly for 30 minutes due to practice at the parks! 30 minutes is the limit, much more than that they will lose it. A child with Autism that was uncommunicative came out of their shell and learned to interact with others better. These are LIFE LONG changes that came about because of visits to a Disney Park! Would you deny that to someone?

As changes are made to the GAC policy I will post updated information. For now, if you are going to a Disney Park in the next few months and have special needs I suggest you call ahead and ask questions. Explain your needs/concerns and ask what the current policy is and if there will be changes to the policy when your visit is scheduled. For now staying informed is the best thing you can do. I also recommend if you find that your disability is not being treated fairly you need to speak up, advocate for yourself and your child as needed. I know I will!

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