Disney’s New Disability Assistance System Confirmed to Begin October 9th. Disneyland, Disney California Adventure Park and Walt Disney World to be Affected.

Just got off the phone with a trusted source at Disney who works in the Public Relations Department. She’s officially confirmed to me that beginning October 9th, the new Disability Assistance System will be implemented at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim,¬† and Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

According to my source, Disney is still finalizing the details of the new program and the special needs community’s needs remain a top priority for the parks.

Okay, so now we at least know for sure that big changes, they are a comin.

Now, what I have to say next is extremely important, so listen up:

I know many of you are feeling super frustrated right now and I don’t blame you. Thanks to a bunch of jerks abusing a system that has worked for so many wonderful families such as yours, Disney was forced to try and alleviate the fraud while simultaneously finding a new way to keep the parks accessible and user-friendly for special needs guests.

Now, we may not agree with the rumored details of this new program, but we do have to agree on this: Disney employees – especially cast members – are undeserving of abusive behaviors geared towards them, no matter how annoyed, angry, or frustrated anyone may feel. If you decide to visit the park and find that the new system truly makes the experience terrible, there are ways to air out your grievances without taking it out on the innocent employees that work hard to make the day magical for everyone they come across (no small feat, for sure).

So, let’s agree to be suspicious of this new system, and extremely annoyed with the fact that changes even have to be made in the first place.

But more importantly, let’s agree to move forward as a special needs community with tact, grace, and a true desire to make the world a better place.

Trust me when I tell you no one will be listening to our¬†constructive criticisms and important suggestions for change if they’re too busy running away from our pitchforks and torches.

Disneyland June 16th 2012 105


Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Disabled Assistance System per Disney:

How will the new Disney program work?
The Disability Access Service Card will offer Guests a return time for an attraction based on the current wait time. Guest Assistance Cards will continue to be in effect until Oct. 9. We look forward to sharing more information as we get closer to implementation.

Did Disney receive assistance in developing the Disability Access Service Card?
Yes, Disney is engaging disability groups, and Autism Speaks was instrumental in providing feedback as we developed this new process.

Why is Disney making these changes?
Given the increasing volume of requests Disney receives for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process beginning Oct. 9 so that it creates a more consistent experience for all our Guests while providing accommodations for Guests with disabilities.

Who will be eligible for a Disability Access Service Card?
Our goal is to accommodate Guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities).

Will Guests on wish trips also use Disability Access Service Cards?
No. Guests who are visiting through wish-granting organizations will have access through a separate program.

What should Guests do if they have concerns?
Guests should contact Guest Relations to discuss their assistance needs.




  1. Terri Yeoman says:

    Disney parks are going to really hurt their business.


  3. I agree with the other parents with children who have autism, the stress level of these children are what causes meltdowns. The new system I fear will cause much stress on my little girl. I do however feel if people are abusing this system then Disney has every right to make changes we will have to try out this new system and hope for the best.

  4. Maureen Elias says:

    If this change is due to people existing the system, and not a new way for the parks to make money, why not set up a dept that can verify through phone call to dr offices etc. People visiting the parks with special needs guests don’t do do on a whim. We plan and prep trio avoid as much tension as possible. We have been twice. The first time we tried the fast pass system. It was a dismal failure. The second trip we knew about the passes and had a magical time. If they are working with autism speaks, surely they must know coming back to a ride is not a viable option. I will hope they make the right decision. Otherwise our last trip will become our last ever.

  5. Without this I can never even dream of taking my special needs daughter to Disneyland ever. How much inconvenience can there ever be in accommodating these kids with special needs.

  6. pablo la roche says:

    Our son is 14 and in the spectrum. The only way we can go to disney is because of the special pass and even so it was very hard. I think we will not be able to go any more

  7. This is really a huge problem for my autistic 12 year old daughter she has a hard time in disney not just waiting she mormally last 3 hours in the park. Which is why we have the pass and we always do two days visit at a time. Sometime we just ride one ride over and over …then she ready to leave r he park. With this new change its not going to be worth being a disney member.

  8. Im due to take my girls there at the end of October! Its just me going with them.My youngest who is 7 has special needs along with other problems. God knows how im going to get on with this new system :(

  9. Traci Burgess says:

    I am so disappointed. We are leaving for Disneyland October 10th! If I had known this I may have thought twice. Unfortunately there are so many who abuse this, but this is punishing all. We always bring proof of my daughter’s disability. I think anyone would be fine proving themselves. Why change something that is working for the most part. They will definitely be having some screaming on October 10th from my child if I tell her she has to wait and come back later. The way she can scream they may change the policy back by the 11th!

  10. Carrie Van Buskirk says:

    After learning of these proposed and planned changes in disability access, my family has decided to boycott Disney. I agree with the author of this petition that the community much remain civil in it’s protest. It is clear the only language being heard or spoken by Disney is that of the almighty dollar ( also clearly displayed my them seeking consult from Autism Speaks). My family time and hard earned money will be spent where our children with autism can gain access and partake in an experience worth the cost of admission. Disney has lost a customer!

  11. Ray Harikian says:

    What I am hearing is that the Parks are proposing to go from a system, which granted is (was) abused, to no new system. The “Fast Track System” being discussed, is already in place and requires “come back later and wait” to access rides and events. So where has Disney made special needs accommodation to this already existing system? The answer is to tighten up the existing system. Establish criteria for access to the Disabled Assistance System and require a physician to certify that child meets the criteria.

  12. I hate that they have to go this route due to the passes being sold and abused.

  13. Tracey Young says:

    I couldn’t afford to visit one of the Disney Parks. Your prices for entry at catastrophically high, and the cost of food inside the gates are also out of my price range. Thanks, but no thanks.

  14. maria ermelinda perez says:


  15. Christine moyer says:

    Make it simple. Let the truly disability impaired have the same system as the wish program.

  16. No matter what Disney does, it’s always going to upset someone in the world. I understand prices are expensive, but with the amount of entertainment, rides, and characters, did you really think the price could stay the same? Do you go to gas stations and complain about prices? No. The concept is the same. In this day and age, to provide such a magical experience, it can be expensive.

    Now onto the Disability standpoint. I understand everyone has an opinion, however take a moment to see the full picture and not just how it’s going to effect you. It’s no secret that people lie. This past year, families were paying disabled people to come to Disney just so they could get an assistance pass. Every day people go to town hall, make up a disability just to get a pass, and then go about their day. Then you have your average family, who paid there way, same as you, but due to other’s cheating the system, they wait longer in lines than you ever did. They watch the parade from afar, while others who lie get to watch from preferred seating. They have the ability of doing less in the park then others, but still leave with a smile on their face. They don’t ever complain, yet get the short end of the stick because of others.

    In turn, Disney talked to area’s all over to see what they can do to accommodate those with disabilities in a way that’s fair for all, and customized for you and your child’s certain accessible needs.

    Now here is where I get harsh. If you don’t like it, that’s fine. If it’s going to stop you from coming, that’s fine too. We don’t need another family in the park whose sole goal of the day is to make everyone else miserable because they feel like they’re being targeted when in truth, that’s not the case at all. If you chose not to come, guaranteed their will be other’s who are more than willing to work with Disney, and make it the most magical experience.

  17. This change of policy seems to be a reaction to the individuals that have abused the policy earlier this year when they highered disabled individuals in order to gain access. How will this proposed policy keep this type of misuse in the future? The fact is, there will always be individuals that will look for and find ways to manipulate policy. This policy, in my opinion, seems to be yet another obstacle for the differently abled. The differently abled face constant obstacles each and every single day that those without never even have to consider or face. My family, blessed with two little ones with autism was planning our trip for this spring. After calling and receiving details regarding to the policy and procedures, we will no longer go. I completely agree with the author of the blog that the disabled community must remain civil. I will certainly practice civility and chose to spend my money and time elsewhere. In addition, I encourage autism supporters to withdrawal their financial and emotional support from Autism Speaks! I am not at all surprised that AS consulted on this policy change, considering their main priority is making $. A very small % of their revenue goes to supporting families directly, here is yet another example. I wonder how much Disney paid AS to consult, yet they encouraged the implementation of a policy that will act as yet another obstacle for those in the autism community! So there you have it! This autism mommy will be spend her time and money else where. Disney nor Autism Speaks will financially benefit from my family’s hard earned money or time! I encourage others to join me!

  18. Melissa Enfusse says:

    The main thing that sticks out to me that is a big flag this won’t work for kids like mine-multiple health issues who can’t physically spend as much time in the park as a healthy kid- is that you can only get one wait time for one ride at a time. So you wanna ride it’s a small world, you go and get your return time, and say it’s an hour-you have to figure out how to kill an hour for a kid with heat intolerance, fatigue, a feeding tube…etc. etc. I just can’t wrap my head around how it will work. Also, what everyone (including Disney) seems to miss is that even though Disney says that by law they are not allowed to ask for medical proof of diagnosis due to privacy acts, the people that were abusing the system could very well have been legally disabled. Medical proof could likely have been provided. The card is provided for the holder plus up to was it 6 guests? So say a disabled person, with proof goes in and gets the GAC, and then takes along the family that hired them. The problem lies in the guests system. They should be able to ask for proof that the guests are family. Legitimate family. For parties that small already, chances are you aren’t going to be including your brother’s roomate’s cousin’s uncle who tagged along for a family reunion with everyone else. You’re going to include your children, spouse or grandparents or nurse/aide if it applies. So proof that they are family, and if a nurse/aide must come along, proof of their credentials and status as such. Driver’s liscences, ss cards…etc. Done deal. They can require all parties that will be getting on rides as part of the GAC be present while setting it all up, make the GAC a picture ID that each member of the party carries. The process might be a little longer for both Disney employees and families, but I would imagine it would thwart the abuse that this new system is intended to fix, but obviously will absolutely not and will simply make it impossible for families like ours to have the Disney experience any longer.

  19. I don’t think that Disney cares if they loose the business of disabled people and I doubt that “typical” people will stop going to Disney as a result of this change. Disney is so money driven that loosing disabled business is not that important to them. I won’t be going back (well- my autistic son can’t go under the new card), but I doubt that Disney cares about that. Not cool, Disney. Not cool.

  20. Jennifer Lomassaro says:

    A lot of people are saying don’t blame Disney. But, this is partly their fault. I know a lot of people abused it, but why should we all suffer. Disney should ask for proof. A letter and/or a script from your child’s doctor and then they should have the ability to give them a card with their picture on it. This is unacceptable. I am a HUGE fan of Disney and so is my 15 yr old Autistic son. This new system is going to have disabled kids all over the park having meltdowns, making parents leave the park early, and a lot of us in the special needs community not spending money there or returning on future vacations.

  21. KERRI SMITH says:

    My six year old son, will not understand coming back to a ride in 30 minutes either. He will totally melt down! Last year when we went to ride the Cars fast track ride they required us to do a fast pass and come back at a specific time and my son melted down and we ended up having to leave and were not able to ride the ride despite having a GAC card. They said this was because the ride was new. Bottom line, it did not work! Why not implement a card that is activated at guest assistance upon arrival. Also, require that those with special needs present a diagnosis from their doctor in order to receive the assistance card.

  22. I’m the one with a disability and can’t stand, sit or walk for an extended period of time. We recently went to Disney. I couldn’t have waited in lines with my family. I need my scooter and leg braces. I have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, heart condition and a rare form of narcolepsy. I’m grateful my family got to enjoy a day’s worth of Disney in the five hours we were able to be there. I couldn’t physically tolerate any more than that. I wouldn’t mind showing my proof of SS Disability and my disabled placard to maintain the current standard of treatment of disabled individuals. It sickens me that I saw so many who rented wheelchairs and could walk and run without problem while I was there who were undoubtedly abusing the system.

  23. Dianna meagher says:

    I will no longer have a place to go with my whole family. Today is very sad day for me. You can not begin to understand the struggle my son goes through unless you have a child with autism . It will no longer get one dime from my family.

  24. Elsie Graham says:

    I am so disappointed in Disney for doing away with the Guest Assistance Card program! I have a granddaughter with serious problems – Autism and several other issues. We were planning a trip to Disney next year and have enjoyed the many Disney parks for years! You are now being unfair because of the people who have taken advantage of the program!
    There is a better way- PLEASE RETHINK YOUR PLAN!


  1. [...] the story broke last week that Disney is ending its Guest Assistance Card program and implementing a new Disabled Assistance System in its place, plenty of opinions have found there [...]

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