GAC gotchas at WDW

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by Annielkd22222, Apr 7, 2013.

  1. Annielkd22222

    Annielkd22222 Mouseketeer

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    I saw this post for someone going to Walt Disney land....and I was wondering if there were the same thing at Walt Disney world? Are there rides where the wait is much more crowded and longer at WDW? I have done the alternative waiting area at the big globe ride....but I was sitting and it didn't get crowded for quite a while. The time was about the same....but had I been required to stand that would have been tough. Anyone know?
     
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  3. Piper

    Piper DIS Veteran

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    Yes. There are several rides that may take longer....Toy Story, Small World, the Safari in AK, are just a few. I can't ride any of the mountains, or any of the roller coaster type rides so I don't have experience with them.
     
  4. KPeveler

    KPeveler Moderator Moderator

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    Really it is difficult to judge because things can change so frequently, but there are several queues where the accessible entrance is in full sun or more crowded - BTMRR comes to mind

    Really, as GACs vary greatly (there are many different stamps) and even the same stamp can be handled differently, you may not find a lot of answers here.

    What I could tell about on the DL thread was about the wheelchair accessible entrances. Since most queues at WDW are mainstreamed (MK has the most that are not, as it is an older park), there are not a great many alternate entrances I even know about.

    I can say that you should never count on there being seating in an alternate entrance. Spaceship Earth, the big ball ride in Epcot, is the exception to the rule. There is pretty much NEVER a seat in any queue, mainstream or accessible. If you need a place to sit to wait, you need to rent a wheelchair.
     
  5. stitchlovestink

    stitchlovestink DIS Veteran

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    I agree 100% with KPeveler that it is difficut to judge as there are so many Factors that come into play.
    Like Piper reports that she always waits longer but only posts every once in a great while that she is waiting for the wheelchair accessible ride vehicle. That makes a HUGE difference in your wait! And is important to know, at least in my opinion it is. Because I don't typically wait nearly as long. I usually have very short waits, but I do not need the special ride vehicle like she does, so therefore, I don't have to wait as long because I am not waiting for that particular 'ride car' or boat.
    I also noticed when I was there 2 weeks ago that they are starting to load Toy Story Midway Mania much more effectively!!! Woo Hoo!! For example, we were a party of two and there was an opening for two so they pulled us out of line and filled in the empty car with us. So they are trying to send the ride vehicles thru as full as possible instead of worrying about the party order. Where before they would have left those seats empty if the next party was more than two. Now they are working on effectively filling the seats!! It really makes better sense and in the end moves the line even faster overall for everyone in the HC accessible line there. I commented to mgt that I was glad to see that change implemented, and honestly it was about time someone figured out how to do it! :rotfl2:
    But overall, there are so many mitigating factors, like the type of stamp you have, the crowd levels, do you need to transfer, etc... that it is really hard to determine how long you will wait. Personally, I find my wait times to be very reasonable and generally rather short. No complaints from me! :thumbsup2
     
  6. cmwade77

    cmwade77 DIS Veteran

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    I am able to walk distances, but not able to stand for long periods of time, it's usually just DW and I, so her pushing me in a chair isn't an option. In general though, I have found that there is no need to rent a wheelchair for this. Most attractions have wheelchairs that they will let you use in the queue if you ask them. If they don't, just explain the situation to them (be nice and polite) and they will usually find a way to accomodate you.

    I have found this to be true at both Disneyland and Disney World. But the key is to ask nicely and politely (especially at Disneyland, as they get a lot of people who demand things) and 99.9% of the time something can be done.

    Now I will admit that I haven't needed to do this at Disneyland in a while, as we live nearby and if the line is too long, we simply say we will ride it next time.

    Last time that I was at Disney World, I learned in the first few days that I need to show the GAC almost everywhere, even when the line is short, as I found it difficult to navigate some of the queues, even with no one in them.

    My point here is know what you are capable of and if you see something that makes you think your body won't handle what they are asking you to do, explain your concerns politely (There was only twice that this was needed for our groups, as someone in our group was having panic attacks when people are crowded in too close. We had to mention this at Haunted Mansion and Tower of Terror, both of which made accommodations that assisted with this.)

    Now, I have discovered that there is a way to minimize wait times for the most part, especially if you arrive at park opening.

    At Disneyland, start at the left (i.e. Tiki Room) and work your way around to the right. At DCA, start at Carsland, then Bugsland, then Hollywood Land, then Soarin', Grizzly River Run, etc., then Paradise Pier & The Wharf (be sure to pick up a FP for WOC between Soarin' and Grizzly River Run)

    At Disney World:
    MK: Start with Enchanted Tales with Belle if you want to do that, then work your way to Tomorrowland, then Adventureland and around. If you don't care about that, go to Tomorrowland first, then work your way around.

    AK: Start at Kilimanjaro Safari (it is always best to start with this ride, as the animals will be more active in the morning), then work your way around the park and try to get the last safari out of the night as well (again the animals will be more active and the last Safari often takes a little longer out there from what I have seen).

    DHS: Start with Toy Story, if that is important to you, otherwise start with Rockin' Roller Coaster, then work your way around the park as logically as you can.

    Epcot: Start with Spaceship earth, you will most likely be able to ride twice at this time of day if you so choose, then go to the right, do Seas, Living with the Land, then around to Ellen's Universe of Energy, then Mission Space and Test Track, then on to World Showcase, starting with Mexico and work your way around. You should end up near the Accesible seating for Illuminations at just about the perfect time to get into it.

    Disclaimer: I find this to work the best for me and my needs and it is not always 100% accurate, but I would say it works 95% of the time for me. Your mileage may vary based on your needs of course, but my point here is watch for patterns, it doesn't take long to pick up on them. Just as there are patterns for the regular queues, there are patterns for the alternate entrances. The problem is the patterns can vary based on needs, but the trick is finding the pattern for your needs. As I said, the above is what works for me, it also avoids a lot of backtracking.
     
  7. Annielkd22222

    Annielkd22222 Mouseketeer

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    Thank you all for your posts! I don't actually do the most popular rides, and stay on property to use the early morning advantage. I guess I was worried more about being stuck somewhere. I don't generally ride the most popular rides. I do like soaring, and splash mountain. I have limited time in the parks(about 3 hours) and like to make use of what I can in that time. I can walk, but can't stand still. Even if I were in a wheelchair, imwouldmstill need to return to the room in 3 hours for a break. I will take your advice and let the people know my needs ( crowds, standing, sun). And hope for the best. If I feel stuck, I plan to try to back out as discretely as possible. Thanks all!
     
  8. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    I agree with KPeveler that WDW having mostly mainstream lines makes a difference compared to Disneyland.
    In many cases, the waiting area is just a separated off part of the regular line, like this one for the the Circle of Life movie at The Land in Epcot.
    [​IMG]

    There are also mitigating factors, such as crowd levels and individual ride factors, such as staffing at the time.
    How many accessible ride cars are running at the time can affect both those waiting for the accessible ride car and those not. If there are 2 running, those waiting in that area will wait a shorter time than if there is only one. Some have no way to 'pull forward' those who are not waiting for the accessible ride car, so their wait is dependent on how many are in that line, not how many are waiting for the accessible ride car.

    And some, like Dinosaur, have a small area for boarding and no accessible ride car. Someone who walks, but needs to use the elevator to get to that area is going to have to wait the same as someone using a wheelchair who used the elevator.

    Many attractions are only allowed a certain number of guests with special needs inside the ride at one time.
    And, on Toy Story Mania, CMs have told me that the accessible ride car is the only one generally brought into the accessible boarding area. If they are running with one accessible ride car, that means one is loaded there about every 7 minutes (which is one ride circuit). If there are 2 accessible cars running, the wait will be half that.
    The exception is that they are allowed to 'pull' one regular ride car pod from the line when they have to convert the accessible ride car for use with a wheelchair. This is because it can take almost one ride circuit to convert the ride car for use with a wheelchair and back.

    Timing can also make a big difference. We have arrived at Toy Story when there are people waiting all the way from where the ramp begins.
    We have also occassionally been really lucky and gotten there when we came right into the accessible boarding room, with only a few people waiting there.
    That is what can make the biggest difference in the wait.
    It may or may not make a difference.
    And, if it does, it is usually only one ride circuit (the time it takes to cycle the accessible ride car thru the ride, along with whether or not they are running more than one accessible ride car).

    For example, at Small World, if you are in the accessible line, it does not usually make much difference whether or not you are waiting for the wheelchair accessible boat. The waiting line is narrow, so it is difficult to pull anyone from farther back to put them into a boat ahead of someone waiting for the accessible boat.
    We are waiting for that boat and have sometimes been pulled to wait out of the line when we get to the front and let others by us who do not need that boat (but only when we have worked our way down to get to the front).
    This is a picture of the Small World accessible line - the picture is taken from where we were waiting for the accessible boat after we got to the front of the line. The guests on the left would get on the next boat. The guests on the right side of the picture are waiting in the accessible line.
    [​IMG]
    At the time that picture was taken, it went all the way to the top of the ramp. Some obviously have guests with wheelchairs or ECVs in their group. Others did not and had a Guest Assistance Card.

    The wait in that accessible line can sometimes be much longer, whether or not you are waiting for the accessible boat.
    For example, on our trip in October 2012, my husband and daughter did something else while I went on something DD could not go on. We planned to meet up at Small World. It took me a little longer than planned and by the time I got there, they had already been waiting for 25 minutes (I know when they got into line, because DH texted me when they got into the line).
    That line was filled all the way to the start of the line - some guest with wheelchairs or ECVs, some with children with a GAC - I saw several show their GAC and get into line as I was deciding what to do. Because the line was so full, it would have been hard to get to DH and DD, as they were about 15 feet from the boarding area. So, I got into the regular line and arranged that DH and and DD would go for something to drink since they would be done before me.
    I waited for 20 minutes in line before boarding. As it turned out, the boat they were loaded into was only 3 boats ahead of the one I got loaded into; we were done within about 2 minutes of each other.

    DH told me that they were not 'held' while others were loaded ahead of them for that line. Anyone in that line at the time did wait 25 minutes MORE than they would have in the regular line, regardless of whether or not they needed the accessible boat.
    That is not new.
    They have always done that.
    The 'regular' ride car pods at Toy Story can hold 8 guests. There are 2 'pods' in a ride car and each pod has 2 rows, back to back that can seat 4 guests.
    The accessible ride car pod can seat only 6 because one of the rows is part of the access for accessibility.
    When we ride with 2, 3 or 4 in our party, they have always pulled other people to fill the ride car IF there are any groups of the right size to ride with us.
    As people turn the corner entering into the accessible boarding area, the CMs do ask how many are in each party and whether or not they can transfer.
    Many times, there are no groups they can combine because all groups are 5 or 6. There are times also times when the groups are too tightly packed to get anyone from farther back to the front, especially if someone who is using an ECV or wheelchair, but can transfer would need to get by a number of other wheelchairs.

    When we get to the front, while we are waiting for the accessible car to come thru, they often pull us forward into a holding area past the gate so they can board others who don't need the accessible ride car. This is when they call for a non-accessible ride car.
    How many parties load ahead of us depends on the size of the groups who are waiting. If there is one group of 8, they will take the whole regular ride car.
    If it's less than 8, they will take groups that equal 8 to fill up the ride car.

    This was even in the beginning, when the ride first opened.
    When it is very busy, we have even seen them pull guests from the regular line to board in the accessible area to fill cars as much as possible. Since the regular line boards on one side of the ride car and exits on the other just ahead of the accessible area, they have some guests walk thru the ride car to the exit side and then board at the accessible area.
    This picture shows the accessible ride car in the process of having the seat removed for a wheelchair to load.
    [​IMG]
    Our party of 2 was waiting to the right of the open gate area for them to convert it so DD and I could load into the wheelchair car.
    You can see the other car in the pod already has people loaded into it. They were part of another group of 4 who were loaded into our same ride car to fill it up. They were taken out of order because the group right behind us was too big.
    The cars other than those 2 are in the regular track. The boarding area is toward the middle of the picture (you can see people boarding between the accessible ride car and the one just above it, which has people in it who will get out when the ride car reaches the boarding/unload area.

    When there is a special boarding area or line, we usually watch the people getting into the regular line right ahead of us. Often we can see them getting off when they are done, so we know that we waited at least one ride cycle longer than we would have if we could have used the regular entrance.
    We also have times when we are with a larger group and some of us are in the regular boarding area and some in the other area. Most of the time, the people using the 'regular' access are done at the same time or sooner. Specifically at Toy Story, I have been with the 'regular' group and could see DH, DD and the grandmas still waiting at the accessible boarding area when we got off.

    I am NOT saying there will always be an additional wait, just that guests should not plan that using a GAC will save them time. It was designed for giving assistance related to a disability, not shortening waits.
     
  9. Annielkd22222

    Annielkd22222 Mouseketeer

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    Thank you for your post. I haven't used the GAC much in the past. but knowing the wait for small world might be longer is a help. I have to stand in line while waiting and anything over 15 minutes will cause pain. I don't care about how long it is.... But I need to be prepared so I can make a choice. When I went at Christmas time, I didn't even bother going into the parks after the first day....it was just too much.
     
  10. cantwaittoseemickey

    cantwaittoseemickey DIS Veteran

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    How about purchasing a folding "chair cane"? There are some on Amazon. My parents use these and they really come in handy. You could have it to rest on all the way up to the ride and then sit it to the side when you get on.
     
  11. Gracie09

    Gracie09 DIS Veteran

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    Folding chairs of any kind are not permitted. They are a safety hazard. However a rollinator (walker with a built in seat) can be used.
     
  12. dawnball

    dawnball <font color=red>bouncie bouncie...<br><font color=

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    The Pirates of the Caribbean alternate entrance (when it's available) can be an extra-long wait, but there are some benches there. I find the BTMRR wheelchair entrance to be kind of chaotic, and it can be intermittently very slow, but it depends on how many parties are in front of you there.

    Also at MK, flying carpets can have a very long/cramped/sloped alternate entrance. I've never tried the alternate entrance at most of the headliners. We do little rides, and Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom mostly.

    Soarin can be a remarkably long wait, and the slope down toward the theaters makes it more difficult for me. On the other hand, the wide hallways with people on only one side means that it doesn't set off any of my "ack, enclosed spaces" as long as I face the open space and use FP.

    I think someone's mentioned the Safari at AK, that can have a pretty long wait. TSMM. We don't do much at HS/AK...


    "Standing very long causes pain" is why we got a wheelchair to share for our last WDW trip. We just pushed it from attraction to attraction - often empty/piled with whatever we were carrying, sometimes with someone from our group of 6. Then I'd sit through the queue and foot-roll it or let someone push me. It was wonderful, and I would do it again, even though I'm oddly resistant to doing it at DL.
     
  13. cantwaittoseemickey

    cantwaittoseemickey DIS Veteran

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    Oh I did not know that. Thank you! A rollinator is a great idea too.
     
  14. 123LuckyMom

    123LuckyMom Mouseketeer

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    We had anECV and a stroller as wheelchair on our trip, but everyone was able to transfer onto the ride. If that is the case for you, the only ride where our wait was really horrifically longer and in full sun to boot was Pirates of the Caribbean. That wait was AWFUL! Also, the exit was very tricky, and our stroller sometimes was not waiting for us. It was quite confusing! One time we were mainstreamed in the line, and then it was just a tricky exit, but when we were sent to the alternative line, it was really unpleasant in the sun, a much longer wait, and it ruined the magic a bit, because instead of passing through the pirate cave, we went around the back where the dumpsters were. At every other ride, I didn't notice that the wait was significantly longer. At small world, it was significantly shorter for us. I think it depends, too, on if there are folks in the disabled queue who cannot transfer.
     
  15. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    Is this Disneyland or WDW?

    If its WDW, at the exit, the straight line goes up a moving ramp (sort of like an escalator with no steps). There is also an elevator, to the left of that moving walkway. It's not totally visible if you don't know it's there.
    There is a short hallway and the elevator is to the right.
    It lets you off behind the bathrooms.
     
  16. Annielkd22222

    Annielkd22222 Mouseketeer

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    You are all being so helpful. I love reading about issues so I can make an informed decision. I have actually thought of the rolling seat cane....I might get one...thanks!
     
  17. Piper

    Piper DIS Veteran

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    Annie, i am not sure what you mean by the highlighted phrase. A rollator isn't a cane. It is more like a walker. A cane with a seat isn't allowed.
     
  18. KPeveler

    KPeveler Moderator Moderator

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    Right. A rollator is a rolling walker with a seat. It usually folds for easy transport.


    No type of folding chair is allowed in Disney for al safety
     
  19. KPeveler

    KPeveler Moderator Moderator

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    Right. A rollator is a rolling walker with a seat. It usually folds for easy transport.


    No type of folding chair is allowed in Disney for safety reasons. Besides it would be useless in lines as they are generally constantly moving.

    A wheelchair, ECV, or rollator is going to be your best bet.
     
  20. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    At this point, I am going to add some basic information about Guest Assistance Cards.

    They are a communication device for letting CMs know what assistance a guest needs because of their disability. Just because a guest has a need does not necessarily mean that need will be accommodated the way the guest wants it to be.
    There are 2 words printed on the front of every GAC - "where applicable"
    And 2 words printed on the back - "operational considerations"

    And the stamp itself has 2 additional words - "where available".

    Available can mean "does it exist", but can also mean "it exists, but is not available for use right now".
    There are attractions, specifically in the past year, where GACs are not being used if the regular line is 15 minutes or less. People have posted about it, specifically for Pirates and we have seen it on Aladdin and many other attractions.
    There are quite a few posts on this board where people were told that GACs were not being used at the attraction at that time when the wait in the regular line was short.

    There was one particular thread where a woman posted that she was denied use of a specific way of entering Pirates and felt the CMs were "wrong" and "poorly trained" because she knew about that entrance and had used it in the past.
    As it turned out, she posted enough that a CM who was working Pirates at the time sent me a PM because she did not feel comfortable posting on the thread.
    The entrance the woman was talking about was "not available" because a guest had a medical emergency that entrance was being used for at the time.

    The woman had been told to use the regular queue, left side if they wanted to ride because the wait was short.

    I also have un-official confirmation (because WDW does not publicize anything official about GACs) that the information in post 6 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread is complete and accurate, specifically this part:

    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.
    If you had a short wait the first time, you may have gotten 'pixie dusted'.
    Since GACs are not meant to shorten or eliminate waits, shorter waits can't be expected.
     
  21. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    Folding seats or chairs are listed on the Disney website as something that is not allowed to be brought into the park.
    Occasionally, you will see someone with the type of folding cane that has a small fold down seat attached to it. I would not count on being able to bring one of those in because it is really a folding seat and I have heard of people who were told they would not be able to use it in the parks.

    We were just at Toy Story Mania the day before yesterday and this is what happened to us when DH, DD using a wheelchair and I rode.
    At the time we got to the last part of the ramp, which is in the accessible boarding area, we were asked how many were in our party and whether DD could transfer out of her wheelchair.
    Everyone else in the line was asked the same thing as they made the turn or got near to the boarding area. The CMs did not leave the actual boarding area to talk to people who had not passed the last turn.
    This has happened every previous time we have ridden Toy Story Mania, from the first time we rode after it opened.

    The 2 groups immediately ahead of us were:
    1) a woman in a power wheelchair who did not transfer, a male and 2 small children
    2) 2 people using ECVs who planned to transfer, 2 adults and 4 small children.

    When group 1 was at the front, the CMs transformed the ride car so she could ride in the wheelchair. The man and the 2 small children rode in the front row of the ride car in the pod behind her. We were asked to move all the way to the right side of the queue so that a group of 2 (one of whom had an ECV and was transferring) could get by us and fill the last row of that ride car.

    Group 2 was told that our group would be coming in front of them when the wheelchair accessible ride car came back around so that the CMs would not have to convert it back to a seat and then back to wheelchair accessible for us to ride. They were told that a 'regular' ride car would be called to the accessible boarding area for them so that each child would have a seat and no one would have to ride on laps.

    Group 2 was pulled forward into the waiting area in the photo I posted and we came past them to board when the accessible car came around. A party of 2 (one of them had a cane and could not do steps) was also pulled ahead to fill out our ride car.

    This happens frequently at places that have wheelchair accessible ride cars. They do try to maximize the number of people loaded, but there is no guarantee that someone who can or can't transfer will be getting on more quickly. it's often random, based on the needs of the other people in the accessible boarding area and the numbers of people in each party.
     

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