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Old 01-19-2013, 05:46 AM   #1
cmbpanda
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Very concerned, traveling from UK

Hi I am getting very worried about our trip to wdw, which has cost us a huge amount of money! We are going in our Easter holidays. My DH and I are blind, both our children are sight impaired and my son also has an autistic spectrum disorder. Before we booked friends told us that disney are very accommodating of special needs. However I have read a lot that GACs are not for reducing wait times. This is exactly the accommodation we need, because of our difficulties finding our way around and my sons anxieties. We will also struggle to use fast pass machines. Can anyone reassure me that these needs will be recognised or have we spent 1000s £££ on a trip where we might only manage 3 rides per day and end up with very distressed children rather than happy ones?
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Old 01-19-2013, 09:18 AM   #2
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Hi I am getting very worried about our trip to wdw, which has cost us a huge amount of money! We are going in our Easter holidays. My DH and I are blind, both our children are sight impaired and my son also has an autistic spectrum disorder. Before we booked friends told us that disney are very accommodating of special needs. However I have read a lot that GACs are not for reducing wait times. This is exactly the accommodation we need, because of our difficulties finding our way around and my sons anxieties. We will also struggle to use fast pass machines. Can anyone reassure me that these needs will be recognised or have we spent 1000s £££ on a trip where we might only manage 3 rides per day and end up with very distressed children rather than happy ones?
I don't know specifically, but there have been several post here regarding certain rides/CM not being vy accommodating to people with visual impairments.

How are your travel skills in general? Be warned that the Braille/tactile maps that I have seen in DW will actually be of very little use for a blind person. Hopefully there are bett maps in Customer Service.
Are you traveling with a sighted person at all? I have seen people with white canes in Disney, but they have always been traveling with a guide or a dog.
Disney can be very chaotic at times, and has many large open areas that you must travel through crowds. There are not a lot of good physical landmarks for independent cane travel.

Just my opinion, but I could see this trip being very difficult if you are not traveling with a sighted person who can at least offer verbal assistance when traveling between rides.
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Old 01-19-2013, 10:49 AM   #3
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I am not sure when exactly your Easter Break is, but Disney World is a very busy and crowded time during Easter.

I agree with the PP that if there isn't someone in your party who doesn't have a visual impairment, then DW is going to be very difficult to navigate, especially at that time.
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Old 01-19-2013, 02:45 PM   #4
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I am not sure when exactly your Easter Break is, but Disney World is a very busy and crowded time during Easter.

I agree with the PP that if there isn't someone in your party who doesn't have a visual impairment, then DW is going to be very difficult to navigate, especially at that time.
I agree. I cannot imagine, if you and your spouse are totally blind, how you are going to manage this trip without a sighted adult companion. I would also be extremely concerned.
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:05 PM   #5
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A GAC will not get you front of line access. What it is likely to get you is somewhere to wait away from the crowds, but you will still get into the attraction at the time you would have if you were in the regular queue. There is usually a CM around the fastpass machine at any given ride, so you should have no problem using them. You should be aware though that Easter is one of the busiest times at Disney and the wait times in normal lines will be long, as will queues for toilets and meals.
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Old 01-19-2013, 03:38 PM   #6
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OP - go to guest relations in the MK, you will get GACs for everyone in your family and it will all work out. If you feel comfortable enough that you can get to and around the park, you will be fine on the attractions. The CM can also help you get fastpasses if needed for those attractions.

While you won't be sent to the very front of the line, you will be helped. I can't figure out a nicer way to say this, but they won't want a slow moving family that can't see where they are going to go through the regular line, and neither will all the other guests. It will slow things down too much.
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:39 PM   #7
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Thank you. Unfortunately we don't have a choice about the time we travel because of schools. As a family we regularly travel without a sighted person. It is prohibitively expensive to pay for someone to come with us and to expect them to give up 2 weeks holiday. It is precisely because we recognise that is is going to be hard to find our way around and deal with my Son's anxieties that we need to ask for quick access to rides so that we don't have to worry so much about the difficulties we have finding our way around. We have had no problems at UK theme parks or at Disneyland Paris, but was concerned about reports I have read about wdw. I have sent them an email, so we'll see what they say!
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:42 PM   #8
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Are you trying to avoid waiting or avoid having to travel through the lines?
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Old 01-19-2013, 12:48 PM   #9
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Thank you. Unfortunately we don't have a choice about the time we travel because of schools. As a family we regularly travel without a sighted person. It is prohibitively expensive to pay for someone to come with us and to expect them to give up 2 weeks holiday. It is precisely because we recognise that is is going to be hard to find our way around and deal with my Son's anxieties that we need to ask for quick access to rides so that we don't have to worry so much about the difficulties we have finding our way around. We have had no problems at UK theme parks or at Disneyland Paris, but was concerned about reports I have read about wdw. I have sent them an email, so we'll see what they say!
There is no front of the line access at WDW, which it sounds like you are hoping for here which I am sorry to say will not happen.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:06 PM   #10
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There are GACs that can be helpful to your family - putting aside the idea of lines for the moment, you can get a GAC which will tell the CMs that you need to be able to sit in the front of whatever venue you are in.

There are accommodations for those who would find waiting in a standard queue dangerous. I have traveled with multiple people who use the white canes in Disney, and people, in general, take that as a cue to give you a but of space.

We do not post the specific names of stamps on the boards, to cut down on abuse (it is amazing the number of people who cruise forums like this one just trying to get ahead!), but the CMs do not need you to state the name of the stamp anyway.

Be sure to tell the CM in Guest Relations about your concerns with accessing the rides - you cannot handle stairs, you have difficulty going from light to dark or vice verse, etc, and therefore it is dangerous to wait in the standard queue.


Make sure you get a separate GAC for your child with autism. His/her accommodations may be different than yours. I suggest having a GAC for each member of the family with a disability, just in case people split up. A husband CANNOT use a wife's GAC, even if it seems they do the same thing. It may seem like a lot of work to the CM in Guest Relations, but trust me, you will likely save yourself a trip to the front of the park later to get one if your party wants to split up.

There are a lot of great posts here about traveling with an autistic child, so check out some of those for park tips. If you think it would be necessary, you can arrange to take a stroller in the lines with you for your autistic child. He/she may appreciate the "personal space" and it will keep you, the blind parents, from having to keep track of where your autistic child is. Just ask about this at Guest Relation.

Also, I am not sure how much sight ability any one in your party has, but the new Disney Parks mobile app has a GPS feature, so if you have a smartphone, you can actually have hte app tell you are where you are in the parks.

The best way to do the parks in your case would be a good touring plan - that way you know what to expect out of the day.

There is also a device you can get from Guest Relations (for a deposit - I am not sure how much that deposit is) that provides alternate narrative for the blind and visually impaired in an attraction. So, in addition to ride audio, a description of your surroundings will also be provided. I have not used it, and I have heard some mixed reviews, but I am interested in seeing how it works.

No, there is no way to simply skip the lines or automatically shorten the wait time, but there are many aspects of the GAC which I think would be beneficial to you, as well as other tools out there.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:11 PM   #11
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What dates are you traveling?
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Old 01-19-2013, 08:26 PM   #12
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... We have had no problems at UK theme parks or at Disneyland Paris, but was concerned about reports I have read about wdw. ...
I want to point out that the "accommodations" for the disabled at DisneyLand Paris are much different that what can be provided in the U.S. Per the ADA, the U.S. theme parks attempt to provide an "equal" or equivalent experience, not a better benefit. My understanding is that DLP requires a doctor's note and then does essentially provide front-of-the-line access. That is what they offer for the disabled, but there is nothing equivalent to that offered in the U.S. parks. This is due to differences in laws and regulations for the disabled between Europe and the U.S. I'm sure WDW will do their best to accommodate your family, but you need to have realistic expectations and avoiding lines - especially at Easter when the crowds are very large - is just not realistic.

I do hope you are able to enjoy your vacation. With 2 weeks at WDW, you shouldn't feel pressured to do as much in any given day so that will help as you can return another day to do more. Good luck!
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:30 PM   #13
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There is a service Disney World offers which is a VIP (very important person) tour of the parks. The charge is by the hour and not by the person. It's expensive; it's like $300 an hour. You pick the amount of time you want their service. The tour involves a Disney personal guide who will take you through the park. An added value to this tour/service is you get the best seats for live shows and parades and fireworks. It does not say anything about faster access to the rides. I'm sure this guide would get the fast passes you need and maybe help you somewhat on ride lines, but there's no guarantee on this part. This requires a minimum of 72 hours advance notice to book it. If you consider the cost of the trip this may be worth it; so, you don't lose out.

There are other personal tour guide companies available in Orlando that purport of getting you through the lines faster. I don't believe they do anything more than getting fastpasses and/or a GAC. You would have to do a search for these outside companies and call to see what they can do for your group and the cost for it. They would be a pair of eyes for your group.

I do believe getting a GAC may help you in some cases, but not all. How capable is your one child who is not autistic? Can that person get fastpasses? The Disney cast members are at the fast pass machines and they will help with getting the passes if you want them to help. Try it on your own the first day and see how it goes.

Finally, there are caregivers you can hire for about $20 an hour. They may not have any skills when it comes to Disney World, but they certainly can be a set of eyes for you. You would have to pay their park entrance fees in addition to their pay per hour. They get a driving/petro allowance, too. Also, it's expected to pay for the caregiver's meals while they are with you. You might want to ask for someone who has been to Disney World and maybe, you will get one who knows the ropes. This would probably be the cheapest way if you can't do it for yourself. The caregiver is willing to meet you at your resort.

If you were satisfied with Disneyland Paris I would think you should be okay with Disney World. I don't think it will be easy, but hopefully you will come away with some good memories. Disney World is trying a new system called fastpasses plus and you are able to pre-do your fastpasses before you even enter the park. You get a wristband with RFID with all your info on it. Maybe, you will be lucky enough by the time you get there that this new fastpass system will be more in action. It's being tested in the parks, right now as we speak, but it's not across the board yet. I believe it's being done randomly, right now. You may want to do a search about this new system to learn about it.

I do have a concern for you because there are some rides at Disney World that have walking conveyors that are moving while you get on the ride. Disney can slow these down, but they can't always stop them for you to have access standing still. There are not too many of these rides, but be careful. Another drawback is the Animal Kingdom Park has rough terrain for its walkways ( not smooth ) through the park. In other words, you may have some tripping hazards, here. Also, Magic Kingdom has some curbs you have to watch out for especially around the castle.

Last edited by Bete; 01-21-2013 at 12:21 PM.
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmbpanda View Post
Hi I am getting very worried about our trip to wdw, which has cost us a huge amount of money! We are going in our Easter holidays. My DH and I are blind, both our children are sight impaired and my son also has an autistic spectrum disorder. Before we booked friends told us that disney are very accommodating of special needs. However I have read a lot that GACs are not for reducing wait times. This is exactly the accommodation we need, because of our difficulties finding our way around and my sons anxieties. We will also struggle to use fast pass machines. Can anyone reassure me that these needs will be recognised or have we spent 1000s £££ on a trip where we might only manage 3 rides per day and end up with very distressed children rather than happy ones?
I know you and your family are very excited to be planning a trip to Disney World, but do you really realize just how large it is?

It would be enough of a challenge for anyone to go the first time, but you will face challenges that we can hardly imagine. It will be very crowded at that time, and people are rushing all around, and there are naturally a lot of *bumps* and *excuse me's* going on which would be particularly hard for you.

Along, with others, I would be very concerned for you to come all that distance and have a hard time negotiating the parks, and not have a good time. I also strongly agree that you really need a sighted person to be with you in the parks.
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Old 01-20-2013, 03:47 AM   #15
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Thank you all for your advice. We will definitely get the GACs for each person. I am very realistic about the challenges, which is why I'm doing lots of research and planning now. We manage because I have a bit of sight and we all have a lot of determination. We will have a good holiday
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