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rj's mom
12-31-2000, 12:50 PM
While at WDW recently, I was able to speak with a gentleman in Guest Services at MK about the mess with the Guest Assistance Passes. We spoke at length, and I told him I would be in touch with him.

After the conversation, I realized that in his mind, disabilities, and medically fragile were essentially the same. I want to write him later this week, but would like feedback from you all before I do. Please add questions or comments.

In order to prevent the Guest Services folks from making "medical decisions" (which they uniformly tell us that aren't trained to do, but then do it anyway), let's break the task into smaller pieces.
Those who come with obvious disabilities, and are asking for the card to shorten (not eliminate) their wait could continue to be handled at Guest Services. The folks with hidden disabilities, (some forms of retardation, autism and PPD, Tourette's, etc.) should speak with the lead person for the Guest Services they are at. These people could acquire a working vocabulary (which we could provide to them!!!) so they understand what is being said to them. In most cases, taking a few minutes to chat with the family is often all the time that is needed for the hidden disability to become obvious.

Those of us who have a medically involved person in our group should be directed to the 1st Aid station, where, by my obeservations, 1-3 women are sitting trying to figure out how to pass the time. These folks should be able to understand the issues that the various diagnosis present. After determining the level of assistance required, they could then issue the guest pass from there.

Other issues we discussed were parade seating and people who want to get passes but don't need them.

I suggested that one of the wheelchair seating areas be reserved for those who have limited stamina and could better use their time seeing attractions rather than waiting an hr. or more for a parade to begin. Passes for this would be given at the same time the Assistance pass was given out in the 1st aid area. 5-10 minutes before the parade, simply seek out the specific reserved area.

The problem of people getting passes when they don't legitimatly need them will always be there, but I'm thinking that if folks know they have to go and explain it to "medically trained personnel", many of these people will just get on with their touring. This is particularly suspect to the CMs when the wheelchair has been rented at the park for that day.

Sooo, what do you think?

New Year's blessing to everyone.


PS: I'll start writing up our recent trip on Tues.

SueM in MN
01-01-2001, 10:15 AM
Sounds like you had an interesting conversation.
I'm not sure what contsraints the ADA puts on WDW. It's possible that they can't legally ask the questions they need to make a decision, but sort of have to wait for it to be volunteered.

One other thing that would help is a computer registry listing people with permanent disabilities who have been issued a card before. When we went in September, we were told there was not any such thing. This would be quite useful for people with disabilities that are not likely to change.

I do agree that t he CM who are issuing the cards need to be well trained in what constitutes a disability. They seem to have a lot of problem with multiple disabilities. We have had problems because my dd uses a wheelchair, so for several years we were lumped together wit h all the elderly people who can't walk long distances when my dd has multiple problems including mobilty, ADD, impulsive behavior (which includes purposely hitting people or running into them with her wheelchair) and seizures which caused us to lose a da y and a half of touring in March and half a day in September. Last March we got a GAC for the first time. We had been told before that she did not qualify for one because her wheelchair allowed her to use the wheelchair entrance (despite telling the CM all the things I listed above). We had also been told (during trips in 1997,1998 and 1999) that there were no special cards (despite the fact that a CM who saw her hit someone in line referred us to Guest Services to get one). I found out GACs were available by reading postings by people who had used one. I certainly would not have found it out from Guest Services; we got repeated denials from them intil I wrote to someone at WDW before our trip in March of last year and asked about them. I have since been told they will not assist in getting one pre-trip; and we were told that even though we had written before our trip, the decision would be up to CMs at the park.
When this subject has come up before, the people with disabilities who responded were willing to take any information they needed to WDW to prove a need for a GAC. Most of the people who objected didn't have disabilities.

SueM in MN
Co-Moderator of disABILITIES (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=frm&s=40009993&f=38009194)
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[This message was edited by SueM in MN on 01-01-01 at 01:24 PM.]

teri
01-03-2001, 09:52 AM
I have been trying to think how to reply to this one... My experience on this last trip (during a slow season) was that there was limited patience on the part of the person at Guest Services about actual diagnoses. They are more concerned about preventing abuse than providing access. So, I think that your idea has merit, but I doubt it would go over well with them.

We took our old GAC fromt he previous trip, spent about 10 seconds saying that my son sometimes hits, bites impulsively for no reason, or has tantrums when he is in a close crowd, plus I have arthritis and sometimes need to avoid stairs or rest. They couldn't care less what flavor of autistic spectrum disorder, or what kind of arthritis I have, they were only concerned about what kind of assistance we would need. Now, given that I know their system pretty well by now, I had no problem. Having the old GAC in hand helped quite a bit. (I feel like a pro now, but just watch, they will change the system and I will be back at square one again!)

The real issue for them seems to be that they don't want to spell it out for people because they don't want healthy, able-bodied people scamming the system to get a GAC for convenience. So they leave it a mystery. And in doing so, they also make it a mystery, and a hassle, and a source of tension, for the cast members. It also lets them hold onto a teeny tiny bit of power over us. :rolleyes: There is just enough confusion that people who are truly entitled to assistance can't get a straight answer, as in what happened to Sue. And also, there is confusion at the attractions which causes some tension as well.

Well, on this last trip there was little confusion for us, but then we went during a relatively slow week. My son was OK most of the time, but there were several incidents (clearing off the shelf of souvenirs off one of the carts, tantrums in line, grabbing expensive glass items, running off, biting objects, impulsive grabbing and throwing (I have DIS witnesses this time, Dan Murphy and Eeyorestail!) ... I have no guilt about using the GAC. To some extent I have developed a shell which the negative looks and comments cannot penetrate, and I can just walk in there with confidence and state my case, and keep the GAC in the holder around my neck where it is immediately available to flip around so I get help from the CMs very quickly.

It is much harder for people the first time, though, just because they don't know how to ask or how to use it, they go into too much detail that the Guest Services CMs are not able to process. I doubt that they would want to bump their responsibility for determination of the eligibility for the GAC to another unit, it would be seen as giving up responsibility.

http://www.wdwinfo.com/sites/family/galc.gif
"My brain takes a vacation just to give my heart more room..."
teri@iluvdisney.com

saymama
01-03-2001, 11:16 AM
okay, as nervous as I am about this trip with autistic ds, if a CM were to dismiss me about what his dx is, I know for a fact that I would cry right then and there. The idea of needing a pass in the first place is enough to bring me to tears, but giving me a hard time about it would probably bring on the river rapids. Guests would get wetter there than splash mountain. I always arm myself for a fight, but this is just too much. I would lose it right there.

I did call disney this morning for reservations and the wonderfully nice lady that was quoting me prices told me that they could handle a GAP over the phone with my hotel/ticket reservation. I was questioning if I had to go to the park or if I could do it at the hotel and she said that she could do it right there. Without a second thought or questioning. Now I have heard that some people couldn't have this done, but she was saying that she could. Of course with my luck had I done the reservations this morning, when I got there that would be the one thing that was missing.

I will go prepared with dx letter in hand and I will have one for my younger son too, although the dx isn't exactly offical, but we already have a
neuro, so I can get that easily. I probably won't have to use it for younger son, but I'd rather not fight. For some reason if my dx was brushed aside, that would hurt my feelings, I went through alot to that word actually mean something.

toni

tammyh-oregon
01-03-2001, 06:39 PM
I agree about maybe having a second type of viewing area for the parades. I was using a cane and used the wheelchair viewing area in liberty square because I knew I would be able to sit on the bricks around the liberty tree. We were there before they even put up the handicapped ropes. they then proceeded up to the last minute to put wheelchairs in front of me. I have no problem with this but 10 minutes before the parade I lost my view and had to stand something which caused a great deal of pain. The handicapped viewing areas are sit up for wheelchairs and not people who have other problems. Perhaps one of you can tell me of another place that allows a good view but I wouldn't have to sit on the ground. I think you are right about the mystery part. It stops the abuse but confuses the heck out of the truly disabled to need assistance.

Tammy

SueM in MN
01-03-2001, 06:48 PM
I can tell you for sure that tears don't help. Been there, done that a couple of years ago. That was when they told us there were no special cards and that if our dd was hitting people in line, perhaps we should skip the attractions with lines!! I got the feeling that a hundred doctor's letters would not have made any difference, if you had a visible physical disability, you got one type of treatment period.

Our old GAC didn't do us much good when we went in September either. I explained briefly about our dd, explained how much the GAC we got in March had helped us and gave our old GAC to the CM at Guest Services. He looked at it, told us the Guest Assistance Pass that we got in March had been changed to a Guest Assistance Card, but the card was exactly the same. We didn't look at the card until we used it later and found that our new card allowed us to wait out of the sun if the "wait would be excessive."
We did take it back to Guest Services at another park later in our stay and got one that was more a ppropriate.
I agree with teri, that they do want to keep it somewhat mysterious so people won't try to "scam" the system. The same people who are posting instructions on how to cheat the fastpass machine (and even admitting that it's cheating) would proba bly feel they are entitled to get a GAC without a true need because it would enhance their ability to get on rides.
For anyone who really needs one, the best advice I can give is to go in with an understanding of your family's needs. If you think about it, we have probably all dealt with professionals who didn't understand our kids needs, so what chance is there that a CM to really understand. What they need to know is what help you need and give out a card that says that. If the card you get doesn't help, go back and re-state your case.
For saymama, when we corresponded with someone by email to get our first GAC, I was given a reference number that was put in their computer. I was told to give the number to Guest Services and they could access our file. I was told that the final decision would be made by the CM at Guest Services. If they gave you some kind of reference number, you probably have a file waiting for you. If they didn't, you probably ran into a nice phone lady doing something she is not able to do. Don't worry though, even without anything, you can get what your kids need. you have stated your family's needs very well in the things you have written here. Just do the same at Guest Services with a smile and a confident attitude and they should help you. If they don't ask for the manager and try again.

SueM in MN
Co-Moderator of disABILITIES (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=frm&s=40009993&f=38009194)
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SueM in MN
01-03-2001, 07:00 PM
tammyh, I agree also that the wheelchair viewing spots need some adjusting. The last time we used one was in Epcot for Illuminations and my dd who can't get out of her wheelchair was sitting directly in front of a tree trunk. She couldn't see a thing while all around us, empty wheelchairs and ecvs were parked with their occupants standing up to get a better view (which meant the people like you who were sitting on the benches behind us didn't get a view either).
My FILs favorite spot for the parade at MK is the rocking chairs on the porch by Tony's Town Square Restaurant. My FIL has bad hips and knees and could never sit on the ground or stand for that long. You have to get there early to get those chairs and bring them right up to the rail, but no one will get in your view. (Now promise not to tell anyone else about this good spot). „

SueM in MN
Co-Moderator of disABILITIES (http://wdwinfo.infopop.net/OpenTopic/page?q=Y&a=frm&s=40009993&f=38009194)
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teri
01-04-2001, 11:23 AM
Saymama,
Buck up, honey. You don't have to unload any of the problems of the past to these people. Trust me, they don't want to hear it. You just stand up straight, go in there and say, "We are here to get our GAC. Our son is autistic, he cannot tolerate being in close quarters with people in lines and sometimes he has tantrums, we will need to be able to make a quick exit and to use alternate entrances if there are long lines." No diagnosis is relly necessary. And if you are one of us who has a child with Alphabet-Soup Disorder (so many labels, none of which really quite fit and sound like gobbledygook to the uninitiated) and you child has any autistic features at all, just say "Autistic" and it works just fine. Trust me on this one, dear, I have been through the battle. PDD, SI and Language Delays, etc., etc., etc... are labels that mean nothing to most people. And if your child is with you, they can probably take one look and see that you are telling the truth, even if they are clueless about the different diagnoses.

No tears necessary. Save 'em for later, after the IEP meeting. :rolleyes:

http://www.wdwinfo.com/sites/family/galc.gif
"My brain takes a vacation just to give my heart more room..."
teri@iluvdisney.com

teri
03-12-2001, 10:03 AM
bump of a good discussion... :)

faeflora
03-12-2001, 04:45 PM
Hi all,
Ok I am new to the whole GAC debate but an idea just came to mind so hey I'll share, one of the problems that I can see with asking at Guest Services at the park is the myriad of questions that are asked of these CM's on a daily basis that do not deal with GAC. Possibly this is a task that can be more evenly spread out, for example Special Services at the reservations point might be able to handle the issuing of a GAC with a faxed letter on doctors letter head sent in ahead of time, or possibly idividuals with disabilities that are staying at WDW hotels could have these passes issued to them upon check in or at the Guest Services area of their hotel.
Just an idea that might assist in this situation.

Another idea that came to me is that Disney (from what I understand) has an active disabled employee group that meets on a reqular basis to discuss accessibity in the parks, it would be great to locate this group (if it really does exist) and invite them to review the complaints and ideas that have been talked about on this thread.

Again, just some ideas from a newbie here. :)

Jules