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Old 05-18-2012, 02:24 PM   #1 (permalink)
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No more Guest Assistance Cards (GAC)?

A friend of mine is at WDW right now and texted me that her husband was denied a GAC. She says they stopped issuing them because of people abusing them. A GAC is a vital part of my touring plan because I have a panic disorder. Please tell me this is wrong.
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Old 05-18-2012, 02:52 PM   #2 (permalink)
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My question is WHY was he denied? Did you get the full story? Did they ask for one that is truly not needed? I know whenever we go, they try to tell me we don't need a GAC for Lenny because there are special entrances for ECV's etc, but the minute I say it's for my Autistic daughter, not my scooter riding husband, they change their tune and ask how they can help.
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Old 05-18-2012, 02:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I hope this is not the case. We have a letter from our DD MD about her being autistic. It is too a vital part of our enjoyment. We have less melt downs, and our trip is less stressful. I will post if we have a problem. when we arrive the 27th
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:06 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm not sure why she was asking other than her husband having cancer but he is in good health. I think they may have been hoping to cut down on wait times. I know that isn't what the GAC is used for. Personally I have a panic disorder and need the alternate entrance to be able to enjoy my visits. I'm emailing guest services to see if a doctor's note is needed and also to confirm if one would be available for me. This is a major pain in the behind. Reading the disboards it looks like Disney is cracking down on GAC abuse. Some people are reporting that they are being asked for proof their child is autistic.
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:17 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Some people are reporting that they are being asked for proof their child is autistic.
I don't believe that. I've had a doctor's note with me and they always refuse to look at it so I don't think Disney is suddenly asking for proof. And if I'm not mistaken, because of ADA, they CAN'T ask.

Now I don't want to sound mean as I know Cancer does a number on you (my dad had it, it went to his brain and totally changed him and then he died) but if that's what she said, hubby has cancer and can't wait, I'm not surprised by the refusal. As you said, GAC's aren't meant to skip the lines. We weren't there, we don't know what happened, but I'm not convinced someone at Disney said they've stopped giving them out because of abuse - it just doesn't sound Disney.
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:18 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I don't mean this to sound "mean", but I think they should "crack down" on the GAC cards. The people who truly need them should not have any problems getting a note from their physicians. Yes it is a pain in the patooty, but if that is what you need in order to make your trip work for you, then go to the doctor. The same as if you need a prescription for extended medications if you are going away for three months. I have seen people abuse GAC cards! I know they were abused because I heard them laugh about it afterwards!! If they crack down on the rules and start enforcing them like they should, I think all guests will have a better time in then end! Think about some of the other complaints you have read about here on the boards : Children in thongs (yes bums hanging out!), Giant Tour Groups of unruly teens causing problems, people line jumping... Things work so much better when rules are actually enforced! I honestly don't think Disney will get rid of the GAC card all together, but I can see them putting stricter restrictions on how they are used.
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I personally can't think of any reason why my friend needs a gac. Her husband has cancer but it is a weird kind and he isn't actually sick from it. He works full time. So I don't know what she told them. I just emailed disney my information to see if I would have a problem next time getting one. I need the alternate entrance or I wig out. I'm planning on getting a note from my doctor. If not then we will probably be skipping some rides next time.
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
 
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For my trip in 2008 I took a doctor's not for stairs (I have knee problems) so I could get a GAC (but just for the few rides that have stairs, like Splash MT) and was denied one. The lady told me there weren't enough rides that had stairs to issue me one. It wasn't that big of a deal to me, but I could see that some people really need it like CinderAbby. I walked the stairs for SM, it was painful but I wasn't going to miss the ride. I hope they haven't gotten rid of them all together.
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:47 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I would have no problem taking a doctor's proof of diagnosis for my autistic son. I think that would cut down on abuse, but I am not sure if it is legal. But, like I said, I would gladly bring one!
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Old 05-18-2012, 03:51 PM   #10 (permalink)
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After our experience in 2009....I wrote a letter thanking them for the wonderful experience in guest relations and for giving us a gac. I was contacted by someone who told us our daughter would ALWAYS have a gac and sshe had an official file number assigned. If it were not for the gac...we would not face the stress of disney trips. Because I am a teacher we can only visit at busy times. DD cannot wait in long lines. Period. We would not return to disney without gac...I cannot imagine they would suspend them. However I also agree that maybe they are too easy to get. I try not to talk about it much because I have had friends ask me what they can do to get one. That is abusive. I also have a son with ADD but he does not need a gac. He gets impatient. So what. So do I. We need to deal. Its different with my dd. Her anxiety takes over. She shuts down. We lose her....
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Old 05-18-2012, 04:43 PM   #11 (permalink)
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I know last yr when I needed one for my DS who was 6 and they had just added PDD to his diagnosis, I didn't know what (or how) to ask for a GAC. We were denied. The diagnosis was so new and he was already melting all I could do was cry. Thankfully I was able to distract him enough and "pull him back" we were able to move on after a while. I really don't want the GAC but we might need it so when we go in a few weeks I will ask for one with the hopes of not having to use it. I, too, don't want them abused and feel that if he can manage without special attention it helps him in the long run.
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Old 05-18-2012, 05:32 PM   #12 (permalink)
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When requesting a Guest Assistance Card, it's best to understand what kind of accomodations Disney can give.

They cannot offer "front of the line" access.

They can offer people in a scooter or wheelchair an alternate entrance on rides whose queue cannot accomodate these assistive devices.

For people with anxiety, they can offer an alternate entrance to wait for the turn on the ride.

Disney has never (and is unlikely to ever) required doctor's notes -- the statement I've heard from them has always been "they do not want to ask their Cast Members to learn to decipher medical information. They want them to be trained to understand the guest's needs and respond appropriately with what accomodations might help the guest."

My guess is that the OPs friend did not have a compelling reason for wanting what they wanted. If the husband just wanted front of the line access, then they won't give that. If he required a quiet, restful place to wait his turn, they might have been able to offer a GAC with an "alternative entrance" stamp on it.
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Old 05-18-2012, 05:45 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I certainly hope they don't stop issuing them. That would be tough on my DD. She has arthritis and can certainly walk but too much walking/standing causes swelling and pain. Last year was our 1st trip since her diagnoses and we requested a GAC to use her stroller as a wheelchair so she could sit in it while we were in line. The first day we had her get out of the stroller for most lines thinking she was doing fine. She was in a lot of pain that night so for the rest of the trip she sat in the stroller for most lines and her pain was manageable. As a matter of fact, we parked the stroller at one ride and were going to have her stand in line. A CM saw her stroller tag and very kindly encouraged us to put our DD back in there.
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Old 05-18-2012, 05:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Thanks for the clarification, Caldercup. This topic makes me anxious, because my DS has autism too. We don't need a front of the line pass, but we do sometimes need the alternate entrance. It's been our experience that WDW sometimes allows us access through the FP line. Other times, they've taken us to a quieter spot to wait.

I agree with phoebec. Despite ADA, I would gladly provide proof of DS condition. In fact, I have taken a doctor's statement in the past, and CMs have routinely told me that they don't need to see it.

I am sure there are abusers out there, but we always limit to one ride using the alternate entrance. After that, if DS wants to ride again, we get a FP or use the standby line. It's a shame that WDW is in the position to have to police this sort of thing.

We'll be at WDW in a week. I'll report on our experience with GAC.
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Old 05-18-2012, 05:49 PM   #15 (permalink)
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I will also be following this to find out more. We have had a GAC every trip since our one in 2007 where we did not know about them . At that time only my DD had been diagnosed with AD/HD and I would never have thought to ask about any special accommodations. Both my kids suffer from meltdowns and since that trip my DD has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, anxiety, sensory, and OCD. My DS has since been diagnosed with autism, mood disorder and sensory.

I actually felt very guilty using it at first, I felt like I was the one cheating the system. To the point that if the wait was fairly short, like 20 minutes, I would not use the GAC and would use the regular queues. That was until we did this once and my son went into a full meltdown and hit another child because the child kept bumping him, we had asked the parents to get the child to stop and tried to move my son, but it kept happening. My DH and I had to basket carry him out of the queue line (very difficult as he was hitting, kicking and trying to bite). We found a quiet spot and got him calmed down, but it took nearly an hour before we were able to move on. We found using the GAC that we were able to enjoy the parks with few to no meltdowns and I stopped worrying about what other people think.

That being said, I also think they need to crack down on people abusing the system. I have also had acquaintances ask how they could get one for their kids, who don't have disabilities - I flat out told them since their child doesn't have autism or any other disability, they can't! I don't mind bringing a note from a doctor, but from what I have read the ADA laws prevent Disney from requiring this. I think the change that may end up being made is by making the accommodation less of a "benefit" then what it has been. I know GAC is not a "front of the line" card, and that is not what we are looking to get. But I do know that we often get on some rides much faster then the regular queue line, by either accessing the FP line or some other alternate entrance. I also know we have at times waited the same or longer. I think what will happen eventually to prevent people from getting them to try to get ahead, is to make the person with the GAC wait the same amount of time of the regular queue line but in an alternate area, or with something similar to a FP to return at a certain time.

I do think that Disney wants to help families that need GAC, but I also understand their frustration in dealing with people who don't need them. I have even had families say that we were abusing the system when using ours and it makes me very mad that people abuse something that is designed to help those that truly need it. I would gladly give up the GAC for my kids to be healthy without these everyday challenges and we would gladly stand in the longest line in the park!
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