Disneyland revamps its disabled access passes
Abuse of a good system that helped lots of people led to the change, but the theme park's new program is missing a key, simple measure.
The GAC came into focus earlier this year after media outlets such as the New York Post reported that wealthy park visitors were hiring tour guides who qualified for these passes so that they could move ahead of other patrons in line. Getting a GAC isn't easy. Disney doesn't publicize them much, and people have to apply for them in person at the park.
Strangely, though, Disney World didn't require me to submit any sort of proof of my medical condition. I was able to use my GAC without incident.
According, to MiceAge, a website that tracks Disney, the company is discontinuing the GAC as of Oct. 9 at Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure and replacing it with what the company calls the Disabled Assistance System (DAS). Though the MiceAge story doesn't mention Disney World, it seems likely that the policy will apply there as well.
Unlike the GAC, which can be used throughout the park, only one ride at a time can be reserved using the DAS. Disney may be solving one problem but creating many others.
Children with autism, some of whom can't wait for anything, may be in tough spot because many of them find the park overwhelming. As Jo Ashline, the mother of a son who is on the autism spectrum, wrote on the Special Needs Orange County site: "The Guest Assistant Card almost guaranteed that meltdowns would be minimal and rarely did we leave the park in turmoil. ... I'm not trying to #$%& on anyone's parade here, but watching the parades may be the only thing we'll be able to do when this thing is implemented."
As a parent of a child with a mild form of autism, I sympathize with Ashline. The meltdowns she refers to can be volcanic in their fury. For Parkinson's sufferers, waiting in the hot sun isn't easy, either. I certainly was glad I had the GAC.
The new system probably would have made my stay at the park far less enjoyable. A better approach would be for Disney to keep the GAC but require a doctor's note from applicants, something that people with legitimate issues wouldn't mind doing. A company spokesperson couldn't be reached for comment on this story.
Disney seems to be pushing a one-size-fits-all approach to a situation that is often quite complicated. I hope the company will reconsider this move.
Jonathan Berr does not own shares of the listed stocks. Follow him on Twitter @jdberr and at jonathanberr.com.
Disney needs more rides to accommodate the crowds they have, to raise prices so fewer people can afford it, or to limit the number of people in the park. Until they do that, I'll take my kids somewhere where they'll have fun and not spend hours standing in line.
what disney shoulda done was simply barred any outside tour guides who were "using" their disability to work the system. just because someone is confined to a wheelchair doesn't mean they can't be a shifty scumbag.
I can understand that people with special needs get all the goodies in public education. Smaller class sizes, more one-on-one, more computers per student ratio, etc. It also seems reasonable to me that they should get special parking privileges and ramps to make mobility easier. At what point though do the rest of us need to subsidize and cater to the special needs populations so they can enjoy Disney World rides. They are a company that has interest in making money, and believe it or not, the greatest good for the greatest amount of people is a much better economic policy than pandering and caving to the few. Someone had mentioned that Disney should provide a staff member to assist people around- okay, as long as they volunteer and drive up the prices of everyone else's ticket. Should they get cut in front of the line multitudes of times while everyone else who paid for the same ticket has to wait- no. Society, and especially private companies, owe you equal opportunity, not extra opportunity.
Just because you can't make it down or up the stairs or walk the 2 miles in a zigzag line to get on a ride......doesn't mean you should get to cut in front of other paying customers who wait the full 90 minutes for a ride. There is no reason that a person who needs the alternative entrance can't wait with a family member or friend at the alternative entrance, while everyone else in the group goes through the regular line and when those folks get to the front...the person needing the alternative entrance; and their "waiting buddy", joins them on the ride.
And now the peanut gallery will try to "justify" why THAT method isn't "fair"......
If autistic children are not going to enjoy Disney because they do not or cannot wait in the lines or find the crowds overwhelming, take them someplace they will enjoy! Why would you want to spend money to make them miserable. There is no requirement that everyone go to a Disney park. Child Protective Services will not pay a call on you if they find out you have not taken your kids to Disney.
PS: I am the mom of an autistic daughter.
A doctor's note? Then the wealthy will just get doctor's notes. A doctor's note can get you a handicap parking pass too for people who obviously don't need them.
I know of several people bragging about taking their wheelchair bound grandmother just so they can get at the front of the line. This is disgusting. This was not Walt's dream.
This is not a must have. If you cannot stand the lines, do not come to the park.
Like some have written, you have equal access, not special privilages. This is just like modern America, someone does something nice and now it's expected, and people will sue you if you don't.
I tried to shout it louder, but it won't let me use a bigger font. Seriously, this is one of your better pieces. Maybe it's because it's written in 1st person, maybe it's because it's more of a human interest story. Regardless, we know you get paid to write financial articles, but please find a way to get paid to write more stuff like this!!
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