An open letter from SueM

SueM in MN

combining the teacups with a roller coaster
Aug 23, 1999
Thank you for all that you do for this board. I stumbled across this board today, as I was researching access issues for my son on a trip we are planning for next June. This board is invaluable and I appreicaite all the unpaid time and effort you put into this board.
thank you
What a nice thing to say from such a new poster
Welcome to our corner of the boards!:yay:


Earning My Ears
Jun 4, 2008
Sue, I'm new to the board but appreciate what you are doing. It must take a lot of your time to scan the messages and add the neccessary information or to bump up an older thread. I'm sorry when people are less than kind or even more those who use your information for their own selfish reasons. Some people are like that and will never change. Please do not let them ruin the good thing you do. Karen

SueM in MN

combining the teacups with a roller coaster
Aug 23, 1999

Even if one guest posts, "I was just at WDW and this is what happened".........
that doesn't mean the same thing will happen to each guest, or even that it would have happened just that way if the poster had gone on that attraction later in the same trip.

CMs have different methods/tools available at each attractions in order to give accommodation. Exactly WHAT tools are used are going to depend on the needs of the person with the GAC, what is available at that attraction and also on things that are not visible to the guest - like how many people with special needs are already waiting, what the general wait time is, the staffing levels, the space available for waiting.
That can mean that same guest can go to the same attraction
on the same day
with the same needs
and the same GAC
and be treated differently on a second ride on that attraction than the first time.

Actually using the Fastpass system as it is set up for guests to use will give consistent results; using a GAC will not.

That is one of the reasons people on this board caution against expectations. When people read "I had a GAC and I did xxxxxxx", they expect the same experience, even if their situation is different or the conditions are different when they go. (There is more information about this on the disABILITIES FAQs thread in the post about GACs).

Most of the regular posters on this board (me included) have been to WDW many times and have seen/experienced the different ways of dealing with the same GAC themselves. That's one of the reasons we are 'cautious' about telling people exactly what to expect - it changes and people often post "I expected xxxxxxx, but yyyyyy happened".
So, we tell people to expect that yyyyyyy (or even zzzzzz) might happen instead of what they expect. That is the point where some guests post, "But, I used a GAC on my trip and xxxxxxxx did happen" and kind of imply that would be/should be what happens every time, since that was what happened to them.
We're just saying that what some people experience and think is the rule is actually the exception, rather than the rule.

As another example, on our last trip in October, lines were short. At Buzz Lightyear, DD entered the regular 'stand-by' line with her wheelchair. The CM at the Fastpass entrance motiioned us to come over and told us to use the Fastpass line, giving us a handwritten Fastpass to give the CM collecting Fastpasses.
We also received the same 'treatment' on some other attractions during that same trip.
If this was our first trip, I may have come back and posted on the DIS Boards that using a wheelchair 'allowed' us to use the Fastpass lines. I would have probably thought that was what was the rule about what was 'supposed' to happen. I would not realize that was the exception rather than the rule.

The report would be the truth as far as reporting our experience, but it would not be the whole truth because there are things that I know as an experienced WDW visitor that someone on a first trip with a guest using a wheelchair would not know/notice.
In these case, both the Fastpass and the regular line were short. Because the regular line has more twists and turns, it would be more difficult for us to get thru it with a wheelchair; not a problem when the line is moving slowly, but actually slows down the line when guests are walking thru quickly. So, in that situation, it's better for the attraction when the CM sent us to use the Fastpass line.
The same thing happens with GACs sometimes. The way the CM chooses to give accomodation may look like an advantage for the person with the GAC, when it's actually to WDW's benefit to handle it that way.
And, in this case (as well as for most shows, even when it's busy) using the Fastpass line did not really get us in more quickly; it just was more convenient for both us and the CMs.

Someone posted recently in a trip report that they used a GAC and were able to use the Fastpass line instead of waiting in 'hour long lines' to see Indiana Jones. The accomodation needed was to be able to sit in front rows of shows because of a vision problem. Because of their needs, there had to be some way to separate that guest's party out from the other guests. The way the CM's did it was to use the Fastpass line so they were in a smaller group and were allowed in before the majority of guests before all the close seats were gone.
They saw using the GAC as an advantage and felt kind of embarrassed using it, but they didn't realize that their initial assessment (that people wait for hours in line for Indiana Jones) was not correct.

The last point I want to make is that a GAC only helps with attractions, and even then maybe not with all attractions. If the park is busy, it's going to be busy all over, not just in lines/attractions. That general 'busyness' in the parks can be even more overwhelming to many people than waiting in lines.
It is a much bigger 'advantage' to know what is busy and when, so that you can go when it's more quiet. With a few exceptions, attractions have slow times when your wait in the regular line is only a few minutes (Soarin' and Toy Story Mania are exceptions because they are popular and fairly new). Going to MK at opening usually means being able to go on most attractions with waits of less than 15 minutes. Going mid day might mean a wait of 45 minutes - 1 hour for some attractions. All parks have situations like this and a good touring plan can minimize or eliminate the need to use a GAC.

Many people like to use or Tour Guide Mike website
You don't need to follow the touring plan exactly, but just knowing where to go and when to go there can help tremendously. This can be especially important in places and ways a GAC can't help - like just getting around between attractions.
  • Cheshire Figment

    <font color=red><marquee behavior=alternate>Friend
    Jan 12, 2001
    I would like to chime in a bit here. This winter I am working at Indiana Jones while Typhoon Lagoon is being rebuilt.

    The theater at Indy has seating for about 1,900 people. There are 24 spaces for wheelchair/ECV seating, 20 at the back of the theater (top row) and 4 in the first row on the extreme (theater) right side. All of these spaces have reserved seating next to them and also in the next-to-top row.

    It is not unusual for people who are in wheelchairs or ECVs tell us they can transfer, and they park inside the entrance to the theater on either side and are escorted to handicap seating.

    Once the 24 wheelchair/ECV space are taken we cannot accept any more wheelchairs into the show unless the people can transfer.

    For people with GACs, we will look at what the GAC has on it and take what action we can. If a person comes in only a few minutes before show time, and we are crowded, even having a GAC may not help if all the seats are taken.

    So, as Sue said, everything depends not only on what is stamped on the GAC but also what is actually available at the time a person wants to go to the ride or show.


    My Prince uses a power wheelchair!
    Jul 4, 2006
    Cheshire Figment and SueM in MN, there is no way I can express how much this forum has helped me. Both of you are a wealth of information that the DIS is extremely lucky to have.

    The first time I went to WDW was Feb. 2006 with my DBF Bill (he has Cerebral Palsy and is in a motorized wheelchair), and my son. This was before I found the DIS, it was a wonderful vacation, but overwhelming, and I wasn't sure what he could or could not do. He had been before and knew a lot of things, but I felt clueless.

    I found the DIS in July of 2006 and it opened up a new world to me. I still read on the disabilities board every day.

    Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and helping us.


    No man stands as tall as when he stoops to help a
    Jan 18, 2005
    I too read the disABILITIES forum each day.

    As Joshua gets older I find the fact many people understand better and often have the same or similar experiences a big comfort.
    No disrespect to the other forums, but sometimes speaking with people who really understand what it is like to have a child with special needs is in itself 'special'.

    Puget Peach

    My name is Puget Peach and I'm a Disneyholic!
    Oct 8, 2007
    Being able to "check things out" made our first trip to Disney posible. My SO uses a power wheelchair (visual clue to disability) and also has mental disabilities (no visual clues). He can transfer for rides but cannot be in crowded spaces for a long period of time or stand/walk more than 20 feet or so. We had visited several "amusement" parks with many extremely stressful experiences, mostly pertaining to poorly trained staff and lack of respect/understanding of the vast differences in manifestations of disabilities:confused3 . I talked him into a Disney trip in 2004 and he read everything he possibly could about how Disney handled various attractions and he promised to try "just one more time" to vacation. Nothing prepared him for the absolutely wonderful vacation we experienced! While we discovered that he might not load an attraction the same way each time (he ADORES Rock 'n Roller Coaster and we have loaded at least four different ways for this attraction), he was able to relax and simply arrive at the que entrance and learned to expect a good experience:yay: . Without fail, a CM would walk out to meet us and respectfully direct us on loading procedures. This was also true of bus drivers, boat captains, restautant personnel, and the list goes on and on. We are currently planning trip #'s 3 and 4 together this year and just may decide a DVC Membership is in our future:rolleyes1 ! If the information offered on these boards seems at times contradictory, that may well be because there may be more than one way a CM may assist you in their own special, magical way. I can't think of a better vacation than one in which all we have to do is show up be taken care of:cloud9: !
  • Tiiiigergirl

    <font color=red>Had to be rolled out of the restau
    Mar 14, 2000

    Over the years I have come back to this forum and I want to add my thanks. In addition to help with Disney related trips, you and others have provided me with invaluable advice on the different disabilities that we have in our family and guidance on how to handle it. You probably don't even know but your information has helped me on at least 3 different occasions out of the "world". For that I also say a huge thanks!

    SueM in MN

    combining the teacups with a roller coaster
    Aug 23, 1999
    Glad we can help. That makes it all worthwhile. :goodvibes :grouphug:


    Feb 1, 2009
    SueM, wonderful post. 100% agreed. I'm an STNA in a nursing home, and those "scenarios" they give us terrify the crap outta me! Makes you realize how good you have it when you walk out the door to go home to your kids. :hug:

    Another thing that caught me eye in your post, about the pregnant mother still not found. I'm assuming by the time frame, you're referring to Jessie Davis, who was murdered by her baby's-father, the cop? If so, we live about 2 miles from where she lived. Some friends and I participated in the search for two days. It was horrible. :sad2: Really makes you appreciate all the little things you didn't seem to notice the day before :grouphug:
  • starnightstarsky2000

    Apr 17, 2007
    Our family is also in your debt for all that you have done for this board. We had been planning our last year Aug trip to the World since Feb and then in June my 8yr DS was diagnosed with Aspergers and we were told "that he shouldn't go to WDW that it would be too much for him" my son was heartbroken as Disney had been "his" thing for two years every since we had gone with my entire family in '07 (which has been nicknamed the Trip from Heck LOL) . My husband and I promised him we would find a way to go that would be safe for him. And then we discovered your board and suddenly not only were we sure that we could go on our trip but the chats and suggestions given by you and others made it such a pleasure that we are going back this Sept and here I am again to find new ideas and plans for this up coming trip. So thank you Sue and BIG :grouphug: to you and all the mods who make this board such a wonderful experience for everyone.


    DIS Veteran
    Mar 5, 2010
    I've said it before and I'll say it again....Thank you Sue for all that you do! Us posters come and go on the boards as we please. I can't imagine the time and energy it takes for you to try to enjoy the boards and be the referee when needed. Thanks a million!


    Visit WDW since '86, driving since '94.
    May 6, 2008
    I need to chime in here too because, truthfully, having the DISabilities board to read has changed our life! Our son with autism is 14 and until I found this board, I didn't think we could ever go on vacation, especially to Disney World. He has always loved everything Disney and the fact that he would never see the place that he has seen on Vacation Planning tapes since he was 2 years old broke my heart.

    Then, my arthritis REALLY took off and that clinched it. I can't walk and he wouldn't be able to handle it.

    Well, finding this board made me realize we COULD do it. We took the family last year in January and it was such a success, totally due to what I learned on here. We've been back 3 times since then, and we're going two more times this year. He LOVES going and always looks forward to going back. He's ready to go the day after we come home :) .

    Having Disney World vacations honestly changed our outlook on life. We all know that having a child with special needs is challenging and at times can be REALLY depressing. But having a Disney vacation to plan and look forward to and seeing the happiness on his face when we are there makes every day a little bit happier :cloud9: for all of us.

    Sue is the anchor that keeps us strong. Thank you Sue. :hug:

    Cheshire Figment is a great source of knowledge, too and I truly appreciate all he does for us here and on the other discussion boards. Someday I hope to see that purple figment scooter in person!!

    SueM in MN

    combining the teacups with a roller coaster
    Aug 23, 1999

    and the posters and stories like this are what keep me strong.

    Thank You all.

    And special thanks to Cheshire Figment.

    wuv tigger

    <font color=red>I just want us to all be well<br><
    Aug 20, 2003
    for keeping the disabilities info up to date with new info on ride & attractions

    for encouraging ALL of us with disabilities to enjoy WDW as best we can

    for giving us a forum to exchange ideas to make our trips the best they can be for our families

    for being a listening "ear" for me as I was swamped with the waves from a speedboat called "seizures" and encouraged me to enjoy my recent trip with my family!

    THANKS Sue for ALL the info you shared to make our family's trip the best it could be with the "new" norm that I am living with for the future.


    Jul 11, 2009
    Just a little thanks from me for modding this board, putting up loads of info, and for giving all the wonderful people who have offered me advice a place to be together where I could find them!

    I never for one minute, when I booked my trip to WDW imagined that I would need this board, but now I have posted my questions, people have been so helpful to me, I am armed with a bunch of suggestions and ideas I would NEVER have thought of without the disABILITIES people. I don't know YET which will work best for US, but, if one doesn't I now have a few back up plans!

    So thank you to everyone who helped me, and thank you to you for modding!


    Earning My Ears
    Mar 26, 2010
    I just wanted to say I am to trusting too, but after going to Disney World, it just reaffirmed it in me. I read months on this board and the other ones too. I was taught if you can't say something nice, then don't.

    I have learned a great deal here and I plan to stay and keep learning. I am on a crafting board too and they are the same way, some people must gripe and stir the pot.

    We will just keep sharing our information with others so that they have a great time, just like we just did.

    Thank you.


    SueM in MN

    combining the teacups with a roller coaster
    Aug 23, 1999
    This was written in response to a thread that was becoming argumentative about what people with disabilities need; I felt it made sense to repeat it here.

    Six Blind Men and An Elephant: A Fable

    A long time ago in India there lived six men who had all been blind since birth; they would compete with each other to see who could tell the tallest story and each always thought that he was correct.

    One day, they fell to arguing. The object of their dispute was the elephant. Now, since each was blind, none had ever seen an elephant. So, to satisfy their minds and settle the dispute, they decided to try to find an elephant.

    Having hired a young guide, they set out early one morning in single file along the forest trail. It was not long before they came to a forest clearing where a huge bull elephant, quite tame, was standing.

    The six blind men became quite excited; at last they would satisfy their minds. Each of the men took turns to investigate the elephant's shape and form. Since all were blind and the elephant was large, none of them could tell what the whole elephant was like. Each came to a different part and felt that part to tell the others what the elephant was like.

    The first man felt the side of the elephant and cried out, 'O my brothers, an elephant is like a great mud wall baked hard in the sun.'

    The second man felt the tusk and said, 'Now, my brothers, I can tell you what shape this elephant is - he is exactly like a spear.'

    The third man felt the tail and shouted, 'Why, dear brothers, you are wrong. This elephant is very much like a rope.'

    The fourth man was at the head and as he moved his hands, he reached the trunk. He said, 'Ha, are you sure you are feeling an elephant. He is not at all the way you describe. This elephant is very much like a snake.'

    The others began to argue that their view was correct.

    The fifth man, who was also at the head of the elephant, reached the ear and said, 'Good gracious, brothers, even a blind man can see what shape the elephant resembles most. Why he's just like a fan or maybe a palm leaf.'

    At last, it was the turn of the sixth old fellow, who was near the leg. As he felt it, he said, 'Brothers, all of you are wrong. This sturdy pillar, feels exactly like the trunk of a large palm tree.'

    Of course, no one believed him, because they had all their own view of the elephant and were sure their view was the correct one.

    Their curiosity satisfied, they all linked hands and followed the guide back to the village. Once there, the six blind men began arguing loud and long. Each now had his own opinion, firmly based on his own experience, of what an elephant is really like. For after all, each had felt the elephant for himself and knew that he was right!
    Although each was right about the part of the elephant HE had felt, none of the blind men had a complete picture of the elephant.
    They continued to argue because none of them would admit that possibly there was a different view of the elephant than they had.

    Like the 6 blind men, each person has their own view of "disability" or what "using a wheelchair" means, based on their experience.
    Some people realize that their view is not the only view and are able to see that some guests might have different needs than they do and what works well for them may not work at all for another guest.

    Like the arguing blind men, some guests see their view as the only view and can't see that someone else may have different needs.

    People do not come here to argue and arguements or telling other posters how they should feel about their disability will not be tolerated.
    This is a support and information board, not a place to argue.


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