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People keep asking me what I think of the new changes to the guest assistance card at the Disney Parks. I first reported about it when the new disability access pass was just a rumor for Traveling Mom and watched as the uproar among the special needs community commenced. It’s been ugly. People are upset about these new changes. I just don’t happen to be one of them.
I guess people consider me a leader in the spina bifida world or disability travel world and maybe that is why I keep getting asked why I am not up in arms over it. Mostly it is because I was one of the people who asked for change. Remember our trip last Spring when Disney World hosted us for a week? And all I saw was abuse after abuse of the wheelchair system? Yeah. That. That is why I am not upset.
Look. Disney has to do something. I don’t know that I think this new plan has it right. But I don’t know that any plan will have it exactly right at this point. This is what they have told us the new plan will look like:
Frequently Asked Questions About the Changes to Disney’s Guest Assistance Pass
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. We look forward to sharing more information as we get 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 we developed this new process.
Why is Disney making these changes?
Given the increasing volume of requests Disney receives for special access to our attractions, we are 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?
Our 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 Guest Relations to discuss their assistance needs.
It is vague and it doesn’t address the need for quiet spaces and shorter lines that many special needs guests need. I think they are purposely being vague. Why would they want to lay a road map out for all the people just looking for the next way to game the Disney disability system?
While we have always enjoyed shorter lines because that is the way the system is designed, people with mobility issues alone don’t necessarily need shorter lines. We are happy to be treated just like everyone else. That is how we want to live our life anyway. But a lot of traditional entrances, especially in the old part of Disneyland, can’t accommodate a wheelchair. That is why different lines exist. And the new lines that are specially made for wheelchair users like this one are not really made solely for the purpose of making life easier on the wheelchair user.
Special lines like these reduce the wait time for everyone. Does the general public really want the line stopped each time a wheelchair user boards? I am guessing not.
My guess is that Disney is going to send people renting chairs and scooters through the traditional lines but people like my son, who can’t easily get out of the chair he uses full time, will still use one of these special entrances. Again, it’s not really about him. It’s about their load times and making the experience better for everyone at the Parks.
I am also guessing the new system will look a lot like the way Universal Studios does it. Which I personally have always liked much better. I’ll write an article on how it works at Universal next week so you can see. I can’t see the rumored part about going back to a queue each time you want a “fast pass” working since it would exhaust any guest at the Park, let alone a wheelchair user who can’t tolerate heat for too long.
I’m worried and a little sad for October 9th (the day the changes go into place) to roll around. I think there will be a lot of people there that just want to see what sort of stories they can make about what a mess this will be. I ask you to keep that in mind when you read the ones sure to come out. There will, also, be a lot of good people trying to figure it out that will have issues we can all learn from.
This WILL be a mess. Disney will make mistakes and people will be right there to point them out. Change is never easy. I think people in the autism and autoimmune disability groups will be hurt the most by the bumps in the road that are sure to happen. Remember, we belong to both of those as well so I understand the challenges that will be faced. But change has to happen in some form or another because the system is beyond broken thanks to the greediness of people that gamed it.
I just believe at the heart of it all Disney is trying to do what is right and we all have to understand the intention is good but the execution may take some time to get right.