GAC - one time use?

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by luvs2travl, May 1, 2013.

  1. luvs2travl

    luvs2travl Dream BIG...Live GRAND

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    Last Aug, we attended my DS5's absolute favorite show in DHS- LIghts Motors Actions Stunt Show (he loves the addition of Lightening McQueen). He is deathly afraid of heights. He will not climb stairs with see-through steps. There was no one in the entire handicapped row - the length of the grandstand, so we sat in the first row, designated handicapped. The CM came over asked us if we had a GAC card. We said no, but explained our son's needs. Being that there was no one in the entire row, we were allowed to stay there. We would of absolutely left had we of taken away seating from someone who needed to sit in that section.

    Well, as we were the only family (4) in that row, the Same CM asked us for our GAC twice! It was quite funny. Then a man sitting behind us began saying "handicapped seats" over and over. Implying we should not be in those seats. I finally turned around and explained our situation to him and assured him the CM gave us permission to sit there. However, he was very annoyed with us!

    To avoid this situation this summer, would it be possible to request the GAC for this specific situation only? I do not need the card for anything but this show. My DS will not sit higher than the first row in grandstands - we've tried at fairs but he has a fear.

    I truly appreciate any guidance you can offer.
     
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  3. geek+nerd

    geek+nerd DIS Veteran

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    A GAC is for people with "invisible" disabilities. While your son's fear is real, I don't think it is a diagnosis of a disability. I think your best bet is to approach a CM and explain your situation and hope for some pixie dust.
     
  4. luvs2travl

    luvs2travl Dream BIG...Live GRAND

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    So the way we handled it was correct?
     
  5. lanejudy

    lanejudy Moderator Moderator

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    You can certainly ask at Guest Relations about a GAC, but I think the way you handled it was just fine. If the section in which you were sitting is the area with cut-out spots for wheelchairs, they will make anyone (GAC or not) move from such seats if a person with a wheelchair needs it. When crowded, the person with a wheelchair plus 1 other is allowed to sit there, other members of their party are requested to sit behind them or elsewhere. So, you were allowed to sit there because there was nobody requiring those spots. I don't think there is a GAC that will allow a person not using a wheelchair/ECV to occupy those seats if someone else truly needs them. Would your son be able to do 1 step up to the next row?

    I'm glad it worked out for your family!
     
  6. mistysue

    mistysue DIS Veteran

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    People get a GAC for various types of social anxieties and personal space needs... that is not any different from getting a GAC for a legitimate debilitating fear. The fear not being under the cover of some other title does not make it less real or less of a need. I would ask at guest relations how they suggest handling it.
    But if you do end up with a GAC, it probably isn't going to stop a jerk who wants to pick on you from doing so. It is much easier to judge you than to be compassionate.
     
  7. crashbb

    crashbb DIS Veteran

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    I agree - for the OP's son, sitting there is not a preference it is a need, just like someone with social anxiety might have a need for a quieter place to wait. I'd suggest asking Guest Services about a GAC - remember, just because you have a GAC, doesn't mean you need to use it, so don't worry about the fact that you might only use it for one specific situation.
     
  8. Piper

    Piper DIS Veteran

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    Just tell GS that he needs to avoid stairs.
     
  9. stitchlovestink

    stitchlovestink DIS Veteran

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    Exactly!!!
    They aren't allowed to. 'Make you prove a disability' and he has a REAL fear! I would tell GS that he has a fear of heights esp in the area of staircases. If the first CM doesn't 'work' with you, ask for their supervisor.
    Your son is entitled to enjoy this attraction as much as the next person and that isn't an unreasonable accommodation.
    And to the person who said that row is for people is WC/ECVs only...not totally true. There are others allowed there even when its busy (depends on their 'need')...and it comes back to first come, first served... Just like Fantasmic.
    OP, Good Luck!!
     
  10. KPeveler

    KPeveler Moderator Moderator

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    I suggest going to GAC and speaking to Guest Services. There may be other times in Disney where he must walk up or down stairs with open backs in the queues or in the exits. I use a wheelchair, so I can tell you little about the stairs since I am routed around them, but there is a difference between a fear and a phobia.

    Yes, we are expected to have to deal with our fears and phobias all the time, but some of us have accommodations at Disney to help with those fear and phobias all the time.

    There is no reason not to ask Guest Services, and if they do not help, them talk to the CMs at the show. It is amazing what the CMs can do sometimes to make your trip magical.
     
  11. FortForever

    FortForever Disney since Day 1

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    Then they may want to take him up the elevator at the stunt show. With a fear of heights, that would be just as bad.

    I would just be very specific about explaining the problem. I'm sure they will find a way to help you.
     
  12. SueM in MN

    SueM in MN combining the teacups with a roller coaster Moderator

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    My MIL has the same fear; she is OK going up, but can't sit where she will look down or go down stairs or escalators. For Lights, Motors, Action, she sat in the 2nd or third row because she could handle that. She didn't ask a CM - as far as I know, you would only need to ask if you are sitting in the handicapped designated area.

    There is more information about GACs in post 6 of the disABILITIES FAQs thread. You can find it near the top of this board or follow the link in my signature.

    As this poster mentioned, just having it doesn't mean you have to use it.

    The 2 places I can think of that might be an issue with open stairs are Lights, Motors, Action Stunt show and Festival of the Lion King. On both, you enter on ground floor and could sit up one row from the floor without bing in handicapped seating.
    I have not been to Lights, Motors, Action in more than a year, but at that time, not ll of the font row was designated handicapped, just the far left section.

    For both, you may get better meeting of your child's needs just explaining what his issue is, as you already did.
    Even with a GAC, the message on it is not very specific, so, there would still be some explaining. And, having one would not stop situations you encountered with other guests not thinking you should sit there.
     
  13. Earstou

    Earstou <font color=336699>The Tag Fairy sends you pixie d

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    Is it a fear of heights...or is it a balance issue?
    Due to Chiari, I have balance issues, and I rely on my eyes to maintain my balance. Open stairs, because I can see thru them, throw my balance off. Stadium seating does, too.
    My ds also has balance issues, but we don't know why. (His mri showed no Chiari.) He doesn't like heights either. He could not catch a ball when he was younger, due to the balance issue.
    So, perhaps, your son has balance issues? Does he have trouble catching a ball?
     
  14. brymolmom

    brymolmom DIS Veteran

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    I would just get to the show really early next time to get a spot in one of the first few rows. Problem solved.

    Personally I think GAC's are sometimes overused when we can really make our own 'accomodations' for our kids (fastpasses, etc.). If you get there too late and the lower seats are taken....Come back for the next show earlier.
     
  15. bopper

    bopper <font color=green>Which way to the Hundred Acre Wo

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    You could always go to guest services and tell them your story and ask what you should do..they may give you a GAC or they may recommend you get there early and get a low row seat.
     
  16. momofkids

    momofkids Mouseketeer

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    I don't know about this. My whole life has been rearranged around my son's needs. Often we are unable to plan to make our own accommodations because that would interfere with other accommodations we have made. Does everything in life always have to be harder just because we have a child with a disability? Without a GAC we would probably only see 1/3 of the parks that the average, dis person sees. That doesn't seem like overuse to me. I think that if you need a GAC, Disney wants you to use it. Honestly, it isn't that much of an accommodation to begin with. We still have to give up lots of characters and it doesn't shorten waits at restaurants or anything. Why should people feel guilty about using a GAC? It isn't like they planned to be disabled or have a child with a disability.

    People with disabilities work much harder than other people just to tour the park with a GAC. I am not dragging my son back and forth across the park to collect fastpasses or ruining his whole day just to make rope drop. We too use fastpasses when it is reasonable for us to do so, but the point of the GAC is to level the playing field for people with invisible disabilities. We give up a lot of things, and my son has had to adjust to the cruel way the world is the rest of the time. It is nice that Disney offers a way for us to enjoy our vacations like most other vacationers.

    Seriously, I feel more guilt and judgment on the disabilities board than I do anywhere else on the board.
     
  17. lost*in*cyberspace

    lost*in*cyberspace DIS Veteran

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    Pretty much, yes. You just have to learn to deal with it. Life isn't always easy or fair, even for people who appear to have no problems at all.
     
  18. cmwade77

    cmwade77 DIS Veteran

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    I don't think they are, without GACs, many of us would not be able to experience the parks.

    MyMagic+ will help some; however, there are those of us who don't know what our bodies will be up to handling on any given day, so planning attractions in advance is not really an option.

    My point with this is similar with the MyMagic+, the GACs allow us the flexibility to go up to an attraction and get the assistance we need (some attractions, that is a shorter wait, some it is a longer wait, but provides some method for being able to sit, some provide wheelchairs to use in the queue, etc.), but as a general rule, there is no assistance given without a GAC. Yes, there are unique circumstances that some CMs will allow for, as the OP indicates, but this is the exception, not the norm. Additionally, many of us are unable to get up early enough to get there early.

    In the case of Lights Motors Action, the queue is actually extremely difficult for me and I can't walk up all the stairs; however, I can do a few, so if there is a handicap section that is not next to where wheelchairs are at, I can use that. Like the OP, I have a fear of heights (when I was a kid, it was as bad as the OP's son sounds like it is); however, my fear isn't of the height it's self, it's getting up there and back down (again, sounds like the OPs son's issue). This is indeed a very real issue and one that I would DEFINITELY get a GAC for, it can definitely help in this situation.

    Luckily, the fear has diminished over the years; however, now I have knee issues which make stairs extremely difficult (not impossible, but if I have to do a large set of stairs, that is probably the last thing I am doing for that day). Hopefully that provides a bit of hope to the OP that the fear can eventually be overcome, but it was not by being forced to climb heights or anything, it just naturally faded over time. Don't get me wrong, if I do have to use a set of stairs that are open, I still get nervous about it (and not just because of the knee issues); however, the nervousness is at a level where I can manage it and make it up or down the stairs. That being said, I doubt I could manage it at Lights, Motors, Action, even if the knee was not an issue, as that gets really high up and is a lot of stairs.
     
  19. brymolmom

    brymolmom DIS Veteran

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    I hear what you guys are saying about NEEDING GAC's in order to really see anything about the parks...And those with true disabilities I am totally behind doing so.

    The OP questioned the need for it for a single attraction...For a fear of heights (which may or may not be argued to be a 'disability' but I would put most into a category of other 'typical' fears). So I took this to mean that they are able to see everything else they choose to see (likely dont' want to do Splash Mtn for example due to this fear, in the same way that my kids don't want to do TOT because they get freaked out and scared from the movie) - and do at the parks without any accomodations. SO, for this situation (which sounds very different than the others responding here), I definitely think arriving early to get one of the first rows is the right move. Now, if the child had other disabilities or the fears were to the point of not making this possible - then I would say it might be a good idea.

    I'm not saying the responders here use it too much but I'm sure you are aware - it IS used too much. I have an aunt to tries to convince me all the time to get one because my ds has aspergers. We don't NEED any accomodations that I can't handle myself....Getting there at rope drop to make sure we don't get long lines...Using fastpasses efficiently and frequently, going at his pace....preparing him for the order in which we will be seeing parks and doing rides once there...But I think I am likely in the minority and that many, many would choose to get a GAC instead. One area that it would be nice to get an accomodation might be for mealtimes...When he needs food, he QUICKLY can melt down (moreso than our typical kid). So when it is high crowd time, it would be nice to flash a card and get to the front of the CS line...But even if that was possible, I would never do it. We just go to lunch at 10:30 - 11 am, before the lines get too long. It is just common sense and I know my child and that if we wait til noon and the lines are way long - he will not do well, and therefore none of us will be having a happy experience.

    Now if doing all these things for my child, if we truly could not get through the parks and could not get a good experience, THEN I would consider a GAC. I just think many do it the opposite way - get a GAC instead of seeing if they could just do things a touch different and see if things can go smoothly.
     
  20. mistysue

    mistysue DIS Veteran

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    I agree with you that sometimes it is a little much to say just always be early enough to get the best seat, then go even earlier next time if it doesn't work. (on a bad luck day, that could mean waiting 2-3 hours if it doesn't work out the first time)

    I also want to ask you to step back a minute for a little perspective here. Everybody's live is completely rearranged for their children whether or not they have any disability. There are no exceptions there. I have three kids with unusual needs and even though I roll my eyes occasionally, even parents of a single child who is a perfect straight A, never whined or did a thing wrong child have a lot of adjusting to do and rightly feel like it's really difficult.
    Your second paragraph, about dragging your kid around for fastpasses or ruining their day by making them hit rope drop- what would you do if your kid didn't need a GAC? I hope I am just reading it wrong, but it sort of sounds like you are ok with other people needing to plan out, have more difficult hours, ruin their day being dragged around for passes, but since your kid is special you should get out of that. That, from what I can tell, is what makes people feel like GAC's are abused.

    I am not saying you abuse them. I don't know you or your situation so I trust that you don't, but saying that you should just get to fumble about and be where and when you want while others have to do extra work isn't fair and isn't really the intent of something like a GAC. It's not for preferential treatment, it is to level things out. There is give and take, the GAC isn't there to give you a benefit others can't get, it's to supplement your plan when there isn't a way to avoid a problem.
     
  21. Mike Cohen

    Mike Cohen Planning Disney Year Round!

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    While I think you handled it wonderfully, I think that you definitely should ask for the GAC. What if that row filled up while you were sitting there? Without the card, you would have been asked to move. If you're son could not handle that move and, therefore, you couldn't see the show, THAT would be the exact reason Disney offers the cards in the first place - so that everybody, regardless of their needs, can get the most out of the parks.
     

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