Walt Disney Word and Disneyland have always been well known for their above and beyond style for accommodating guests with disabilities, but they have just announced that they will be changing their policy regarding disabled guests when it comes to getting in line to ride attractions. Basically as it stands right now (before the policy change), a disabled guest, such as someone who is wheelchair bound or even guests with non-apparent disabilities, is allowed to bypass the standby line for attractions and ride immediately. They do this by getting a Guest Assistance Card (soon to be a “Disability Access Service Card”) from a Guest Relations kiosk to carry around with them which is good for them and all members of their party. They then show this card to Cast Members who are manning the ride. Oh, and you don’t have to have any documents that prove you are in-fact disabled.
I know some people get all “What’s so special about them!?” about disabled guests not having to wait in line as long as they did, especially with those not-so-obvious disabilities that some of these guests face, but no matter where you stand on this, the rules are a’changing. Starting October 9th, the disabled guest line-skip policy will become more reminiscent of the pre-MagicBand Fastpass system. A disabled guest can no longer get on any attraction any time they want with their new Disability Access Service Card, but instead they will be forced to go to the attraction only to receive a ticket with a printed time slot where they can come back to ride based on estimates of when that particular ride will be the least-crowded. Now, this kind of sucks for someone who already has to experience the parks with some sort of handicap, but the reason for this change is something outrageous – people were taking advantage of the system.
The thing is though, it isn’t the usual happy family you see around the parks who are abusing the system by doing something we might all assume, like say, sitting in a wheelchair when they are completely capable of standing for small periods of time, but the way they are cheating the system is even more awe-worthy; people are literally hiring disabled guests to pretend to be their family members so they can get on rides quicker! They are calling them “tour guides.” Yeah, crazy right?
But really, imagine that for a second; hiring someone to pretend to be in your family so you can ride Peter Pan’s Flight faster. Imagine if YOU were the disabled person! You could make a living off of that! You could move to Florida, buy an annual or seasonal pass, and just go to the parks everyday escorting wealthy scumbags onto rides all day!
So, you’d think Disney would instead just change the policy on how you gain a Disability Access Service Card by perhaps requiring proof of disability, but Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown actually commented on that, “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.”
I can’t imagine this new system put in place, set to start October 9, 2013 is going to last very long. More information should be coming out closer to that date, so maybe they will clear some things up that actually make this system seem more positive for the disabled guests who will be forced to use it because of the scammers that ruined it for them all! What are your thoughts on this new policy? I’d love to read them, so leave ‘em in the comments below!