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Old 09-10-2013, 10:41 PM   #46
SueM in MN
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Originally Posted by dreamsofdisney View Post
Okay, so I'm a little lost here...

Our last trip was in 2011 w/our two children with special needs: DS was 18 at the time and has Autism; DD was 2 at the time and is a former 1 lb 2 oz preemie with Autism, cerebral palsy and fed via g-tube. They each had a GAC and we had a "stroller as wheelchair" tag due to her mobility issues.

We're leaving in 1 month for our next trip. This time we'll only be travelling with DD, now 4. Our past experience with character meet & greets was that there was no use of GAC, EXCEPT....when we went to meet Mickey and the Princesses, there was a Fast Pass line and we were admitted using our GAC. In fact, for the attractions that offered FP, we were almost always directed to use the FP line. (I'm guessing it depends on what your stamp says on your GAC?) For rides such as it's a small world, we were directed to the entrance for people using wheelchairs.

Have things changed? I thought about trying to utilize FP+ for character interactions, but we haven't purchased our tickets yet - still scraping together last minute funds - but I also worry about how that would work for us. DD's behavior and condition can be unpredictable, so it's very hard to plan hours (days, weeks, etc!) ahead to pick a FP time. She might be in the middle of a meltdown, or her legs might be too tired to get out of the stroller for a hug! That's why we loved the "use the FP line" option. We could work around her meltdowns or stamina issues.

For the characters that don't have FP (most) we often tried to wait in the line, but almost always had to duck out because she wasn't able to last in line in such close proximity to others, and it usually led to a shutdown that throws her off for the rest of the day.


PLEASE don't flame/bash me. I'm just seeking information. We're not trying to get around the system. As others have said, our children have it tough every day. We save for years to be able to take this vacation to give them a little break from their every day reality.
For indoor meet and greets, the CMs have more options than the outdoor meet and greets.
There are some GACs that are specifically stamped 'not for character meet and greets'. For those, the only option would be to wait in the regular line or get Fastpasses, if that meet and greet offers those.
For other GACs, the CMs can often come up with something that works - it could be the Fastpass line, it could be a handwritten time pass to come back at a time equal to the current wait or it could be having part of the group wait in the regular line, while one person waits with the person with a disability outside if the line.
We have experienced all 3 at different times. We have lo been told there were no accommodations available when it was just DD and I waiting in line (I expect that if we had more people, they would have suggested some wait in line while DD and I waited to the side).
The last option - some of the group waiting in the line while others wait outside - is frequently used by parents of children without disabilities. So, no GAC is needed to do that.
If that would work for you, you can choose to do that without using a GAC.

For outdoor meet and greets, there is usually just the character(s), a handler and possibly a Photopass CM. They have little they can offer as far as accommodations, so the usual is having some of the group wait in line while the others wait off to the side.

There are changes coming to GAC, reportedly in October. The most likely changes are things to tie the GAC more to the person it was issued to and also change how it is used at attractions. One likely thing is giving a return time.

If your resort is using Fastpass Plus, people have been reporting they have been able to make or change Fastpass Plus 'reservations' on the fly. So, changing a time if it is just not working out. No one knows just how it will work when it is fully rolled out.
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Old 09-11-2013, 05:14 AM   #47
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Even though it was triggered by the publicized abuse, I think the potential procedural review and changes as described by Sue, will not only end the FOTL abuse but also provide much better certainty for individuals with disabilities.

Since our son would not accepts the advantage of getting in earlier, when we did use GAC we pretty much did the come back when it would have been our turn.

While I am sure some one will still find a way to abuse it. without the FOTL potential, I think the "commercial" viability of the abuse will go away
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Old 09-11-2013, 09:30 AM   #48
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People lying to get GACs or to be guided by those who use GAC is NOT evidence of shorter waits. It's evidence of the PERCEPTION of shorter waits. There's a big difference.

Like everybody else who travels with somebody who needs a GAC, I've experienced waits that are shorter, waits that are longer, and waits that are the same. Nobody is trying to say that waits are always longer. It's simply not true. But, saying that waits are always shorter is also not true. I'm happy for you if your experience has always been short waits, but are you sure all of your waits are actually shorter and this isn't just perception? Some it's easy to tell but not all. My DH was sure that our waits were always shorter until I started pointing out people who got in the regular line after us getting on a ride while we were waiting or else showing him posted wait times that were less than what we actually waited. He was shocked. He was positive that our waits were always less than the standby line. This was his perception, not fact.

In addition, the GAC simply isn't enough for us to be able to go into some attractions. Before I learned about touring plans we would have to skip rides that had long waits because my DD simply couldn't handle even the alernate waiting area for the amount of time it would take to get to the attraction. Now, using good touring plans we can get in most attractions faster without our GAC at the "right" time than we could before by using our GAC at the "wrong" time. I can't speak for others but when I'm advising that a good touring plan can do more than a GAC, I'm speaking from my own first hand experience. Yes a GAC will sometimes, maybe even often, shorten the wait time over what others might have BUT I can get significantly shorter waits than that on my own with good planning and using DD15's GAC at the wrong time results in us having to skip too many attractions. We do still use a GAC because there are some things a touring plan can't do (ex. it can't keep us out of mob waiting areas for shows with pre-show waiting rooms) so I'm certainly not going to say don't get a GAC. I'm just saying that a good touring plan REALLY can do a heck of a lot more than relying just on a GAC.

That's me, telling it like it is. I would appreciate it if people don't accuse me of lying or trying to dissuade people from getting a GAC because I'm doing neither. I'm trying very hard to give people advice that has worked for me with the hopes that this advice can help them.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:30 AM   #49
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The most obvious evidence that the GAC provides an advantage is the abuse of it, as has already been mentioned. Plain and simple. People wouldn't get an unnecessary GAC by lying if it didn't benefit them in some way.

Seriously? People who have never been to WDW in their entire lives are among those claiming that it always gets you to the front of the line. It's practically an urban legend.
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Old 09-11-2013, 10:39 PM   #50
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Since there is a bit of level headed talk about this, I want to ask something thats been kicking around my mind. Does TSM handle the GAC differently when the line gets really long for people who cant wait in lines?

Why do I ask? On our recent trip there was a family blocking the fp entrance. (we were waiting for them to go through to use our fp's) I think it was close to 11. I didnt catch the beginning of the conversation but the CM was saying something like they were going to use a different entrance and they got really mad, yelling, sent one of their party for a manager and were insisting that they've been riding this way all morning and that she was stupid and didn't know what she was talking about. "This pass means we use this line." Basically after a moment another CM came over and just waived them through without even looking at their pass to get them out of there. They went through and loaded like they had a fp, not the alternate loading and I have no idea if they repeated the ride or whatever. I still feel bad for the CM. I dont usually notice or really care if people are using a GAC but mean people scare me.
I am a curious person, please dont think I am asking to find some crazy manipulation of the system, we dont need a GAC and my kids prefer walk on things anyways. I just find it interesting.
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Old 09-11-2013, 11:33 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by mistysue View Post
Since there is a bit of level headed talk about this, I want to ask something thats been kicking around my mind. Does TSM handle the GAC differently when the line gets really long for people who cant wait in lines?

Why do I ask? On our recent trip there was a family blocking the fp entrance. (we were waiting for them to go through to use our fp's) I think it was close to 11. I didnt catch the beginning of the conversation but the CM was saying something like they were going to use a different entrance and they got really mad, yelling, sent one of their party for a manager and were insisting that they've been riding this way all morning and that she was stupid and didn't know what she was talking about. "This pass means we use this line." Basically after a moment another CM came over and just waived them through without even looking at their pass to get them out of there. They went through and loaded like they had a fp, not the alternate loading and I have no idea if they repeated the ride or whatever. I still feel bad for the CM. I dont usually notice or really care if people are using a GAC but mean people scare me.
I am a curious person, please dont think I am asking to find some crazy manipulation of the system, we dont need a GAC and my kids prefer walk on things anyways. I just find it interesting.
Yes, the handling of a GAC can change at any ride, not just TSM, at any time for a very long list of reasons. They factor in the need of the guest (can't wait in line is never a reason for a stamp - they would have to explain more than that to guest relations), the length of the standard line, the FP line, the accessible entrance/boarding area line, how many people have come through with similar needs recently, how many cars they are running on the track, and even weather and other conditions.

Basically you should never plan on a GAC being handled the same way at every attraction, or the same way, even at the same attraction on the same day.

I can use DCA as an example, since I know that park very well and all lines are accessible (built after the ADA). Let's look at California Screamin'. I have a GAC that helps me wait in places that avoid certain situations (sitting in full on direct sun for long period cause dysautonomia flares, tight back and forth queues can trigger panic attacks - my conditions are variable, but all fall under the same stamp, and I am a full time wheelchair user). One day, if I look at the line for California Screamin' and realize I cannot safely wait in that line, I would approach the CMs with my GAC and ask where to go.

The CM needs to consider the length of the standby line, the length of the FP line, whether they are loading on both tracks (like BTMRR has), whether they are running an odd number of cars (which requires a CM to move my wheelchair for me), and how many parties with wheelchairs are in the regular queue, FP queue, and already waiting on the loading platforms (after going through any and all lines). It also depends on the discretion of the Leads within the GAC policies for that ride.

There can only be one wheelchair-user on the rollercoaster at any one time, so this often creates a wheelchair line, which I would get to wait in after waiting in the regular or FP line (yes, I can wait in basically 3 different lines). If there are not a lot of people waiting on the platform (people with mobility disabilities, people with GACs, people who cannot climb stairs, anyone who does not board with the mainstream queue), they may send me straight through the FP line. For some reason people with wheelchairs and GACs tend to show up in bunches and that causes traffic problems and safety issues. So here is a list of possibilities that I know of that can happen with my GAC and some others (some, like ones requesting the front row of a theatre don't apply):

I could be sent straight through the FP line.

The CM could look at the FP return times being given out. If they are at all close (within a couple hours, although technically they can ask this if ANY are left available), they could tell me to acquire a regular FastPass.

The CM could judge that there is already a backup of people on the platform and hand-write me a FastPass for a time about the length of the stand-by time.

The CM could look at the GAC and say that the mainstream queue meets all of the needs (it is amazing how many people ask for the ability to use the accessible queue due to a broken foot or knee surgery, thinking it lets them cut the line, and then they find out the entire park is accessible in DCA!)

The CM could look at a mobility device and make a judgement about which queue I should use, with or without a GAC.

I may be told to wait in a separate GAC line in the alternate loading area queue is too full and the mainstream queue is accessible.

There are just so many different thing to be taken into consideration. It is entirely likely that the family had been allowed to use the FP queue before, and were expecting the same to happen again. But if there is a back up of the alternate loading area or the FP line in general, the family may have been told that they would be given a FP equal to the wait time for TSM, and then they can return. They likely wanted instant access, and there is no GAC to provide that.

It is becoming more common that people are being issued hand-written FPs about equal to the wait time of a ride, and then they return and go in the FP entrance. This allows people to wait in an area which is safe and appropriate for them, but does not automatically turn certain GACs into FPs. Yes, sometimes I may be sent through a FP line, but that is changing more and more as systems get updated.

So that is a very long-winded answer, but I was hoping to forestall other questions that could come up - yes, the family may have been telling the truth - they may have been using the same entrance for the whole day, and then circumstances changed and they did not like the change. And after a certain point, it is easier just to send the family through than have them continue to make a scene. Or perhaps they were lying, or telling a distorted version of the truth. It happens.

But this family you saw - that is one reason why we try to keep people from name certain stamps or saying exactly what they do on this board. People may go into it with certain expectations, and then they are disappointed or angry when those expectations are not met exactly.
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:15 AM   #52
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So that is a very long-winded answer, but I was hoping to forestall other questions that could come up - yes, the family may have been telling the truth - they may have been using the same entrance for the whole day, and then circumstances changed and they did not like the change. And after a certain point, it is easier just to send the family through than have them continue to make a scene. Or perhaps they were lying, or telling a distorted version of the truth. It happens.

But this family you saw - that is one reason why we try to keep people from name certain stamps or saying exactly what they do on this board. People may go into it with certain expectations, and then they are disappointed or angry when those expectations are not met exactly.
Thank you for all of that answer. It pretty much clears up the part of my mind that wonders if it was some strange GAC abuse scam. It's more likely a legitimate need coupled with a misunderstanding that the rules adapt to the current situation. How sad, both for them and the CM who got stuck in the middle. Part of me wondered if I found the one family of the day who got a GAC to attempt to fastpass TSM 50 times in a row for junior and I turned up at the moment the CM realized it. (apparently I've been watching too many dramatic sitcoms!) I have no idea what their situation was, just knew they said they can't wait and that's not the type of thing you ask a person. I was a little worried following them through the line that there would be another scene down the way, but luckily everything went smoothly.
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Old 09-12-2013, 07:38 AM   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mistysue View Post
Since there is a bit of level headed talk about this, I want to ask something thats been kicking around my mind. Does TSM handle the GAC differently when the line gets really long for people who cant wait in lines?

Why do I ask? On our recent trip there was a family blocking the fp entrance. (we were waiting for them to go through to use our fp's) I think it was close to 11. I didnt catch the beginning of the conversation but the CM was saying something like they were going to use a different entrance and they got really mad, yelling, sent one of their party for a manager and were insisting that they've been riding this way all morning and that she was stupid and didn't know what she was talking about. "This pass means we use this line." Basically after a moment another CM came over and just waived them through without even looking at their pass to get them out of there. They went through and loaded like they had a fp, not the alternate loading and I have no idea if they repeated the ride or whatever. I still feel bad for the CM. I dont usually notice or really care if people are using a GAC but mean people scare me.
I am a curious person, please dont think I am asking to find some crazy manipulation of the system, we dont need a GAC and my kids prefer walk on things anyways. I just find it interesting.
I agree with what KPeveler wrote.

From talking to CMs in Guest Relations and higher up, the bolded things in your post are one of the things they are hoping to address in the planned changes to GACs. If those things are addressed somehow by new processes when giving GACs out and when presenting thm at attractions, the CMs won't have to put up with so much abuse.

There is a perception that the GAC is a pass that always allows certain things, obviously believe by many people. It's not and was never meant to be.

It is a communication tool to let CMs know what needs the person has so they can match what the person needs with what is available at that attraction. What is available can vary from attraction to attraction and time to time.
CMs at Guest Relations actually had a 'spiel' to tell guests that when a GAC was given out. At times, they also have circled the printed parts of the card that says it is not for immediate access and to use the Fastpass system if you want to avoid waits - and YES, this was even for stamps that many people think are meant to provide both of those things.
Some still do, but not all CMs do.

At attractions, the main job of CMs is to keep guests safely and efficiently moving thru attractions in a continuous line. In order to keep things moving, the CMs have to deal with 'interferences to the flow' (like the guests in your post who were interfering with other guest's enjoyment, verbally abusing CMs and generally stopping the flow of the attraction). Sometimes that means they give in to a bully (which was what those guests were doing).

Sometimes, the CMs will allow the bullying guests to go, but security will be waiting for them when they get off. We have seen that, where the people bullied and thought they had gotten their way, but fond out otherwise when they got off.
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Old 09-13-2013, 11:18 AM   #54
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Originally Posted by SueM in MN
I agree with what KPeveler wrote.

From talking to CMs in Guest Relations and higher up, the bolded things in your post are one of the things they are hoping to address in the planned changes to GACs. If those things are addressed somehow by new processes when giving GACs out and when presenting thm at attractions, the CMs won't have to put up with so much abuse.

There is a perception that the GAC is a pass that always allows certain things, obviously believe by many people. It's not and was never meant to be.

It is a communication tool to let CMs know what needs the person has so they can match what the person needs with what is available at that attraction. What is available can vary from attraction to attraction and time to time.
CMs at Guest Relations actually had a 'spiel' to tell guests that when a GAC was given out. At times, they also have circled the printed parts of the card that says it is not for immediate access and to use the Fastpass system if you want to avoid waits - and YES, this was even for stamps that many people think are meant to provide both of those things.
Some still do, but not all CMs do.

At attractions, the main job of CMs is to keep guests safely and efficiently moving thru attractions in a continuous line. In order to keep things moving, the CMs have to deal with 'interferences to the flow' (like the guests in your post who were interfering with other guest's enjoyment, verbally abusing CMs and generally stopping the flow of the attraction). Sometimes that means they give in to a bully (which was what those guests were doing).

Sometimes, the CMs will allow the bullying guests to go, but security will be waiting for them when they get off. We have seen that, where the people bullied and thought they had gotten their way, but fond out otherwise when they got off.
But don't count on the CMs to contact security. DD has had roommates and friends who work attractions and I asked her to "poll" them about how they would handle the bullies after reading this. NONE of them (not even ONE) would have bothered to contact security after letting them thru. While there may be some CMs who do this, don't count on it to be done consistently.
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Old 09-13-2013, 08:09 PM   #55
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But don't count on the CMs to contact security. DD has had roommates and friends who work attractions and I asked her to "poll" them about how they would handle the bullies after reading this. NONE of them (not even ONE) would have bothered to contact security after letting them thru. While there may be some CMs who do this, don't count on it to be done consistently.
I do not expect it to happen consistently and don't count on it. i have seen it happen 3 times, so it is a possibility. I would not expect it for just a little yelling.
I would expect it if the guest gets verbally abusive, threatening, touches or nearly touching a CM or other guest, looks like they may pose a danger to CMs or other guests or refuses to follow directions from the CM and gets belligerent about it.
No CM or other guests should have to be put into possible danger or put up with that.

The 3 situations I saw involved those kinds of activities.
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Old 09-13-2013, 09:33 PM   #56
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For indoor meet and greets, the CMs have more options than the outdoor meet and greets.
There are some GACs that are specifically stamped 'not for character meet and greets'. For those, the only option would be to wait in the regular line or get Fastpasses, if that meet and greet offers those.
For other GACs, the CMs can often come up with something that works - it could be the Fastpass line, it could be a handwritten time pass to come back at a time equal to the current wait or it could be having part of the group wait in the regular line, while one person waits with the person with a disability outside if the line.
We have experienced all 3 at different times. We have lo been told there were no accommodations available when it was just DD and I waiting in line (I expect that if we had more people, they would have suggested some wait in line while DD and I waited to the side).
The last option - some of the group waiting in the line while others wait outside - is frequently used by parents of children without disabilities. So, no GAC is needed to do that.
If that would work for you, you can choose to do that without using a GAC.

For outdoor meet and greets, there is usually just the character(s), a handler and possibly a Photopass CM. They have little they can offer as far as accommodations, so the usual is having some of the group wait in line while the others wait off to the side.

There are changes coming to GAC, reportedly in October. The most likely changes are things to tie the GAC more to the person it was issued to and also change how it is used at attractions. One likely thing is giving a return time.

If your resort is using Fastpass Plus, people have been reporting they have been able to make or change Fastpass Plus 'reservations' on the fly. So, changing a time if it is just not working out. No one knows just how it will work when it is fully rolled out.
Thanks for all of the information! I think I have a slightly better handle on it, but since we're going mid-October and things might be changing around then, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. Unexpected doesn't go over so well in our camp, but I'll just have to keep my fingers crossed and "just keep swimming!"

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Old 09-16-2013, 11:13 PM   #57
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I am happy to see some meet and greet on the FP+ options, and I am booking them! Those lines can be worse than the rides, GAC or no GAC. I booked some for my trip in 10 days.
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:51 AM   #58
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I am happy to see some meet and greet on the FP+ options, and I am booking them! Those lines can be worse than the rides, GAC or no GAC. I booked some for my trip in 10 days.
I think Fastpass Plus will be helpful for many people - especially those who need a plan of what will happen when.
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Old 09-17-2013, 08:48 AM   #59
keishashadow
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PatMcDuck View Post
I am happy to see some meet and greet on the FP+ options, and I am booking them! Those lines can be worse than the rides, GAC or no GAC. I booked some for my trip in 10 days.
we weren't selected for FP+ despite ready many others staying @ our resort indicating they have. Can't say I'm a fan of the system but wish I had the ability to participate. Admit the thought keeps crossing my mind that since we don't have the ability to pre-book any FPs (& the GAC process will likely be tweaked by the time of our visit in 18 days) it may turn out to be quite the interesting trip scrambling to get regular FPs.

I keep reminding myself I have no control over this situation...will just put on my MM ears & go with the flow
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Old 09-17-2013, 05:08 PM   #60
mistysue
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Quote:
Originally Posted by keishashadow View Post
we weren't selected for FP+ despite ready many others staying @ our resort indicating they have. Can't say I'm a fan of the system but wish I had the ability to participate. Admit the thought keeps crossing my mind that since we don't have the ability to pre-book any FPs (& the GAC process will likely be tweaked by the time of our visit in 18 days) it may turn out to be quite the interesting trip scrambling to get regular FPs.

I keep reminding myself I have no control over this situation...will just put on my MM ears & go with the flow
Have you logged into My Disney Experience or the website with linked tickets and tried to do FP+?
I don't know how much you have followed it, but most people seem to book fp+ before notified. I did.
It's worth trying, those meet and greet/parade fastpasses saved me from a huge meltdown when we "needed" to meet Ariel.
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