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Just this past spring, the Internet was collectively aghast when an expose report found out that some wealthy families were hiring a handicapped guide to take them around Disney parks. This might seem puzzling, until you realize the guide was there to help the wealthy families get onto rides via the handicap access doors, which allowed them to cut lines and to get on rides much more quickly than other park patrons. Disney has never been idle when it comes to ineffective policies and on Monday, both the Florida and California-based parks announced they would be changing the disabled guest program, effective next month.
Under the current rules, those parties with a disabled family member are able to get a Guest Assistance Card, which allows the disabled person and up to six guests to be ushered through a separate “attraction entrance.” MiceAge broke the news widely, explaining that the Guest Assistance Card (GAC) will soon be replaced by a new system called the Disabled Assistance System. In the parks, several kiosks will be set up to assist anyone holding a DAS card. The card changeover will occur on October 9.
When a person reaches a kiosk, a cast member will verify they have a DAS card and then will ask them which of the attractions covered by the DAS card the person wants to ride. The person holding the card will tell them and then the cast member will hand them a Fast Pass-like card which will take into account the wait time for the ride. So, if a person wants to ride Space Mountain and the wait time is an hour and 20 minutes, the Disney cast member will write out the wait time, minus the 10 or 15 minutes it takes to walk to the ride. The DAS cardholder will still have to wait for over an hour to ride, just not in the lengthy line. Additionally, only one pass can be given out at a time.
Disney spokeswoman Suzie Brown says that the parks are limited on asking patrons about disabilities, but that the parks hope the new system will be more viable than the old one.
"We have an unwavering commitment to making our parks accessible to all guests. Given the increasing volume of requests we receive for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process to create a more consistent experience for all our guests while providing accommodations for guests with disabilities. We engaged disability groups, such as Autism Speaks, to develop this new process, which is in line with the rest of our industry."
At the very least, since the new process works similarly to a Fast Pass, hopefully it will dissuade those park users from hiring someone to try to cheat the system. While CNN reports some Disney travelers are concerned about the new policy, and while any new program will have pros and cons, hopefully the new program will work out the kinks and prove to be more effect for users than the old one.