We love going to Disney World. In addition to all of the magic most people experience when visiting the parks, we get something a bit extra: overwhelming support for Bug’s food allergies. Accommodations like that can make or break a vacation. We are fortunate in that, despite some sensory challenges that both of our kids face, we don’t need to use their Guest Assistance Program. Many families wouldn’t be able to enjoy Disney parks without it. The GAC, or Guest Assistance Card, allowed families to use special entrances at rides and attractions. This provided accessible entrances for people in wheelchairs, or who couldn’t physically wait in line, but also for those are aren’t otherwise able to handle waiting in crowded and noisy spaces. It had the dual benefit of providing access to families who couldn’t otherwise vacation at Disney and giving some kids/adults with daily challenges a little bit of extra magic.
Unfortunately, the idea of not waiting in a long line is attractive to everyone and some people starting taking advantage of the system. It may also be that there were more and more people eligible to use the system. Either way, Disney recognized that they were facing a problem and have announced a new program called the Disability Access Service Card. They have shared some Frequently Asked Questions to clear up some of the confusion. Since this is a new program, time will tell if it meets the needs of Disney guests as a whole, but it is clear that they are taking the change seriously.
Frequently Asked Questions:
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.