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Oh how annoying... I still can't read anything from the Orlando Sentinel. They've blocked all content to those of us over this side of the pond, since we introduced new data regulations back in May. Why they can't solve this, I do not know. We can access nearly everything else.
It sounds interesting though and I agree, it will be fascinating to see how it's all resolved.
It would seem to me that restricting access based upon time is too much a general, catch-all solution for a disabled population in which there are so many variations. However, it would also seem to me that the only solution is to ask for more information from said disabled population, and I am pretty sure that would be a violation of the ADA, right?
As many of you know, I am the mother of a now young adult with autism. My son is high functioning, but he has the same legal protections as anyone else with a qualifying disability, regardless of level of impact. That said, I feel for Disney in this situation. They tried to be generous under the old guest assistance card system, but unscrupulous people took advantage. So, they tightened up; but that has the effect of appearing to punish the disabled. Disney is sort of in a no-win situation.
The DAS system makes our planning much more difficult. I’d love it if it were simpler, but I don’t have an answer that will satisfy the needs of everyone. Even as I typed that, I know it isn’t possible to satisfy everyone’s needs. I’m glad someone else has to determine the best course of action, and I wish them the best.
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I suspect asking for additional details would more likely violate HIPAA, the healthcare privacy law, but may also be prohibited by the ADA as you suggest, Susan.
Not being more familiar with the possible needs of autistic people than what I’ve read in popular books as well as on these boards, I hadn’t considered how inadequate the DAS might be for the severely autistic.
Certainly, for someone who needs to follow a detailed plan sequence, a return time would hardly be helpful.
It has to be incredibly difficult to accommodate those having a condition with such wide-ranging severity. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a Disney policymaker who must revamp the DAS if any of these plaintiffs succeed.
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.” —Winnie-the-Pooh
I too am the mother of an Autistic child and for those in the article that state the old GAC system sent them "to the front of the line" must have had something else up their sleeves. In all the years we used the GAC, we were never sent to the front of the line and there were instances where we actually waited longer than if we had done the standby line (with Lenny using a scooter even then, we couldn't). I for one like the DAS system because I've found that waits in the FP line with them are much more reasonable than there were at times under the GAC and truthfully, when my device is actually working in the parks, I find myself making more extra FP than DAS return times.
I am thankful that Abby is on the mild side but I'm not quite sure how Disney can accommodate those that are so severely disabled without opening themselves up to further lawsuits. They can't ask for proof which means anyone could lie about the severity and if one can lie, then that could lead to abuse again.
Darlene, you point to what I think I was really trying to say in my previous post. There is no ideal solution here. Either people will be inconvenienced, to put it mildly, or people will abuse a lenient system...or both.
You know what I think Disney could do? I think they could further limit the allowed party size on the DAS. I think I’m correct that currently they allow up to 6 people. That’s a lot. What’s wrong with the non-disabled companions being made to understand that they can’t all benefit from DAS access?
I don’t know. Any time I think that Disney could shore up the system, I always think of another way that people could still take advantage of the system.
I also agree that it’s easier to look for additional FP+ than it is to use the DAS. That stems from the fact that you must go to the actual attraction to get the return time, and that is usually pretty inconvenient. I’ve long advocated WDW setting up a system similar to the Disneyland DAS system, where there are locations sprinkled throughout the parks, and you can book the return time for anywhere. That is a real plus and makes it much easier to use the DAS at Disneyland.
That stems from the fact that you must go to the actual attraction to get the return time, and that is usually pretty inconvenient. I’ve long advocated WDW setting up a system similar to the Disneyland DAS system, where there are locations sprinkled throughout the parks, and you can book the return time for anywhere. That is a real plus and makes it much easier to use the DAS at Disneyland.
^^THIS^^ is something I say all the time. I have many opinions of the change from GAC to DAS and how it has negatively affected our trips. Having to take a developmentally delayed child to a ride (for the return time) only to then have to explain they can’t actually go on the ride has led to many MANY meltdowns. That’s one big issue I have. I wouldn’t characterize my sons autism as severe but that doesn’t mean he can “handle” the waits etc. He has a handful of rides that he loves and he wants to ride them over and over. The GAC allowed us to do that. The DAS does not. There have been trips where we’ve ridden Spaceship Earth many many (think 5+) times consecutively.
My personal experience aside whatever the outcome there will always be unhappy people. I think they could tweak the DAS as it hasn’t changed since it’s inception. I always try to provide feedback to WDW whether verbally, email etc as I’m sure and hope others do. I just feel like it’s (DAS) a round peg/square hole situation.
I use DAS for a very different reason but I don't see why they can't have different passes for different accommodations. They could have a pass that allows multiple rides on the same attraction but maybe limit the number of total attractions to keep others from abusing it. There has to be some sort of compromise but if you are really in need then it is worth it.
I wonder why other theme parks can ask for a doctor's note listing not your condition but the accommodations you need but the guest services people at Disney have to be so uncomfortable asking even basic questions. It make me sad. I don't mind sharing what my needs are and can do it in very few sentences but they will often stop me because they are so afraid of getting into trouble. I am offering the information freely!
I know it is tricky trying to please so many people all with different needs but I have never felt like Disney wasn't trying.
Per Sesame's Site: The Special Access Program is designed to allow our guests to enjoy our attractions without waiting in the full queue line if the guest is not able to do so.
Guests wishing to use Special Access must enroll in our Ride Accessibility Program.
Special Access Policy: Special Access provides guests with priority boarding up to six times. Guests may choose if they want to utilize the Special Access to ride six different rides or if they would prefer to ride the same ride multiple times for a total of six rides. Guests can ride the same ride a maximum of two times in a row. For additional rides, guests must exit and reenter the ride queue.
.....there will always be some person, or group of people, [or lawyers that represent them] who feel that the accommodations that are provided to them by the ADA Law, (as written and administered by a private entity ...such as Disney, or a store or a theater ...etc) is not wide reaching enough to provide the 'benefit' that they deem is deserved by them based on a certain disability or affliction. And their feelings may, or may not be justified based on each individual situation. That's a very personal issue, and of course, you cannot deny someone their opinion or feelings about a topic.
.....that being said ....an often overlooked VERY slippery slope is encountered when an effort is made to try to please everyone to the level of service that they think they are due.
.....below is an excerpt of the actual text from the AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT OF 1990. The portion I am providing has to do with public accommodations. I'm unfortunately very familiar with this portion of the law, because I am involved with design and construction of facilities such as restaurants, stores, service stations, etc ....all falling in the category of "public" facilities. I've had many a tedious discussion with town / city officials related to ADA Law with regards to projects I've designed or built.
"Sec. 12182. Prohibition of discrimination by public accommodations
(a) General rule
No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation. (this is the very basic essence of the law ....simply put ...it attempts to put forth the idea that no one with a disability should be discriminated against by prohibiting participation or access)
(1) General prohibition
(i) Denial of participation
It shall be discriminatory to subject an individual or class of individuals on the basis of a disability or disabilities of such individual or class, directly, or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements, to a denial of the opportunity of the individual or class to participate in or benefit from the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of an entity. (this is pretty much a reinforcement of the statement made in Section A (General Rule) …again it’s …in simple terms, telling the public that “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander”. Unfortunately, or, fortunately, particularly for lawyers, the idea of equal, or equal access is a two way street.)
(ii) Participation in unequal benefit
It shall be discriminatory to afford an individual or class of individuals, on the basis of a disability or disabilities of such individual or class, directly, or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements with the opportunity to participate in or benefit from a good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation that is not equal to that afforded to other individuals. (the above section is where the proverbial ‘slippery slope’ begins. It reinforces the idea that “equal = equal” [by introducing the word 'equal' into the text] …..and therefore touches on the idea that if you provide something “better” to one person or group of persons …then it’s not fair (equal) to all parties….whether they be disabled or able-bodied. THIS is where lawyers start to get a stranglehold on the law and twist it to their benefit. And, given how the law was written, and the basic purpose of the law, the lawyers are not entirely wrong)
(iii) Separate benefit
It shall be discriminatory to provide an individual or class of individuals, on the basis of a disability or disabilities of such individual or class, directly, or through contractual, licensing, or other arrangements with a good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation that is different or separate from that provided to other individuals, unless such action is necessary to provide the individual or class of individuals with a good, service, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation, or other opportunity that is as effective as that provided to others. (…here’s the tough part to get around. All the ADA Law really states is that a person or group of persons with a disability must be provided with equal access to a facility. So, with that in mind, if able / non-disabled persons need to wait in a line to access a facility, even for a short amount of time [as with a Fast Pass appointment], then, to give someone, for example “instant access” or a "Faster Pass", then the rights of the non-disabled are perceived to have been infringed upon.)
I'd love to be a fly on the wall in the lawyers offices when they are planning their next move related to this issue.
Our son is severely autistic and we use the DAS and find it works very well for us. One of us always takes our sons MB and goes to the ride to get the DAS return time and the other stays with him. Then we go and do other things until til our time is ready. We have even had lunch and watched a parade before going on the ride. I like that the time to return is any time after the return time and you are not restricted to the hour time frame (?) that the FP gives you. So it is like a open ended FP. I know you can not get another DAS return time until you use that one or cancel that one out but it works very well for us.
I do find that many think the the person the DAS belongs to has to get the return time but that is not the case. They only have to be there for the ride, any one in the party can get the return time. This works great for us. Our son does not have to go to the ride until it is time to get in line.
I think Disney has done what they could to curtail the abuse. The old system was highly abused. They can not please everyone. We have also been offered immediate passes for a ride when we first activate his DAS and that is great. This system does work as best as it can.
I agree with Darlene, I do not know what the families were doing with the old GAC that got them to the "front" of the line. We never were able to. We only were let in the FP line or a alternate entrance to some of the rides. We still had to wait. Now you just wait elsewhere instead of in the queue as long. That is what is great for us. My son's limit is 30 minutes on a good day, usually 20 minutes. So distraction is the key for us.
I will be very interested to see how this lawsuit plays out.