View Full Version : Guest Assistance Pass

09-22-2000, 08:15 AM
Do I need to bring a doctors note, IEP or other proof that my child has a disability?

rj's mom
09-22-2000, 10:04 AM
This has been my pet peeve about WDW. Overall, they are way ahead in terms of providing services and help to those with disabilities, but there continues to be confusion over these passes.

Is there any possibility that the moderators of the forum could initiate some communication with the Disney folks to try and clarify the situation?
The folks at Guest Services indicate that there is a standard used for giving out passes, but the responses to this forum seem to indicate a lot of "grey area" where CMs make their own rules.

My daughter and I struggled with this last year,(she's in a wheelchair and medically fragile) and we even had a doctor's letter with us. Given the overall kindness of the CMs, I don't think they are trying to be arbitrary, but there really doesn't seem to be one standard that is used.

For those of you who have family members with a "hidden" disability (not requiring a wheelchair or other obvious indications of need), how hard would it be for you all to get a note from your doctor?

WDW has gotten a reputation for letting anyone who shows up in a wheelchair, even ones rented at WDW, into the entrances marked for folks with disabilities, and many times folks did this to avoid standing in line.

Is there any hope that the folks at WDW would listen? If so, can we start a thread on this and
let everybody list ideas for a standard that WDW
could use?

I think it was Teri in Menlo Park who suggested a multi colored card system. Hopefully, we can get her ideas too.

Let's all contribute some pixie dust and see if we can solve this.

SueM in MN
09-22-2000, 03:00 PM
1) You don't need to bring any proof of disability. Some people feel better bringing an IEP or a letter from their doctor, but the CM will not (and can NOT legally) ask for it.
2) Be ready to explain what problems you will have and what would help you deal with them.
3) If you go to Guest Services and don't get the type of assistance you think you need, ask to speak to a manager.
4) In some ways, I think WDW wants to keep the process a little mysterious. It is harder for people who don't need a Guest Assistance Card to pretend they need one if the rules are not public. You might not think that happens, but I have heard of people pretending their 4 year is only 2, so they can avoid paying for a ticket. A person who would do that would probably have their child pretend to be autistic to go ahead in line.
5) In some rides, everyone in a wheelchair does need to use the wheelchair entrance because the regular line has stairs, etc. In most cases now, lines are being mainstreamed, so wheelchair users wait in the same line with everyone else. So, for people who are using a wheelchair and have only a mobility disability, they will wait in line.
6) Safari Steve (a CM who reads these boards) indicated WDW used to have a color coding system, but the CMs didn't read the cards and assumed they remembered what each color meant. That was one of the reasons they switched to cards of one color with different writing. I can vouch from my job (hospital) that color coding makes people think they remember and making them read gives better compliance.
7) I think some of the confusion has come from the switch over to the new cards, which happened sometime between April and September of this year. When we first started coming to WDW in 1987 with our child in a wheelchair, anyone in a chair got to the front of the line - whether they needed or wanted it or not. Then there were too many wheelchairs and the policy seemed to change to anyone in a wheelchair did not need a card and could wait in line. That is what we were told from 1996-1999. I think there is more realization now that someone in a wheelchair may have other needs that make waiting in line difficult.
I hope this helps and maybe Safari Steve will add a little more to explain it from a CM point of view.

SueM in MN
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09-22-2000, 07:14 PM
SueM is correct, you do not have to take medical documentation, and you do not have to reveal personal medical information to anyone who does not have a need to know (like the CM at the loading area...) But I always have a brief doctor's note for my son, and this year I will have a note from MY rheumatologist (who will have me committed if I ride a rollercoaster... I hesitate to even tell her I am going back to WDW!) Do I need them? In theory, no. But just flashing the note on a physician's letterhead at Guest Services, in my experience, takes about 10 seconds off the process - the first 10 seconds of guarded disbelief. It isn't always necessary...For my kids, all it takes is a few seconds of observation and they start filling out the GAC.

As for coding, or color coding, or reading long explanations... I do think there is a better way to help *Guests* know where they should expect to go at an attraction. And prevent the kind of confusion caused by differing answers from different CMs.
Right now, the only icon they use is the wheelchair icon. Well...

For example, what if I were going to the park, and my arthritis has been active... they can't "see" my arthritis or my asthma. Sure, we can use the Fastpass line... as long as I don't have to climb flights of stairs! OK, I don't need the alternate entrance every time, I need the stair-less entrance. On my GAC, there could be a little "No Staircase" icon. Then, ANYONE with 5 minutes of training could see, in a glance, what kind of accomodation I need. Then, if the entrances themselves could be marked with the same icons, I will know as soon as I get to the queue if I am headed for the right waiting area. Most times the regular queue would be OK. That would be fair. No ambiguity there.

Another example, what about someone who must avoid sun exposure, such as my cousin with lupus. A simple little "No Sun" icon stamped on the GAC would be an instant signal to the CM what this guest needs... to wait out of the sun. Then, if Disney could put the same icon on the appropriate waiting area entrance, the guest would know where they are supposed to go. Think about it! The GUEST Assistance Card would actually help the GUEST know where they were supposed to go! What a concept! Sure you can keep the long-winded legalistic explanation in the fine-print text right next to the icon, to clarify (?) the accomodation to be provided to the guest.

Someone in a wheelchair or ECV who can wait without danger in the mainstreamed queues doesn't necessarily need the GAC, Unless they plan to walk inside the attraction or pavilion and might need special accomodation from the CMs inside. On the other hand, a person who is unable to tolerate the line for medical or serious psychological reasons, with or without wheelchair, who needs to be isolated from the crowd for their protection, or is medically fragile NEEDS the GAC. A simple wheelchair icon will not do... the wheelchair is only part of the issue. I don't know what to suggest... perhaps a "Key" icon? (Key to the alternate entrances?)

Likewise, someone who is not able to transfer without full assistance needs to be able to convery that to the CMs at the loading area without having to go through a long verbal explanation... flashing a "full assistance" icon would save people from the kinds of situations where CMs start asking people to stand up now to get onto the next car... what kind of icon would do... not sure. Any Ideas?

At the same time, people who can leave their wheelchairs without any danger, just need a bit of extra help or time would be able to indicate this in a flash with a little "Guy Standing up out of the Wheelchair" icon. That could go a long way in improving the wheelchair queues on those busy days when the wheelchair line is slower than the regular queue... yes, it happens! Those folks could be loaded on regular seats and their chairs transported to the disembarking area. It makes sense. Then they can put the icons at entrances of the appropriate waiting areas, so the Guest knows they are in the right place.

This kind of coding system would save a lot of misunderstandings. The appropriate icons could be put on the directional signs and at the paths to the appropriate entrances. As we know (those of us who need the alternate entrances) most of them are not marked at all until you come upon the little gate with the blue wheelchair icon, often hidden around a dark, unmarked corner.

Sure, I know, some people would try to scam the system. They always do, most of us have seen people cheating more than once or twice. But I really do think this kind of coding system would go a long way in preventing the kind of tensions and misunderstandings that happen when people end up in the wrong place, at the wrong time. And the "Card" would really Assist the Guest!

Meanwhile, next time I go I am going to keep a tally of how many unnecessary lectures I have to endure from CMs who feel they must educate me on how the GAC is not a guarantee of immediate access... I must have heard that 5 times last time I was there, and we only did a couple of days in the parks. Enough already! /infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

09-22-2000, 07:34 PM
I have never used a GAC, or a SAP...My son has always been in a W/C. We have never had a problem or a wait in any of the parks. The CMs have been unfailingly courteous, helpful and smiling. I suppose I just figured the chair was self-explanitory. I have never been asked to show a pass. I do notice however, that a lot of people rent chairs for their kids, using them for special access. No, these are NOT hidden disabilities. I witnessed at least 2 instances of laughter and high 5's by people who used the W/Cs as a free pass. CMs notice too. I wish there was a better way.. But, if you go, take your own chair if possible. It does make a difference. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

SueM in MN
09-23-2000, 10:11 AM
Now, that little icon idea has a lot of possibilities. They could have the same blank card and then have stamps with the little icon. Right now the long, wordy message is stamped on the card. The icon would be much quicker - the same idea as taking words off of road signs and replacing them with icons. They could also have the long, wordy part if they want, but at least there would be a quick access way to it.

Now, for the experience:
Anyone who went to WDW in a wheelchair more than 4 years ago had a much different experience than the average wheelchair user at WDW has now. Just having a wheelchair used to be a sort of mark of "need for special attention" to the CMs and you got special attention, whether needed it on not. The word got out and people who did not need wheelchairs began using them to get the special attention. Now, anyone in a wheelchair or ecv is looked on with suspicion. In our experience, appearance has nothing to do with it. Our dd has an obvious custom wheelchair (her seating system alone cost about $800) and is obviously very thin and has some unusual movements because of her CP. We get no special treatment (without a GAC). Once the CMs see the difficulty we have in putting her into rides, they have mostly been very nice.

I can also say, you get MUCH better treatment when you go at a non-busy time. For the last 4 years, we have been going to WDW at Spring Break. It is busy, frustrating and difficult to be at the parks during that time for anyone, much less a person with special needs. We just got back from a trip Sep 13-17 and it was "A Whole New World". There were less regular guests who stared at us as though we were stealing their precious time and the CMs were uniformly nice. On some rides, because there was no line, the CM asked us if we wanted to ride a second time. This is totally different than the busy times, when we are just another delay that the other guests will complain to the CMs about.

SueM in MN
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09-23-2000, 05:43 PM
Well...I guess my experiences at WDW are just the exception to the rule! I do go at least 12 times a year...My son has his own chair, and I have been pulled from cue lines by CMs who offer their help. I know that Disney is trying to find the best way to help those who need it, but CMs are human, and get frustrated by obvious attempts to "cheat", no matter what time of year it is.

SueM in MN
09-23-2000, 09:46 PM
I DO think the CMs are as frustrated as some of us are. I think WDW is attmepting to be fair and consistent, but with as many CMs as there are and as many visitors as come thru in a year, is it very difficult. It is much more pleasant for many reasons going when it is not busy and we will avoid going at busy times as much as possible.
One of the little extra efforts that was made on our trip in September was at the Pirates ride. We haven't taken dd on Pirates for several years because her wheelchair won't fold without taking it all apart and she won't ride one of the ride wheelchairs. We asked the CM at the entrance if there was any way she could bring her own wheelchair with. THe CM thought about it for a while then said she would call ahead and arrange something. When we boarded the CM there was prepared for us. He gave us a whole boat and hoisted her wheelchair into the back seat for us. When we got off, a CM at the exit showed us to the elevator so we didn't have to go up the moving ramp. Getting off the wheelchair led us to a pretty well hidden walkway at the back of the building on the end of Adventurland. There was a front and back door to the elevator. I'm not sure if the "front door exits to the ride boarding area. If they had an extra CM, they might be able to shuttle wheelchairs between boarding and exit, but there was only one person at each, so they couldn't do much.

SueM in MN
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09-23-2000, 10:36 PM
I agree, the CMs are genuinely interested in being fair. And their frustration over the obvious abuses and 'human error' issues have caused some - not all- to take on the role of Gatekeepers rather than Facilitators. Their frustration is obvious, and some are just steeling themselves against the assault of anyone who isn't in a wheelchair who has a GAC, making us feel like we are under the microscope... or those of us who use the rental wheelchairs part-time rather than full-time to allow the mobility impaired members of our family to pace themselves are really made to FEEL like we are under scrutiny. They stand there with one corner of the mouth curled, a furrowed brow, reading the fine print on the GAC, and often feel compelled to remind us that the GAC is not a guarantee of immediate access (even though that line was read to us by the CM at Guest Services, highlighted with a yellow marker, and checked off in the little box!) It isn't every CM, it isn't every attraction, but it happens more than it should. For those of you whose kids are obviously disabled, you are not going to get as much of this. But believe me, those of us with hidden disabilities, or kids not in wheelchairs who need protection, are having some of the magic lost in those recurring moments of doubtful scrutiny.

We have certainly seen the cheaters at play. But that isn't us. And we shouldn't be the ones on whom the CMs vent their frustrations. The CMs at Guest Services already made the call based on their assessment, they already explained the GAC, they know the policy. Once that is done, we shouldn't have to reveal any further personal medical or psych information to CMs at attraction entrances or loading areas, and we shouldn't be made to feel like we are being scrutinized. It is inappropriate.

All that being said, those times that we got the 'eye' or an earfull from a CM were just a small negative part of our overall highly positive experiences with CMs at WDW and Disneyland. This is a problem that could be easily resolved with better information delivery. I am certain that the CMs would appreciate the help!

09-24-2000, 06:56 PM
If at any time, any of you are made to feel uncomfortable,embarrassed or singled out...PLEASE..run, do not walk to find the area manager! Yes, every area has one! And let them know if any CMs were less than excruciatingly polite..WDW is trying hard to weed out those who find guest servise a chore rather than a responsiblity. You will be doing an enormous favor to everyone... The offending CMs can be recast to a less public role if necessary, or retrained in Disney Traditions.

09-25-2000, 06:08 AM
I love the little icon idea and if you haven't all ready, why don't you contact Disney about this.

I myself have had alot of trouble with disability passes because mine is also somewhat invisible and I have multiple problems. I don't relish the idea of revealing all this info to a CM who is very young and probably doesn't have a clue what I'm talking about anyway.

What has to be will be but I think this is the best idea I've heard yet.

When you wish upon a star...


09-25-2000, 05:42 PM
If WDW are making more and more rides mainstream for wheelchairs, are they going to make more of the rides boats, gondolas, whatever wheelchair accessible? I think not. The only place a ride should have mainstream wheelchair access are ones where no matter what point in time you arrive at the head of the line, a wheelchair accessible spot is available.

SueM in MN
09-25-2000, 10:06 PM
You bring up a good point Choppertester. Some of the rides have been renovated to have wheelchair accessible cars, but you have to wait between 1 and 10 minutes for that car normally. We have waited as long as 30 minutes for the accessible safari car AND as far as I can tell, it can only accomidate one occupied wheelchair. So if someone has more than one wheelchair in their party (which some of our posters do have) they will have to ride separately.
And for some of the shows thaat are using FastPass, there are only a few wheelchair accessible seats, so even if you get a fastpass, you may not be able to get into the next show becasue all the wheelchair seats could be filled (happened to us at Little Mermaid).
I think WDW is trying, but it's a huge task and any suggestions we can give are helpful. $

SueM in MN
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09-25-2000, 10:35 PM
Do we have an address of a real, live human to whom we can address our suggestions? Hmmm... We all know what happens to any letters we send to Guest Communications (pat reply followed by flushing sound...)

Special Services Coordinator? Disabilities Liason? ADA compliance officer? OK all you castmembers, to whom should we send suggestions?

SueM in MN
09-26-2000, 11:34 AM
That's been one of our problems. we don't have any real, live person with a name to send anything to, so it just gets lost in the abbyss. Some of the people who have sent suggestions to a general address have gotten back form letters.

SueM in MN
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rj's mom
09-28-2000, 12:31 PM
Thanks to all of you for following up on the idea to get this in to the hand of a real person who is in a position to do more than just send a form letter back. We are going to WDW in late Oct. If you actually contact someone I would like to have that name, because I would go out of my way to thank them while we are there.

10-02-2000, 06:25 PM
We haven't really hit WDW when the FastPASS was in use, Our last visit was Feb 99. Mainstreaming makes sense for the large theater type shows where handicapped seating is laid out and the CMs do a good job of keeping them clear. We haven't had to mainstream for any of the rides yet or maybe we didn't know. Is there a list of attractions that are now mainstream? /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

10-03-2000, 05:23 AM
I just want to share an experience I had this weekend that has nothing to do with GAC's but has to do with CM scrutiny, etc. My son has a disabled parking permit issued by the state of Florida. They are not easy to get and anyone who has one has had a specific form filled out by a doctor.
Last Sunday I took my son to the MK and was stopped by the guard who watches over the AA and disabled lots. He saw the tag and waved us through, then suddenly made us stop. He asked me where we were going and I said the disabled lot and turned the tag so he could see the expiration date. He asked if we could walk at all and I said yes. He said to go to the regular lot and the attendent would let us park close to the tram.
I parked and the tram driver said I had pulled too far forward and should back up a little, that she would hold the tram for me. That involved more than she expected because I couldn't leave Scott standing near the car like I could my typically developing son.
The parking CM stared at me curiously and I told him that I normally parked in the disabled parking lot. He said I should have parked there and said, Oh, that guy who's there today is...and didn't finish the sentence.
The tram CM did wait for me and I sat in the last car with a couple she told to move over. I explained what happened and she was ticked off. She said that never should have happened that if the parking lot CM sees a valid disabled tag they have to let us park there.
Scott had trouble in the tram and made his growling noise and clung to both me and the stranger next to me. Fortunately, the man was very kind and told me not to worry about it. Before we left, the CM said she was going to talk to her supervisor about what happened. And next time I'm not going to let this happen and wouldn't have had I been at all prepared for it. Sorry, I just don't know how to make a long story short. To me, though, this relates to what Teri was saying. I wish CM's would just trust the Departments of Motor Vehicles and whoever issued the GAC's and quietly comply.

SueM in MN
10-03-2000, 09:48 AM
Oh, Kay1, I feel so bad for you. That should have never happened. A handicapped permit issued by one state is valid and accepted in any state for handicapped parking. We don't usually park at MK, but have parked at all the other lots. There have been times when we forgot to pack our parking permit and parked in the lot without it (but we put a note on our WDW resort parking permit that indicated we had a child in wheelchair and had forgotten our permit.) We have been questioned by the "GUARD CMs", but were told if we did not have a permit, we were parking with the risk of getting a ticket. I figured, fine, let them take me to court. My dd has had a parking permit since she was 2. If they want a copy, I will send it to them. It is obvious that we have a need for that type of parking and we can't park in the regular area, since we have a non-folding wheelchair that won't go on the tram.
Besides, I have seen plenty of people parking in those lots without a permit, license plate or even a note. We were told the police patrol those lots. So, if someone doesn't belong there, the CM should be calling the police to ticket them, not harrasing people who have a right to park there.

SueM in MN
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10-03-2000, 11:16 AM
I have a mother is in a w/c and has a handicap permit from NJ. It works in Boston (only other place I have gone to yet with her) but does not work in New York City (don't know about rest of state).

A while ago (5 months about) a woman with NJ permit parked in handicap spot in NYC and got a ticket, permit was visible. Her defense was denied and ticket up held.

So watch out in NYC.

Donald Duck

SueM in MN
10-03-2000, 06:31 PM
Permits issued in one state ARE valid in any other state according to the United States Department of Transportation. Now, there might be some loopholes in there if the state does not accept any federal highway money, but it doesn't say that in the reference I found.
Our dd's first handicapped parking permit was issued in Wisconsin and was a permanent permit, since she has a permanent disability. When we moved to Minnesota and got a new permit, we asked why we were being issued one that would expire. We were told that a US law passed in 1991 required all states set up a system to follow the same rules for determining eligibility for a permit and all had to honor those issued by the other states or countries.

Here's the language from the law that I copied from the Dept of Transportation web site:

Sec. 1235.8 Reciprocity.

The State system shall recognize removable windshield placards, temporary removable windshield placards and special license plates
which have been issued by issuing authorities of other States and countries, for the purpose of identifying vehicles permitted to utilize
parking spaces reserved for persons with disabilities which limit or impair the ability to walk.

Sec. 1235.2 Definitions.

Terms used in this part are defined as follows:

(a) "International Symbol of Access" means the symbol adopted by Rehabilitation International in 1969 at its Eleventh World
Congress on Rehabilitation of theDisabled.

(b) "Persons with disabilities which limit or impair the ability to wal k" means persons who, as determined by a licensed physician:

(1) Cannot walk two hundred feet without stopping to rest; or

(2) Cannot walk without the use of, or assistance from,a brace, cane, crutch, another person, prosthetic device, wh eelchair, or other
assistive device; or

(3) Are restricted by lung disease to such an extent that the person's forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for one second, when
measured by spirometry is less than one liter, or the arterial oxygen tension is less than sixty mm/hg on room air or at rest; or

(4)Use portable oxygen; or

(5) Have a cardiac condition to the extent that the person's functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV
according to standards set by the American Heart Association; or

(6) Are severely limited in their ability to walk due to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic condition.

Here's the US Department of Transportation web site (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/////legsregs/directives/fapg/cfr1235.htm) if you want to check it out for yourself.

SueM in MN
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10-03-2000, 10:11 PM
/infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_eek.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif
Oh, that is so unfair. What the heck was he thinking?
Well, OK, MAYBE he thought he was doing you a favor. Maybe. I do think that it is farther to walk and more physical work to go from some of the disabled parking lot spots than from the tram lot. Did they at least tell you to park right next to the tram stop? I sure hope so.

A few times we have been told by CMs in the regular tram lot to go to the disabled parking area, even though we do not have a permit. Maybe 5 times. I was never questioned, I never got a ticket. I told them that the regular tram lot, parking next to the tram stop, was our preference, and they told us to go the the disabled parking lot instead. Go figure. /infopop/emoticons/icon_rolleyes.gif

10-04-2000, 04:49 AM
I have no idea what his motivation was, but yes, he did say to park close to the tram. It occurred to me that because I look young and he was much older he thought I was borrowing someone else's permit to park where I didn't belong. Scott doesn't usually look disabled when he's riding in the car. You know, the same skepticism that causes the scrutiny at the attractions. The fact that the two CM's were ticked on my behalf took away some of my ire and I decided I wouldn't let it ruin my day. I'll just be ready next time. /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

10-04-2000, 12:11 PM
Hi Sue,

While it is true that all handicap stickers are valid in all states, each state has the right to set the rules as to how they are allowed to be used. For example, when I visit my brother in San Francisco, I need to go to the nearest department of motor vehicles (where people get their driver's licenses renewed) and show them my handicap sticker from Minnesota. They then issue me a paper handicap parking permit that is good for the dates that I am going to be in California.

And believe me, it took FOREVER to get that taken care of....the lines were unbelievable.(smile) Made me appreciate the town I live in, and how quickly that kind of stuff is handled here.

Some states will accept the handicap sticker from another state "as is," while others have extra requirements. What I do before I travel out of state, is make sure that I contact whichever department handles handicap stickers in the state I am visiting, and then follow their directions.
Fortunately, Florida is one of the states that will just accept my Minnesota handicap sticker without my having to do anything extra, which is a good thing, as I would hate to miss any time at WDW(smile)


10-09-2000, 09:27 AM
What, exactly, is a GAC? I'm a little confused about it and how it works. I recently traveled to WDW with my Mom, who is in a wheelchair and has extreme difficulty handling exposure to sun. She also cannot transfer without a lot of assistance. My sister too has severe arthritis and often has trouble walking up stairs, or standing for long periods. We have never heard of a GAC and we want more information. Would a GAC be of use to us? If so, how do we get one?

10-09-2000, 01:22 PM
Olan, yes, a GAC would be appropriate. You can search this board for information by clicking on the 'search' funciton in the top right corner of this page. Use the keywords "GAC or SAP" and you will find plenty of informaiton. If you have trouble, please ask and we will try to strighten it out for you.


SueM in MN
10-09-2000, 04:26 PM
Guest Assistance Card (or Pass); also called GAP
Special Assistance Pass; also called SAP
All refer to the basically the same thing. The card that used to be called the Special Assistance Pass was changed to Guest Assistance Card earlier this year. You can do a search for any (or all) of these names to get more information. Here is some basic information:
How do you get one? You can go to Guest Relations in any of the parks and request one. You don't need a doctor's letter or any evidence to shopw you need one. You do need to be able to explain what your problems are and what assistance you need; like do you have a problem with being in the sun, etc.
How long is it valid? If you are given a pass, it will be good at any park for the length of your vacation. You don't need to get one for each park or for each day.
What does it allow you to do? The cards all look the same, but each card has different instructions stamped on. I am aware of 4 different messages; there may be more.
1) Allows a stroller to be used as a wheelchair. ECVs and wheelchairs can be taken into any building or line without having any pass or card. This allows strollers to use the same entrances.
2) Allows a waiting spot shaded from the sun if the line is "in the sun for an excessive amount of time." Most of the lines the largest part of the line inside a building or under a roof or shade. One CM posted on the board that some of the outdoor lines are even airconditioned to avoid getting too hot.
3) Allows an alternate waiting area for people who can't wait in line. This one is mostly used for children/adults with conditions like autism that make waiting in line difficult.
4) Kids at WDW thru the Make A Wish organization.
For the first 3 categories, you will be asked to use fastpass if available and you are told that the card will not allow immediate access to rides/attractions. You will still need to wait; it just may be in a different place.
Do I really need a card? If you are going during a slow period in the park, you probably don't need a Guest Assistance Card, because the lines are not long. If you have a wheelchair and don't have a problem waiting in line as long as you have the wheelchair, you don't need a card; just take the wheelchair with you in line. If you have a disability that is not visible and you can walk (like not being able to go up stairs), you probably need a card. Some rides do have stairs and the CMs would probably not allow you to bypass them without a card.
For your family member with arthritis, she might want to rent a wheelchair or ecv. The parks are very large and it's easy to underestimate how much walking will be done. ˇ

SueM in MN
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10-09-2000, 11:09 PM
SueM, that should be a FAQ! Nice Summary!


SueM in MN
10-10-2000, 07:44 AM
Thanks, teri! I'll check into that.

SueM in MN
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10-10-2000, 07:47 PM
The biggest hassles I have gotten is when I was using a scooter and wanted to ride a ride that requires tranfer to a manual chair. Since I have RA and my shoulders are affected, I cannot manipulate a manual chair and I am not always accompanied by someone who can push. I have been told several times, too bad, you just can't ride this ride. This has happens even when I have a SAP explaining that I need alternate access (like Pooh) Fastpass makes it easier.
I am now in an electric wheelchair find Pirates of the Carribbean is the only ride that poses a problem. Must have someone with me to access the ride.
I really hate the looks you get from people when you use an electric wheelchair a mainstream line. One guest screamed loudly to the castmember at a ride that she refused to have my chair behind her and wanted to be moved forward in the line. Unfortunately her demands were met. Unfair to all she jumped. I felt if she didn't like being in front of my chair she should have gone behind it. Not my doing the lines are mainstreamed.


SueM in MN
10-10-2000, 09:18 PM
I agree if that woman didn't want your chair behind her, she should have gottne behind you. That would have totaally ensured that you could not run into her (if that's what she was saying she was worried about).We have found that quite a few people are not nice to someone with any type of mobility device (manual or power). They try to get around you, get way too close, touch the chair, and cut you off when the line turns.Some are very nice though and i have to say for each bad experience in line, we usually have a good one sometime that day.
Now, as far as rides where you have to switch from power mobility to a WDW chair, that has also been a problewm for us becasue usually you need a FOLDING manual chair and my dd's does not fold unless we take it all apart. On Pirates, the main problem is that the boats go thru a place just a little higher thatn the boat itself just beyond the exit. If it wasn't for that, they could use boats like on Small World or Mexico and board wheelchairs at the exit. There is an elevator that can take you from the exit up to ground level, but I'm not sure if the elevator also stops at the boarding are. At any rate, they don't have staff to shuttle wheelcahirs up and down.

SueM in MN
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10-10-2000, 09:29 PM
quote from Pooh...
"...I cannot manipulate a manual chair and I am not always accompanied by someone who can push. I have been told several times, too bad,you just can't ride this ride. This has happens even when I have a SAP explaining that I need alternate access..."

SAY WHAAAT???!!!!???? The A in SAP or GAC is for Assistance! That is what they are supposed to give you! It isn't the Guest Permission Card, it is the Guest ASSISTANCE Card. See, this is the problem, some CMs see these cards as some kind of grant of a privelege, rather than a notice of need for assistance. Know what I mean? I know they aren't supposed to help transfer (even though some do) but would they really tell you they can't push you in the chair to the loading point? Or am I reading this wrong

SueM in MN
10-11-2000, 12:34 PM
We probably need some CM input on this, but I do think it says in the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities that they cannot provide that kind of assistance. I also think there is a difference between pushing the chair a few feet or yards and going thru the whole line providing that type of assistance. In Pirates, you have to change to a manual folding chair at the entrance to the queue. Someone would have to push the chair for the whole length of the queue (which is quite far; walking fast, it takes 10 minutes to get to the boarding point even when there isn't a line). The times we were there, it appeared there were only 3 people working - one at the entrance, one at boarding and one at the exit. SO, they did not have enough staff to do that. Could they provide more staff? Probably. Are they likely to? No.
There are other things they could possibly do, but some of the older rides just were not set up expecting power wheelchairs and ecvs to use them. You have to remember that even 10 years ago, we could go all day in any of the parks and be able to count on one hand the wheelchairs we met. ECVs and power wheelchairs were rare.
I'm not saying WDW shouldn't do more, I'm just saying they are pretty new at this and they are still trying to find their way.

SueM in MN
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rj's mom
10-11-2000, 07:56 PM
A few weeks ago we were hoping to get the name of someone at WDW who could address this issue and hopefully work towards a better system. Was a name ever given? If so, I missed it. My daughter and I will be flying to Fla, in a little over 2 weeks. I would be happy to take these posts and meet with someone. Does anyone know what department oversees the passes?

Please pray for my daughter as we get closer to our departure day. The Lord has blessed her with excellent health all summer, so right now it looks we will be able to travel. But as those of you with fragile children know, that can change in the blink of an eye.

Thanks very much.

10-11-2000, 08:14 PM
We didn't get a name from any CMs here. Sounds like you have a mission!! I was going to pull together some key quotes .. unless somebody has already done that. I am not sure that handing them transcripts of the board would be focussed enough, maybe it could be summarized. It is covered in about 10 threads...


10-11-2000, 08:24 PM
No they will not push you through the line. They really don't have the manpower. For the Pooh ride the SAP noted that they were allow me to walk through the exit which I can do over that short a distance with the help of my canes. I would not be able to comfortably stand and walk through a line. I can only stand for about 5 minutes max which a great deal of pain.
For Pirates, I wait for my daughters and one of them pushes the manual chair through. My girls are grown and 2 can push me. The oldest cannot as she has a problem with her arms and wrists that prevent he pushing anything with weight. If I let her, her orthopedic doc who absolute kill us both.
None of them enjoy the Pooh ride. Pooh is my thing /infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_mad.gif


10-11-2000, 09:54 PM
something funny goind on with the boards right now...
lisapooh and SueM... when I was there with my elderly relatives and kids last year at Spring Break, I remember 2 times that CMs pushed my Mom's chair for us through mainstream queues... I think this is a manpower issue, and they do it if they have the time and are motivated... which in our case may have been that I was struggling with my much-too-bouncy son and they felt sorry for me. In the guidebook it says they are not allowed to assist with transfers, but it doesn't say anything (that I have read yet) about not helping with positioning and moving the wheelchair itself.

Honestly, I would think that there would be plenty of people who would be willing to help someone through a line if they knew they could help, and help was needed. We ought to make a new Scout Badge for wheelchair pushing. Hmmmm... put those pre-teens to work! Or maybe a nice new Pin... Dreaming again.


10-14-2000, 07:19 PM
Actually had a guest help me one time. Gay Day 2 years ago and the kids were on Space Mountain and I wanted to go on the Pooh ride. This was when it first opened. Castmember told me I had to transfer to a manual chair and I told him I can't handle a manual chair and was there another way. Real nice guy in a bright red shirt says hop in and I'll push the chair, He was really nice and I loved the ride.


SueM in MN
10-14-2000, 08:08 PM
Pooh, you'll be happy to hear that they re-designed the line for Pooh when they put in fastpass.
We went thru the regular fastpass line until just before you are loaded on the ride. AND they have a wheelchair car. My dd rode the Pooh ride in her wheelchair. I'm not sure if power chairs can fit in it or not, but I can tell you that you should be able to stay in your own chair until you board.

SueM in MN
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rj's mom
10-15-2000, 03:32 PM
For Teri,

If you are willing and have the time to pull key quotes that would be a big help to me. I was going to pull primarily yours because you do a great job of getting to the point.

I'm hoping to get some time one day this week to do some preliminary phone calling and try to nail down what dept. I'm looking for once we get there.

2 weeks from today - zippety doo dah!! - We'll be there!! Can't wait.

SueM in MN
10-15-2000, 07:11 PM
I'm wondering if it would be a more positive thing to contact someone at WDW with a link to this board and a link to a few interesting thread (I'm thinking of the "Evening in a Wheelchair at Epcot" and this thread) instead of a list of problems. We don't want to give the impression that all that is discussed here is negative. This could be a good customer service resource to WDW and could be the start of some good give and take.
I do have an email address for someone who was helpful to me in Feb. I thought of inviting her to visit the boards before, but didn't want to do it when we we re only going for a few months, then we crashed (the boards) and then we had the recent problems with the software update.
After all, you can catch more Poohs with honey than with bees.

SueM in MN
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10-15-2000, 11:27 PM
Hi, Just a little information about the GAP ( guest assistance pass). My husband has ALS and is unable to walk without assistance, and then only on a surface that is not moving. We get the GAP so Dale can enter thru the exit of each attraction. We usually end up waiting longer than the folks in the regular line. The ride must be stopped and then Dale boards the ride. This may take up to a minute or more. More than once I have had a cast member remark on how much time he was taking--I usually just come back with the he'll gladly trade places if your willing. But that is another story. ( The greater majority of CM's are just wonderful!!!) Dale also requires the GAP -since he is unalbe to sit in the heat of the sun for long periods of time. Controlling his body temperature is key to his health. Disney has done a good job making attractions accessible to people with disabilites---but I also feel they could do much more. Is there an area at WDW where we can voice our thoughts? I'm fairly new to the world of the handicapped at WDW so any and all information would be helpful. Thanks in advance Patty /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_confused.gif /infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif


10-16-2000, 11:37 AM
About the leagality of the theme parks asking for documentaion or proof of disability, I'd just like to comment that I called IOA/USF and asked about their pass and they told me to bring documentation. I've since gone 3 times and they declined the documents each time and just issued the pass. Then, this weekend, my house guests and my family went to Busch Gardens and I was asked for documentation. I happened to have some but my friends didn't. I told the fellow we were unprepared since we live in the Tampa Bay area and have got a pass before without documentation. I said I didn't think he could legally ask but his supervisor came over and said they could as long as they don't ask the nature of the disability. Interesting, huh? It turned out okay as she said she would make an exception but I'm still wondering about it. What do y'all think?

SueM in MN
10-16-2000, 07:58 PM
I wonder how they get documentation without asking the nature of the disability? If you have a handicapped parking pass, they can't use that since you need it in your car to park.P

SueM in MN
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01-04-2001, 10:35 PM

"My brain takes a vacation just to give my heart more room..."

01-06-2001, 07:09 PM
As mom of two differently able children...
My kids look "normal." They have both been diagnosed in the autisim spectrum. CMs for the most part, have been great, as long as we show our GAP. (sometimes more than once in a single line.) We have run into a few that give us the sense that we are abusing the system in some way. My DS needs to be in a stroller or he would be eating gum or popcorn off the ground. He also dislocates his elbows to avoid walking on occasion. In lines, he tends to blame the poor person in front of him for his wait. (kicking biting, screaming) My DD screams she doesn't want to go until we get off the ride & then she screams to go again.
My suggestion is to have a special button/pin or tag for our stroller or for ourselves. We get tired of hearing "stroller parking over here", "this is wheelchair entrance only" & "I'll look at the card if you want me to, but..." These cards are helpful but, maybe something as simple as a button that said, "I'm Mickey's special guest" would stop some of the stares from those that feel we're just cutting in line. They use buttons for "Make a Wish." They are easily seen & a lot easier than fumbling around for a card that when wet is useless. These buttons could have picutres, Mickey transferring from a chair or whatever assistance the guest needed.
I'm tired of being treated like I'm just a bad parent of a child with a behavioral problem!

01-06-2001, 10:23 PM
I know exactly what you mean, momejay.

"My brain takes a vacation just to give my heart more room..."

01-19-2001, 10:35 PM
bump again... for Sondra

"My brain takes a vacation just to give my heart more room..."

03-12-2001, 10:13 AM
let's not lose this lovely thread! :) bump!

03-12-2001, 01:59 PM
If you have a handicapped plaque, don't you have a registration slip as well. I know I was issued one for each pass. I just keep that in my purse with my driver's license.

Pooh Bear

SueM in MN
03-12-2001, 03:09 PM
lisapooh, the registration slip sounds like a good idea, but it must vary from state to state. Our registration slip didn't have anything that we got that indicated it was for a handicapped plate..

SueM in MN
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03-17-2001, 04:08 PM
<<in a facetious tone of voice>>.....
You reckon showing them my daugher's scars on her
back or her head would help?(assuming she would let me):-) After all, she looks like a road map!
You know I didn't even think of taking documentation last time we went...better be making plans now, huh?:-)