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Old 08-23-2004, 07:42 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Special Assistance Pass Tips- Information on Guest Assistance Cards

Post your own tips for using the Special Assistance Pass.

Dianne wrote:

Just wanted to offer some tips that I thought might be useful for others. Our son Matt broke his ankle 4 days before we were to leave for Disney. I managed to do a few things at the last minute before we left to help on the trip. I called the Disney Vacation Club where we made the reservations and inquired about the showers. I really wanted to know if there were hand-held showerheads that could come off so he could take a shower. I thought he could sit in the shower with his leg out so the cast wouldn't get wet. The person I spoke with contacted a special disabilities department while I was on hold. She came back on and said that all that the resort had to do was change the shower head and provide us with a stool. However, when the representative I spoke with again put me on hold to contact the resort, she was told that they would not do that. So-we changed our room to a handcapped accessible room which had a shower-no tub-and the wheelchair could be wheeled in. We used a plastic resin chair from the deck instead so the wheelchair would stay dry. The showerhead did come off in this handicapped room.

In mentioning a wheelchair, I called the resort and was given several phone numbers of outside agencies where we could rent a wheelchair. I called one and was told that it would be 8 dollars per day. They asked what time we were going to be arriving and when we would be leaving. The wheelchair was there waiting for us when we arrived and they came and got the chair after we left. I asked for a wheelchair that would fold up, as Matt didn't want to be strapped in or use the lift on the bus-he could put some weight on his cast to enter the bus. This allowed us to lift it up on the bus, using the back door rather than the front. I also requested to have the right leg rest be able to be raised up and down, as his leg needed to be elevated. The wheelchairs at the parks and hotels do not fold up or have leg rests that elevate.

We found out that we needed to get a special disabilities pass to use the handicapped entrance to some of the exhibits and rides. Sometimes cast members asked for it and others did not. The pass can be used at all of the parks and is good for the entire length of your stay. We got our at the Town Hall in MK. It is supposed to allow only 5 members of your party in the handicapped entrance with the disabled person to be fair to others seeing the attraction. However, we saw many families of up to 17 people entering the hanticapped entrance at one time. I might bring along a doctors note if you do not have something obvious, like a cast. Disney seems to be cutting down on people who rent wheelchairs just to get into the handicapped entrances. I don't blame them, when we saw different family members in the wheelchairs each time we saw a particular family. We were shocked at how many people do this. It's amazing at how a few can ruin things for others.

I would also recommend requesting an early check-in if it is difficult for you to stay at the parks for a long period of time. We, unfortunately, were not granted it at one resort, but we were at another. Take alot of rest periods. We went back to the resort to rest in the afternoons and then went back to the parks later in the evening.

I hope that this helps others who find themselves needing last minute assistance. We found everyone to be very helpful and accomodating. Have a wonderful trip!

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Old 08-23-2004, 10:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

If you have multiple issues be sure to get Guest Assistance Card especially if one is very obvious and the other isn't. I use a power wheelchair because of fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis. There is no way I can be walking all day. My legs will go numb on me after standing for 15 to 20 minutes and I risk falling. I am also hard of hearing and usually use reflective captioning or the sign language interpreters. My card indicates that I need RC and that I am able to transfer to a regular seat for this.
While I do not bring a doctors note I am not using a rental ECV but my own personal power wheelchair and I do show them my hearing aids if asked.
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Old 09-11-2004, 10:24 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

Hi I also have osteoarthrithis and degeneration of the spine. I have my own scooter to. I have been to Disney many times before and necer had to show any kind of pass. I do waite in some lines like splash mountain, to a certain point and than they take you in the exit. Is this something new? I will be going to disney in November do you think I should ask for a special pass?
Thank You for the information.
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Old 09-12-2004, 01:03 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

I don't think this is new, but I do think Disney is cutting down on people who abuse it. Couldn't hurt to bring a doctor's note. Even with something as abvious as purple, swollen toes, a cast and a wheelchair (a rented push one mind you-not one from the park) we still were told at one of the rides in tomorrowland that we needed to get a pass.

Dianne
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Old 10-06-2004, 12:51 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

If you have a wheelchair or scooter, you don't need to get a Guest Assistance Card to use the accessible entrance; seeing your wheelchair or scooter tells the cast member you need to use it. The Guest Assistance Cards are basically a way to let cast members know what assistance is needed by people who have invisible disabilities. Some may have a wheelchair or scooter, but also have invisible disabilties (as TalkingHands mentioned).
All of the lines at Animal Kingdom and the Studio are Mainstream lines, which means that the line is wide enough to be wheelchair accessible and doesn't have obstacles, like stairs. This cuts down on people "cheating" when they don't really need a wheelchair. Since, in most cases, wheelchair users are waiting in line with everyone else, there is little incentive to rent a wheelchair unless you actually need one. in fact,sometimes people with wheelchairs actually wait longer because of fire and evacuation rules about how many people with special needs can be on one ride at a time.
Because Magic Kingdom and Epcot are older, some of the lines were not able to be totally wheelchair accessible, so those few rides have a separate wheelchair entrance. As rides have been renovated, new ones added or fastpass added, they have been made accessible, if possible.
For some rides/attractions, the only wheelchair accessible line is the faspass line. People with wheelchair, scooters, canes, crutches, etc will be directed to the Fastpass line for those attractions without having a Guest Assistance Card. This sometimes causes confusion though. Because people went in thru the Fastpass line for some rides, they may try to enter the Fastpass line at rides that have Mainstream Access. When they are told they need a Guest Assistance Card or Fastpass to use <font color="green">that </font> entrance, they assume it means they need a Guest Assistance Card to use the wheelchair accessible entrance.
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Old 12-19-2004, 12:52 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

We just returned from WDW on 12-14. Both of my children have autism. My DS is severley afficted. We took a doctor's note. We had no problems obtaining or using the GAC. All of the cast members were extemely heplful and friendly. If necessary, share the info on the GAC with castmembers in sit down restaurants. The CM's were very helpful with finding out of the way seating for us (my DS can be very disruptful).
The thing with the GAC is to be sure that you absolutely need it so that you are not ashamed to use it. We could not do WDW without it, so I thank heavens that it exists.
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Old 06-26-2005, 05:48 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

i noticed you got angry when you saw different family members using the same chair. I wanted to say that my father and i have to share a chair on our trip. I have a sprained ankle that isnt healing correctly, I can walk but by the end of the day Im limping in pain. My father has diabetes and has bad circulation in his legs and cant walk long distances. so we've decided to share. we plan to bring proof of both ailments just in case. i was worried that ppl might judge me at first but since my conscience is clear I'll try not to think about it.
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Old 07-09-2005, 11:09 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

I never said that I was angry. Both of my children have a non apparent disablility (autism), though my son is flagged as disabled fairly quickly after watching his behavior. I have learned (the VERY hard way) that one should NEVER judge someone else because you have no idea what is going on behind the scenes.
Wheelchairs are expensive and if you can save a few pennies by sharing I think that's Great!!!!!
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Old 03-21-2006, 05:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

<font color="red"> im curious about something. Last year my husband and i went to WDW in October and by the 4th day i couldnt walk, like i woke up and seriously considered just staying in bed. But my husband said that we could always rent a wheelchair for me so that i could still have fun. Since i was still in pain for the rest of the trip, we kept renting the wheelchair, but my mobility returned slightly, so i could walk some of the time. He insisted on keeping the chair, in the event it got worse, which it did everyday until we left. Was i wrong to use the chair, i mean i dont have a doctors note, but i wasnt using it because i wanted to get on the rides faster, i was genuinely in pain. </font> [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/confused.gif[/img] [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/questionicon.gif[/img] [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]
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Old 09-28-2006, 12:28 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

I too had some mobility problems on our most recent trip. I felt bad for needing the chair especially when I found out that the rental place ran out of chairs mid day. But my mother who was also in achair told me not to feel to badley because all I would have to do was show a Dr. my swollen foot soles and they would have probably sent me straight home. If you truley need the chair and can afford to rent one, go for it. Better to be safe than sorry. No one wants to hear of someone who fell at a park because their legs gave out just cuz they were embarased to rent a wheelchair. That's why the parks offer them.

Just my opinion, but I think there are folks out there who feel much the same.
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Old 09-28-2006, 12:58 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

[img]/ubb/images/graemlins/foreheadslap.gif[/img]I would like to share my experiences with the GAC. Before I knew about it, I suffered through WDW vacations &amp; didn't get to do much. Then I discovered GAC &amp; it has made all the difference in the world! On one trip, before I had it, I wasted thousands of dollars going to WDW, buying tickets, with my then 4 year old son. I have chronic Lyme disease, CFS/fibromyalgia &amp; asthma; my son had sensory integration problems. Only because we had free airline tickets from my husband's job, did I think I could do it alone. Well, got there, paid $1400 for weeklong tickets (2001) for Danny &amp; me. Went to MK &amp; everything broke down. I could barely get back to the hotel, had to have my husband come from NH to help us get home, &amp; lost lots of money &amp; even worse, my dignity. Now, even though other people can't "see" my disabilities, I just remember the "disaster" trip &amp; I don't feel funny or like I have to explain to people. (well ok I still feel the need to explain, but I know I shouldn't feel it!) [img]/ubb/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] Best to everyone. Oh, on last trip, they were reluctant to give card to me even with a doctor's note, but I had card from previous visit &amp; that helped. I also know someone who went in April 2005 &amp; were denied but went back a couple days later &amp; got it. Maybe they are getting stricter since more people know about it &amp; are using it, like me? Even if we really need it? Funny how none of the Disney disability info ever mentions such really helpful assistance. It shouldn't just be for those in the know. That's why I like bringing the MD letter, so it distinquishes real disabled folks from those trying to abuse the system.

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Old 11-17-2006, 01:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

Okay, so what sort of information do I have the doctor put in a letter for a GAC? My son is 6 with Asperger's and ADHD, and unless you spend time with him, you won't know it. There is no way he could wait in a line for a long period of time.
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Old 12-01-2006, 04:34 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

The Passporter for Special Needs has a sample doctor letter. I know mine usually says something about what I have, what I can't do, and asking for them to give whatever assistance they could. I have heard WDW staff are unusually well informed on diagnoses like Asperger's, ADHD, autism, etc. Best of luck...it will truly make or break your vacation. Without it, I couldn't do Disney vacations any more!
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Old 12-01-2006, 05:27 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Special Assistance Pass Tips

I would put on the note what your son/daughter's special need is and what would help them cope/see the world.

If waiting in lines is a trigger then by all means use the GAC to maybe have a Cast Member have you wait off to the side while one of your family memebers waits in line. If there is a fast pass system on the ride in question then they may have you use that but may require you to get a fast pass and return later in the day at the time on the fast pass.

I wouldn't think of this pass as a front of the line type thing this is in place to help those whose special need isn't visible and so they don't have to repeat the need over and over again.

For special needs like autism/adhd/aspergrers (sorry i'm not good at spelling) i can understand how difficult it can be for the child and would make sure on the note that you have the dr put on there any triggers they may have, and what would make it easier on them. Quiet place to wait? that sort of thing.
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Old 02-12-2007, 10:42 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Laughaholic View Post
Post your own tips for using the Special Assistance Pass.


We found out that we needed to get a special disabilities pass to use the handicapped entrance to some of the exhibits and rides. Sometimes cast members asked for it and others did not. The pass can be used at all of the parks and is good for the entire length of your stay. We got our at the Town Hall in MK. It is supposed to allow only 5 members of your party in the handicapped entrance with the disabled person to be fair to others seeing the attraction. However, we saw many families of up to 17 people entering the hanticapped entrance at one time. I might bring along a doctors note if you do not have something obvious, like a cast. Disney seems to be cutting down on people who rent wheelchairs just to get into the handicapped entrances. I don't blame them, when we saw different family members in the wheelchairs each time we saw a particular family. We were shocked at how many people do this. It's amazing at how a few can ruin things for others.
I just want to add - that I rent an ECV from an outside company. I have Fibromyalgia and I can not stand for long periods of time and walk for long distances without a lot of pain. But I CAN walk and stand. I try to get a bit of exercise when I feel up to it. Therefore, sometimes, you if you run into us, you may actually see my daughter driving my ECV. Not because we're trying to "abuse the system" but because I am able to walk a little bit.

Just wanted to clear that up, that not everyone doing that is ruining things for all!

I find with disabilities - both seen and unseen that there are things you just NEVER know are going on!
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