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Old 12-04-2008, 11:05 AM   #1
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GAC: Guest Assistance Card

Just to let everyone know and to clairify the info given in this weeks email show, you do NOT need to present a doctors note at guest relations for a guest assistance card (GAC). The Disney CM's cannot ask you for one nor can they ask what your disability is or specifics under ADA laws. What they will do is ask what type of assistance you need, for example if you are unable to stand for prolonged periods of time, or cannot be in the sun, they will mark the card accordingly. Just to be clear, this is not a front of the line pass. You will still need to wait the same wait time as other guests for a given attraction. If you are in a wheelchair then you do not need to obtain a GAC to receive guest assistance at attractions. For anyone wanting to aquire one, think about what it is about your limitations that will make it hard for you or your child to wait in the regular line, that will help the CM's to mark your card correctly. And one more thing, the person in need of the card must be present at guest relations when you are requesting it. If anyone else has anything to add or if I've missed something, please fill in the blanks. Hope this helps.
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Old 12-04-2008, 05:45 PM   #2
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Thanks! Sure I'll add what actually happens when you walk in the park until you get the card. Specifically for an Autistic child.

The first time I asked for a Guest Assistance pass in 2003, I willing handed over my son's Indiv. Education Plan. Noticing that the CM handed it back to me with only a glance I've left it home ever since.

We like to get Dale's pass at MK's town hall. We just wait in line and when we get to the front, I say that Dale has Autism and could we have a Guest Assistance Pass. The CM prints out the pass and explains that we can use the fast pass return entrance when available, and Dale can include 5 other people w/ him. That's it! Very easy!

I usually put the pass in a zip lock bag as it gets crumbled and damp very easily.

Disney is wonderful with any child with disabilities, but specifically Autism. I swear the CM's have been trained to make eye contact and start every sentence with his name, pause and wait for him to process and answer. They get Dale to talk alot more than he normally does and he has his most alert days in the park! (I'm sure the vestibular and proprioceptive movement of the rides help also, but I like to think it's the CM's )

Dale has also been to Camp Dolphin at the Swan & Dolphin and the Cub's Den at Wilderness Lodge with no problem.

Lastly, he's been on 3 Disney Cruises and participated in both the Club and the Lab. I do fax the medical form in prior to the cruise because I was told it determines how many counselors they have sail with them. All 3 times, they've had counselors with backgrounds in working with Autistic children and they kept and read Dale's IEP plan.

I guess what I'm trying to say is-no worries! Relax and enjoy your vacation. You never get that ...'well, I don't know..we're not set-up to handle autistic children' w/ Disney. It does not phase them in the least! If anything they are there to help.

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Old 12-04-2008, 06:03 PM   #3
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I thought I remembered that they couldn't ask for paperwork when getting a GAC. Thanks.
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Old 12-04-2008, 06:11 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by pershing View Post

Disney is wonderful with any child with disabilities, but specifically Autism. I swear the CM's have been trained to make eye contact and start every sentence with his name, pause and wait for him to process and answer. They get Dale to talk alot more than he normally does and he has his most alert days in the park! (I'm sure the vestibular and proprioceptive movement of the rides help also, but I like to think it's the CM's )

Dale has also been to Camp Dolphin at the Swan & Dolphin and the Cub's Den at Wilderness Lodge with no problem.

Lastly, he's been on 3 Disney Cruises and participated in both the Club and the Lab. I do fax the medical form in prior to the cruise because I was told it determines how many counselors they have sail with them. All 3 times, they've had counselors with backgrounds in working with Autistic children and they kept and read Dale's IEP plan.

I guess what I'm trying to say is-no worries! Relax and enjoy your vacation. You never get that ...'well, I don't know..we're not set-up to handle autistic children' w/ Disney. It does not phase them in the least! If anything they are there to help.
WOW! I am so pleased that Disney do this!! I work with Autistic children, and know how challenging it can be. It is so great that Disney hire people with that kind of experience, and treats its special needs guests as well as everyone else. Its also so encouraging that you feel you can use all the facilities WDW has to offer, i am feeling the warm fuzzies!!

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Old 12-04-2008, 09:50 PM   #5
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If you go to the disABILITIES FAQs thread, post #6 is all about GACs (there is a link to that thread in my signature). I copied the information in that post (which is pretty complete):

What is a GAC?
We use GAC as an abbreviation for Guest Assistance Card.
It's really exactly what it sounds like -
a Card that tells the Cast Members (CMs) what kind of Assistance a disabled Guest needs. The disability can be temporary or permanent.

Can I write ahead of time and get a GAC? Where do I request one?
No, you can't write or call ahead to get one.
To request one, go to Guest Relations and talk to the CM there about your problems and needs.
If you are requesting the GAC for someone else (like your child, for example), that person does need to be with you when a GAC is requested, even if they can't talk. The GAC is actually issued in the name of the person with a disability. That person does need to be present when the GAC is requested and when it is used.
Most people go to Guest Relations in the parks to request a GAC, but you can also go to the Guest Relations area located at the park, but outside of the gates.
GACs are not available at Downtown Disney or at your resort; you need to be at a place with park Guest Relations CMs (the people at Downtown Disney and the resorts are not park Guest Relations CMs).

Do certain diagnoses qualify for a GAC?
Having any specific diagnosis doesn't qualify or not qualify someone for a GAC; there is no list of "appropriate" diagnoses for a GAC. Also, the CMs do not have medical training, so a specific diagnosis does not really mean much to them.
The GAC is based on needs that the person has, not what their diagnosis is.
The diagnosis is not really that important because people with the same diagnosis can have very different needs.
The GAC is given based on needs and the accommodations that meet those needs. This is not a Disney rule, this is the way that the ADA is written. According to the ADA, accommodations are not given based on the diagnosis or specific disability; they are given based on needs that are related to a disability.
For example, my youngest DD has cerebral palsy as her main diagnosis. Some people with cerebral palsy don't really need anything special; some might walk with a cane/crutches or use a wheelchair, but don't need anything besides an accessible line. Those people would not need a GAC.
Some people, like my DD, have additional needs that are not met just by having her wheelchair in line. I go to Guest Services and explain my DD's needs to the CMs there to get a GAC issued to her to help meet her needs.

Do I need a letter from the doctor?
You don't need a doctor's letter and the CM is likely to not want to look at it because the letters are often not very helpful to the CM. Some people DO feel more confident asking for a GAC if they have a letter, but a letter is not required. According to the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) you can not be required to provide proof of a disability.
You can choose to show proof, but can't be required. If you do have a letter, it should reflect your needs, not your diagnosis.
(For example, a letter that says "My patient has xxxxxx and can't wait in lines. Please extend every possible consideration." is not helpful.)

I have a wheelchair or ECV. Do I also need a GAC?
Not unless you have other needs.
The CM can see the wheelchair or ECV and will know you need an accessible entrance/line/boarding area.
Some people need other things besides the wheelchair; those people might benefit from a GAC. If you don't have other needs and ask for a GAC, the CM usually give one that allows use of the wheelchair accessible entrances. Since you are using a wheelchair or ECV, you already have access to those entrances without a GAC.
When CMs see a wheelchair user present a GAC that says "may use wheelchair entrances", some start to expect everyone who is traveling with a wheelchair to present a card. This is not how the system is supposed to work.
If you have any problems with access to the accessible entrances, first check the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities to make sure that you are in the correct place. If you still have problems, ask to speak with a supervisor.

I don't want to use a wheelchair or ECV, can't I just get a GAC that allows me to use the wheelchair accessible entrances?
It depends on your needs.
If you can walk distances and up ramps fine, but can't climb steps, then a GAC might help you. Using the wheelchair accessible entrance will allow you to use an entrance that avoids stairs. For those attractions with moving walkways, you will also board at a place that allows the CM to slow or stop the moving walkway.
Most attractions have Mainstream Lines, which means that the regular line is wheelchair accessible, so there are not that many lines where there is a different wheelchair entrance.

If you have a problem with walking distances, it's important to know that using the wheelchair accessible entrances will usually not be a shorter distance to walk; there just won't be stairs. Many people don't realize how far guests walk in a day at WDW, here's a thread from the Theme Parks Board where posters estimated how far they walked. The distances are why WDW recommends an ECV or wheelchair for people who are concerned about stamina or endurance.

How do I figure out what the needs are?
Think about what sorts of things happen in a day at the park and how they would affect the person with a disability.
  • Does the person need a quieter place to wait or a place away from other people as much as possible? A GAC might be helpful with that, although not all attractions have those things.
  • Some children might need to bring a stroller in line; either because they can't or won't walk in line or to give a 'safe haven' where they would not be so close to other people. A GAC could allow the stroller to be brought into lines and be treated just like a wheelchair.
  • Does the person need a place to lie down once in a while to rest or just an air conditioned place? First Aid in any park has cots for lying down; no need for a GAC to do that.
  • Is the person on medication or have a condition that may cause overheating or problems with being in the sun or heat? If so, a GAC might help with that (although most lines are shaded and many lines are indoors).
  • Does the person need extra time getting into/out of ride vehicles for those rides with moving walkways? If so, a GAC might help someone who can walk by allowing boarding at the wheelchair boarding spot for those attractions. (NOTE: Wheelchair uses board at the exit for those moving walkway rides, but they usually wait in the regular line with everyone else until close to the regular boarding area).

My child doesn't have a wheelchair, but needs to stay in the stroller. Is this allowed?
Strollers are not usually allowed inside buildings or in most queues.
Some children require a stroller because they can't walk or just need to 'security of the stroller to help calm or help contain them in line. Some children have a special needs stroller that looks a lot like a regular stroller and could easily be mistaken for a regular stroller.
To use a stroller in lines, you will need a sticker tag or a GAC from Guest Relations that allows the stroller to be used as a wheelchair.
With a 'stroller as a wheelchair', you will be able to:
  • take the stroller in all lines and buildings, even if strollers are not usually allowed
  • use wheelchair entrances. Few attractions have actual 'wheelchair entrances.' Since most lines are wheelchair accessible, you will usually be in the 'regular' line.
  • use the stroller until boarding. The child may need to be removed to board a ride, but you can leave the stroller at the boarding area. You won't need to fold it, but should take anything of value.
  • use the stroller in shows and sit in the wheelchair seating areas. The child may need to get out of the stroller and sit on an adult's lap if the stroller seat is too low. Most shows have limited numbers of wheelchair spots, so wheelchair spots are sometimes filled before other seats are filled.
  • use wheelchair areas for parades. Wheelchairs and strollers are usually parked very close together and you may need to arrive early to get a spot; areas sometimes fill quickly.
If you have a park rental stroller, you will need a new sticker each day. If it is your own stroller, the sticker will probably be dated for the length of your stay. If your child has additional needs, they might also need a GAC for those needs, but the sticker will be enough if there are no needs except for bringing the stroller in line.

I have problems with standing in line or with walking. Why did WDW suggest a wheelchair of ECV (motorized scooter)?
Disney calls these "Stamina or Endurance Concerns" and the official response is to suggest a wheelchair or ECV.
If the person has problems with standing in line or with walking, a wheelchair/ECV would be a better solution than a GAC. A trip to WDW includes a lot more walking than just what you do in line. Even with a GAC, there may be no place to sit while in line and the distance walked is not usually less with a GAC than without one.
Most of the lines where you will actually standing still for long periods are the lines for shows and movies. Because those 'load' large numbers of people at a time, people have to stand waiting for the next show to 'load'. Having a Fastpass or a GAC won't change that - if each show is 14 minutes, you are going to be somewhere for 14 minutes. In many shows, much of the time in that place will be a preshow area.
With an ecv or wheelchair, you will always have a place to sit and can conserve energy for fun, instead of just getting around. There is information about ecvs/wheelchairs farther up in this disABILITIES FAQs. Most lines are wheelchair/ecv accessible.
NOTE: The person renting or using a WDW park rental ECV must be over 18 yrs old and no passengers are allowed.

We have 6 in our party; can we all use the GAC?
The GAC is for the use of the person whose name is on the GAC, so that person needs to be with when you use it.
The GAC is usually given for up to 6 people (5 plus the person with a disability). There may be some situations where you are asked to split into smaller groups. When that happens, it's usually because the waiting area or seating area for people with disabilities is too small/crowded for a large party.

Do I need to get one for each park?
You can request a GAC at any of the theme parks. You DO NOT need a GAC for each park and the GAC is usually issued to be valid for your whole vacation.
The GAC issued at one park is valid at all parks, but the theme park GACs are not used at the water parks.

If I had a GAC on my last trip, can I just bring it back and use it again? Or can I show the old GAC as proof that I need one again?
The GAC has an expiration date and is not valid after that date.
You can bring your old GAC back on another trip to show to CMs in Guest Relations, but they may not want to look at it and you will still need to explain your needs in order to get a new GAC.

If i have a GAC does that mean I go to the front of all the lines?
The only people who go to the front of lines are children with serious, life-threatening conditions who are on WISH trips.
The GAC is not meant to be a pass that gives immediate access. In fact, about 6 years ago, they renamed it to Card because when it was called a Pass, people thought it mean front of the line access. It says right on the card that it will not shorten or eliminate waits in line.

Are there different levels of GACs?
There are not different levels of GACs, just different stamps that Guest Services can add to the GAC to tell the CMs at attractions what assistance the guest needs.
Because what is stamped on the GAC is based on needs, not all GACs say the same thing.
Here are some of the things that might be stamped on the GAC:
  • a quieter place to wait
  • a place out of the sun (for those times when the line is in the sun for a prolonged period of time)
  • using a stroller as a wheelchair
  • avoiding stairs
You don't need to remember or ask for these specific stamps. Just be ready to explain your needs/problems. The CM will determine what stamp(s) would best fit those needs.

Do the CMs at each attraction have to provide what it says on the GAC?
Even if you have a GAC, not all accomodations are available at each attraction. Some attractions may not have a place to sit or have exactly what you need.

What happens when I use the GAC? How do I use it?
if the line is short or you don't think you need assistance at that attraction, you don't need to use the GAC.
Many people handle the GAC like an insurance card, not necessarily needed or used all the time, but there for when it's necessary.
To use the GAC, show the GAC card to the first CM you see at the attraction. That CM will direct you.

Is it treated exactly the same each time and/or at each attraction?
No. Even on the same attraction, the GAC is not always handled the same each time.
Exactly what happens depends on how busy it is, how many other people with special needs are there at the time and staffing.
Some times you may be sent thru the regular standby line, ocassionally another access; Occasionally the person with the GAC and a member of their party will be given an alternate place to wait while the rest of the party goes thru the standby line - and then meet up with them when they get to the front. Sometimes you might be given a slip and told you can come back at the time written on the slip (usually equal to the standby time); very ocassionally, you might be taken right in. It depends on what they call "attraction considerations" (which is basically the things I listed in the second sentence).

What happens will also depend on the stamps on your GAC. For example, if the GAC is for a place to out of the sun, you will be routed to the regular line if the sun is not a problem when you arrive at the attraction.

If you come back later, you may be handled differently. Even on the same attraction on the same day. People sometimes think that means one of the CMs did something 'wrong'. What it usually means is that conditions were not the same both times.

Can I use the GAC at restaurants to let them know my needs?
GACs are used for attractions and are not used for restaurants. The information on the GAC would usually not be useful to the CMs in restaurants.
If you have food allergies, there are some links to information in post 3 of this thread.
If you have specific needs for location or type of table in table service restaurants, tell the CM when you check in for seating.

What about Character Greetings? Can I use the GAC for those?
In general, GACs are not used for character greetings, especially the ones that are outdoors. If you have specific needs, there is always a CM 'handling' the characters. That CM might be able to make some accommodations for your needs.

What can I do to avoid or shorten our wait for attractions?
Fastpass is a good way to avoid waits in line. You don't have to be present to get a fastpass, you can send one member of your party ahead with all the park passes to get fastpasses. When you report back to the ride at your fastpass return time, your wait will be 15 minutes or less.
Link to DIS site page about Fastpass and how to use them
Also, even using a GAC or Fastpasses, if you know where NOT to be can be VERY helpful; maybe even more helpful than the GAC. Getting into attractions with accommodations is only part of the solution. If you are at a busy park, it is busy everywhere, which means longer waits for things like eating and using the bathrooms. The more people there are, the more difficult it becomes just to get around and to avoid all the general 'busy-ness' of the parks. That 'busy-ness' can be just as difficult for many people to deal with. Many people have reported good luck with TourGuide Mike (a Theme Park Board Sponsor) who has a website with hints on tour planning to avoid busy areas.

Link to thread about GACs
Link to thread about Make a Wish Trips and GACs

If I see a GAC for sale on ebay, how can I report it?
GACs are issued to an individual person, whose name is on the card. They are not transferrable and not for sale. Using Disney's name and trademarks to sell something that Disney gives out for free is piracy and selling it is fraudulent (or selling something else and giving the GAC as a "free gift")

It is best NOT to contact the seller. Anything you write to them is not going to change their mind. The seller could report you to ebay for harrassment. Since the seller has a way to contact you, they could harrase you by email or could even get access to your address and phone number.
To report to ebay:
Copy the auction number, then go to eBay's Report a Listing. Choose report it as a Fraudulent Listing, with the category of fraudulent and did not bid.
Click on the next screen How do I report a fraudulent listing? and then on the next screen, click on Contact us near the bottom. The following screen asks for the number and also gives a large block for a narrative description of the problem.

To report to Disney:
email address (tips@disneyantipiracy.com) or Antipiracy voice mail hotline, 818-560-3300

Antipiracy Group, Corporate Legal
The Walt Disney Company
500 South Buena Vista Street
Burbank, California 91521-0527
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Old 12-05-2008, 07:28 AM   #6
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Thanks Sue!

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Old 12-05-2008, 07:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by pershing View Post
I usually put the pass in a zip lock bag as it gets crumbled and damp very easily.
I found a fishing license holder at the Dollar Store that is almost the right size to hold a GAC. (It is like the clear badge holders only larger.) I bent one edge about 1/4 in and it fit pretty well. Then you can clip it on a lanyard.

I like to be at rope drop, so if anyone in our party needs a GAC we stop by guest services the night before we go to the park so we are ready to roll in the morning.

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