Disney Parks: update for families living with autism

Disney Parks

By Lisa Ackerman

In October 2013, Disneyland, Disney World and other Disney parks announced a major change in the Guest Assistance Card (GAC) that was available for individuals living with disabilities including those with autism.  We wrote about the upcoming changes on this blog (1.)

Since these changes, we have reached out to different Disney employees to make suggestions and explain the unique issues that families living with autism experience.  We have also asked TACA families to provide feedback given their new experiences since the changes were implemented.

We have received almost 100 stories from families living with autism since the changeover to the Disability Access Service (DAS) was announced. The overall feedback and DAS card transition has not been positive. Newsweek recently reported on this issue (2.)

I urge all families living with special needs to read the NEW Disney parks new Disability Access Service (DAS) card FAQ** with important information, so that in planning your trip, it will yield the best possible experience for your family (3.)

According to many families, the DAS card in its current form does not meet the needs of all families. I have been making recommendations for what WOULD WORK.

As part of my follow up, I received a call from another Disney executive asking for my thoughts and concerns now that the DAS system has been in place over 30 days. I appreciate the call and dialog to hear about the issues, and understand there are steps being taken to address the varied families’ needs.

It is important to note that this process is fluid and our input is being heard. Future modifications will be made based on ongoing feedback.

Here’s what I have learned during my conversation with the Disney executives and families who have visited the Disney parks since the DAS card rollout:

• Know that the line at City Hall where you can obtain the DAS card is a longer line and hopefully it will become shorter over time.

• Be prepared to communicate your specific needs with the Disney cast member at City Hall. If possible, prepare a list ahead of time. You should be very descriptive regarding your child’s needs and issues.

• Think about itinerary planning: What is the desired plan for your visit at the park? (Include information about desired rides, frequency and total number of rides.)
• Disney personnel understand that having to often repeat and explain unique needs can be very hard for many families. If your family is willing to share information only once, ask the Disney cast member to have this information stored in the park’s database. Hopefully, this will help in receiving similar service support when you visit the park again.

• Disney has shared with me that they will not return to GAC policies. They want to resolve each family’s individual needs. They are also working on new technology solutions in the future.

It has come to my attention that some families need to discuss their children’s special needs without their child present. I would urge them to set up whatever environment is most appropriate to best describe individual needs without upsetting the child. Ask Disney for assistance or a private area to discuss any concerns as needed.

I’d like families (especially with annual passes) to provide feedback on their experiences over the past 30 days. The new DAS is supposed to be based on needs and to prevent fraud.  If you have additional observations about the DAS card, you may share your experiences here, on this blog, or reach out to Disney.  It’s important to communicate your concerns so that any change or new policy regarding this program will hopefully help and not hurt your family.  I will continue to advocate for TACA families.

Voice your opinion by reaching Disney via phone or email:

Guest Information & Ticket Sales

(714) 781-INFO

(714) 781-4636

Hours to Call

• Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

• Saturdays and Sundays: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

• Holiday hours may vary between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Annual Passport Member Services

(714) 781-PASS

(714) 781-7277

Hours to Call

• Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

• Saturdays and Sundays: 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

• Holiday hours may vary between 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Or email: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/help/email/


1) Disney GAC changes https://tacanowblog.com/2013/09/24/changes-at-the-happiest-place-on-earth/

2)Newsweek article http://www.newsweek.com/disney-crackdown-disabled-kids-are-collateral-damage-10959

3) DAS Resources

CALIFORNIA: Disney resources

Overview: https://disneyland.disney.go.com/guest-services/cognitive-disabilities/

**Disability Access Service card FAQ: https://wdpromedia.disney.go.com/media/wdpro-assets/dlr/help/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/Disney-Parks-Disability-Access-Service-Card.pdf

Ride details & planning your itinerary:  https://wdpromedia.disney.go.com/media/wdpro-assets/dlr/help/guest-services/cognitive-disabilities/Disneyland-Resource-Guests-Cognitive-Disabilities.pdf

FLORIDA: Disney World resources

Overview:  https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/guests-with-disabilities/

Disability Access Service card FAQ: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/guest-services/cognitive-disabilities-services/

Ride details & planning your itinerary:  https://wdpromedia.disney.go.com/media/wdpro-assets/help/guest-services/cognitive-disabilities-services/wdw_cognitive_guide.pdf

52 thoughts on “Disney Parks: update for families living with autism

Add yours

  1. The new system works perfect for us! We have been four times since implemented and had no problems. My only request would be more kiosks, since the park is quite big for only four.
    Going back in 8 days, Disneyland is our happy place!

  2. We do not visit Disney often (once every 4 to 5 years). Our last visit in October 2011 was a very magical experience as we used the GAC card. It was difficult for my then 6 year old to stand in line. He does not like to stand still, he flaps, he gets angry, and after standing in line for a while, may decide he is done waiting have a melt down. Being able to forgo the lines helped our family enjoy our vacation. The new DAS system may work for us, but I can’t see it working for other families. The former system was better. I understand that Disney received some bad press over the abuse by some jerks. I believe that fixing the former system is a better solution. Require doctor’s notes and IDs.

  3. I have cancelled my premium annual pass after I spoke to several people at the park. We had stopped coming to Disneyland after an incident 11 years ago where my son had a meltdown in line and people just freaked about it. I saw adults calling my boy names and getting a lot of other families upset. When TACA told me about the DAS system we were thrilled and tried it. It worked so well for my son that we bought annual passes and came 3-4 times a year staying at a Disney hotel and spending money. He even had favorite resturants who served his gluten free dairy free meal with no fuss. Now that is all gone because if we talk about a ride he will meltdown if we have to get pass and come back later. I have now not renewed our premium annual passes. We are just one family but that is probably $20,000 we will not spend at Disney this year and will look for place we can take our son and have him enjoy himself. I am even considering selling my Disney stock which I have owned for 20 years and I really think this will end up affecting their bottom line.

    1. I think the way to go is to stop going to this Place, if they don’t appreciate your business stop going. They’ll get the message eventually.

  4. Ok…what Disney needs to understand is it is overwhelming as it is for both parents and their children just to get everyone to Disneyland. Under the old GAC, you didn’t have to think much…you just got it and used just that all day. Parents don’t want to have to handle multiple cards, and multiple lines with the new system. Their life is stressful enough. So yes, I understand that in addition to the new DAS, we can also get a handful of Attraction Readmission Passes to allow us to visit rides in between the wait for the “fastpass” like DAS. Honestly though, this now is requiring too much thought and additional things to keep track of… It’s already an ordeal just to keep track of our child. It needs to be SIMPLE. We don’t think out in advance which rides we’ll ride. It depends on our child. It’s for her…we go to them at her whim. Under the new system, we can’t accomplish as many rides in the same amount of time. Extending our time in Disney is NOT an option, as it’s more than all the new lines we have to stand in between City Hall, Kiosks, etc….it’s the amount of time in the park as a whole. We use to accomplish 8 or more rides in 3 hours under the old system. Enough time to enjoy the park and leave prior to our daughter having a sensory meltdown. You see she gets overwhelmed as she hears the multiple voices of the people around us as if they are all at the same volume and distance from her ears. 3 hours is tops for her before this gets all too overwhelming. The GAC allowed her to enjoy the rides (she LOVES Mickey Mouse), but be able to leave before all the noises became too much to handle. I’m a native Californian and grew up with Disneyland. It’s sad that I no longer can attempt this park with our children. We buy same day tickets as their passes have too many black out days, so are not able to use those as our oldest is in public school. With the new system only allowing us a few rides in the same amount of time we did 8….it’s just not affordable any more. 😦

  5. My autistic daughter and I are AP’S, this is our second year. We have used the DAS twice now since its introduction, going on slower days is it workable, but work. My daughter has no set ride list and sometimes wants to re ride a ride or two and upon waiting for her return times often changes her mind resulting in us having to get a new ride/ return time. We go between both parks sometimes twice within the day because she has no set plan ,we are there for her to enjoy so it is what it is. She does not understand planning the next ride so the FP system is not an option for us since we go alone and I have no one to get the passes for us and in her mind if you tell her what ride do you want next before riding the first one, it is means for a meltdown. It is more stressful now visiting the park picking the rides based on wait times versus what you may just walk pass and want to ride as in the past. The GAC worked great for us, even though she still had her bad days/moments, the new DAS is good but still needs some work, one thing I do see there is less fraudulent use. CM’s are helpful but it is not consistent, personally I have been helped more by cm’s in the park than the ones in city hall. So changes I would suggest if anyone wanted to know what I thought, make the DAS pass for AP’s last longer than 2 weeks, maybe give time credit for time waited for those that rides broke down or child changed mind due to the wait, say at the next ride chosen. Give an open slot for 3 return time at a time instead of just one, honestly kinda takes all the fun out of it really not being able to be spontaneous. I do appreciate the re ride passes those help for the fast pass rides we cannot utilize the FP system for. Disney has been an amazing experience for me and my daughter, I hope we can continue to go for years to come, it IS her reward and brings great joy to her, she has conquered many fears at the park and we are very proud of her. I just want to see equal access for our kids with cognitive issues, the waiting and crowds and all the things that go along with them can make it difficult and not an equal experience, the GAC help make that possible, access that gives us the ability to have an equal experience.

  6. My family and I are all season pass holders. It is a financial leap for us, but well worth it. We as a family all feel like we have ASD because we bear each others burdens as a unit although only our nine year old carries the diagnosis. The change to the pass has caused us as a family to unite and it is no longer possible for me to take my child(ren) alone. The challenge for us is the wait inbetween being so long. Less ten minutes it is just not enough because once our time arrives we then wait with our sp eddie friends and truth be told this is going to eventually get an innocent person hurt. We however think a few things could help the system… less time on waiting maybe have a cap or a chart and also get better wifi signal so we can use our technology to help us with the wait. Your wifi signal stinks for our ipad! I understand why we would wait a little while, but little while is all relevent (10 mins can feel like an hour when your kid is wigging out, melting down and becoming uncontrolable). I also think we should register our children with special needs showing medical documentation or ieps. Someone with a busted toe and a person with sensory disorder is two separate issues. Real serious issues come with STACKS of paperwork. Weed out the frauds Disney and help up have a reasonable wait!!! Sincerely,
    Kasey Howell

  7. We were annual pass holders for years. I have not renewed our pass due to the new program. I have two kids with autism and they are asking daily to go back. We are in the park for a very limited time (2-3 hours max) due to my son’s sensory issues. He is always trying to avoid parades, characters, bands, etc. Sounds strange that he begs to go back, but he feels the magic and loves his handful of outdoor rides he can enjoy. My daughter will not ride outdoor rides and will only ride the indoor ones. She has very limited language and watches her Disneyland rides on YouTube daily. She lives for Disney. The biggest issue I see for us is only being able to sign up for one ride at a time. We cannot have any type of “waiting” time or my son freaks out and runs out of the park. We plan on going soon and purchasing a one-day pass to try it out and hope we can still experience the magic. It’s going to be a challenge but I will do what I have to on my end to have my kids not have meltdowns due to the change.

  8. As a parent of tween with autism and 3 older children (ages 25, 21, and 13), I am very familiar with Disneyland, and I have serious concerns over these new policies and the impacts on our youngest children with autism and our most severe friends with neurological issues.

    My biggest fear is that once young families of autism try this system and have a bad experience they will never try again (at any amusement park or such environment). To me as a parent of a child with autism age 12, that is NOT EXCEPTABLE. Our kids with autism are all unique and different, but we have learned over the years that they NEED PRACTICE to be successful, and especially practice being successful.
    As a Talk About Curing Autism Mentor I meet a lot of families, one of the reoccurring things I hear from new parents is, “We could never do that or even we would never do …”
    Amusement park
    Eat out
    Hair Cuts
    A movie
    Birthday Parties
    Travel via planes, buses, trains, boats, etc.
    Local sporting events
    Events at your own home
    and so many more

    As person who likes to think of themselves as a problem solver. I listen to all their concerns and then try to help them work through that fear and anxiety, not just the fear and anxiety of the person with autism, but that of the parent, and trust me we parents have a lot of that.
    Unfortunately not all families find TACA, not all families have a mentor and not all families have a problem solver. All they have is HOME, their supposedly safe haven.

    HOME should not be the only place our kids feel safe, home should not be the only place they get to see on weekends, holidays, and vacations.

    There are always going to be cheaters in life, but in a world of 1 in 50 children age 6 and up with autism and countless more families with anxiety and other developmental disorders, and I refuse to believe we as a community are to sit home and let the cheaters win. I also refuse to believe that Disney CAN’T or WON’T find a better way for our families.
    Personally I know Disney has pulled the HIPPA card for why they can’t ask for verification, but I am not sure Disney falls under HIPPA. I am of the mind, that those who really want to accommodations that we will have no problem providing the information Disney needs to help our kids succeed.

    The question is how do we move from this system that is not working, to a system more comparable to the old system while discouraging fraud. In the news, it is fraud from people in our communities that is getting news, but I have heard from multiple sources that there is also fraud from within Disney and employees were selling Guest Assistance Cards.
    Bottom line, not families are going to try anything that is a failure more than once, let alone something as big as an amusement park. This not only is unfair to the child with the disability, but to their siblings. Our autism siblings give up a lot because of the disability they did not get, they also get to give up most of normal. By Disney taking away the GAC it’s one more kick at what very little of NORMAL our families get to enjoy.

    I seriously hope that Disney keeps working on this new policy and finds a better middle ground.

  9. I have an 11 year old son with ASD who loved going to Disneyland until the GAC was changed. We never attempted amusement parks before because meltdowns were always imminent. So when we found out about the GAC at Disney we were hopeful. It turns out that it opened up a new world for my son! He couldn’t wait to go to Disneyland! But now with the changes he begins to get frustrated by just mentioning waiting our turn. My son gets very irritated if he had to stand too close to anyone for too long and is very sensitive to noise . We have a 3 hour max visit time before the outside stimulation of the park becomes too much for him so with the old pass he could ride his favorite ride more than once ( for some strange reason star tours calms him) but now it is impossible to try to get him to understand that he had to wait sometimes an hour to ride again! The frustration for my child is not worth getting Annual passed anymore with the new system . We don’t enjoy our visits like we use to so unfortunately we won’t be back to Disneyland .

  10. My family of four are annual pass holders and up until this change we’re going about monthly to Magic Kingdom. My son is 7 and have very low functioning Autism and ADHD so waiting for very long is not an option for us. We don’t go with any ride plans we go with how flow and ride as he feels up to a ride. We had actually put off Soarin for years because of the wait and even with the GAC we waited for at least 30 minutes, which was not a fun experience between the yelling, flapping, jumping up and down, and the anger we decided that wasn’t gonna happen again. So since the change we have not even been back to give it a try. I have not heard enough positive feed back to drive 21/2 hours to have people stare and make rude comments about my unruly child. So maybe first of the year we will give it a try but if it doesn’t turn out ok then we will no longer be keeping our passes. I know myself as a parent I would not have a problem with showing medical documentation if it meant that we could use a system similar to the old GAC. (Which never granted us instant access, we always had a little wait 10 min or less).

  11. We love Disney and went in 2008 and 2009 before we had our child with autism. On those trips my children were around 6 and 3 years old. We spent a minimum of 4 days there each vacation and spent on average 12 hours a day doing character meals and special events. Sure my 3 year old had some meltdowns after a long day but those meltdowns don’t compare to the meltdowns of an autistic child. In 2010 we had our child with autism. His first trip to Disney was just last week. Paying for airfare, hotel and admission tickets to Disney for 5 drained our savings account but we always had such great memories there so it was worth it for us. My son has PDD-NOS and on his good days most people aren’t aware he has autism. Unfortunately our first day at Magic Kingdom was not one of his good days. He screamed most of the day, was a nightmare to control on the monorail from the TTC to the Magic Kingdom(he didn’t understand the multiple stops) and continued this behavior in the long guest services line. My husband and I thought if we can just make it through this line and get the pass, our day will be easier. When we finally got to the front where it was obvious my son was having issues, she asked me what accomodations we needed. I was so frazzled at that point. It’s hard to have a conversation when your child is screaming and running all over the place. Anyway she proceeded to issue the pass no problem. We went to use it to see Mickey where the wait was 30 minutes and the cast member there told us it really wouldn’t do us any good. We didn’t understand what he meant so we didn’t use it. My son was continually trying to run away and it wasn’t a pleasant experience for us at all. He also really wanted to see Woody and Buzz at Hollywood Studios where the wait was 40 or so minutes. There is just no way we could’ve done it so Mickey was the only character he met. My older son has also since been diagnosed with epilepsy where excitement and tiredness cause seizures. He had several on our vacation but I never got him a pass because I wasn’t sure that was an acceptable reason for a pass. Anyway our first day at Magic Kingdom was a nightmare, we barely made it 6 hours and most of it was a very stressful experience. This after spending around 500 for admission. We didn’t get to see most of the park. I think the hard part is not only does the person with the pass need quick access, but it would be nice if the other family members could also access rides in a timely fashion because with special needs children you only have a limited time frame to be in the park. For our family we arrived a few hours after park opening and all the fast passes were gone for any popular rides. My older son had been dreaming of fighting Darth Vader which was also filled by the time we got there. Really disappointing. I’m just on the fence, I’m not sure it really is Disney’s responsibility to make these accomodations for my family but I’m really not in a hurry to go back. We had 4 day passes and my husband and son did not even end up going the last day because it was so stressful.

  12. My kids love Disney but without the GAC pass, we won’t ever go back. We used to live in Orlando and typically go back annually where we always hit at least one park. The changes from the GAC pass to the Fast Pass is unacceptable to us and we won’t be back until and unless they change it back. We’ve used Fast Pass at a few places and it doesn’t work for us. It makes the parks inaccessible to my son, especially. I have zero problem sending or bringing medical records or a doctor’s note or whatever they’d like to get the pass – maybe even if we submitted it through one place online and then the kids would get a lifetime Disney ID card or something, that would be fine, but unless the free GAC is reinstated, we won’t go back.

  13. Lisa, we have annual passes and have had them for over 12 years. I find the comment from Disney that this pass is intended to reduce fraud. In my option those who lied about their need for the pass will continue to do so. The new pass only adds a picture and the constant check in to the process. This new process makes the obtaining of the pass more drawn out and painful. I am one who prefers not to discuss my child’s issues in detail out of respect for him. When he and I go this forces me to rehash each of his problems or issues right in front of him every time rather than allowing me to obtain a pass in his presence valid for up to three months. For the amount we pay for passes disney should be able to have technology that works with my sons pass so I don’t have to wait in line for an hour and then rehash his need each time we go. We only go to the park for three hours or so at a time. The fraud will always be there regardless of their system.

  14. We are reversing my son’s Autism, and he is finally at a point where my husband and I have been saying we think we could handle taking him to Disneyland. We were aware that there was this pass which would allow us not not have to stand in lines forever, so we figured a trip to Disneyland could be do-able.

    But now that I hear about this new pass, it will definitely not work for my kiddo. So now we’re back to square 1: don’t go to Disneyland. Which is a real bummer, because I’d love for him to go before he’s too old. (Not that someone can be too old for Disney. But there’s some magic to going when you are a child.)

    My son’s main problems regarding a trip to an amusement park are:
    – no patience for waiting in line
    – low tolerance for a lot of walking (so walking to and from a kiosk to get passes, and then having to wait to use them, is just not feasible)
    – planning ahead (like someone above me commented – if we say we’re doing a ride, we need to do it right then – we can’t do other rides and then come back and do that ride we were talking about)

    Also, I tend to go places with my kiddo alone (without my husband). So if I were without a second adult, it would definitely be not feasible to go to kiosks to grab passes. It seems like you need a runner (another adult in your group). And that’s not something I often have.

    We’ve done Legoland, and it’s do-able. It’s a small park, and we can go on days that aren’t so crowded. But even there we can’t wait in long lines (45 minutes). Especially with the heat – my son is very heat-sensitive, so waiting in a line in the heat is a definite no-go.

    I’m really bummed about this new change in passes. I understand WHY. But I wish that a better solution could be done.

    Oh, and I also have to add that my son flips out if we talk about him in front of him (within earshot). So IF I ever go to Disney and hope to get some sort of pass, I’d need to do it either on the phone/online before our trip, or I’d have to do it separate from him somehow. I can’t just tell someone “See my kid. He has Autism.” because he would flip out knowing that I was talking about him.

  15. So on top of making sure you have all the food packed for your kids special dietary needs, and their medications, now you have to stand in a longer line and EXPLAIN to strangers all of the painful/embarrassing things wrong with your child and hope and they will in turn decide if you get a special card with a complex ineffective procedure outlined that will further complicate your day? Sounds…nightmarish.

    Thanks, DIsney for making parents of disabled children feel even worse about their situation and more ostracized than ever (didn’t think that was possible).

    For the record, I’m the parent of two children who was planning a family trip in March. Not going now. That’s a few thousand dollars I think can be put to better use (and on something that isn’t going to trigger my son to have a completely horrific time).

  16. We had hoped to visit Disney next year. We have two boys on the spectrum. One is sensory seeking (loves rides) and the other is quite frightened of the noise, waiting, too much movement, etc. So, it would be quite a challenge to go, without all the waiting, signing up for rides, etc. They’re 7 and 10. With this new change, I just don’t think it would work. I feel overwhelmed just contemplating the trip, so it’s one less family for Disney to conisder.

  17. This new system will make it next to impossible for my daughter and I to have a wonderful experience since we can’t be at the park more than maybe 5/6 hours. She does have ASD and we do have to protect her from meltdowns, which will happen when she can’t get on the ride she wants within20 minutes of announcing it’s the one she wants. She also is FTT and is worn down REALLY fast and easily. I have fibromyalgia, arthritis, and kidney issues. Because of the first two, I can’t walk or stand for too long, but because of the last, I can’t be in a wheelchair or I get severe and dangerous swelling in my legs and feet. I can’t push my daughter in a wheelchair, either, and think it would be horrible to be told to do so as many have been told so far. She doesn’t need a chair; she needs to be able to get on and off rides quickly before she wears down and has a huge meltdown. We ask for help to get on as many rides as we can in 5 or 6 short hours; can they not see that the GAC was the perfect way for a family like mine? Even the extra FPs they give out are limited in number and I don’t want to hike to kiosks, back to rides, AND to GR to get a couple more FPs. It is frustrating and I have shed a lot of tears. I planned our first-ever holiday trip before I knew they were doing away with the GAC or I would NEVER have booked next week’s trip. I am dreading it, and I should not dread Disneyland…

    1. Danielle, I will be ANXIOUS to hear current feedback on a new experience with DAS. I hope the tools provided in this blog help. Please write back after you experience has occurred.
      Thank you, Lisa

  18. Why can’t Disney develop a questionnaire, used by castmembers, with some yes/no questions to assess need instead of making parents plead their case? Then put a protocol in place based on those answers. I believe this would have a positive impact on the inconsistencies that have been reported. Example: “Would the DAS cardholder have an adverse reaction to being denied entrance to an attraction line after indicating a desire to ride?” If the answer is yes, issue a DAS and an additional 4 – 6 fastpasses. “Would the DAS cardholder have an adverse reaction if they are not allowed to ride an attraction more than once in a row?” If the answer is yes, issue a DAS and re-admittance passes. This would be more efficient (for both Disney and guests) and less upsetting to families. Also, I think the 10 minute admittance rule should be expanded to at least 20 minutes. I have been to Walt Disney World 15 times and rarely ever see a 10 minute wait time.

  19. My suggestions directly to Disney include:

    Change the name of the pass. I have a problem with the work DISABILITY right above my son’s picture.

    Set up a phone line similar to the reservation lines for other things such as dining and resorts. Staff those lines with QUALIFIED medical, mental health or educational professionals who can do the vetting for the pass prior to arrival at the park. That will reduce the wait at City Hall and provide privacy so we aren’t discussing our issues in front of our children and a room full of strangers.

    Reduce the wait time by 30 minutes because it will take 10 minutes to obtain the time and then we have to wait 10-30 minutes in the Fast Pass lane with our kids. Otherwise, the disabled guests are waiting LONGER than non-disabled guests. Would it be awful to cut the wait time in half especially for the extra long wait times?

    Allow us to schedule multiple rides at a time.

    Allow us to schedule and manage the times via the Magic Mobile app so we don’t have to walk our kids up to the ride they want to ride only to tell them they have to come back in an hour. Many of us are single parents and can’t have someone wait with our kid while we run around the park gathering times. Disney is exhausting enough without adding MORE walking to our day.

    Include sensitivity training for cast members who appear to be treating all of us as scammers now.

    Have quiet areas where we can wait. What would be an extra Disneyish step would be to occasionally have characters appear in these segregated areas to help distract the kids from the long wait. (Probably too much to ask but would be awesome if they could do that). 🙂

  20. Have 2 children with special needs the new program will not work and has caused us to cancel our holiday trip this year. Although one of our son’s would be able to tolerate the new program easily, one of our children has very severe autism and cognitive delays. He is non verbal, a runner, and a meltdown can turn very aggressive. The fact that he has no language makes knowing what he wants to ride and choose it ahead of time would be next to impossible, let alone leaving to return later. Navigating the park with him was already difficult and now crossing back and forth and chasing him would be a nightmare. When I tried to call Disney to gather more information we are told to just come in an try it. We live about 10 hours away and spend thousands to stay on property for our twice a year trip. I can not reason spending so much money to not have my son’s needs accommodated. Disney will tell you that other theme parks are doing the same but we visit Disney and spend THOUSANDS for magic. Now they are no better than any other theme park so we will find another place to vacation. Disney holiday trip cancelled.

    1. Makes you wonder if they just did this to get rid of all of us because other guests don’t like our kids there. I think this is a violation of the ADA Act which they accommodated before but now have made it inaccessable.

      1. I hate to admit it, but I was thinking the same thing, Barbara. I can’t ever and will never go back to Disneyland, which is sad because it was one of the my favorite places ever being a long time Southern California resident. First, it was the ridiculous price hike and now this.There is no way that my 7-year-old child can wait in a line over five minutes without having a meltdown and stemming. I refuse to subject him to this and have other guests point and laugh at him and call him names which will just make me lose it. The GAC pass was PERFECT and we had a wonderful visit when we used it last year. It is clear that Disney does not want to or care to understand autism. Disneyland should be a wonderful experience for ALL families and it’s clear that Disney only wants to cater to some. I don’t want special treatment for my son. I never have had a sense of entitlement and won’t start now. I just ask for a reasonable accommodation. I would have even been willing to bring a note from my son’s doctor to prove I was not “scamming” them. Oh well.

  21. We have been going to Disney and using the GAS pass for several years for my son with autism. We kept the annual pass because we could go to Disneyland on the the old GAS pass system and we could go on a few rides before the stimulation became too much and leave before we hit meltdown mode. The experience since has been awful and we will be calling Disneyland to cancel our passes. We have given the new system a try 3 times. The first time with the new system, standing in line to get a time, being questioned and then not going to the ride right after caused a meltdown so severe we had to leave before our child could even go on a ride. The second time he was so anxious through the process again that by the time he got on the ride he was in such a manic state the ride operator had to delay the ride after we were belted in so that we could get off. My child was so hysterical at this point that he could have been a potential danger on the ride. The third time we left after one ride because my child could not handle repeating the process for a second ride.
    I get that people abuse but put measures in place to decrease it and don’t punish those who need this accommodation. We can provide anything they need, IEP, doctor’s notes with proof of diagnosis…whatever it takes. There will always be those slimy bottom feeders who take advantage of any situation they can but the system put in place to prevent that has unfairly penalized those who can not have that magical experience without it. We planned a trip to DisneyWorld this summer, obviously that will have to be cancelled now. So disappointed in Disney.

  22. I grew up in Florida so Disney was a big part of my life. We live now in Colorado, but I would love to be able to take my son with HF ASD to the park and share the experience without complete sensory overload. So here are a few of my suggestions:

    Ability to set up passes and provide medical information prior to the trip. Set it up like a Disney passport with passport style photo and the ability to upload any required medical information. If needed a doctor’s note could be provided this way prior to the trip to rule out “scammers” and list of accommodations could be provided. Make the Disney passport good for one year before information and recertification would need to be resubmitted.

    I like the suggestion up above on managing the fast passes via an app, you could limit the number of rides available to schedule on this to the number a “normal” family could reasonably be expected to go on during a day’s trip.

    Quiet areas to wait for rides.

    Ability to buy half day passes for those with sensory overload. You could schedule them for early morning period which is typically one of the less busy time periods and limit them to off season. Spending hundreds of dollars for a few hours is kind of a bummer.

    Mouse hat shaped noise cancelling ear phones available for purchase for the parades and general noise in the park would be aces.

  23. We are not currently not Disney pass holders (we have been in the past), but had planned on going next month prior to the change. At this time, I have told the kids (we are a family of 5 total) that our Disneyland trip will be put on hold. It would cost us well over $600 to “try” the new system, and based on all the reviews I’ve read I don’t want to risk it. My daughter is 19, with several different issues. She can appear quite “typical” to some, therefore, just thinking about having to argue her case with someone after spending $600 for a day of fun stresses me out. I can think of better ways to spend our money. The kids that appear typical are sometimes the hardest, and that is a difficult concept to most. Disney suggests that we plan out our day. Unfortunately, I wish I could “plan” every day, but it just isn’t possible. When we have gone to Disneyland in the past, I let each child pick what they want to do next. There have been times when we walk in one direction, heading toward the ride my special needs daughter wants, and the next thing you know she sees something else, and there is no changing her mind. Yes, that can be typical of a toddler, but based on experience, it’s easier to reason with a toddler. It can be difficult to reason with a 19 year old whose thought process is that of a toddler. My family put forth 300% at enjoying our time at Disneyland; even with the GAC pass that was sometimes difficult but we did it. We will be waiting before we try the new system because it could be a very expensive day that doesn’t work.

  24. We were also annual pass holders ( all 7 of us with premium passes because weekends and holidays were primarily the times we could get together and meet at Disneyland- more about prime time later) The past year has been a lovely time for sharing family experiences and the DAC went a long way in facilitating our son Ben’s ability to tolerate a longer day, new experiences, being around crowds and accepting a flexible schedule. When the Cars ride at California Adventure trialed this “new” approach to disability access it was problematic for Ben because he had to be present when we picked up the return time pass and the kiosk was right in front of the ride. At this point, he may cognitively be able to process the experience, but his impulse control is still immature and it’s hurtful to have something so disirable right in front of him and yet not accessible.

    So it was with a great deal of trepidation that we attended the Park on Epilepsy Awareness. Day earlier this month. Ben is significantly impacted by a number of complex neurological conditions including both seizures and autism. Explaining how this impacts him at an amusement park was very difficult for me when I was asked – I felt like there were some “magic words” they were waiting to hear and that if I didn’t answer properly with just the right language, I would fail him. And our family. It was a very uncomfortable position to be placed in and I expressed that to the cast member at City Hall. He was very sympathetic – but seemed to be forced to repeat his question in a very rote way. He was clearly as uncomfortable as I was. Although it is fairly easy to observe that Ben is significantly disabled, he is perfectly aware of the content of conversations and I felt like I had to do a very delicate dance between sugar coating his actual needs and painting an uncomfortably bleak picture of his level of functioning and capabilities.

    In the end, because it was a very slow day – mid-week in the Fall- we were give just the basic “passport” with Ben’s photo and sent off to get our first ride time. For the most part, given our familiarity with the park layout, the location of Ben’s favorite rides and the rented wheelchair our day was not too bad. Wait times were not much more than the time it took to get from the kiosk to the ride- add to that the time in the fast-pass line. We did have to wait a while at the kiosks a few times while cast members chatted with other guests about attractions and wait times, gave directions, etc. Overall the kiosk system worked ok on a slow day. I cannot imagine how it will work when there are large crowds of people milling around and when the waits for the rides are longer. I don’t know what we would do while we wait; shops and stores are not an option, parades or shows are simply too loud and crowded , require more walking across the park, and eating a Disneyland is doable, but needs careful planning- due to food restrictions we can’t just take a break and have a snack.

    The most negative experience that we did have on that day was cast members who scolded us for getting an attraction on the card, when apparently we didn’t need to because we had a wheelchair. Their attitude that we were in the wrong for “allowing” the person at the kiosk to put their ride on the form when they could have put something else on it was mean and insulting. It’s is certainly NOT the guests responsibility to fully understand the new program, when clearly not every cast member does either. The same person told us we could cross that attraction off the card ourselves and that he wouldn’t do it- strange and seems to be inviting new fraud. In fact, it seems like the system would be fairly easy to game since the ride times are written on the cards with out any special stamps or identifying info.

    The reality is there will be no fraud-proof system. Bad people will still try to take advantage. Teenagers will fake injuries and rent wheelchairs, etc. Ironically people with genuine disabilities are used to and ok with providing proof of diagnosis or disability; it’s not illegal to ask. When we purchase thenSan Diego Zoo pass for Ben and request their special needs accommodations we provide a letter from a medical provider. My recommendation, at least for annual pass holders, is that we be given the option of voluntarily proving whatever documentation might be needed to establish a long-term disability pass with specific access customized to the individual needs of the person. Respect our commitment to Disney by making a commitment to our families as well. At this point, too many of us are feeling like we are not wanted and that Disney is happy to see us go- regardless of our previous status as pass holders, hotel visitors, merchandise buyers, etc. It feels ugly at this point, because the sense that we get it, let them go- good riddance. Please show us that’s not the case.

    The Cary, Seitman, Aghassi families.

  25. I don’t see how the new system cuts down on the “rampant abuse” Disney claims it was experiencing. Is it because the new system is so onerous that no one would bother? That’s exactly why it’s not accommodating. I’m not angry so much as seriously bummed out. Disney was the one place that we could go as a family and actually all 5 of us stay together (how many autism families are used to dividing the family?) and have a normal-ish, fun time. Yes, they did go above and beyond what is required or expected. There is a reason we did not go to other amusement parks- we simply could not! It was nice to have one place in this universe where I didn’t have to plan for 50 contingencies and worry worry worry and we could just be and have a good time. So that’s why I’m bummed. We’ve been enough times (about one week per year) that I understand about the new system and know it would have made all our previous Disney trips impossible.
    When we went to DCA park in April I got a taste of this new system because when we showed up at the Cars ride with our GAC, they said to proceed over to the fastpass kiosk and the person with the clipboard will provide you with a return time. My son was VERY confused and upset when we were walking away from the Cars ride. I tried telling him that we would “come back later” but really you just cannot explain those words to someone who has a language disorder and no concept of time or words like “later”. He certainly doesn’t understand minutes or hours. Not to degrade my son but this would be like saying “we’ll come back later” to a 6 month old- they wouldn’t get it. But he’s in an 8 year old body. Fortunately we were able to pull it together. And since it was only the Cars ride on that system, we could use our hour to go ride a different ride and use the GAC!
    Like others have mentioned, I would have no problems providing documentation of my son’s special needs. I agree with the other commenter who said to make it “SIMPLE”. I think the idea of putting a photo of the card of the person needing assistance is a good idea. My other suggestion is to make it consistent. I understand the desire to meet everyone’s unique needs but the risk of this is cast members taking liberties to do what they feel is accommodating. I have already run into that in the past with the old system. Particularly at town hall. Some times that we went, the cast member was over-the-top helpful in offering accommodations for my son (he is also in a special needs stroller) and other times I felt like the cast member wanted us to “prove it” that my severely disabled child needed the assistance. This is really humiliating for everyone involved. You cannot over-accommodate a person in this situation.
    On a personal note, I’m very grateful for the memories we were able to make at Disney. It saddens me to think that other families with young kids with disabilities won’t be able to have those same experiences. Our lives are not easy. When my son was 4,5,6 years old there is NO WAY that we would have been able to do a vacation other than Disney with the GAC. I have two typical kids too- to think of the sacrifices they have made every day and still to this day- it brings me to tears. I am glad we were able to have that week every year where we could have a little magic. I don’t know if we’ll go back this year.

  26. I’m not sure how many of you read Disney’s “suggestions” at how to make it a good experience. I was so irate after reading it (ie their telling me try practice standing in lines, have headphones to try and help with the noise or to bring a toy or device to distract) that I sent Disney this response. I will NEVER visit them, which is sad since my 8 year old autistic son keeps asking to go. Below is my response to them sent via their comment section.

    Can I just say WOW. I just read your new disability pass/card information and am completely astounded. Your company, who is supposed to be the leaders in making everyone happy has just completely set a new all time low. Seriously you are going to tell me how to prepare my child for waits in lines, sensory toys, headphones, etc. HOW DARE YOU!! Do you even have any idea of what it is like to have a autistic, sensory issued, ADD child. You are seriously going to sit there and tell me how to handle him. If I could curse at you all I would. I am shocked at your complete lack of knowledge and care for not only the child/person with the disability but with your audacity to think that you know how to “control” it and teach the family how they should prepare or handle the child while at the park. I am so unbelievable upset right now that I am literally crying as I type this.

    Wow I never thought to try and teach my child how to stand in line or that I needed to try this before going, or that we needed to bring something to distract him while waiting in line and that its a part of the disney experience. Part of why so many families of special needs children wanted to bring them to disney (other than these kids love disney) is that you used to understand that lines can’t be taken by these kids, having others standing in close proximity to autistic/sensory children can literally be painful, that special needs have to be considered in order to provide a experience that could be enjoyed by all. But no you have taken that away and basically stated, come back when the line isn’t that bad. Oh yeah you still need to wait in a line that will more than likely freak your child out causing them undo stress not to mention the family undo stress and the looks, under breath comments, and general rude behavior from others we get on a daily basis.

    Disney is supposed to be the one place to can bring these children to try and let them experience what other normal children can. I would rather have a child that could stand in like for 2/4 hours to experience a ride any day than a child with autism. But I was given a autistic son who is amazing and I wouldn’t trade for the world. He is a joyful, sweet and smart child who can’t wait in a line, can’t stop himself for making loud yelling noises and can’t deal with large crowds

    My son is OBSESSED with DISNEY, he has every movie and keeps talking about going to Disney. He want’s to go so badly, and we were planning our first trip for this summer along with both sides of the family. Now because of your new careless disability protocol we can’t go. I’m not alone is saying my family will never go there, you have made it clear you think we are unfit to take our children there. That you know better than we do as to how to handle them and that you truly are there to just get as much money as possible. Happiest Place on Earth, I think not.

    1. I actually received a phone call from Disney customer service this weekend. I called back and spoke to the woman for around 30 minutes and they really just don’t understand the frustration. The woman I spoke with stated they had gone to a few autism groups for assistance and when she named some they all had stated the issues with the new program on their website. When I explained this to customer service she said they spoke to these groups but might not have done what they suggested. Really so what was the point. Either way when she explained to me the system (which I had already read) I explained that it just wouldn’t work for my family. Especially since we would be coming from the midwest, spending thousands of dollars to see if their new problem “might work”. Still never plan on going now.

  27. Veterans Day weekend-So first night using GA pass at Disneyland on a super busy day on a 3 day weekend. Here’s my take…PROS: you can still use your AP and get additional FP in addition to the GAFP. I LOVE the picture idea too. Surprisingly, the longest we waited was about 30 minutes for a ride, between rides and if K got antsy, hubs waited and she and I walked around close by. In the meantime we just did other things like the tree house, boats, train, or rides that had a shorter wait. Then we’d go on our ride and when we got off, immed pick our next ride, by then our AP fast passes were ready, and we rode that ride.
    CONS: they may be changing it again. They are already having issues with people writing in and foraging names of rides and return time on the GA pass. We went to ride a ride that was broken down and they gave us the option to wait it out or they could cross off, but we’d have to go to Kiosk and start over. I talked to a manager and they said they are aware people are upset and threatening not to come to DL anymore, but she explained that there will be more changes to come and the ultimate goal
    Is to accommodate all without others abusing the GA. I admit, was a little annoyed by the broken down ride, but in the end we just walked away and waited 20 minutes for a regular ride time.

    The line for the GA at city Hall. Maybe 3-4 minutes. Not bad at all. 6pm on a holiday weekend night.

    Over all… I am not sure how I feel about it yet. I think its still In the honeymoon phase. We were there 6pm-10pm and rode 3 rides with the GA, 2 rides with AP fast pass and 3 rides just waiting- so a successful trip in terms of accomplishing number of rides we rode. With the precious GA, we averaged the same amount. Do I think they need to work out some kinks, sure. Do I hate it and feel it completely absurd and inappropriate- I think it will take some trial and error on behalf of the families to make it work for them until DL tweaks it to make everyone happy. I’m not sure that will ever happen…. But I am trying to be optimistic about it and make do with what I’ve been given.

  28. We have canceled our annual Christmas at Disney, it’s sad but I can not put my son through this new policy. He can not understand that we have to pick a ride, wait, get a time, wait. He will become self injurious and may hurt other guests. We are changing our plans and going to Sea World, where we will be treated with dignity and respect, like we have at every visit. Employees ( cast members) ruined this, they should be the ones reprimanded not Autistic children. I just don’t see Walt letting this happen:( too bad CEO’s don’t live in the real world!

  29. Our visit to the Magic Kingdom! Not so magical anymore. We arrived at 10am and stay there until about 8pm. With the new system in place. We were able to only wait for 5 rides. The rest of the time we spend looking for those rides that did not have huge lines. We lost our little eloper while we got the time written on our DAS card! We are not renewing our yearly passes until Disneyland understands Autism and Sensory Processing Disorder!

  30. The new Disability Assistance Card on its own is not enough for our kiddos with behavioral and sensory processing difficulties. The immaturity of the nervous and cognitive processing systems of many autistic children contributes to difficulties with impulse control, emotional response, and visual/auditory processing which results in numerous undesirable reactions including elopement, tantrum, melt-down, and/or shut-down with the overstimulation that comes from prolonged exposure to the theme park setting. We have had great success with our recent family visits by adding the Readmission Passes to our Disability Assistance Card; these passes fill in the gaps for us between return times that we obtain from guest services kiosks. Better system would to just have an initial check in system for guests with disabilities and then one Readmission pass for the group, but that’s basically the system Disney just threw out. Unfortunately that system worked awesome for our family. I highly recommend all families with autistic children to request 4-6 readmission passss along with your Disability Assistance Card to adjunct your attraction enjoyment and keep the day somewhat spontaneous and flexible like we need it to be for our wonderfully special kiddos!

  31. Hello just wanted to say that I havent even had a chance to try the new system the day we went the line at guest relations was too much for my kids… I have 5 kids 3 on the spectrum and a 3 month old baby… one of them with diapering needs wet his pants while waiting in line my, 3 yr old started eloping, my 8 yr old has pretty bad ADHD symtoms due to the Autism and was very overstimulated and then I needed to nurse my baby so I had to leave and as far as a CM told me we all needed to be there for a head count I left hoping to come back in time but my poor husband just couldn’t handle all 4 kids (again 3 on the spectrum) by himself got pretty frustrated and got out of the line… when I got out of the baby care place he was outside waiting for me so we could go home… you should have seen and heard that tram ride back to the parking lot I think ppl thought we had escaped a mental institution. We went on a busy day so the line at GR was prob like 30-40 mins. We actually did better on Veterans Day without any passes because that day was slow and we only had to wait about 5 mins per ride. We are passholders and we only go for about 3 hrs at a time my kids cannot handle more than that. So sad but we are done with our passes. We told the kids we are getting Legoland passes instead.

  32. I am SO disappointed with Disney. We had been going to WDW yearly. With the GAC we could attend the parks at my son’s pace. He can only handle 4-6 hours. He does not have the stamina and the loudness and sensory overload becomes too much. We could ride several rides, eat lunch, and come back the next day. I did not mind paying what Disney charges because we could usually get on rides right away with a short wait, which is all that my son can handle. He’s 8 years old, but developmentally only around 2 1/2. He’s a big kid, so he no longer fits into the Disney stroller and he wants me to carry him, which physically I can no longer do. Sadly, with their new system we get in about 3 rides, that’s it! Since Disney does not offer half day tickets, why in the world would I pay that kind of money to sit around and wait for 3 rides. I don’t understand why you can only get one Fast Pass at a time. I also think that they should offer a tiered type system under the new system. I realize that there’s no perfect answer, but I feel that Disney is turning their backs on the autism community and I am heart broken. The system may work for families with higher functioning children, though unfortunately, that’s not us, my child will need care for his entire life. There are already SO many things he can not do, that this sadly adds one more to our list. Every time we go I bring multiple doctor and therapist letters. They can’t ask for them I know, but I lay them all out on the counter, yet all they have to do is look at my child to know. WDW was one of our happy places. We had planned to go to Disneyland in 2014 but have decided not to because of this change. Thank you TACA for this post and for being an advocate. I’ve signed all the petitions, I’ve written emails and letters to Disney and Autism Speaks, but no one seems to want to REALLY listen to our needs. Regretfully I guess our Disney days are done.

  33. In 2001 our family visited Disney pre-diagnosis, when my son was 3. Though nowadays he only remembers walking through Sleeping Beauty’s Castle, his lasting impression is of a happy day of fun. My memory is more mixed — dealing with meltdowns from overstimulation. I focused on finding areas that were less crowded, less noisy, less bright. Any outdoor outing involving crowds requires sunglasses, baseball cap and earplugs. I think that quiet rooms are something that people of all ages would benefit from.

  34. Moving from Hawaii to California meant being able to provide my son with more ASD services as well as being able to visit Disneyland more often. My son is obsessed with Pirates of the Caribbean. It was always so exciting to see my somewhat non verbal son light up and begin singing and talking while on the ride. With the old system my son was able to ride several times in a row with minimal meltdowns during the shorter wait times.
    Our last visit with the new system was a tragic one. Having to walk away from the ride to the kiosk led to a meltdown. Having to then wait another 45 minutes in front of the ride led to another meltdown so horrible that my son literally chewed a piece of his lip and was bleeding profusely. My son as well as I were traumatized.
    I am disappointed with Disney. How can they do this to our innocent children who love Disney with all of their hearts?
    Something needs to change. Please don’t cause any more hurt and confusion to these children.

  35. We have been going to Disneyland at least once a year for almost 17 yrs. We have been premium annual passholders for several years. For the past few years we have been going to Disneyland about 2-3 times a month. We also love to stay at the resort any chance we get. We recently went to Disneyland/DCA for the first time since the implementation of the DAS. I brought my 15 yr old son with ASD and my two younger children. We walked up to guest services without a wait. (We got there around 10am). We spoke to a friendly and understanding cast member who issued my son a DAS and some re-entry passes. I brought my babysitter that day because I was unsure of how the day would unfold. (I paid my babysitter for the day and access into the park). We were in the parks for about 6 hours. We got 3 DAS times, used 3 re-entry passes , got 1 fast pass and walked on 1 ride with a 10 min wait time. My babysitter stayed with my son and his siblings eating a snack or having a treat while I ran around getting DAS times and the fast pass. Although my son did well that day (not a crowded day), me keeping track of all the times, hoping fast pass times don’t conflict with DAS times, running around to get DAS times, running to get fast passes (or not if conflicting with DAS time ), checking on ride times with an app, etc. was mentally and physically taxing as well as a bit stressful for me. My 2 other children did not get to pick rides they wanted to ride that day. I’m glad I brought the babysitter because I couldn’t have done this without another adult to watch my son. But I can not afford to bring a babysitter each time we come to the parks. I know my son would not do well if I had to bring him along with me to the kiosks to get times or walk to get fast passes (especially during peak season.) He would honestly not be able to keep it together. Our family loves Disneyland but not all of us felt the magic that day as we previously would have.

  36. So basically, everyone wants and thinks they deserve front-of -the line access. That’s what each of these posts is basically saying. It’s just not possible. No wonder Disney had to get rid of the GAC — which clearly said it was not meant to skip lines. The special needs community was its own worst enemy here, as bloggers all over basically promised no lines for all of the autism community, and that advice went viral. So when Disney got flooded with GAC requests, they had to kill the program.

    We’ve taught our special needs child to wait in line. It took a few years — and many trips we only went on one or two rides or no rides — but now we can visit WDW like any other guest, as my child knows what to expect and what is expected of him.

    1. Sounds like you have the means to buy the personal escort at $300 an hour with a $1500 minimum rate. You go girl!

  37. We made our first trip to Disneyland since the change and I am glad to report it went better than expected. Grated we went on a VERY uncrowded day, but we usually try to do that anyway. We brought my son’s service dog with us as well. Here are my thoughts on the day:

    Getting the DAS at City Hall: Our visit to City Hall went fine, it took longer than normal because we had to discuss the DAS. I brought a typed out list of Elliot’s challenges (we don’t like to discuss his challenges in front of him). I also included each ride I felt he needed accommodations for & why. Elliot started to get antsy so they took his picture, gave us his pass & we were off.

    Kiosk and Rides: I think the fact that my son’s favorite rides are NOT Fast Pass rides really helps because you enter the same way as before, thru the exit. So far the only different thing is that we have to go to the “kiosk” to get a time, and on a day like today (not crowded) the times have all been immediate. The other cool part is I can run ahead with his pass & get a time, they don’t require he be with me. That lessens the change in routine.

    Kiosk Disadvantage: So, it is a pain when you are no where near one of the “kiosks”. For example, we exit Small World & want to catch the Disneyland Railroad at Toon Town Station, the kiosk is way back in Fantasyland. You have to choose, wait in the regular line for the train or walk all the way back to Fantasyland to get a time so you can go in the exit. The line wasn’t long so we waited but I can see for kids with flexibility issues, this could be a problem.

    In Summary: Overall the day went quite well, whew!! Knowing that Disneyland is a VERY different place when crowded I think I would be even more hesitant to go on a crowded day with the new system. The Kiosk had a line every time I went & it was an empty day. I can’t imagine it on a crowded day!! Although the DAS worked for us, I can so easily see how it would not work for others. I think the severity of the child’s autism is a factor but I think more importantly is the severely of each specific challenge. Our son is severely impacted in the areas of communication, repetitive behaviors and sensory but is only mildly affected in the area of flexibility. This made the new DAS doable for him. However, I think the new DAS could really be a problem for a high functioning child who’s main challenge is flexibility!

    I must add that we frequent Disneyland A LOT and I have seen first hand on several occasions GAC abuse!! I do think they had to do something, I just hope they keep working with organizations like TACA so that the DAS can accommodate ALL kids with disabilities.

    Thanks, Lisa for your continued efforts on behalf of our kiddos!!! ❤ ❤ ❤

  38. My child and I have learned to adapt to the new special needs program at Disneyland. But since she does not think like a typical child it has been difficult. Last time I was at the park we only got on 4 rides. Two castle rides, It’s a small world and Haunted mansion holiday. What I observed was that a person with a crutch, wheelchair knee brace etc. and who also obtains a special needs card can have UNLIMITED number of people in their party and use the card or not. I would say 80% are faking the disability! I asked a cast member about the two groups of 10+ that where in front of me for Mr. Toad’s wildride and she said the new rules allow these big parties as long as they have a knee brace etc. and a card. Needless to say, it made the special assistance line take 30+ minutes which ended up being longer than the regular line. But I was told at the Kiosk that my wait time would be 5 minutes. I think to make this fair, the Disney Parks need to have everyone who is special needs obtain a card and be limited to a certain number of people accompanying them. New system is not working very well for my child and has made the Disneyland experience very stressful. But I am glad it has worked well for others.

  39. I live 1 hr from Disney world. I have a 12 yr old boy with autism Jacob. Our family has annual passes to all. 4 parks. I just want to say that I feel Disney has lied to the Autistic Community regarding why they changed the current disability pass. I witnessed first hand yesterday this. We were going to get our time when we should go back on the jungle cruise. They park employee took our card and proceeded to talk to a man in a wheelchair about how he transfers. He was wearing some black leg splint. He then hopped out of the wheelchair and went on in with his family. She then told us to come back in 20 min. I asked why did he not have to come back later? Why did this family get to go right on the ride with no wait. Where is his mug shot pass ?? She didn’t know what to say. I said its a crock of crap the excuse Disney gave the media of why they had to change the system because people in wheelchairs were abusing the system. Well some still are and they get royal carpet treatment. While autism is being discriminated against. My son had to wait in long fast pass lines after waiting the alloted times the attendant put on our mug shot card. He bumps into people accidentally he can’t stand still. I had to defend my son after a father started to yell at my kid for bumping into him. I said he’s autistic and Disney forces us to wait in these lines while the wheelchairs get to bypass them. Needless to say Grandma will be coming with us so we can go back to the old way of doing things at Disney and get the royal carpet treatment. Not treated like a criminal with my son. So FYI autistic parents the only way to continue to enjoy the Disney experience is to flash a shiny wheelchair even if you don’t need one so your kid can enjoy himself.

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