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JulieBR
04-27-2012, 08:01 PM
Ok, so I had requested my daughter's pediatric rheumatologist write a brief letter explaining her diagnosis so that we would not be given any hassle in getting a GAC for "stroller as wheelchair", seeing as her disability is not visible to the casual observer. Yes, have been told on this forum I do not need a letter, and that they won't even look at it. I get it. But it gives me a sense of security, so I wanted it.

Well when I asked him, I was told no problem, he writes letter routinely and has a "standard letter". So today I got the letter in the mail (he lives 90 mins. from us), and at the end of the letter, he asks for them to please give her a "VIP Pass". I have never heard of this mentioned anywhere, and therefore I realize it likely doesn't exist. Does anyone know differently, and if so, what the heck is it?

All I wanted was to use her stroller as a wheelchair....

WheeledTraveler
04-27-2012, 09:28 PM
Most doctors have no idea what the passes at WDW are called or what they do. While there is such thing as a VIP pass at WDW it has nothing to do with disability at all (I have a friend who has one due to work he did for the parks, for example). Your doctor is thinking of a GAC. To be honest, this is one of the reasons I suggest people don't get notes from their doctors. The doctors just have no clue how things at WDW just actually work!

deegack
04-27-2012, 09:53 PM
To get any Gac you have to explain to guest services what your needs are, not your diagnosis, condition, disability etc. The CM is not permitted by law to ask for documentation of a disability. It makes though if you think about it. For example my DD has mild CP, so mild we may not even as for a stroller as a wheelchair gac but we will play it by ear. Another child with the same diagnosis may need a very different accommodation.

Now, the CM may ask to see your daughter, that's not to confirm you story but to make sure she exists.

SueM in MN
04-27-2012, 10:07 PM
Just agreeing with the other posters.
Most doctors do not really know anything about GACs and think it is something more than what it is.
You don’t need a letter from the doctor, but some people do feel better having one. Be aware though that in most cases, the CMs will refuse to look at it.

If you have not read post 6 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread, I’d suggest reading it. While I do not work for Disney, a number of CMs in Guest Relations have reviewed it for me and it is as accurate as possible.

JulieBR
04-27-2012, 10:13 PM
To get any Gac you have to explain to guest services what your needs are, not your diagnosis, condition, disability etc. The CM is not permitted by law to ask for documentation of a disability.

Oh my gosh. I clearly said I know this already in my OP, and why I still requested a letter. If it makes me feel better, then that's okay. :(

JulieBR
04-27-2012, 10:16 PM
Just agreeing with the other posters.
Most doctors do not really know anything about GACs and think it is something more than what it is.
You don’t need a letter from the doctor, but some people do feel better having one. Be aware though that in most cases, the CMs will refuse to look at it.

If you have not read post 6 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread, I’d suggest reading it. While I do not work for Disney, a number of CMs in Guest Relations have reviewed it for me and it is as accurate as possible.

I guess writing my explanation was pointless. I keep saying why in various posts that I requested a letter, and keep getting told why I don't need one. Like I said in my OP, I GET IT. How much more clear do I need to be?

It's almost like people want to just hear themselves talk. :(

I'm sorry if I sound frustrated, but I am. I feel like nobody actually reads what I post.

JulieBR
04-27-2012, 10:19 PM
No need to respond with ugly remarks; I am just going to stop posting in this particular Disabilities subforum. Much Love to all.

LockShockBarrel
04-27-2012, 10:47 PM
I think most people on these boards are just geared towards explaining why a note isn't needed and we focus on it, not to be jerks, but to make sure it's understood. We're trying to give you that sense of security you're getting from having that note.

It's also been discussed that doctors are used to having their orders followed (I believe Sue said this actually) and that they think they can prescribe certain things for Disney to do and they can't. I only bring this up in that maybe your doctor thinks he's helping by putting VIP when it actually means nothing to Disney. :flower3:

Cheshire Figment
04-27-2012, 10:59 PM
I work in Guest Relations. I am prohibited, both by law and Disney policy, from asking for any doctor's note or proof of disability.

Most of the notes that people have wanted me to look at only give a diagnoses. I cannot make any decisions on a GAC based on a diagnoses, I have to do it based on the needs as explained by either the person requiring the GAC or someone accompanying them.

In addition, I have no way to tell if any note from a doctor is actually from a doctor or somebody making a "doctor's stationary" and putting a note one it. Also, I have no way to tell if the person signing the note is a licensed doctor.

I have seen people with a listing of needs they have made, so they don't forget in the conversation and/or don't want to be overheard; that is not a problem for me as it is needs and not diagnoses.

LockShockBarrel
04-27-2012, 11:13 PM
Not to hijack but Cheshire, what prevents someone from having another person who HAS received a GAC write out a list of needs for someone who doesn't actually need them? Do they still need to explain how they need them or is it just a "I believe you or I don't" thing? Not trying to stir the pot, just curious.

SueM in MN
04-27-2012, 11:14 PM
I guess writing my explanation was pointless. I keep saying why in various posts that I requested a letter, and keep getting told why I don't need one. Like I said in my OP, I GET IT. How much more clear do I need to be?

It's almost like people want to just hear themselves talk. :(

I'm sorry if I sound frustrated, but I am. I feel like nobody actually reads what I post.
I’m sorry you feel that way, but people are generally trying to be helpful.
I read your post and I believe from their comments that all of the posters did read your post.
I understood that you had been told you did not need a letter and that they might not look at it, but thought from what you wrote that you felt more secure having one because you were not quite sure that was really true.

SO, that is where I was posting from.
The other posters had already explained about VIP passes, so I agreed with that and that many doctors do not really know much about WDW.

You also have to realize that replies are not a private letter to the original poster. Some of the things in the replies people make are also for other people who will be reading the post later. Some of them might read it and think, well, Julie feels like she needs a doctor’s letter and she got one, so I guess I better get one too.

JulieBR
04-27-2012, 11:43 PM
deegack and Sue,

Thank you so much for your explanations. I totally understand now. I am sorry - this is all very new to me, I am having a hard time coping with my 6 year old daughter's newly diagnosed disability in general. I am quite depressed and have significant anxiety about pretty much everything right now.

Sorry that I became needlessly defensive.

The "VIP Pass" statement actually made me a little irritated because I was almost cetain it was non-existent.

I guess one of the contributing factors to me insisting to myself that I need a letter is because I came across this article a few weeks ago:

http://www.diz-abled.com/Disney-Resources/Articles/Disney-Guest-Assistance-Cards.htm
"If your disability is not visible, you may have a much easier time getting a GAC if you supply some kind of proof of your issue. Years ago it was easy to get a GAC. We noticed over time that the Guest Relations staff were getting less willing to hand out the card. Sarah’s physical issues were not visible, and so after meeting some frustrating resistance we finally started bringing written evidence. We’ve brought doctor’s notes that were written for other purposes, and on another occasion a copy of a legal document confirming Sarah’s disability. Though this is not required, it made things go smoother.

You may wish to have a doctor’s note written stating the nature of the problem and the need for special assistance. If you prefer, the note does not have to reveal the actual diagnosis. In fact, the diagnosis is not needed for the cast member to determine what type of GAC you should be issued. It should focus on the special needs you may have with your condition. "

It's hard to get this out of my head, because logically it does seem smart to carry proof of disability (proof because it is includes the doctor's contact info if a call should need to be made!) but I promise I DO believe you. It was also recommended to carry by my airline (although likely not needed) to bring such a letter since we will have a refreigerated medication in a cooler, needles, and syringes on board.

Again, my sincere apologies to the helpful and kind people on this forum. I regrey sounding ungrateful for your assistance, as it is MUCH appreciated. :flower3:

livndisney
04-27-2012, 11:50 PM
deegack and Sue,

Thank you so much for your explanations. I totally understand now. I am sorry - this is all very new to me, I am having a hard time coping with my 6 year old daughter's newly diagnosed disability in general. I am quite depressed and have significant anxiety about pretty much everything right now.

Sorry that I became needlessly defensive.

The "VIP Pass" statement actually made me a little irritated because I was almost cetain it was non-existent.

I guess one of the contributing factors to me insisting to myself that I need a letter is because I came across this article a few weeks ago:

http://www.diz-abled.com/Disney-Resources/Articles/Disney-Guest-Assistance-Cards.htm
"If your disability is not visible, you may have a much easier time getting a GAC if you supply some kind of proof of your issue. Years ago it was easy to get a GAC. We noticed over time that the Guest Relations staff were getting less willing to hand out the card. Sarah’s physical issues were not visible, and so after meeting some frustrating resistance we finally started bringing written evidence. We’ve brought doctor’s notes that were written for other purposes, and on another occasion a copy of a legal document confirming Sarah’s disability. Though this is not required, it made things go smoother.

You may wish to have a doctor’s note written stating the nature of the problem and the need for special assistance. If you prefer, the note does not have to reveal the actual diagnosis. In fact, the diagnosis is not needed for the cast member to determine what type of GAC you should be issued. It should focus on the special needs you may have with your condition. "

It's hard to get this out of my head, because logically it does seem smart to carry proof of disability (proof because it is includes the doctor's contact info if a call should need to be made!) but I promise I DO believe you. It was also recommended to carry by my airline (although likely not needed) to bring such a letter since we will have a refreigerated medication in a cooler, needles, and syringes on board.

Again, my sincere apologies to the helpful and kind people on this forum. I regrey sounding ungrateful for your assistance, as it is MUCH appreciated. :flower3:

Oh sweetie! You will find MUCH better information on this thread than you will on that website. I actually made the mistake of buying the book a few years ago....... the info Sue provides in the stickys here is much more correct.

canopynut66
04-28-2012, 12:19 AM
Most doctors have no idea what the passes at WDW are called or what they do. While there is such thing as a VIP pass at WDW it has nothing to do with disability at all (I have a friend who has one due to work he did for the parks, for example). Your doctor is thinking of a GAC. To be honest, this is one of the reasons I suggest people don't get notes from their doctors. The doctors just have no clue how things at WDW just actually work!


Have MS and went to guest relations and got a pass and not one day did anyone ask for it or when I presented to a CM no one was interested they just treated us like anyone else on some rides had to use different entrance. some people get upset as they think we are cutting lines but in real life we are missing up to half the show or entrance where all the neat stuff is at and going straight to the rides.Some get mad that wheelchairs and scooters go on the buses first but wheelchairs and scooter are last to unload so it all works out. But still does not keep me away. even if my world is watching stomachs or behinds all day as I am sitting in the chair it is all still fun:cool1:

LockShockBarrel
04-28-2012, 12:29 AM
I have no experience with that other website but it sounds like a case of when books/websites tell you "park at suchandsuch and it'll be free!" OP I think you'll find the difference between what you read and this site is that a good deal of the people that reply (at least on this section) have been through the experiences that people ask questions about, not just once, but many times. It's not just one person having the experience, but lots of us.

livndisney
04-28-2012, 12:32 AM
Just wanted to mention-


"It's hard to get this out of my head, because logically it does seem smart to carry proof of disability (proof because it is includes the doctor's contact info if a call should need to be made!) but I promise I DO believe you. It was also recommended to carry by my airline (although likely not needed) to bring such a letter since we will have a refreigerated medication in a cooler, needles, and syringes on board."


Air travel has different "rules" than theme parks. So a note from a Dr "may" be helpful with those "friendly" folks at the TSA.

As far as the Dr. note, even with contact info a CM is not going to call. They have no right to discuss your medical condition. Truth be told ANYONE can create a Dr. note (complete with contact info). A business still has to follow the law.

Relax and enjoy your vacation:thumbsup2

SueM in MN
04-28-2012, 12:37 AM
Oh sweetie! You will find MUCH better information on this thread than you will on that website. I actually made the mistake of buying the book a few years ago....... the info Sue provides in the stickys here is much more correct.
:hug:
Thanks.

We have been coming to WDW with our DD who is in her 20s and has multiple disabilities. We first heard about Guest Assistance Cards in about 1997 or 1998 when we were having difficulty with DD in a line that ended up with me and her in tears and a CM telling us we should go to Guest Relations and get a Guest Assistance Card. He gave us his name and told us to have Guest Relations call him at his attraction if they had any questions (I am quite sure he was a manager). When we got to Guest Relations and told them what he said, the CM there denied that Guest Assistance Cards even existed and would not call the CM. I felt even worse and left Guest Relations even more upset than when I came in. When we got home, I wrote Disney to explain all that had happened, along with the name of the original CM who told us about the GAC.
The CM who wrote me back did contact that CM and actually started a guest file on my DD. The email said to bring the email with the guest file number to Guest Relations on our next trip.
I came, armed with not only the email, but also with a letter from DD’s doctor and her full IEP. They did not want to see anything and issued a GAC for DD.

The next few trips, I brought an IEP again, but the never wanted to see it, so we stopped bothering with it. Over the years, we have come to WDW 2 trips a year and have gotten a GAC for DD each time.
Most times, there has been someone else who was also requesting a GAC in at the same time. I have personally seen CMs refuse to look at doctor’s letters not once, but many times. I have also seen people who basically forced the CM to look at their doctor’s letter, but could not answer any questions the CM asked about their disability. So, they went away without a GAC and are probably telling their friends (or other websites) how WDW has cracked down on getting GACs and made it so much harder to get one. I have also seen people who want a GAC just because they have a wheelchair or ECV, but were not happy that the CM in Guest Relations explained they did not need one because the wheelchair or ECV could go in all lines without a GAC.

I also have friends like Cheshire Figment, who actually work in Guest Relations and have told me they are not supposed to look at the letters.
Also, because DD was disabled before the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) came into existence, we have had experience with a disability both before and after the ADA. One of the points of the ADA is that people with disabilities can’t be forced to prove that they have a disability in order to get assistance for their needs related to a disability. So, asking for or requiring a letter from the doctor would be against the law.

(Proof can legally be required for things like handicapped parking permits, discounts given because of a disability or things that would actually give special treatment. That is because things like handicapped parking are in limited quantities.)

SueM in MN
04-28-2012, 12:50 AM
THis is kind of my ‘distilled knowledge about GAC, post 1’ that is not in the disABILITIES FAQs. (Distilled = my personal experience plus the experiences of many people I trust who post here on the disABILITIES Board, including all the people who have posted so far on this thread):

They won't look at paperwork for a couple of reasons.
1) they are not medically trained so medical terms in the paperwork don't mean much to them.
2) when people share something like an IEP, most of the things in there are not relevant to a trip in the park, so it is information, but not neccessarily useful information to them in deciding what you need.
3) the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) says they can't ask for proof of disability.
4) the ADA says that assistance needs to be based on the needs of the person, which is why they ask the questions.
People assume that a GAC is a pass and that all are the same. It really is a communication card to let the CMs know what assistance the guest will need. Not every person with xxxyyyzzz conditions is the same, so just saying “xxxyyyzzz” or having a letter from a doctor that says “my patient has xxxyyyzzz” doesn't help them to know what that particular person needs.

For example, many people find that using a stroller in lines is very helpful, even if the child can walk. A stroller used as a wheelchair (or just a wheelchair for an older child) can provide a safe haven from stimulation or a separation from other guests or a resting place for a child that they may need because of their disability, even if they can walk.

Think about similar situations to things you will encounter in the parks where you may wait in lines with your child or where she may have difficulty related to her disability:
1) what does she do in those situations?
2) what about those situations is difficult for her?
3) what would change the situation to make it easier?

That is basically the information the CMs are trying to find out, so if you are prepared to with that information, you will have a much easier time.
Also, keep in mind that there might be some things that would make it easier, but not all of them are available. And, keep in mind that a GAC can only help in lines or in attractions. You may encounter some of the same things that are problems for her in other places, like just walking from place to place.

One last thing, if the CM is asking this to quickly or you don't understand, do feel comfortable saying "wait a minute. I need you to repeat that." They are human and sometimes forget that even though they have asked the questions a million times, this is the first time you have heard them.

WheeledTraveler
04-28-2012, 08:07 AM
Sorry if you thought my post was telling you not to get the note, I was just trying to explain why I tell people generally not to bother and the difference between a VIP pass and a GAC. I understanding wanting it for your own piece of mind.

I don't know if this makes any sense to anyone else at all, but I personally wouldn't bring a note if I needed a GAC (which I probably will on my next visit even though I already use a wheelchair) partially because if CMs who aren't familiar with the ADA or are new get used to seeing notes, they may start to think they're required. That would make it harder for others down the line. It's one of the reasons I support the fact that one of my friends with a service dog will not show her training certifications to airlines or other businesses. Not only is there no national certification (so like a MD's note to GS, no way of knowing if it's 'legit'), but legally they are not allowed to ask for proof in the US and while it may be easy to show a note/certification, people get so used to seeing the notes/certificates they assume if you don't have it, you aren't legit.

goofieslonglostsis
04-28-2012, 09:30 AM
deegack and Sue,

Thank you so much for your explanations. I totally understand now. I am sorry - this is all very new to me, I am having a hard time coping with my 6 year old daughter's newly diagnosed disability in general. I am quite depressed and have significant anxiety about pretty much everything right now.



Not going to repeat what has already been said, but this triggered me to do post a bit OT for some. Actually in the end it isn't, but you'll find that soon enough.

While the above is nothing that could be called nuts, stupid or illogical, I think it is something you can work on easing. Should, actually in a way. All being new does take some time but when reading about being depressed and having anxiety my alarmbells go of and say "beyond emotions one can easily settle themselves, a bit of help can go a huge way here". Hun; get yourself help in this.

There are some AMAZING programs and professionals out there that are specialised in supporting people in learning to deal with a new reality of having a (loved one with) disability or chronic illness. Not only could it be of huge relieve for yourself (could you imagine, getting out of that black world of depressed and anxiety feelings? :goodvibes ) but it will also be some amazing gift for your daughter. As a mom you can be a huge support for her to learn to cope beyond mere surviving (which is what many people will find themselves doing when faced with such a thing, including loved ones like parents etc) and griefing but unto being a girl that has been able to deal with things in such a way it does not rule her but instead she rules her life which unfortunately also includes dealing with her diagnosis.

You can -and will be :) - such an amazing roll model for her in this, such a support. Both you and she deserve that you get some support in dealing with this and starting to feel better. I know how difficult it can be to even think, let alone truely believe, but the time really can come that all of you can't just deal with this but have a very positive outlook for her and her honestly enjoying a full life that she finds more than worth living with quality of life and love for life. Getting such news is a griefing process. Letting go of al those dreams and hopes you had, watching them crumble and come undone before your eyes. Being greated by the unknown, uncertain, unpredictable. Just like with death, for some it's easier to deal with than others. You're having a too rough a time. Give yourself the gift of support in griefing for this in a way that you need but that also allows you to again come out of that dark place one step at a time. And I can promis you; you will need to built new dreams and hopes, other ones. But not all other ones are less. And you might very well find in time that some hopes and dreams you now see crumbling aren't that unrealistic.

There are great programs out there for both to learn how to cope with this. Whether it being emotionally, relationally, or for instance for her also physically. You guys are searching for so many new balances, it is no picknick. Having some help for that is no shame, it's a smart and empathatic move. You deserve any and all help to make it easier as do all involved where needed. Don't fight this alone when feeling the way you feel. It's not needed, the battle will take enough fighting of you anyway. When finding those new balances, the world will look totally different. Yet again. Her diagnosis won't magically disappear, but the way you all are able to deal with it will. Resulting in feeling so much better, enjoying things again. A same trip for instance to WDW would become a whole other experience. Brand new world. And that will be the biggest gift you can give yourself, her and all involved.

Please take care :hug:

dclfun
04-28-2012, 12:07 PM
Just wanted to send some {{{ hugs }}} to the OP. I can't imagine finding out my child has a disability that is permanent and that will impact her life in some way for years to come. Not only do you have to deal with that reality but there are many "unknowns" involved that you cannot control. I agree with goofieslonglostsis to possibly find a support group where other Moms share with you how they have coped and to know you're not alone. You have to be strong for yourself before you can be strong for your dd.

Meanwhile, I know you will be fine on your vacation. CM's at Guest Relations will not give you a hard time about your request for accommodation and if you find that your request doesn't give you what you need, you can go back and explain that you'd like to explore other possible options. I hope you have the amazing trip that you deserve!

Mama Who
04-28-2012, 04:31 PM
Ok, so I had requested my daughter's pediatric rheumatologist write a brief letter explaining her diagnosis so that we would not be given any hassle in getting a GAC for "stroller as wheelchair", seeing as her disability is not visible to the casual observer. Yes, have been told on this forum I do not need a letter, and that they won't even look at it. I get it. But it gives me a sense of security, so I wanted it.

Well when I asked him, I was told no problem, he writes letter routinely and has a "standard letter". So today I got the letter in the mail (he lives 90 mins. from us), and at the end of the letter, he asks for them to please give her a "VIP Pass". I have never heard of this mentioned anywhere, and therefore I realize it likely doesn't exist. Does anyone know differently, and if so, what the heck is it?

All I wanted was to use her stroller as a wheelchair....

My guess would be that your doctor has been writing this letter for years and nobody has pointed out that he's asking for something that doesn't exist because nobody at Disney has ever bothered reading it. I'm not going to argue that you don't need it. Me, I wear a baseball cap at night so I don't have to see how big the sky is and worry about falling off the planet. I'm certainly not going to judge someone else's security blanket, KWIM? I don't need the hat, you don't need the letter, but they make us feel better and don't hurt anybody.

You are right. There is no such thing as a VIP pass- your doctor is misinformed. You can take your letter to GR (where they will refuse to read it) and ask for a stroller as wheelchair sticker or a GAC and proceed to enjoy Disney with the appropriate (and non-imaginary) accommodation. Have fun!

MinnieVanMom
04-28-2012, 06:41 PM
In DLPR we were required to have a Dr. letter dated within 90 days of our visit. It was to have my name and disability. Of course they all looked at it, because it was in english and then had many discussions, not with me. But armed with my letter, I felt better and in the end was issued a GAC for DLPR.

Although not required, I still bring a letter from the Dr. It just makes ME feel better knowing from TSA to the airline personnel that I have a letter from my doctor.

I have never just assumed that people would make one up? Call me stupid but our letter has the phone number and would be glad for anyone to call if they had questions to my Dr.

Is the letter required at WDW, No. Will they look at it? Most likely not but I feel better and I do understand why OP wants to have the letter.

Cheshire Figment
04-28-2012, 10:17 PM
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) it is illegal to ask for proof of a disability if the access being granted is no higher a level than a person without a disability.

In Paris not only does ADA not apply, but the Disabled Priority Card is actually a front-of-the-line pass which the GAC is not.

ttintagel
04-29-2012, 12:20 PM
I bring a doctor's note, too, just in case I have trouble explaining my needs to the CM, or he/she has trouble understanding them. They haven't looked at it, but I have read out loud from it before, when a CM seemed to be confused.