PLEASE READ for Confirmation:
And for SPECIFIC Details on How it will work See:
SPECIFIC DETAILS ON HOW THE DAS WILL WORK from Cast Member Training
Well Disney has done it, they have come up with they think to be a better system for Guests with disabilities. I say think, because I can spot some immediate issues with it. I am curious how the rest of you are reacting.
I have a call in to WDW Press and am expecting a call back within the hour to answer some of my questions, which I have listed below.
This was published 09/17/13 in MiceAge – to read the entire article follow that link, I have highlighted the details they present below.
It has been reported that the Guest Assistance Card (or GAC) is set to end and be replaced with a new system on Wednesday 10/09/13 at Disneyland and Disneyland California Adventure.
Reportedly a new program will be launched, called the Disabled Assistance System (DAS)- which just the name alone has me reeling!
From the Mice Chat Article:
[quote style=”1″]The DAS will work similarly to the “return passes” issued at popular rides like Star Tours 2.0 and Radiator Springs Racers, where currently a GAC holder gets a Fastpass-style return time hand written on a card based on the current Standby wait time. But with DAS, that concept will be rolled out to several dozen high-wait attractions in Anaheim. Instead of going to the actual ride to get a return card, a DAS holder will report to one of several Guest Relations kiosks that will be set up around the parks, with a current plan to have four kiosks in Disneyland (Fantasyland alone gets their own kiosk) and three kiosks in DCA. The DAS holder will present their card and tell the Guest Relations CM which attraction they want to ride, the CM will look at the current wait time via the official Disney Mobile Magic app on an iPad, and will then write out a return time for that attraction and subtract 10 or 15 minutes to make up for the travel time to and from the kiosk. [/quote]
Now this is a similar system to Universal Orlando, where if you need a special assistance pass you can go to a ride and if the regular line wait is longer than 30 – 45 minutes, you are given a return time. Which to be truthful, hardly ever happens. I can only think of three times we have to return to a ride in the past year of around 30 visits. As for the Kiosk situation, I have made remarks to it below, but I am also wondering about the lines in the hot sun to get these passes.
This new DAS card is also supposed to be very much like the current Fast Pass system in as much as you are only allowed to be “waiting” on one ride at a time. So if you show up for a DAS card at Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, and the current wait time is 90 minutes. You will be given a 75 minute return time. During this 75 minutes you can not get another DAS card. You are able to go wait in a regular line, or pull a regular Fastpass for another attraction or figure out something else to go do during this waiting period. (I am trying to not put any emotion or opinions in this… but just know I am screaming in my head about all the ways this is an issue… like my child who can only handle 2 hours at a time in the park….)
Apparently this new DAS system is also going to increase the number of lines you must wait in if you need one. From my understanding of what has been reported it will look like this:
- Go into park – Go to Guest Services – Get a DAS (or other you will be instructed to do something else….) – Go to Kiosk for the attraction you want to get your Pass Time – When time go to attraction
So that is three lines we will wait in for the first ride and then two lines for every attraction after that. But best yet, is that now our park visits will be something like this:
- get DAS – Go to Kiosk – Wait – Go to Attraction – Go to Kiosk – Wait – Go to Attraction – Go to Kiosk – Wait – Go to Attraction…
Instead of being able to enjoy our day and walk around, we will have to make sure we are heading to these strategically placed Kiosks in order to get a wait time.
Now, to make this system even Better (note sarcasm), the person who is disabled (HATE that we are now going to be telling our children you are disabled) also has to have their photo taken. I would think this alone violates HIPPA and ADA laws, but I could be wrong (which I wouldn’t be surprised if I was). I am just trying to figure out how this is going to go over with my son… we have days where taking his picture is no big deal. But on other days, if I take a picture of him, it is the end of the world. This is a minor complaint in the scheme of things though.
I know that the idea behind the photo is to prevent others using to ride without the guest who needs assistance. But this system doesn’t stop people from going through guest services and getting their own DAS card for unlimited Fastpasses. Instead it just means that a family of five can each get a DAS card and get 5 return times at once, as well as regular fastpasses. This doesn’t stop abuse it just changes it and from what I can tell, it will make it more prevalent.
Many people didn’t even know about the GAC, so when a Fastpass was gone, it was gone. With this system, it is being broadcasted that you can get a return time with a DAS for attractions that Fastpasses are gone for.
One of the biggest changes that this reportedly new system is creating affects those in wheelchairs. If you are heading to DCA in a wheelchair or ECV you will be entering the regular line queues with everyone else. 35 of the 55 attractions that use a ride vehicle at Disneyland have wheelchair accessible queues while at Walt Disney World there are 38 of 46 attractions that use a ride vehicle are wheelchair accessible. The rides at both parks that are deemed as non-wheelchair accessible, will continue to use the Fastpass lane or exit to guests on wheelchairs or ECVs. You won’t need a DAS to access these.
As for which parks, and implementation, this is what the MiceAge article had to say:
[quote style=”1″]Guest Relations and Attractions Cast Members in both parks have already been scheduled classroom training for the DAS program through late September and early October. The Guest Relations team will get the most intensive training day, as they’ll be on the front lines of this new system as they try and reel in expectations of Annual Passholders used to having a GAC with easy access to any ride they wanted. Staffing for Guest Relations is being beefed up as much as possible beginning with roll-out day on Wednesday, October 9th, and the Security department has also been asked to help staff officers in Guest Relations centers in Disneyland and DCA to help with anyone who may get verbally abusive or threaten violence against those Guest Relations CM’s doling out the more restrictive DAS cards.
The real day to watch will be Friday, October 11th, two days after DAS begins and the first day when 25,000+ Annual Passholders show up in the evening. This is going to be ugly for at least a few weeks, everyone agrees on that. It helps that the exact same program is being rolled out at WDW at the same time, and that finally there are several senior executives supporting the program. It will be interesting to see how strong the executives stand behind the DAS program when the inevitable ugly media stories begin showing up on the local news and online, or heaven forbid if the CM’s in the parks really start taking serious verbal or physical abuse.[/quote]
I have been speaking with representatives at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland to get statements and try to confirm this reported information. As I do, I will continue to update this article and the update section below.
Now My Questions
- I take issue with my son’s picture being taken for this. He can go into FULL MELT DOWN mode if he doesn’t want his picture taken, and I do it.
- Have they thought about Autistic Kids and Young Adults. How am I supposed to explain to a 3 year old that we are going to the ride to get a pass to come back to the ride. He melts down when he has it in his mine for a specific attraction and we don’t do that first. At least with Universal Studios, if the ride queue is less than 45 minutes we can go into the Express Lane, anything longer than that, they right the time on our card to come back. Since there are only a few rides for him there, we just hang out in the area or let him play in the water near his ride. I just don’t see how we will get the same Magical Experience with him.
- Is it true, as soon as 10/9 we will be switching to this new system?
- Doesn’t Disney think that having screaming disabled children in the regular wait lines, will not only take away from the experience of those families, but also of the families without disabled children? Have the execs ever had to be in those lines with a Downs Child, a Child with Autism or Mental Impairment when they lose it? I can’t see how this will helps things.
After I posted this yesterday and started making phone calls to all the appropriate people and getting statements, I came up with more and more reasons why I hope that what has been reported is not true.
The way I see it, this new system would be easier to abuse then the old. Many families aren’t even aware of the current GAC, but by placing Kiosks in the public eye, Disney would be making it more public. So when a popular ride like Soarin, has run out of Fast Passes for the day, then what is going to stop a family from pretending someone in their party needs a DAS? Easy access to more Fast Passes… Once word gets out that there are unlimited DAS Fast Passes sitting at Kiosks, I foresee rampant abuse. This is just one of about 10 different ways to abuse this new system I can think of easily.
09/18/13 – 10:58am: ok Just got off the phone with WDW, the woman who is in charge of this is not in today, but will be calling me back tomorrow – they can not confirm or deny this – I am not going to say anymore on what my opinion is after this conversation (but when do they ever only do it one way at one park and not the others?), I will be posting an update tomorrow morning.
09/18/13 – 12:45pm: a reader just posted in the comments: “I just talked to someone from Disney World, originally she said she had not received any notification at this time but when I pushed the issue she contacted guess services and they confirmed that they are being trained and do not know when the release date will be due to them making sure everyone is trained. I expressed my concern and asked that it be noted that this will be a big problem for individuals with Autism. They don’t understand that they have to wait, they will have violent meltdowns and it will be a disaster for all. I understand the need for change but they better understand that each disability has to be handled differently. Hope Disney gets it right!!!!”
09/19/13 – 12:27pm – Spoke with WDW – I have nothing to say, yet.
09/19/13 – 1:43pm – I have a call into DL, waiting on return call this afternoon
09/19/13 – 8:03pm – A fan on our Facebook Page just posted this:
[quote style=”1″] We were at Disneyland last week and they had the Kiosk AT each ride. You showed your GAC and got a callback ticket for 40-min+ later. You could get one for several rides in the area by going to each ride. The person whose name was on the GAC had to be with you to get the pass. LOVED it. But if they move these away from the rides, limit it to one ride (requiring you go back and wait in line at the Kiosk again then go wait in line at the ride) it will hurt families like mine. We tried regular line last week with my daughter (who is disabled). The backpack from the person in front of us broke my daughters leg (ending our day at Disney). Some of us NEED the GAC for safety[/quote]
09/20/13 – 3:25pm – I have been given an official statement which I can now Post:
“Disney has long been at the forefront of making our parks accessible to all guests. At this time, we are reviewing a number of considerations and remain committed to providing accommodations for guests with disabilities.” ~ Kathleen Prihoda, Manager, External Communications Walt Disney World Resort
There is a petition going around to hopefully stop this if in fact it is accurate. http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/disneyland-discontinues.fb31?source=s.icn.fb&r_by=8794908