Autistic kids are second class guests at WDW

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by harryscheeler, Jan 16, 2013.

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  1. harryscheeler

    harryscheeler Earning My Ears

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    The issue is one of our kids will hit themselves in the head when they are in crowds of people. The card they gave us allowed us to go in Fast Pass lanes which bottlenecked just like the regular line. The CM willing to accommodate us would bring us to a handicap waiting area to enter the ride. This happened few and far between. Most of the rides I left with my child screaming and hitting themselves as other guests were hit while we tried to exit the ride. This was the case in our last three trips. I'm not willing to go anymore. I'm not a lawyer but I'm sure the Americans With Disabilities Act covers us to some extent. Disney will not even respond to emails or phone calls. It's like they could care less.
     
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  3. tikistitch

    tikistitch Mouseketeer

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    Most every WDW line is mainstreamed now, I believe. I know there's several attractions where it isn't, but most are. When my family goes to WDW, we get a GAC because we have 4 members of the family on the spectrum. With my nephew, we're unable to wait even in the FP line because he has similar issues of harming himself when he's in crowds of people and feels trapped in. So we always make sure that the CM we show the GAC to knows that we need to wait somewhere outside the exit for as long as the standby line is, and then we are brought in to ride. We offer to have family members who are fine in line go through the mainstream line and then give the CM at the loading area the instruction to get the other boarders from the exit. This often works out for us. However, this method doesn't work on every attraction. Not because CMs aren't willing (although some just aren't, I agree), but because there is no separate area nearby to wait outside of line and then come back into. The logistics just wouldn't work.

    Any time we've had a CM that wouldn't listen to our needs after we showed them our GAC, we insisted that they take two seconds and please listen to us and our needs to insure the safety of our family, the cast members, and the guests around us. And that always gets a CM to stop and listen and attempt to make proper arrangements for us. And when we come across a ride where arrangements can't be made, the family members that want to ride go into the mainstreamed line and wait while the others that can not go back and find an attraction that works better for us. Other options have always been to use rider swap, which can be a drag when we went just with my immediate family and one of us has to stay behind with the people who can't ride while the others go ride and then we swap out with the pass.

    In so many cases, CMs that appeared frazzled or just frustrated with our GAC always had a total attitude change when we calmly explain our needs and our suggestion for accommodation. They're used to just having these cards shoved at them with people not communicating specifics. I find that just being calm and explaining my direct needs without giving any specifics as to why except "if we wait in this line with so many people, there could potentially be physical harm given to X, or to other guests, or to one of you. We need to prevent that by doing X, Y, or Z."

    As far as the disability act, I personally believe Disney does goes above and beyond in providing equal accommodations for those with disabilities. Do I think the parks are perfect? No, they aren't for anyone, they have a lot of improving to do for all of their guests. But they've made huge efforts to mainstream lines and they make big efforts to ensure that rides are accessible to all guests by transfer or having wheelchair accessible cars/trams/etc. I think the law requires equal accessibility, not above and beyond what everyone else is getting. I often have to remind my mother when she gets frustrated on our trips that a GAC isn't the end all, be all for a key to zooming through lines stress free. We also have to understand once equal accommodation attempts have been reached, if members of our family pose a threat to themselves or the cast members or others in line, it is our responsibility to not go into a line or situation knowing what the reaction and end result will be.

    I think it's perfectly possible for your family to have a great WDW vacation, but I think more realistic expectations of a GAC are needed. I know there are several links to information in posts up at the top of the board. Perhaps try reading through some of those and see if they can help plan for future trips? There's a lot of older members on these boards who have a ton of wisdom to share about really great touring plans with people of all exceptionalities. Best of luck to you and your family on your next WDW vacation, if you guys choose to go back! :flower3:
     
  4. mrsmarilyn

    mrsmarilyn Mouse Junkie

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    We have taken our children, both on the spectrum, several times, and always been treated will.. as losing as there is an alternate wait area we are fine. We avoid the rides that do not provide one. Some lines and crowds are unavoidable. Disney outs one of the best at accommodating disabilities.
     
  5. clanmcculloch

    clanmcculloch DIS Veteran

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    The issue is your expectations. A GAC is not a magic card that takes care of 100% of your problems. It is intended to make things equal. Many attractions simply do not have an alternate place to quietly wait and then join your party. This is why so many on this board STRONGLY urge people to use touring plan services. Using a good touring plan COUPLED with a GAC you wouldn't have this kind of problem.

    Like your child, my DD15 can not handle the FP queues if they're not moving or they're crowded in. She definitely can't handle the mob waiting areas. We can only go to attractions at times where the alternate waiting areas will be quick or if the attraction is one of the ones that has a quiet area where we can wait. I could never do this without good touring plans. The onus is on ME to do my homework and make sure that my DD's needs are met. Walking up to TSM with a GAC at 2 in the afternoon for instance (just an example) is simply something that those who have kids with issues like ours should simply never attempt to do. No GAC will make that possible. Again, some research into touring plans would make your experiences be like the difference between night and day.
     
  6. Cassandy

    Cassandy Earning My Ears

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    I totally agree with clanmcculooch here; the GAC is meant to try to level the playing field as much as possible, but nothing in the world can give you that "normal" experience, because our lives are not "normal".

    If CMs were letting you use the FP line, and sending you to an alternative waiting area when appropriate, that is far, far more than ADA requires.

    Disney goes above and beyond the ADA by offering special areas, special queues, special passes that let us do things other people can't, just to make it easier. The legal ADA requirements are significantly less than that (mostly making sure you can physically get into the park, and bring in your own assistive devices, like dogs or canes). Disney can't be responsible for allowing every one to be able to ride every thing - look at Mission Space: Orange. Half the "healthy" people I know can't even ride that!

    What more do you expect Disney to do to make your vacations better? What more do you expect the CMs to do? What are your expectations of Disney World to accommodate you, and are they even possible? Disney can't get rid of crowds, or reduce lines, or give you front-of-the-line access every time you need it. What is your expectation?

    I'm sorry you had a bad experience. I'm sorrier still that you're giving up and thinking of lawyering up, because I think that's truly missing the point.
     
  7. Kristibo42

    Kristibo42 DIS Veteran

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    I have an autistic niece. We have been 2 times both times we have not any problems with the cast members. the problem has been with other guests. We bring a note and try not to take advantage of the pass when not needed. But people still give looks and make rude comments.
     
  8. goofieslonglostsis

    goofieslonglostsis DIS Veteran

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    Oh come one! Just because this is the disabilities part of the board there is no need for us to have to be pc. Heck, I'm one of those that really highly values no pc because we are talking here, but then again I am one of those that believes being pc only harms.

    There are simply so many things in the OP that also made my alarms go off. Such things that do make me seriously wonder what is going on here and yes stirring the pot was a valid serious option in those. I'm one of those that will simply ask flat out instead of be pc or insinuate. Only openly asking gives someone an open chance to deal with what will be playing on many peoples minds and if indeed the case; put it to rest.



    Some has been added on since, but other things still leave me with questions. And as such, I will simply ask. For instance;

    in the op "which are rarely honored". Does sure leave one like me with quite a few questions. It paints -combined with the later posting on this topic- a picture of someone who has no clue of how far few and in between alternate waiting areas actually ARE. If that picture is correct; did one ever go back to guest services and ask what CAN and CAN'T be done at certain rides, including being told that options can chance depending on multiple details?

    If not going back, why not? Apparently there has been complaining, but it still has me questioning if there ever was any communication about the fact that this option very rarely IS an option. Whether it being Disney communicating it or Harry (or family) taking their own responsibility and ask about it?

    If so communicated what does one expect to be done? WDW is in the business of magic, but I can see the problem with "magically" creating alternate waiting areas for each and every ride, show, M&G etc.

    Where do subsequent disappointments come from when having communicated this subject before and having the knowledge that this option simply is not there?


    The second post has added info. Yet it still leaves me wondering why Harry is posting this?


    And more in general? Yeah, there are still things mentioned that leave me keeping options open that apparently we are not allowed to mention if it were up to some on this board. Things that do not add up, never mind how well or poorly informed Harry was or is. It could be that he is communicating things on here very poorly. As such it's an option I leave open. Just like I leave all options open where it triggers me.
     
  9. Kellykins1218

    Kellykins1218 DIS Veteran

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    I'm sorry but I just feel that Disney bends over backwards for my autistic kids and I am very thankful that they do. I know dozens of parents that feel exactly as I do which is why we all keep going back year after year.
     
  10. Emteach

    Emteach DIS Veteran

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    We attended Disney in August with my brother who is not autistic but has some similar struggles (crowds, loud noises, being confined, snesory) and we let Guest Services know and they were more than accomodating. We recieved the GAC and were able to use at most rides with only 1 or 2 CMs questioning. Maybe it is just a lack of consistency :confused3 but we didnt have any issues, more with our local amusement park.
     
  11. Beccabunny

    Beccabunny Mouseketeer

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    Yes, the internet is rife with rude and obnoxious posts under the guise of "not being PC." Over the years I've heard from a lot of other posters who find it very difficult to ask for any information on these boards because of the nasty responses they get. The OP made a statement that didn't give enough information. Others politely asked for clarification. OP provided that. Discussion followed. Can easily be done without being rude.
     
  12. goofieslonglostsis

    goofieslonglostsis DIS Veteran

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    Not being pc does not equal rude. That some people might use it as an excuse for being rude does not make it equal either.
     
  13. harryscheeler

    harryscheeler Earning My Ears

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    I have touring plans. Is there something on the site you can point out for me to see?
     
  14. harryscheeler

    harryscheeler Earning My Ears

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    They are not going above and beyond if CM just send you in the FP line. What do I expect Disney to do? These vacations cost upwards of $10,000 each time. For that kind of money I expect service and respect and not to be treated the way we have been.
     
  15. harryscheeler

    harryscheeler Earning My Ears

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    Disney should be more up front on their website as far as what they can offer to the disabled then. If I was told upfront we could only assess a few rides I never would have tempted these trips.
     
  16. goofieslonglostsis

    goofieslonglostsis DIS Veteran

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    When keeping things limited to only this board;

    - read the stickies on top of the disABILITIES-section here. They are invaluable. Sue (the moderator here) will also have them linked in her signature. Not only verbal information, but including pictures

    - take some time to read multiple trip reports. Many are also posted by families dealing with autism within their family

    - general touring plan info; the general "themeparks" section here will teach loads!!

    Going beyond this board; get yourself a copy of a book called "the Open Mouse". It tackles all kinds of disabilities and illnesses in combination with doing WDW, DL and/or DCL. Includes discription and tips per ride and even type of disabilities.


    On the other hand to make sure there is no miscommunication; those not used to the lingo on here tend to use the term "touring plan" to describe the plan they themselves have come up with about how to do the park, based on likes etc. On this board (and some other) touring plans are something different. It is a plan based on information that helps you greatly reduces waittimes. Some examples of touring plans are for instance Tourgide Mike etc. etc. All of them simply put are online helper options you can use. Some info will be available for all, other info might be screened of for paying users only to be seen. You will find many examples and experiences with the multitude of options on the formentioned "themeparks"-section here.

    It will help if you specify what you communicated with "touring plans". And if using the same lingo as on this board; which one you used and what lacks you ran into, that way others can more easily zero into trouble shooting.
     
  17. goofieslonglostsis

    goofieslonglostsis DIS Veteran

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    Again; very vague. If you communicated with Disney this way, I can totally see there having been a huge chance of not coming to any other sentiment but frustration. Service is very vague. You state the kids were not accomodated, many on here -me included- are wondering how you expect that accomodation to look like?
     
  18. goofieslonglostsis

    goofieslonglostsis DIS Veteran

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    I'll be the last one to call the site (old or new) perfect. But; info was to be found on the old version (haven't been on the new one, so can't judge that one yet).

    I know for sure because that is the first place I got ANY accessibility info back in 2007 before ever booking my first trip. Given how carefull they have to be with the info to prevent possible abuse but also not to set too high expectations, it was a refreshing surprise to be able to get more info than overly general.


    But you have got me puzzled; I could see where on a first trip you could run into a wall when not knowing all. But, I can't see how someone then repeats not once, but twice again when according to your own words it having been such a big unsolvable unacceptable problem. And when running into things, why not go back to Guest Services -where obviously you did find your way to, to get a GAC- and address problems. And not to rant, rave or just be angry but to make the best of a trip. In a situation like this that can consist of going over the park per ride one is interested in to discuss what options there might be (understanding that options can and do sometimes chance for the same ride). A small investment of 4 visits to Guest Service when visiting 4 parks would have given loads of information.


    Beyond that; the accessible park maps (before there also were those that are all-incl.). They also give information per ride, but based on certain disability information. So for instance when wheelchair accessible, having an alternate entrance or not etc. While not 100% perfect info, let alone individual based as one can get at GS, it is a good start to get an image of what structures are available within the rides building.
     
  19. Cassandy

    Cassandy Earning My Ears

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    I really didn't want to say this in my first reply, but sir, your expectations of a Disney trip are completely unrealistic.

    Disney cannot make your son normal. They can't. Disney cannot give you a normal vacation. They cannot do that. No one can. There is absolutely no place on Earth, anywhere, any place, where life is "normal" like everyone else's. That's just something you need to accept. It was a shock to me, my first trip with my son after his brain surgeries, but it's something you really need to deal with.

    Sending you in the FP line without a FastPass is going above and beyond the requirement of law, and is far beyond what most parks do, and is, in fact, what most people consider to be incredibly accommodating. That is service, that is respecting your child's disabilities.

    It is not Disney's job to kowtow to you and send you to the front of the line because the FP line isn't fast enough. It isn't Disney's job to pick off-peak hours and rides with short lines, or make the crowds disappear. It isn't Disney's job to make sure that you get on every ride.

    Guess what? We only get two hours in the park at a time. We walk out of lines very often. Our son cannot do any ride at all without a GAC, FP, and a stroller-as-wheelchair pass. And we are so grateful for everything Disney does to help us do the two or three rides a day that we might get.

    Nowhere else has a first aid station that lets us store meds, or visit three times a day. No where else lets us bring a stroller everywhere we need to. Nowhere else accommodates all of my food allergies to make sure I always get something to eat, or gives my son little stickers or bandanas when he melts down on a ferry. Nowhere else pays for the paramedics, an ambulance ride, and a taxi back when our son has a breakthrough seizure in front of Big Thunder. Nowhere else lets us stay three hours past check-out because we spent the night before in the ER, and then mails us our autograph book when we lose it.

    If you want a front of the line pass then you're going to have to go to Universal and pay $400 for one, or shell out $600 and do a VIP tour to get shorter lines, or even just plan a bit better.

    But sir, with all due respect, you sound very entitled. I think you need to look at this realistically, and think long and hard about what disability really is. Because it isn't about being able to do everything, it's about being able to do anything at all.
     
  20. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    I am going o lose this thread at this point because I think it has run it's course.
     
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