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Possible Changes coming to the Guest Assistance Cards (GAC)

Discussion in 'WDW Parks News, Rumors and Current Events' started by RSoxNo1, Sep 18, 2012.

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  1. RSoxNo1

    RSoxNo1 Well-Known Member

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    While the details of this article center on Disneyland, the identification of the Guest Assistance Card usage as a problem for NextGen is certainly relevant to Disney World. I understand Disney wanting to curb the abuse of the GAC card, but again, this is something (in conjunction with limiting Fastpass usage) that is really going to affect a lot of people. If people are abusing the GAC rules, than I have no sympathy, but I know several people that utilize the GAC for legitimate reasons.

    Speaking on behalf of myself, we get a GAC for my autistic brother, and we get it for him and 5 additional guests. When I'm traveling with my family we travel 8 or 9 deep so the GAC does not accommodate everyone. We have been told that we can accompany the GAC with Fastpasses for the other family members and we have never had a problem doing this. However, we have yet to attempt this now that the end times are being reinforced. Previously, we would take the passes of everyone in the family, and get the necessary fastpasses we needed for the day to accompany the GAC, we would typically have Fastpasses for everything we needed (with the exception of the MK where there were more Fastpass attractions than elsewhere) before stepping foot in any line.

    As an example we would do the following:
    • 8 ticketed guests and 1 infant would arrive at the Magic Kingdom between 10-11 AM
    • 1 person would head to Fantasyland and get 2 Fastpasses for Peter Pan's Flight, and 2 Fastpasses for Winnie the Pooh
    • 1 person would head to Adventureland and get 2 Fastpases for Jungle Cruise, and then over to Frontierland to get 1 Fastpass for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and 1 Fastpass for Splash Mountain.
    • Our day would begin at Jungle Cruise where 9 of us get on a boat using the 2 Fastpasses and the GAC(for 6 people). The infant didn't require a Fastpass
    • After Pirates of the Caribbean, one adult would sit off Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain with the Infant as 7 of us would ride using the 1 Fastpass, and GAC (for 6)
    • After Haunted Mansion, we would would hit up the Fantasyland attractions in the same manner we did for Jungle Cruise.
    • During a break in riding rides someone would probably head over to Tomorrowland grab Fastpasses for Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
    My suggestion for the Guest Assistance Card would be to limit the number of people that can use it. This can be done by Doctor's Note (perhaps not legal)? Or having stricter policies on distribution.

    Here is the text of the article that's relevant to this discussion. Most of this is regarding Radiator Springs Racers, and the "solution" is similar to what's done over in Universal Studios.

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  2. wilkeliza

    wilkeliza Well-Known Member

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    I know the technical rules for GAC is that if fastpasses are still available for the attraction you must use the fastpass option (entire party not just the ones not covered by the GAC). If no fastpasses are available or if the time currently displayed is not convenient for your party then a hand written pass is to be issued allowing you to return at a time equal to the current posted stand by time. I only know of one attraction actually following the rule and that is Space Mountain. I believe Toy Story Midway Mania also follows the rule but I've never seen it happen my self. Of course these are the rules for Disney World so I'm not sure what the official operating rules for Disneyland are.

    No one wants to make it harder on guests with disabilities but far too many times I see people abusing the system and lying. There are entire threads on some other boards dedicated to telling parents how to coach their kids to appear autistic so that they can get GAC cards to "skip the line" although the cards clearly say on them they are not front of the line cards and sometimes the wait may be longer than the standby line.
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  3. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member

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    Even tho Al wants to hang everything on bOrgLando as the root of all evil - this is a problem far more involved at DLR than WDW. I doubt we'll see any pending changes to GAC for WDW.

    I also question the link between GAC and NextGen... solely from why the motivation to address the problem now, when Al claims NextGen is almost 2 years away for DLR? If it were purely to prevent NextGen snags.. why the hurry to make changes?

    I think it's just an excuse to finally face the elephant in the room. The population at DLR has far less qualms about abusing leeway granted by Disney, and GAC is just one of those areas people walk all over Disney.
  4. nytimez

    nytimez Well-Known Member

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    I don't have/use/need a GAC and am thankful that I am not entitled to one.

    But, I don't fully understand their purpose as it extends to cutting a line. I don't like lines (who does?) and rarely wait in them in myself -- and somehow, I always manage to ride everything I want.

    I've never seen or heard of that hand-written "return by" note described above, but that also seems like a perfectly reasonable accommodation.
  5. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member

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    They aren't universally - but depending on the condition the card is issued for, and the attraction in question, to eliminate the aspect that the guest can't do, cutting the line is the accomodation.

    Example, if I can't stand for long periods, I can't stand for 60mins in a queue.. so maybe you put me through the FP line which is much shorter. Or maybe I'm in a wheelchair, and the stand-by queue can't accomodate a chair, etc.

    In the old days it was predominately about wheelchair and disabled access. But now they issue passes for everything from sensory issues, to heat tolerance, to whatever. It's quite absurd IMO, but in a lot of ways Disney created the problem.
  6. wilkeliza

    wilkeliza Well-Known Member

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    Like I said above the skip the line is not how they are technically suppose to be used but for some reason that is what greeter CMs have been doing for awhile and what has become the standard. The official policy is that the guest should still wait the posted stand by just in a location with whatever they need to accommodate their disability such as shade or a wider ramp or quite area.
  7. RSoxNo1

    RSoxNo1 Well-Known Member

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    To echo @flynnibus's point, Disneyland guests are more knowledgeable about the parks. As such, they are more familiar with ways to exploit existing offerings.
  8. JLipnick

    JLipnick Active Member

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    We always get GAC for our son who is 4 years old but cannot walk independantly (he has low muscle tone and besides his muscles developing at a slower pace, he also tires very quickly) and uses a walker. he is not wheel chair bound so when we then carry him into a line with the GAC or use our stoller with the stroller=wheelchair tag, people sometimes look to see why we are getting to the front. we even had people ask why, but when we tell them our 4 year old is handicapped, they usually understand. we have sometimes been told that the queue lines are wide enough for wheelchairs or walkers so he should just use the regular line, but he cannot stand for that long. guest relations are normally good about handling those situations for us. so while we would much rather not have to take advantage of the GAC, without it we would not be able to do WDW.

    I just hope that they do not change it to where my son won't be able to enjoy himself like a normal 4 year old would.
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  9. RSoxNo1

    RSoxNo1 Well-Known Member

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    The "return by" note is what's currently done at Universal, but I think part of the benefit is to avoid having to double back through the park. For my brother, it's a matter of patience, for other's it's a physical issue.

    I can only speak on personal experience - normally my brother (35 years old and autistic) is well behaved (or at least since puberty). However, we've had incidents in the park where just suggesting that we don't go on a certain attraction because it was cold and getting late and he wouldn't have it. At that point we're faced with dealing with a 200 pound autistic man throwing a full fledged temper tantrum in the middle of Fantasyland, or getting on his required attractions as quickly as possible.

    For my brother he is far more high strung at the beginning and end of each trip as he needs to make sure that he sees and does everything he had planned out in his mind. Until that happens, he is far more likely to act out, and act out aggressively.

    Disney has been more than accommodating for him, and I am 100% satisfied in how the current system works for my family. I feel guilty at times when we can bypass longer lines during crowded times, and as such, we try to minimilize usage where applicable. If we see a 10 minute wait, and no signs of an outburst we will often choose to go standby. Or not all of us will go on a ride so we won't be totally backing up the system with our 6 GAC users and 3 FP users. Yes, we take advantage of it but I feel it's a valuable service that's offered and we are well within the restrictions of the system.
  10. flynnibus

    flynnibus Well-Known Member

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    I'd say they are much better versed in how to visit the park, and even manipulate Disney... more so than knowledgeable about the parks :) They are much more willing to game the system because so many are selfish about the parks in the first place. Comes with growing up with it in their backyards and having frequent access to it.
  11. Todd H

    Todd H Well-Known Member

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    I'm the parent of a five year old autistic son and we used a GAC for the first time during our last trip in 2011. It was a godsend. I'd hate to see it disappear completely.
  12. captainkidd

    captainkidd Well-Known Member

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    This doesn't sound like it should impact us too much. We've had to use the GAC for the past 4 years. I have a chronic back condition that doesn't allow me to stand in the same place for more than very short lengths of time. I had an MRI done and the specialists I've seen don't recommend I go through with surgery, so it's something I just have to live with.

    I would have no problem (and think Disney should) with Disney requiring that people asking for GAC's have a note on physicians letterhead or copies of current prescriptions detailing what the medicine is for.

    If it wasn't for the GAC, I can honestly say, we could no longer go to WDW. Well, we could, but I couldn't make it through the parks.
  13. RSoxNo1

    RSoxNo1 Well-Known Member

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    A friend of mine (and also the host of the WDW Kingdomcast podcast) gets a GAC on every visit. He was two prosthetic legs (below the knee)and really cannot stand still for long periods of time without serious discomfort. He can actually move very well around the parks while walking, but he utlizes the GAC to avoid standing still.

    Just knowing how my feet feel at the end of each day, I can only imagine how much worse the pressure is on his legs. He swears by it, and Disney's willingness to accommodate is a big reason he continues to return.
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  14. wilkeliza

    wilkeliza Well-Known Member

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    The problem is they can't legally ask for that under ADA laws. Once someone says they are disabled you have to leave it at that.
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  15. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    It's actually not up to Disney - I believe HIPAA laws prevent them from asking.
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  16. captainkidd

    captainkidd Well-Known Member

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    That's pretty much why I get it as well. I can walk OK, for a little while. But standing still - Forget it.
  17. Todd H

    Todd H Well-Known Member

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    We brought one from our pediatrician and I don't think they even looked at it. I would be fine with requiring documentation but I think I've read somewhere that they can't ask you for documentation because of HIPAA perhaps?

    Edit: Joe beat me to it.
  18. Disneydreamer23

    Disneydreamer23 Well-Known Member

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    How are they changing it?
  19. DisneyJoe

    DisneyJoe Well-Known Member

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    I am a congenital above the knee amputee and know just how he feels. Between my hands on my crutches and the prosthetic legs, I would be in serious discomfort on every Disney trip, until a friend talked me into using an ECV. WDW and DLR are the only places I use one, and it has made a tremendous difference in my enjoyment of the parks.
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  20. captainkidd

    captainkidd Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, I have read that too.

    Most of the CM's we've encountered have been great about the GAC. I always show them copies of my prescriptions and highlight what they are for, just so there's no doubt. One year, we encountered a CM at the MK (Guest Relations just outside the park) who made a very snide comment to me. I showed him the note from my doctor and he replied "Gee, I wonder if your doctor gives out no waiting in line cards for his office." I thought that was REALLY uncalled for.
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