Petition Disney to keep the guest assistance passes

25 Sep

Disneyland has a great program where people who have special needs can get support. For one thing, they can avoid the long lines for rides, using special lines. For many, this is the ONLY way they can attend DisneyLand.

Unfortunately, some people gamed the system and now Disney is changing the rules.

There is a petition up. Please read and consider signing:
Disneyland Discontinues Guest Assistance Card for Special Needs Families

For more information, read Please, Disneyland: Do Right By Your Autistic Fans


By Matt Carey

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7 Responses to “Petition Disney to keep the guest assistance passes”

  1. lilady September 25, 2013 at 05:59 #

    Apparently, the same curtailment of assistance for special needs kids and adults is also being implemented at Disneyworld, as well.

    Here’s one article, I wish I had never read about “gaming the system”, by hiring disabled “guides”, so that your special snowflakes don’t have to wait on lines at each attraction at Disneyworld. Vile and contemptible.

    http://nypost.com/2013/05/14/rich-manhattan-moms-hire-handicapped-tour-guides-so-kids-can-cut-lines-at-disney-world/

  2. Dave September 25, 2013 at 07:57 #

    The great part of the Guest Assistance Card (“GAC”) is that it has allowed us to visit Disney, and has allowed our son to enjoy many rides that he otherwise would not. The downside is that the “fastpass” line at many popular rides is dominated by people with Guest Assistance Cards. At certain rides, about 33% of the people in line are scamming the system with fake Guest Assistance Cards.

    It has gotten so bad that some tour groups (without any known disability) now bring their entire tour up to Guest Services, and ask for disability cards for every person. They then proceed to take a tour of Disney, entirely in the “fastpass” lane. (Because of health privacy concerns and the ADA, Disney employees are not allowed to challenge disability claims.)

    The abuse is also growing rapidly. Last time we went back, we were sent to a single location to wait in line to renew the Guest Assistance Card. The line was stunning. We were fortunate that our son was mollified with the iPhone.

    Disney has known for quite a while that something needed to be done. If not, people who abuse the system would hurt the total experience for literally millions of honest customers.

    The path Disney started to take was to make the Guest Assistance Card so inconvenient that dishonest customers will no longer take the trouble to obtain it. This was failing in a big way: Dishonest customers were even more determined than honest customers with valid disabilities.

    The path they eventually settled on is to limit the GAC (or “DASC”, the new name) to only a few rides a day. This is an excellent idea, but they seem to be going about it all wrong.

    Under the new system, autistic children will have to wait in a line to get their DASC, and then wait somewhere else about the same amount of time that they would have waited in line for the ride. This will tick off the scammers, but I suspect they will persist.

    It also imposes an unusual hardship on parents of autistic kids. I suspect they will not persist.

    When we approach certain rides, our son will want to ride that exact ride. When we explain we are getting a “fast-pass” for later, we may as well tell him that he is being punished. Multiple-track waiting periods do not work well for children with one-track minds.

    We will solve this problem by avoiding Disney in the future. I wish Disney could find a way to treat their disabled customers better without thousands of people suddenly pretending to be disabled, but I can’t imagine how that would work.

    Disney is hardly the only company to be forced to re-introduce discrimination. As I have heard on Disney boards: “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

    In case you wonder why the fast-pass lines suddenly get longer, it is because Disney is also introducing a new system to allow their hotel guests to get first pick of fast-pass times. So if you shell out the cash for a hotel room, you get some of the benefits that were formerly offered to the disabled.

    Disney spent more than a billion dollars to develop this system, and one of the stated goals was to treat their highest-paying customers better. The non-stated goal is to treat everyone else worse.

    This money-for-privilege system is similar to the system used by other other amusement parks such as Universal Studios and the U.S. Congress.

  3. Chris September 25, 2013 at 17:08 #

    I am not surprised. I remember reading about ways to “game” Disney’s policy over ten years ago on a listserv for my son’s disability. The “tour group” bit is new. Though one way to stop that kind of business would to limit the disabled tour guide to one adult.

    • futuredave5 September 25, 2013 at 22:48 #

      I think the disabled tour guide is how the story spread on the internet. In actual practice, each person in the tour group was walking up to Guest Assistance and claiming to be disabled.

      If the employee asked what the disability was, the customers would usually say it is personal, and they didn’t want to talk about it. Some would claim to have a heart condition, others would claim to be on seizure medication. Ultimately, Disney gave each one their own pass, because the ADA does not allow them to challenge a disability claim.

  4. futuredave5 September 25, 2013 at 22:57 #

    I am not sure what else Disney could do, but I have a few ideas. My first thought would be to require a doctor to write a prescription. If someone can find a doctor to actually write on a prescription pad: “No long lines”, then Disney should honor that.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Demonstration tomorrow at DisneyLand | Left Brain Right Brain - October 9, 2013

    […] Late notice, I know, but I just got an email that a demonstration is scheduled for DisneyLand tomorrow to protest the fact that they are discontinuing the special needs passes. […]

  2. Disneyland and the Disability Access Service Card | Left Brain Right Brain - December 2, 2014

    […] Disney announced that they were going to change how they handled services for disabled guests, I and many others were concerned. The old system was very informal and worked well, in my opinion.  […]

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