Disney Treasures

It has been brought to our attention that the article had not been properly credited.  Thanks to MiceChat.com for the very informative article.


The existing Guest Assistance Card (GAC) program is set to be discontinued and replaced with a new system on Wednesday, October 9th at Disneyland and DCA. As we’ve outlined for you before, after years of revolving door executives not wanting to get near the GAC issue, the rampant fraud inherent in the 10 year old GAC program was brought to an embarrassing light via an expose on The Today Show last May. Only then did the executives on both coasts admit that something finally had to be done, and the existing Guest Assistance Card will cease to exist on October 9th.

In its place will be an entirely new program called the Disabled Assistance System (DAS). The DAS will work similarly to the “return passes” issued at popular rides like Star Tours 2.0 and Radiator Springs Racers, where currently a GAC holder gets a Fastpass-style return time hand written on a card based on the current Standby wait time. But with DAS, that concept will be rolled out to several dozen high-wait attractions in Anaheim. Instead of going to the actual ride to get a return card, a DAS holder will report to one of several Guest Relations kiosks that will be set up around the parks, with a current plan to have four kiosks in Disneyland (Fantasyland alone gets their own kiosk) and three kiosks in DCA. The DAS holder will present their card and tell the Guest Relations CM which attraction they want to ride, the CM will look at the current wait time via the official Disney Mobile Magic app on an iPad, and will then write out a return time for that attraction and subtract 10 or 15 minutes to make up for the travel time to and from the kiosk.
Only one ride reservation on a DAS card can be made at a time, so if the current wait for Space Mountain is 90 minutes and your return time is written for 75 minutes later, a DAS holder will not get another return time printed on their DAS until the first one has expired. A person with a DAS card could go and do anything else in the park in the meantime; watch a parade, see a show, have lunch, go on low-wait time attractions, pull a regular Fastpass for any other attraction, etc. But only one ride time can be reserved at a time with DAS, unlike the existing GAC which serves as basically an open Fastpass for any Fastpass lane in the park or an access card to go up the exit on any other type of attraction. The DAS changes that quite dramatically.

Card
The DAS cards will be issued only at Guest Relations offices in both parks, and the DAS kiosks are only for checking in for a specific ride. There will be no different stamps on the DAS like the current GAC with its half dozen stamp codes; you will either be issued a DAS or you will be instructed to use a wheelchair or other aid for your mobility issue. DAS will only be issued for one day at a time, although folks who can prove they are staying at a hotel for a few days could get a DAS dated for a short length of stay.

The person who is disabled and who has the DAS issued to them will also have their digital photo taken at Guest Relations, and the photo will be printed on the front of the DAS card and used by CM’s at the attractions to confirm that the DAS holder is actually going on the ride. The photos will prevent a current form of abuse, whereby one member of a party gets a GAC issued to them but then insists to the CM’s that they don’t want to ride they just want their children or friends to go in through the exit and skip the line while they wait nearby on a bench. Or worse, children or others in the party are coached into telling the CM’s that they are the person listed who was issued the GAC. To use a DAS, the person the DAS is issued to must be present at the kiosk and at the attraction and must go on the ride for the DAS privilege to work for the rest of the party.

There are more radical changes in DCA, where all queues and park facilities meet ADA requirements for wheelchair accessibility. In DCA, a person in a wheelchair or ECV won’t receive any extra courtesies or services beyond those visitors who are not in a wheelchair. People visiting DCA in wheelchairs likely won’t qualify for a DAS, and will now experience the park as everyone else does, including waiting in Standby lines and juggling Fastpass return times. The task of implementing that culture change will be more intense in Anaheim than Orlando as there are currently 55 attractions at Disneyland Resort that use a ride vehicle, and about 35 of those have wheelchair accessible queues. Comparatively, there are a total of 46 attractions at Walt Disney World’s four parks combined that use a ride vehicle, and 38 of those have wheelchair accessible queues. There are more rides overall at Disneyland Resort compared to WDW, and more of them in Anaheim are not wheelchair accessible.

At Disneyland Park there are 20 rides that have been identified as non-wheelchair accessible, and at those 20 rides an accommodation of going through the exit or a Fastpass lane will be offered to those in wheelchairs. A person in a wheelchair doesn’t need a DAS to get access at those attractions, thereby limiting the issuing of DAS cards in that park. Disneyland’s operations teams are studying ways to restore the wheelchair accessibility designed into the queues of some newer rides, like Indiana Jones, to allow a DCA-style equity to exist at as many Disneyland rides as possible. It should be noted that the work implementing DAS, which has had lots of executive involvement from both coasts, has now generated serious discussion in TDA on creating a five-year plan of capital expenditure to go in to those older rides and retrofit them with wheelchair accessible queues. But that’s still a few years away.

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Thanks to MiceChat
The goal behind DAS is to still offer service to those who may need it, but to also eliminate the wild excesses of the GAC system which operated on most days and on most rides as an unlimited Fastpass card and/or a backdoor pass to slip in via the exit with a much shorter wait. The one exception to the DAS program is made for Make-A-Wish children. A new Genie lanyard has been created for Make-A-Wish children that will act like an unlimited Fastpass and instant backdoor access card (basically the same thing as the current GAC with the “green light” stamp on it), and it will be sent to the families just before their visit directly from the Make-A-Wish headquarters in Phoenix. The Make-A-Wish cards won’t be kept on Disney property, at the specific request of Disney to avoid any ability to use that courtesy for anyone other than qualified Make-A-Wish visitors.

Guest Relations and Attractions Cast Members in both parks have already been scheduled classroom training for the DAS program through late September and early October. The Guest Relations team will get the most intensive training day, as they’ll be on the front lines of this new system as they try and reel in expectations of Annual Passholders used to having a GAC with easy access to any ride they wanted. Staffing for Guest Relations is being beefed up as much as possible beginning with roll-out day on Wednesday, October 9th, and the Security department has also been asked to help staff officers in Guest Relations centers in Disneyland and DCA to help with anyone who may get verbally abusive or threaten violence against those Guest Relations CM’s doling out the more restrictive DAS cards.

The real day to watch will be Friday, October 11th, two days after DAS begins and the first day when 25,000+ Annual Passholders show up in the evening. This is going to be ugly for at least a few weeks, everyone agrees on that. It helps that the exact same program is being rolled out at WDW at the same time, and that finally there are several senior executives supporting the program. It will be interesting to see how strong the executives stand behind the DAS program when the inevitable ugly media stories begin showing up on the local news and online, or heaven forbid if the CM’s in the parks really start taking serious verbal or physical abuse.

Written by Disney Treasures — September 17, 2013

Comments

Good lord:

Joanne M…. Shut it.

You think disney is only for healthy people? No. Why do you think there’s handicap seating? Why do you think there is wheelchair access? Obviously, people in wheelchairs must be healthy. Or, you know, YOUR version of healthy.

Magical mom – you too can shut it. We all paid for vacations at disney. We all paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to wait in the same line. You claim you want your child to fit in… Well here you go. People are always going to stare. That’s just basic instinct. You cant have it both ways. The picture on the dac is to make sure that person is also going on the ride. If you don’t want to wait, you don’t have to. Ride something else. Go to a store… But playing the “I want him like everyone else” card and then complaining about this new card that will make him wait… Like EVERYONE ELSE… Is hypocritical.

There is no healthy person discount. But there is an annual pass discount. And multiple people with disabilities have one. Shut up and just wait and see what happens…

September 20 2013

Ihateigerrnoo:

Hey… Ihateiger… Can you make a petition for rude, inconsiderate, and Snarky spoiled guests from coming to disney? No? Then let this play out.

Not saying anyone here fits the description, but those people are at the parks too..

September 20 2013

Mindee:

I love this program, it will make the fraud harder to pass through and the easier for those that actually need the system. So please stop complaining that you cant do the parks if you have problems or children with problems you can you just have to plan like the rest of the population.!~!

September 20 2013

Alice:

Ok I have sever social anxiety and mobility problems
What does this mean for me and my service dog?
Because the GAC helped me and my service dog through the park with out any Problems of being looked at Like i’m a purple unicorn

September 20 2013

Jenny:

My name is Jenny I am 32 I love disney so much my big thing is the lines I can’t stand in them I love the pass u have now I do not think u shold take it away just let people bring in things from the docs and telling them why they need the pass. I been turn away from a lot of parks in Florida because they don’t do the pass for the disabled people like me need them. It be nice not too have too be turn from Disney if u don’t do the pass I can’t go on any thing don’t do this too me or any other disabled kid not right think about what u doing?????

September 20 2013

Thank You:

Okay to people saying they will sue Disney for this, there is nothing illegal about this. Heck Disney could take it away all together if they wanted to, but they didn’t. If you try to take it to court, the court will simply say there is nothing illegal about it and Disney doesn’t even have to do any sort of assistance card. All they have to do is make all their locations and ride lines/rides handicap accessible. People are way to sue happy these days, all want money money money.

September 20 2013

Judy York:

I am sorry for the ones who need to use this system but the ones to blame are the ones that abuse the system cause they don’t want to wait in line. Just because you are pregnant or grandma who doesn’t want to wait for the kids to get off the attractions oh well ….. remember pregnancy is not a disability it is a choice and grandma ….. wait your turn just like the rest of us ….. think of the kids that are terminal and need it …. not your selfishness ……

September 20 2013

David:

I was in Guest Relations during the SAP → GAC transition and can confirm that the process will be very ugly for the first 3-6 months. Hats off to all those CMs who will be in the vanguard.

September 20 2013

Jason Philip Punchard:

Ok well it sounds like most of you have never delt with special needs children. They have an overwhelming amount of anxiety and it is hard for them to concentrate long enough to stand in line. So when you’re in line next to a child who won’t stand still, runs back and forth, bumps into you and your children, and screams at the top of their lungs. Remember you wanted and supported this. No not all special needs kids will do this but some will. So keep your mouth shut and don’t tell the parents they need to discipline their child. It’s not a parenting issue it’s a lack of compassion Disney has for these type of kids.

September 20 2013

Lidiya :

Some of you have no idea what it is like to have a child with special needs. Remember your perfectly healthy, typical, no problems goingout in public children can change in a moment. Anythingcan hhappen and completely change your life. Heaven forbid you ever have to deal with situation, because then you would have to eat your words.

September 20 2013

Speechteacher:

I was using a wheelchair for a while after having hurt my back. Sometimes the GAC line wasn’t all that much shorter especially on Space Mountain which was about a 1+ hour wait down in the dark depths of the exit near the bathrooms, not a pleasant place to wait. I didn’t mind waiting in line, but due to the lack of wheelchair accessibility I needed the GAC because I couldn’t stand and DL refused to allow me to bring in and use a folding tripod-like stool/cane combo. If they are going to allow wheelchair access into the lines, then I think many people who would have otherwise used a GAC will just agree to wait in line with their companions.

September 20 2013

Natalie Burge:

I am really worried about this new system. My little brother and sister both have serious brain damage due to drug exposure while in the womb. The GAC car wa the only way we could manage a day at Disney. My brother is explosive an before we knew about the GAC card he would try to wait in long lines but would end up screaming, biting, kicking and cussing out/hurting the guests around us. It was not pretty. Now that the GAC cards are gone I do not think that my family will be able to go back to Disneyland and have a successful day. This is very sad. I can honestly say that my family never abused the privilege and yes there were times that I did not get to go on a ride because my brother freaked out last second and because the GAC was for HIM non of us could go. I am really sad that this is happening. Not cool Disney.

September 20 2013

Lala:

That is soooo long overdue, they should have come up with that years agoooo, the gacs have so long been abused, this is awesomeeee, so excited for that

September 20 2013

Bill:

Just taking note of what the entitled folks here are saying:
To them, it’s supposedly about “B-but I can’t wait in line, THINK OF THE CHILDREN!”
And Disney is saying—fine, you won’t have to wait in the line, but you’ll have to sit out that time the same amount as everyone else, whether it’s to go grab some food or watch a parade or something.

AND THIS ISN’T GOOD ENOUGH. The great majority of folks with disabilities are fine, upstanding folk who do not ask for special treatment.

The others, like Ms. “MUH BLADDER IMMA SUE YOU” up here, are simply entitled children who are desperately angry that they can’t take advantage of disease/illness (which is morally reprehensible, but that’s another story) and that they are no longer special snowflakes.

September 20 2013

former cast memeber:

The Guest Assistance card was a joke. Why do you need to have six total people included on it when it should only be the person who actually needs it and the parents. Not six freaking people. Healthy and “non” healthy people have been abusing the hell out of this program since it came out, finding out ways to sucker the Plaids into giving them what they want or else they will go higher and whine and complain about it. ADHD or Autism is one thing, but if the disabled are constantly bitching and complaining about wanting to be treated just like any other able bodied guest, than they should be able to wait just like anyone else. You can only abuse something for so long before it gets taken away

September 20 2013

Adult View Point:

Tolerance people! It is still an accommodation. It is a shame that a few bad apples always ruin a good thing for those who really needed it but it is what it is. It is so difficult caring for a disabled person so have some compassion they are not acting entitled just trying to plan to enjoy themselves and make the trip a success. So much goes wrong when caring for specials needs individuals a company like Disney is one of the few that made it easier to have some normalcy.

Chill out people and show some tolerance and compassion.

September 21 2013

JP:

….some of the comments that I’ve read …have me woefully shaking my head …at the complete lack of understanding regarding this issue. I see people threatening to sue. Why? Because the GAC ….basically a ‘golden ticket’ is being revoked after far too long in use. I’m honestly surprised that some advocacy group for the non-disabled folk that have gone to Disney haven’t filed a suit …because what the GAC card did ….was illegal. ADA Laws only give you ‘access’ …that’s it. The same access (or that’s what was intended) as an able bodied person may have to a ride or attraction. Giving someone a GAC because they are disabled, or so they say, and allowing them to sidestep the same access as everyone else …on a basis of “I’m disabled” ….tilts the ‘field’ in their favor. And THAT is illegal.

….going to WDW / DL is not a ‘right’ …it’s not ‘deserved’ …it’s not ‘owed to anyone’. Yet many of the comments seem to imply that.

….I don’t like the cold …so I don’t live in Alaska or go skiing. Maybe someone that is highly susceptible to the impacts of waiting on lines, noises, excessive exterior stimuli, hot weather, crowds ….perhaps needs to make a vacation destination something other than a Disney park?

September 21 2013

Michelle:

I realize the pass was abused but there could have been a better solution. All Disney had to do was get a doctor to sign off on the reason the person or child would need the pass.Then have the child or adults picture on the pass. My 7 year old grandson has Autism and there is no way we will be able to keep him busy for an hour if he sees a ride he wants to go on. We put off going to Disney, because of this reason! If you have ever been to a theme park with a child that has Autism you would understand! Our whole lives have been changed because of Autism, some for the better like more Compassion to others and wanting to help other unfortunate children and people. The other, we will never be able to have the life that others can enjoy! I have never even been able to hear my grandson call me grandma, he can’t even ask us what he wants. But he knows everything inside. Just think what it would be like to never be able to say what you are thinking! Those of you have so much to say about this and yet my grandson will never be able to tell you how he feels! I pray for all of you so you understand the less fortunate, God help you! Yes there will always be those that take advantage, but there are solutions. The only problem here is the fact that Disney didn’t use common sense a long time ago about the pass. It was not thought through when they first initiated it. Those of you that are hating the people that need the pass SHAME ON YOU! YOU BELONG TO THE ME SOCIETY OF TODAY! That being said, I don’t think we will be going to Disney next Summer like planned. My daughter is getting her Masters in Occupational Therapy to help more children in addition to caring for my grandson. I also have changed my career of 20 years to assist in Autistic Support. This trip to Disney was going to be a gift for her Graduation, a way to try and bond more with our grandson. Now I doubt we will be able to make it work out, it would be way too stressful!

September 21 2013

Self-Entitled Idiots:

You’re not special snowflakes. DEAL WITH IT. Your autistic children and disabled people can wait JUST LIKE THE REST OF US. When I see a ride I want to go on SURE I get excited! Sure, a long line can be overwhelming, but IT IS WHAT IT IS. Stop whining like the little spoiled brats you are and get your heads out your….. backsides.

If you don’t like it, THEN DON’T GO. More Disney for OTHERS to enjoy.

Oh and I was diagnosed with Autism when I was little, so no crying. ;) Obey the rules like everyone else or don’t go, and save people like ME the heartache. You’re there to have fun. If that stresses you out then you don’t belong. The end.

September 22 2013

Cindy:

Awww I’m gonna miss my magic little blue card :( How am I supposed to plan my day? I used to ride almost every ride TWICE in just a few hours!! I’m so pissed at Disney. They are gonna lose so much business. I am NOT renewing my AP. Main Street Elite

September 22 2013

cj:

I am all behind disney making these changes, but my fear is that just because I am an annual passholder, they are going to assume that I am not “disabled”. I pay premiuim pricing for my pass for the very reason that because of my “disability” I cant be around so many people for a long period of times.i love disney so much that I pay ahefty price to go to the park two or three times a month for 3 to 4 hours at a time. The GAC really helped me out letting me enjoy rides that I could never enjoy if it wasnt for that card. Im happy to see they are weeding out abusers and I welcome the new system.

September 23 2013

Ellie:

If anyone is mad they should be yelling at the jerks who abused the GAC system, not Disney. There were days were literally more than 3/4 of the Radiator Springs Racers fastpass line was GAC holders. 10% of Americans are disabled but over 20% of Disney guests were using GACs. So get mad at them. Disney has gone above and beyond to accomodate and come on! It’s in their best interest to do so! They literally have no motive for keeping people from going to the parks and enjoying them. It’s ridiculous to get mad about this.

September 24 2013

Jolie:

I still don’t understand why more people don’t try to handle the situation the way that I do: go on a day that isn’t as busy. I have a hip problem that makes it hard for me to stand in line for more than half an hour, so we try to go to Disneyland on a Tuesday in February or October. I used to take my wheelchair-bound grandmother on a weekday in November where we could still see all of the Christmas decorations and yet have shorter lines to deal with. I know these sorts of choices won’t work for everyone who has an issue, but they have served me well over the years.

September 28 2013

debbie:

Too bad the people that abused this have hurt the people that need it. Like the picture idea but not that you have to go on the ride. Disney is a expensive place to visit & difficult for people with disabilities, one person with a disability affects the whole families Magical trip, . I think this has been a little over thought by Disney. hope they come up with something better.

October 14 2013

NFfam:

So let me get this straight…now disabled guests wait in 2 lines, one for the pass and again to get on the ride?? LAME!! I am compassionate to the families saying Autistic kids need the pass, I work with kids who have ASD. HOWEVER, I don’t see anyone talking about how taxing it is for individuals ( not just kids) to be at DL/DCA and have long wait times. People with chronic medical problems can only handle so much in one day. Also, it is tiring to push a wheelchair around all day…. Trust me, I’ve done it. It’s not just the disabled guest but also parents who have extra weight to push around.

November 08 2013

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