Once again I find myself issuing a “just in case” apology. I know some of this may offend somebody and I apologize upfront – once again – just my opinion! It seems like this is becoming a standard first line for my posts.
I first want to acknowledge that most people who use the Guest Assistance Card (G.A.C.) really need it. Unfortunately, many that have used it don’t need it. I have been amazed over the years reading about people who readily admit they get the Guest Assistance Card (G.A.C.) because their child doesn’t like to wait in line – why teach your child how to behave when getting a card that let’s you skip lines is much easier? I have read about people getting the Guest Assistance Card (G.A.C.) because a medication they take says they shouldn’t be out in the sun – this one always gets me! First of all, I know Disneyland (see the DL guide for guests with disabilities here) is different, but in Walt Disney World (see the WDW guide for guests with disabilities here), few attraction queues require you to wait out in the sun. More importantly, if you can not be out in the sun – how can you walk around the park all day? Some of the reasons I have read in many of the Disney related forums I belong to just make me scream at my computer – Are you kidding me????? Most recently the controversy over the Guest Assistance Card (G.A.C.) has been bouncing around ever since it was reported in the news several months ago that wealthy Americans were paying disabled people to go into the parks with them so they were able to get either a Guest Assistance Card and “cut the line” at attractions or enter through the handicapped lines which would, in the past, basically get you to the front of the line. This week it was announced that starting in October the Guest Assistance Card would be REPLACED by the Disabled Assistance System (D.A.S.). I cap and bold – replaced – since many have reported (wrongly) that the Guest Assistance Card (G.A.C.) is being discontinued. It is not being discontinued. Disney is simply changing the system. The Guest Assistance Card (G.A.C.) was intended to be utilized by guests with “invisible” disabilities (such as autism spectrum disorders) and was distributed according to the guest’s specific needs. Unfortunately, over time, abuse of this program began to run rampant.
There are many “invisible” disabilities that the Guest Assistance Card (G.A.C.) was intended to help with. Unfortunately the word “invisible” made it easy to abuse and those that need it the most are inevitably the ones that suffer the most and with the new system will be the ones most inconvenienced. I have several friends that truly need this assistance and I know that because they truly need it, they will work with whatever program Disney puts in place so that their family can enjoy their vacation – without complaint – without being angry – because it is a true need.
My husband uses an ECV when he travels to the parks with me. Looking at him, I am sure that many think he just doesn’t want to walk – they don’t see the road map of surgical scars that start just above his knee on both legs and run to his groin so they assume there is nothing wrong with him. They don’t know that if he walks for any length of time, his legs swell to several times the normal size and create extreme pain. He often has to stand and stretch his legs and I am sure people see this and think his ECV isn’t really necessary. We have a rule that if the wait time for an attraction is 30 minutes or less, he will park the ECV and wait in line – 30 minutes is the limit of his endurance. We do this so that the handicap entrance is available for those that MUST use it. Those with situations that leave them no other choice. I am sure when people see us park his ECV, they think his ECV isn’t really necessary. We should not judge other families unless we are 100% certain of their circumstances. Count your blessings if you are fortunate enough to not need assistance but have compassion for those that do.
Yesterday, in just under two hours I read 112 comments on various forums of people outraged that the new Disabled Assistance System (D.A.S.) will require a picture be taken of your child. This outrage makes me ask the following questions: Why are you outraged by this? What is it that you think Disney will do with your child’s photo except put it on the Disabled Assistance System (D.A.S.) card that will be in your pocket. Even if the plan is to keep the photo in their database to make your next visit easier – I am still confused by your outrage. Do you think Disney has some ultimate plan to sell your child’s photo? Your child’s photo is most likely safer in Disney hands than it is when you plaster it all over Facebook and your blogging websites (not a criticism of anyone – just my opinion).
I guess, for me, the bottom line is this: The Disney Company does not make these changes rashly or quickly. The abuse of the Guest Assistance Card (G.A.C.) has been on Disney radar for a long time. They have been doing studies for over two years on how to better the program for their guests. The new Disabled Assistance System (D.A.S.) is the result of those studies. Will it be inconvenient for those that truly need it? Maybe. Will it stop the abuse – who knows? But at this time it is what the Disney Company feels they need to do to help individuals that really need the help. Let’s give it a chance before condemning it. If you are someone that truly needs the system – don’t blame Disney for the change – blame the abusers that made the change necessary.
One of the posts I read this week that explains the new Disabled Assistance System (D.A.S.) fairly well was posted on on Chip and Company’s site – Guest Assistance Card to Become Disabled Assistance Service.