Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Magical No Longer: The "Other" Disney Plan Most Don't Know About

If you haven't heard it by now, then I don't know where you have been living...

Maybe under a rock or out on a remote island somewhere but Disney is making changes. BIG changes.
Bug & Princess May 2009
You see a while back ago there was an exposé about the rich Manhattan socialites and their counterparts hiring disabled individuals to pose as family members so that they can use the Guest Assistance Program to bypass the lines and waits. This program also known as GAC allows those with special needs the ability to access a ride via the exit or fast pass entrance in order to avoid long wait times and assist park goers the ability to enjoy the park when otherwise they may not be able to because of their disabilities.

Well, apparently the socialites thought it wasn't fair and they wanted to be special too - as if their ability to spend tons of money on actual VIP tour guides that Disney offers - and screw the pooch for the rest of us who actually NEED it wasn't good enough.

Disney is now doing away with the GAC and instead implementing a new Disability Access Service program that follows this pattern:

1) Guest goes to Guest Services and obtains a DAS card - the individual with the disability is to be present and photographed for the DAS card - a new form of ID per se - that is only good for the day that the guest is at the park
2) Guest then goes to one of 4 kiosks in the HUGE park to obtain a "time" to go to their choice ride
3) Guest goes to said ride and well, rides via access through fast pass entrance
4) Guest then has to go back to one of 4 kiosks and start this all over again

How is that better?

Individuals with disabilities of varying degrees may not be mobile enough to go back and forth all willy nilly like this...also, there will be more times where guests will be waiting in lines than ever before. With children like mine or many other with autism - waiting in line is well, not good. The sensory overload is just one of the things they have to deal with as well as the anxiety of knowing when they will access the ride, impulse control around other people, social interactions that are not easy, etc...and what about those other indivduals who have issues with the heat, physically unable to stand in some places, medication time frames that they have to deal with, and countless other issues that face special needs families that I can't even begin to detail because we are not all the same.

In an article by Autism Speaks responding to the plan, the organization states that they worked with Disney on this new system. They even went as far as to say "We do believe that the Disney Magic Plus plan that is currently being used at Disney World in Orlando is the best hope for the future. We hope Disney Land in California will soon start to use this plan as well" - yeah, there is ANOTHER plan that is currently in its "testing" phase. I have some friends that have used it and swear by it but they have TYPICAL children.

Also, it is based on a "Magic Band" with some sort of chip/gps/etc thingy - ummm, please raise your hands if your child with sensory issues will allow himself/herself to wear this - ALL DAY? 

Anybody? Anybody? Nobody? Beuhler?

Really Autism Speaks - you think this would work for our children and family members with autism?

According to Mouse Hints:

"Currently, the plan is to have participating guests wear a colorful band as seen in the picture...Resort guests that are used to just carrying around their Keys to the World, now will just need their bands.The wrist band will be fully customizable and will allow guests to purchase food, souvenirs, enter the park and use the Fastpass system.  Disney is also going to allow participating guests to have better views of parades, fireworks and other activities.  There is no question that this will have the potential ability to enhance the overall vacation for many people!" (source:

I see the benefits of the Magic Band for typical families but how about ours? What if you don't stay on property? If you stay off property and still have access to the Band - what would waiting in line be like then?

There are definitely kinks in the system and changes need to be made but it seems that the research on this was not done with the right market in mind.

The way I see it - there has to be a middle ground, a sense of balance that will work for all parties involved.

While the socialites screwed us they screwed Disney as well and therefore I understand the need to remedy this issue and develop a new method of providing access to their guests with special needs. But this - does not seem like the right fit.

How about a compromise of both ideas?
  • What about a GAC that has a photo identifying the guest with special needs as well as their name and the # of people in the guests party?
    • Keep the same restriction that guests must ride the attraction with the recipient of the GAC-Photo ID (with the initial GAC card you could ride the attraction without the guest with special needs)
My children love Disney and without the GAC, it would not be worth taking them. The prices are high enough as it is and it is supposed to be a treat to have them enjoy the Most Magical Place on Earth but with these new changes, well, Magical is looking like its going to have to find a new shape or form for family entertainment.

I guess we'll just have to see what the Magical future holds - hopefully its a good one.

Monkey  all tuckered out - this is in Sea World May 2009
but it was just too cute I had to share - hopefully Sea World's access
stays the same


  1. That sounds a little ridiculous. I can understand taking a picture of the individual with the disability and keeping it in some sort of database. I think that alone would cut down on that insane practice of hiring disabled individuals to pose as family members.

  2. Yes, the GAC card was a big help when we went in June. My son tends to meltdown around a lot of people. It's a shame so many people abused the GAC!

  3. Sounds like too many kinks - hopefully voices like yours will chime in with better solutions that help everyone. Well..not the people who are trying to trick the system. disgusting.


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