Disney Controversies: The Guest Assistance Card as a Front-of-the-Line Pass

The article below has been re-published with permission from disneylovinspectrummom.blogspot.com.

The Guest Assistance Card (GAC) is intended for use by guests with Special Needs and can be obtained from Guest Relations at any of the Disney theme parks. The GAC is typically utilized by guests with “invisible” disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorders) and it is distributed according to the guest’s specific needs. Guests using wheelchairs or ECVs generally do not require a GAC as their mobility needs are more easily recognized by Cast Members who will automatically direct them to the wheelchair entrance and/or loading area of each attraction.

Disney World Guest Assistance Pass.
Disney World Guest Assistance Card.

Seems like a no-brainer, right? Well, not exactly…

It seems to be a rather common misperception that the GAC is a “front of the line” pass – in fact, I read that very phrase in a recent post by a Disney blogger (who shall remain nameless). This well-intentioned person earnestly advised his readers with special needs to step right up to Guest Relations and get their Golden Ticket, as it were, so they could “go to the front of the line” at all the Disney attractions. This information is completely misleading!

Our family has utilized the GAC during at least seven visits to Walt Disney World and so I am quite familiar with it. Whenever I hear how “lucky” we are that our family can go right on all the rides without waiting I literally have to squelch the impulse to groan and roll my eyes to the heavens.

“The GAC truly is a help, but it really doesn’t get us to the front of the line,” I say patiently. “Actually it gets us to the end of the line – the FastPass or alternate entrance line.” That is because my son’s particular accommodation allows us to utilize an auxiliary entrance because of his autism/sensory issues. The auxiliary entrance may be the FastPass entrance, if there is one.

But, according to PassPorter’s Open Mouse for Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line, the GAC can be issued to guests who require a variety of accommodations:

*Using an auxiliary entrance if you cannot wait in line due to health problems, cognitive disabilities, autism ADHD, and related fears. You’ll still likely wait — possibly even longer than if you’d waited in the queue – you’ll just wait in a different location.

*Waiting in a shaded spot out of the sun if the attraction’s queue has you standing in the sun for an excessive amount of time.

*Using your stroller as a wheelchair in queues and through the same auxiliary entrances that wheelchairs and ECVs are allowed to use.

* Sitting up front at shows if you have visual impairments.

It can be stressful enough planning a trip to Walt Disney World with a family member who has a disability without the added worry that you are being put in the position of asking for special (read: unfair) treatment and will be perceived by others as doing so. The GAC offers reasonable accommodations to people with invisible disabilities and their families so that they can enjoy Disney to the fullest, despite their specific challenges.

I recall having only one negative experience using the GAC at Walt Disney World. Once, while we were being admitted to the FastPass queue after presenting our GAC to the Cast Member a man waiting in the standby queue loudly sneered, “Must be nice!” My husband turned, walked up to him and handed him our GAC.

“Here, Buddy,” he said, “I’ll make you a deal. You can have this card if your son could be autistic for the day and my son could be normal. Then I’ll stand on the longest line Disney’s got and like it.” The guy shut up, quick.

End of controversy!

Thanks Kathy for letting us re-publish this article on our site. To view the original post and learn more about Kathy, click here.

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86 Comments on "Disney Controversies: The Guest Assistance Card as a Front-of-the-Line Pass"

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Maureen
Guest

Great article. As a parent of a child on the severe end of the autism spectrum, there are few things in our day-to-day life that come “easy” to us. Living in the Orlando area and being able to use the GAC (as you said, NOT a front of the line pass) has enabled my son to enjoy the wonders of Disney.

Kathy
Guest

Thank you, Maureen! I, too, am grateful for this vital accommodation for my son’s special needs. Without the Guest Assistance Card our visits to Walt Disney World would be anything BUT magical!

CM
Guest

As a cast member, I see this issue often. And it’s very hard to say no when other misinformed Cast Members have previously allowed them to the front of the line. A lot of guests misuse these passes and it’s really unfortunate. The only pass allowed to the front of lines is “Make a Wish” which is the same pass but with a special green stamp for which is only obtainable from the Make a Wish foundation. Thank you for this article.

susan
Guest

I wonder how it is that you can say that “alot of guests misuse these passes”. Do you know what condition each and every guest has? Do you work in guest relations? Have you seen their medical records? I have CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome). The card has been a blessing. I bet you would look at me & say I was “misusing” it.  Walk in my shoes & all the others with CFS,etc. before you think you are entitled to decide what each & every guest is going through.

Tim Peters
Guest
I think that’s an unhelpful response to a cast member who sees both sides. I know you have your own challenges, but they have to also be mindful of the impression left with other guests. As a medic (not connected with Disney) I too have seen abuse of the GAC.  One family of 8 went through the fast pass line in front of me because their child had a greenstick fracture (I could tell by the type of splint) – my daughter went skiing for a week with a similar break! Another family I saw were using theirs to access… Read more »
Mary
Guest

You are making an assumption that the GAC was for the green stick fracture. It could have been for a different invisible disability. My son has autism and also had a fracture, but the GAC was for his autism.

Bill
Guest
Hi Tim, I understand that there are people who will abuse the system.  Those people will always be there. It’s unhelpful, however, to have our need for a GAC questioned by every guest and Cast Member in the park.  If Guest Assistance issues a GAC, then it’s done.  We feel bad enough having to get a GAC in the first place, and the fact that Disney offers the GAC to its guests is simply awesome.  I’ve had some terrible experiences before I got a GAC.  Now I just have terrible experiences of a different kind — stares and questions.  But… Read more »
Kathy
Guest

Hello, CM! I’m happy to help clear up some of the confusion surrounding the Guest Assistance Card. We’ve always had such positive experiences with Disney Cast Members when it comes to managing our son’s special needs when at the parks and resorts; thanks for all you do!

Tracy B
Guest

Ths is a fantastic article.  I get so frustrated when I see misinformation about the GAC.  It is a wonderful tool to help people tour the parks with persons with disabilities.  I am so grateful to Disney for these accomodations.

Kathy
Guest

Me, too Tracy! The GAC is a true piece of magic!

Christine
Guest
I have had so many issues at Disneyland in CA. I have a cane and I have stability issues that make it dangerous for me to stand in regular lines. Every time I go and have to renew my card, I get told something different. I was told that my cane would get me into the wheelchair enterance, only to be turned away and told I would have to rent a wheel chair. I’m a passholder and go several times a month. I can’t afford $25 every time I go. I had to rent a stroller once so that I… Read more »
mookie
Guest
My family has used the GAC both times we visited Disney.  It is issued to my M-I-L due to “invisible” impairments from a stroke. Both times she brought her handicap documentation to Guest Services.  To be quite honest, it kind of was a front of the line pass.  With the exception of Dumbo, we were on rides within minutes of lining up at the handicap entrances.  Also, both of our Disney trips were during Spring Break when it was decently busy.  However, when she opted out of a ride, we did not use the GAC, as we shouldn’t have, and I… Read more »
Art
Guest
My son (8yrs)  has down syndrome and we were informed about the pass from a Castmember who also had a perfect child like mine. : )  The pass, I will say for the record,  didnt get us to the front of the line, but it did get us to the back of the fast pass lane.   It was a great help!  Disney did everything possible to make his trip, a trip of a lifetime, the Castmembers who we showed the pass to were amazingly friendly and helpful!  I didnt experience any negative comments from other guests when i used his pass,  had… Read more »
angel andrews
Guest
I love the way disney treats us. My son who is 7 had Cp. coritcal blindness, deaf along with other things…we take him every year…this is truly a magical place…he sleeps, he smiles and no sezuire actitvity our entire visit…I to had a father make a very nasty comment about us using a different entrance to dumbo…he was with my parents on the ride…not knowing I, his mother was standing right next to him…well everyone in my group walked away and his to same.. the wrong thing to say to a mother of a child with so many disabilities…being the nice person I am…I told… Read more »
Monie
Guest

My husband has an artificial leg and we have always been so grateful for the GAC pass. Without it all the extra standing in line & walking causes sores on his stump that are very painful, and would keep him from being able to wear his leg. I feel we live with all the disadvantages it causes everyday, I appreciate the very few advantages (like disabled parking) that he may get .

Carina
Guest
I have to say this card has been an amazing blessing for my mother, who was a cancer patient but now a survivor. She couldn’t walk for very long periods of time, so standing in lines in the direct sun was a horrible experience during treatment, so she often skipped out on rides to sit in a restuarant most of the visit. Then a friend of mine told me about this, and it was truly a great way for my mom to enjoy the parks like she used to. I love the ability for her to wait in a shaded… Read more »
Jackie
Guest

Hi Kathy.  We are travelling to Florida next month and my daughter is severely visually impaired (a cane user) and has brain injury due to two major brain surgeries which has affected the behavioural centre of the brain (she can become disruptive if she has to queue for a long time), left her with fatigue issues, and diffulties with body temperature control.  Do you think we will get a GAC for her our family (there are four of us)?

Jackie
Guest

Hi again Kathy.  Do you know if there is a similar system (GAC) at Universal?

OrlandoInformer
Guest

I’m not sure if Kathy will see your comments since this post is a bit older now. However, I did find some good information for you on Disney’s own website: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guests-with-disabilities/visual/

You may also want to consider contacting Disney directly, as they are the only ones who will be able to give you an official answer to your question.

For Universal, you should check out this post on our blog: http://orlandoinformer.com/wpold/oi-share/alissa-s-family-visit-universal-orlando-attraction-assistance-pass/

To contact Universal, the best way is via this online form: http://www.visitorsatisfaction.com/CONTACTUS/

Hope that helps!

 

Tracy b
Guest

I know Kathy personally and will let her know questions are being asked here 🙂

Bill A
Guest
We were just at WDW and had a guest assistance pass for my son who is Autistic. Overall the card helped him experience the park with alot less stress than if he would of had to wait in the queue lines. We did get the dirty looks from people but as it was stated in an earlier post, I would wait in a line for the whole 5 days of our vacation if it meant that my son didn’t have to be Autistic. The most disturbing thing we came across was while handing our pass to a cast member to… Read more »
Matt
Guest
Let me preface this by stating I have kyphoscoliosis with multiple severe curvatures and extended standing, especially while carrying my toddler, is not a great time and I wait in line with everyone else. As I waited at the toy story ride for over an hour for my wife and kids to ride while my son was asleep I observed 17 groups use these passes , of which Two of them were in wheelchairs. I’m not heartless but I don’t understand why it’s horrible for others to ask why using the wheelchair or scooter for them to wait in the… Read more »
Beverly
Guest
Matt -Funny thing is, my disabled/nonverbal/autistic daughter can’t scream about being treated like a regular person.  Yes we should wait in line for an extended period of time, I’m sure the people near us would love watching her bite & hit herself out of the frustration of waiting (in line or in a quiet area).  From my experience the general public loves being around these types of behaviors and I’m sure there would be no complaining from them even when stuck in a line for an extended period and forced to listen to the strange yelping noises and possible aggressions .  If you… Read more »
iamdollie
Guest
Wow.  I sure don’t know how to respond to that negative comment.  I do know my daughter will never be able to dance at her wedding, give me grandchildren or speak a single word, other than a scream when she’s had to wait longer than 15 minutes in line.  I am also disabled, but I have accepted it and we use the GAC with grace. As for Toy Story – we have waited almost an hour, but once our daughter SEES the cars, her anxiety level drops and I keep plenty of tissues to wipe away her tears and snot. … Read more »
kersten
Guest

Karma is right! Sometimes you can’t “see” a disability!

art
Guest
really Matt…..really?  I dont even know how to respond to you….unlike my son who has Down Syndrome ( and perfect btw) my daughters are  “normal” kids. Sure,  they could wait in the regular line, but ya know what..they wont.  why?  because they will grow up   having kids point and pick on their brother.  laugh at him, in front of them, when he doesn’t act like all the other boys Make fun of him on the school bus…you know…all the things “normal” kids do. Sooo… When I take them to Disney, he has the last laugh.  He may not understand why “normal” people complain… Read more »
Tracy B
Guest

A GAC is NOT I repeat NOT a “golden ticket”. It is a tool used by families with persons with disabilities make a positive day at Disney possible.

The card is for the person with the disability and up to five others. Just because a person looks like they are getting preferential treatment they are not. These accomodations benefit the cardholder and others in the line.

art
Guest
The term “golden ticket” is just that…a term..a word.   If you thought i honestly meant the GAC was a golden ticket to be abused, you are sadly mistaken.  I am absolutely aware of Disney s GAC policies and procedures.  It was a cast member who first informed me of the  GAC after seeing my son struggle with simple tasks.  Her granddaughter also has Down syndrome.  Again, the world can be a very cruel place for people with mental and/ or physical disabilities.  Some people can be downright disgusting with their pointing and remarks.  That being said, In order to make my sons trip to Disney… Read more »
Syd
Guest
You have fun standing in line with your kyphoscoliosis. If masochism is your thing, go for it! Seriously, your refusal to use the assistance available to you is your own personal hangup, no one else’s. I have the option to use a GAC to help make my day and DW enjoyable and I WILL use it. I have 2 herniated discs in my lower spine. The first time I went, I was very stubborn and refused to get the GAC when my sister, who’s husband requires the pass due to back injuries, told me I would benefit greatly from it. I thought, “Why would I… Read more »
Bill
Guest
Matt, you’re kidding, right?  I’m very glad for you that you have a disability and can last the entire day in the park with your family.  Before recently, my MS wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t manage with my family for the whole day.  But my disease has worsened, and now if I’m out in the heat too long, my day is over.  My family will have to go on without me, which isn’t a big deal for me, but it is a big deal for them.  They spend the rest of the vacation feeling guilty for pushing me too… Read more »
Jackie
Guest
We were very impressed with guest services at all three main parks i.e. disney, universal and the Busch group including sea world. They took one look at my daughters white cane and asked if we wanted an assistance card, I went on to explain about her neurological issues and offered them a doctors letter, but they said there was no need to show documentation. The assistance pass covered our family of four. Here in the UK it is totally different, a) they won’t issue an assistance pass “just for blindness” er hello? how bored and frustrated do you think a… Read more »
jacqueline
Guest

After reading this article it really makes me angry that people would care if you got to the front of the line or not.  I would think they would be glad to let you go to the front as waiting with a person with any kind of disability can be challenging at the least.  So that card might not get you to the front of the line, but it should!!

Jenifer
Guest
Hi There: I am planning a trip to Disney with my 3 kids one of which is 11 years old weighs 48 pounds and is in a wheelchair…..my question is if we get on a ride and we leave her wheelchair behind do we have to carry her back to where we left the wheelchair? Also I want to state as a parent of a child with CP I can speak for many special needs kids’s parents – something someone doesnt consider is this when a child  or adult is sitting all day in wheelchair 8 hours or more and… Read more »
Bill
Guest

For most attractions that require you to transfer out of the wheelchair onto the attraction, you can take your wheelchair almost right up to the attraction, transfer out of the chair into the attraction, and then the Cast Members move the chair to the end of the attraction for you to get right back into it.  If you do have to carry her, it is for a very short distance to transfer from the ride to the chair.  Most of the attractions have been designed to minimize the distance one would have to travel from chair to ride.

Tracy B
Guest
Art, I wasn’t addressing you when I posted about the “golden ticket”, I was addressing Matt. Sorry for any confusion. Jenifer, some attractions are completely wheelchair accessible where your child can remain in the wheelchair. For the rides where she has to transfer most of them load and unload in the same area so you can place the chair next to the ride vehicle to get her on and off. An exception to this is Pirates of the Caribbean, you load and unload in different buildings. If she has her own wheelchair, not a park rented one, you would transfer… Read more »
iamdollie
Guest
As for the term “golden ticket”, as far as I’m concerned, it IS golden for us and I do not see it as a negative!  I’m not going to say I would give up my daughter and both our disabilities to be normal again, as my daughter has taught me more than I can list!  Some people  are still biased where handicaps are concerned.  I lost my best friend when my daughter was born because she honestly believed there to be something wrong with ME because I had this child.  She has missed out on knowing a WONDERFUL person.  Her… Read more »
Harold
Guest
I know that the GAC can be truly beneficial to so many needed families, but my complaint is that like all things it is over-abused.  For example, my sister just emailed me asking if she should pay $75 for the use of someone’s GAC card for a couple of days.  I told her emphatically no way.  That is a special pass only to be used by people with disabilities, but I bet that happens so, so much.  That is why when I see a group of teenagers who are all laughing, running from ride to ride with one of these… Read more »
Fred
Guest
I’ve been doing a lot of research on this subject lately as we are considering taking my special needs nephew next time we go.  What strikes me most is that many people could do without the hastle and stares of a GAC if they planned their trip a little better.  I went with a 2,4,6 and 8 yo in August.  Hot and crowded!  We refused to wait in a line listed as longer than 20 minutes.  The only thing we truely missed out on was Toy Story – it had just opened at the time – the line for a fast… Read more »
Heather
Guest
I have lived here for 3 years. I do get different reactions from different cast members. Which makes it wishy washy how some give certains stamps and others say it is not needed only to get all they way there and have to go back because the proper stamp was not given. I do get looks when using the card, I have heard you all look fine. Well, good for you, I do not need to tell every grumpy person in line why I have my card. PERIOD! You dont have to live with my medical issues or my kids… Read more »
Heather
Guest

One more thing for the grumpy people that just do not understand. There have been MANY times my wait is LONGER. To accomodate me. It is not a front of the line pass. And sometimes, we have waited in shaded areas to join in when its our turn. EVEN when YOU didn’t see it.

Jen
Guest
I’m not a parent nor do I have anything that would require a GAC but it seems like a wonderful thing.  I see many children with a variety of sensory issues at my job (we even offer a night were things are turned down or off for them.)  I actually enjoy seeing the parents a bit more these nights because they can relax a bit.  When their child has a meltdown, the other parents aren’t going to stare at them as though they are terrible parents.  I’ve heard from a few people with kid who are autistic that it is the simple… Read more »
lisa
Guest
hi my son is 13 next year when we go disneyworld – even though you cant tell by looking at him – he does have  a disability . he was born with meninjatas and has affected him throughout his life -he has a poor memory – gets fusstrated very easyily , gets bored in que – cant stand still for long without getting bad tempered because he,l forget why hes in the q in the first place so will constanstly ask the same questions over and over. will this entiltle him to a pass? what docoments will we need to… Read more »
OrlandoInformer
Guest

With such specific questions about your travel plans, I’d recommend that you contact Disney directly: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/contact/.

Melady
Guest
We are going to Disney in Dec and I have a child with CP who cannot sit, walk, or talk and is developmentally delayed AND my young son is autistic. Going to parks would be utterly pointless for my children if there werent any accomodations. I wonder if I should get a T Shirt that days “Autistic” for my son so people dont question us, I think my daughters wheelchair and the fact she  is a bobble head should make it clear she is disabled. How about the fact my daughter who has less function than a 2 yr old has… Read more »
Bill
Guest
Melady, You made me laugh when you said “bobble-head.”  Your sense of humor and your ability to laugh at your adversity is a sign of strength.  Good for you. I can totally understand your issue with your PCA in the park.  It was a strategic decision to charge everyone to enter and not check wristbands or take tickets at every ride.  For the large majority of people, not having to juggle tickets at every ride is a blessing.  For you, it’s a curse.  I really don’t see any way around that, unless they offer a discounted ticket price for your… Read more »
AC
Guest
For those with legitimate mobility impairments, I see no problem with the GAC. HOWEVER, for those of you who have kids who “get bored or frustrated in long lines”, who “get anxious and impatient in large crowds”, and who “don’t like standing in the heat for extended periods of time”, I have three words for you: Join. The. Club. I don’t know a single human being alive who doesn’t suffer from those “symptoms”. You people are also tremendous hypocrites; you insist that you want “equal treatment”, but then have no problem lecturing other people about your “disabilities” while you sit… Read more »
DiNap44
Guest
AC, Some disabilities do not affect a child’s mobility nor are they apparent at first glance. As a parent of a 16 year old son who was diagnosed with Asperger’s Sydrome at the age of 3, his issues are not external. So without the commendations Disney provided he would not have been able to enjoy the our trip. I won’t go into great details but long exposure to crowds causes mental & physical pain. And that just one of his issues. So try to be understanding if you see a family jump the line. You may not see the disability… Read more »
Tracy B
Guest
Tom, I completely agree with you about hidden disabilities and the need for the GAC. I need to clarify some things. The GAC is NOT a “disability fastpass”. It is a card that states the needs of the name of the person on it. Also you do not need a letter from your doctor or an IEP. Disney CM’s can not ask for proof and do not use paperwork to determine if a GAC is needed. They do not hand them out at the gate, you have to go to guest service with the person in need of the card… Read more »
DiNap44
Guest
Tracy, You are right. GAC is not a disability fastpass. I only used that description because we were allowed to use the “Fast Pass” lines instead of waiting which helped alot. On the subject of proof, we were informed by our Disney travel planner to have a letter from our doctor just in case because of our son’s diability not being obvious. We bought along a copy of the IEP just in case being overally prepared parents (it comes with the territory). But as my wife reminded me after I wrote my last post, Guest Services did not ask us… Read more »
Dan
Guest
Here’s the thing: the “Alternate Entrance” stamp on the GAC is basically an fully unlimited Fastpass. And unless there’s a downtime, fastpass lines average 5-10 minute waits (Toy Story, Soarin’, being two exceptions off the top of my head). MK and Studios no longer give out the wheelchair stamp alone – they are now required to be accompanied by the “Alt. Entrance” stamp, so little Johnny with his sprained ankle – even though he is perfectly fine sitting in a wheel chair and requires no other accommodations gets the unlimited fastpass stamp. GACs are even sold on 192, online, given… Read more »
art
Guest
“The problem is that those with disabilities are supposed to be treated equally as everyone else. Not worse and not better. However, that it exactly what this card does: treats some people better than others.”   ARE YOU KIDDING ME???!!!    And let me ask you Dan,  are you one of those people who stare at my son who has Down Syndrome??  if so then YOU are the problem!   “this card treats some people better than others.”….your damn strait it does!  I bet your one of those families who moans and complains when I show the GAC pass….and my… Read more »
DiNap44
Guest

Amen Art.

Griffins Mom
Guest

Love you Art!

iamdollie
Guest

Darn, Art.  I couldn’t have said it better!  Would have written sooner but I’ve been busy for 2 months putting my daughter through tests to rule out cancer.  We finally got all back and cancer has been negated, so we can once again hit the parks and annoy those people who aren’t lucky enough to have a special needs person in their lives so they can get a GAC!!

Eric
Guest

Hello, I am taking my family of 6 to Disney world for Christmas. I have my 9 yr old daughter that has ADD and we have trouble keeping her focused and has anxiety when waiting in lines. We usually avoid places like this because she gets stressed out. Will Disney help us out with the GAC if we request it?

OrlandoInformer
Guest

Since Disney really is the only one who can answer that question, I’d recommend that you contact them directly: http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/contact/

iamdollie
Guest
Having raised a son with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), it is not considered a disability but is a condition.  Kids with ADD usually have high IQs are not mentally disabled, say, like Downs syndrome.  They are able to understand “wait” and all other behaviors that all humans experience.  ADD is like a short in the brain, making it difficult for the person to focus on just one of the many tracks going on in thinking processes at the time.  We always waited in the regular lines with our son and used the waiting as an opportunity to help him overcome… Read more »
Tracy B
Guest
Eric, to lessen the waits for your family I suggest a couple of things: – A good touring plan, something like http://www.touringplans.com . With a paid subscription they have plans you can follow to map out your day in the parks, they have a crowd calendar to let you know which parks to avoid on what day, and they have a phone app called Lines which can let you know the wait times of each attraction while you are in the park. –  Get to the parks at rope drop if you can, it is easier to get things done within the first couple… Read more »
Tracey
Guest
I have to come to Matt’s defence……..sort of. I am speaking from PERSONAL experience so there is no need to jump down my throat based on what I heard and saw. While planning my last Disney trip, many friends explained that I should bring my elderly father (who cannot walk) along so that we could take advantage of the short lines. That’s a great idea……the man can’t stay out in the sun for more than 20 minutes because he will pass out and driving in the car makes him vomit. So sure, lets go to Disney dad!! NOT. But to… Read more »
pippa
Guest
my husband and I are taken my son and daughter to Disneyland,first time. My son sadly has autism. My daughter however doesn’t and she is ok with waiting but obviously gets cranky and tired just like any child does. However my son finds it painful to wait,not just in ques but waiting is a foreign thing to him. Even the shortest waits can have him in tears,he just doesn’t understand what wait is and for those who say ‘explain it then’ • my son has a mental age of a toddler,explain that to a toddler? But I’ve decided to first… Read more »
iamdollie
Guest
pippa, I SO understand what you are saying.  Please read my other posts above as so you can see what I’ve already said about my Downs daughter. Take a doctor’s note with you (although it’s not required) and get the pass from the beginning.  It’s not fair to your son or your family to do otherwise.  You DESERVE to have a happy day, just like everyone else.  It’s a real shame that so many have chosen to take advantage of something that was meant for children and adults like our family members.  Our society has just become one of “me… Read more »
pippa
Guest
Thank you for your reply.:) Its very hard to live with a child with autism even harder when you have the world judging and assuming. I am a very honest person,if a shop keeper gives me too much change, I would tell them. I don’t abuse things or take things for granted but if there is something which can help my son then I would love for him to have it. Its ashame that we have to be terrorized  by ignorence in order to have it. I’m a sensitive person and what people think about me matters though I really… Read more »
Nicole
Guest
I think both sides have some vaild points and both sides could be more understanding. I completely agree that there are those who abuse the cards. Personally, I think a Dr. note should be required. Most people with legitamite issues are use to handing over a note to recieve accomodation. This would help others realize that those holding the cards really do need them. Secondly, I understand how people can get irritated when they hear “I need a pass bc my child gets, tired, cranky, hot, bored, etc. waiting in line.” What child doesn’t? It seems to me that when… Read more »
stephanie
Guest
I have to say having a child with Autism has been a curse more than a blessing. Yes, I have learned to see the world in a different light, but what my family has been through the last 12 years has been nothing short of torture. Everyday is pretty much guaranteed to be ruined by a meltdown or an argument. Have you ever seen a meltdown from a child/tween w/Autism? I can tell you, you wouldn’t want that happening next to you in line and ruining your day anywhere, let alone Disney. I can’t tell you how many times I… Read more »
Tim
Guest
I actually think that everyone posting here is in agreement. I don’t have need of the GAC card and I certainly wouldn’t wish to swap places with those who do, but the problem is the families who abuse the system by using the card just to jump the lines. I had never heard of the GAC until I read “advice” on another site telling visitors to get one to save waiting in line. It even said which conditions to say one of your party suffered from that couldn’t be challenged. I think the problem lies with Disney who should make… Read more »
Tracy B
Guest
Tim said: “I think the problem lies with Disney who should make more effort to screen out these bogus applications. Most visitors in need of a GAC will be on some form of medication, so why don’t they ask to see a bottle of pills prescribed to the guest needing the GAC? In the few cases where that isn’t possible, I’m sure the family could get a letter from their doctor confirming the condition.” It is against the law for Disney to ask to look at prescription bottles or to require a doctors note. Even if they could do that,… Read more »
iamdollie
Guest
Stephanie, bless your heart!  I HAVE experienced meltdowns; my former dil’s brother is Autistic and my own daughter has Autistic tendencies, which is where we believe her meltdowns lie.  I also worked for years in an SED center (severely emotionally disabled) and even though I was in the office. had to learn tools on not only how to calm these kids but to protect myself.  It’s NOT always a fun life and I appreciate your honesty. And Tim, you are right about those who are using the system.  Unfortunately, it is against the law for parks to ask the condition… Read more »
Tim
Guest
“Unfortunately, it is against the law for parks to ask the condition of the person requesting the pass.  – Parks can not ask for a drug script, they can not even ASK for a doctor’s note” I had no idea – I now see the problem facing parks management. I guess I’m part of the “able” community, and the best advice I’d give to anyone observing those you think shouldn’t be using the GAC – believe in Karma – I won’t even park in a disabled space at 6am when the car park is empty because I don’t ever want… Read more »
Stephanie
Guest
I never thought I would be able to go back to Disney and it turns out we get to go back this Spring. It’s very expensive and not in our yearly budget but thanks to family we will get to go back. I never heard of the GAC until 2 yrs ago when a friend of mine who is all about Disney and has a son with Autism told me about it. We did Disney (1 day in MK) when the kids were very young and it was a night mare. The last time we were there (2 yrs ago)… Read more »
Mom
Guest
We are planning our first trip to Disney and my 10 year old son will need a GAC card.  He is a normal healthy boy on the outside.  On the inside, he only has half a heart. He has had three open heart surgeries and numerous procedures in the hospital and is on lifelong medication.    The extreme heat or cold bothers him and he gets fatigued easily.  He needs to sit a lot and does not have the stamina or a healthy child.  When rude people make comments about him or roll their eyes at him or say rude things… Read more »
OrlandoInformer
Guest

UPDATE 1/9/13

Are you looking for assistance with issues related to visiting Orlando’s theme parks with special needs family members? We would like to help! Please visit this blog post for more information.

Comments on this post have now been closed.

Judy1
Guest
@Matt – I have used the GAC pass once before.  I didn’t need to use it for everything that was going on at Disney but for some rides I did.  It is no concern of yours what my medical condition is or that of my daughters (We are both planning a trip to Disney in August) and we are getting this pass.  I don’t know how many more trips like this I will have with her but this one will be very special.  People “like you” made me feel bad that I even have to use it, but since I have… Read more »
judd1
Guest

Hi, i hope someone knows the answer to my problem, my husband and i are taking 3 grandchildren to disney next year, 2 have ADHD and learning difficulties, i just wondered if we would be able to get guest assistance cards?

Guest
Guest

I have ADHD, it’s not a disability…get a fastpass

rcal575
Guest

I need advice. I have Scoliosis and I’ve gotten the GAC card before, but it expired. I just went to Disneyland on 8/19/13 and was denied the GAC card. They said there was nothing they can’t do for me. I told them that I’ve was given a GAC card before. They said they have different rules now. So as a disabled person, what can I do to retrieve a GAC card?

iamdollie
Guest
recal575,  I’m debi dame, the author of the blog “Special Needs are Universal” here on the OrlandoInformer.com.  We were at Disney World on the August 15th and had no problem getting our pass.  However, in the past, as annual passholders, we were given a 2 month period to return on a GAC, but the cast member said big changes were in the works and would only give ours for 2 weeks.   What those big plans are, he wouldn’t give me a hint.   Did you ask to speak with a supervisor?  Did you present a note from your doctor? I always… Read more »
Ann Onimous
Guest

@AC How about our children with type 1 diabetes? Do you know what heat does to the insulin which they need to live?  It’s not that we don’t like standing in the heat for long periods of time.  This kind of thing is detrimental to their health.

Guest
Guest

Very interested in the outcome of this.  I am a parent of a child on the autism spectrum, who will not understand that they will have to wait 75 minutes to ride on the ride, and will not take too kindly being told go see some characters, or watch a parade, or get lunch.  When we go in, he expects to ride on Test Track.  Obviously this program was not instituted with people with developmental delays in mind.

Phil2013
Guest
I completely agree…it is not a get to the front of the line free pass..  having a son with autism and twin boys is difficult enough but being forced to wait on a hour line with a child that has extreme sensory issues completely destroys any magic that Disney works so hard to maintain. If it weren’t for these passes my wife and i and our child would go on NO rides at all and we are not LUCKY by any means. If I had the choice of having a child with a disabilities or a neurological typical child I… Read more »
Phil2013
Guest
And another thing Disney should really think about is extending the passes to include all family members, meaning, if my son is have a sensory issue and only will go on 2 rides (his comfort zone) then the rest of the family be in the same boat. I can not split up my family and have my twin boys wait 1-2hours for splash mountain while I sit with my autistic son waiting for them or wandering around… by the time the day is through my twin boys only get to experience a hand full of rides or events.. I am… Read more »
iamdollie
Guest
I have been invited to be part of a roundtable discussion with other parents of disabled family or disabled adults all over the US this evening (Tues. 9/24) about the changes to the GAC. The discussion will be a podcast on http://specialmouse.com/ in the near future.  I agree with everything Phil2013 and the Guest have said, and as a discussion group, we’re going to figure out how best to contact the Disney company about our concerns.  From what we have learned already, it seems that those with unseen disabilities will be treated the same as those in wheelchairs.  I have… Read more »
FancifulWhimsy
Guest
I too have a child with a disability and was lucky enough to obtain a GAC pass when we went to Disney this past summer.  My child has stage 4 cancer.  Unlike the apparent trend here, however, I realize the real impact of the pass.  It is not a “front of the line” pass ALWAYS, but sometimes it is.  There were only a few instances where we ended up having to wait for any significant amount of time.  Even in those instances, our wait time was slashed by HOURS!  “It seems to be a rather common misperception that the GAC… Read more »
concerned
Guest
I agree 100%. Everyone struggles in some way or another–that’s just life. Your life (not your life, Fanciful–I am addressing the opponents of the new DAS program) may be complicated and negatively affected by the fact that you have a child with a disability (be it physical, emotional, cognitive, etc.) but who are you to say that your life is so much worse or harder than someone else’s? Consider, for example, a mother whose child has died; a child whose parent was murdered; a victim of sexual or physical abuse; etc. We all have crosses to bear and claims that… Read more »
paisleyk
Guest

@FancifulWhimsy 
Fanciful, just wanted to give you a ((hug))  Take care

Familyisfirst
Guest
I live in KY and  have a daughter who has cerebral palsy/quadriplegic and this has been our vacation for the last seven years because they are so accommodating. It not only lets her enjoy more but our other 2 children can enjoy the rides that my daughter can not ride without making her have to wait for very long or separating the family to have to go in different directions. I would gladly change places and wait in the lines with everybody else if I could also change places with them for the rest of the year. Us parents of… Read more »
OrlandoInformer
Guest

Attention readers: OI contributor debi has published a new article:

“Disney’s new Disability Access Service replaces the Guest Assistance Pass on October 9, 2013”

http://orlandoinformer.com/wpold/2013/walt-disney-world-disability-access-service-details-analysis/

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