I’ve never been to any of the Disney resorts, it’s not because I’m not a fan of animation, we love nothing more than to sit down and watch a Disney or Pixar film together. We don’t live close enough to visit one of the resorts, and it’s never been on top of the children’s wish list to hit one of the resorts, or I’d have probably tried harder to get them out there.
Last week was the first time I’d heard of Fastpasses and Guest assistance cards, so I apologise if I made fatal flaws in reporting the Disney changes. I was shocked however, at the strength of reaction to our posts. I’ve taken my boy to theme parks in the UK, some of which don’t even recognise autism as a reason for what other customers refer to (sometimes quite vocally) as “queue jumping”. Most have wheelchair access, but usually if a child is physically able to queue they should queue.
Tonight I went through the changes with a fine tooth comb, because I felt I had to be ‘disneycated’ to form an opinion on this subject, and had a look again at what I’d reported on the last week. First was the story of Autism Hippie on October 11, and a contrasting day out by Temporary Tourist on October 13.
Sifting through the terms and conditions, for me personally the biggest change I saw firstly was that you would need to carry documented proof of diagnosis. Now, this to me seems a bit extreme, but having seen and read about the blatant abuse of the old system, some people taking out wheelchairs for children that did not require them etcetera, I can certainly see the need for change and a valid reason for a fast track system. If your child has a valid reason for needing a parking space allotted for the day, this can also be done before arriving. If your child has a valid diagnosis and you can prove it, a little bit of time and documentation could mean very little queuing in line to get on a ride. If I understand correctly you can also get a pass for people in your party, which is something you wouldn’t get in all the parks in the UK. It’s normally one child and their carer.
Guests with disabilities are tiered to those with auditory, visual and mobility differences and the access to rides and specific parking spaces are now allotted by tier.
Personally, I like the thought of a dedicated wheelchair pass, some people have commented that it’s a bit like a ‘social tag’, which I found quite strange. Previously you could get a wheelchair without proof of needing one. The tag itself has to carry a photo of the child, and can also apply to pushchairs come wheelchairs.
Having a disability guest assistance card allows the wearer and their party to cut the waiting time for a ride by half with fast passes. As most of us know repetitiveness is one of the things we parents with autistic kids get used to. It’s a fact of life. If they like a ride, they’ll want to do it again, and again, and maybe even once more for good measure. Well, it’s their day out isn’t it? From the information I weaned, I understand that you can get fast passes for certain rides, and if you ask nicely enough and explain the predicament a Disney cast member will be happy to assist you and give you specific passes cutting down your queuing time by half for specific rides.
As I explained at the top of this article, I am not a die-hard Disney visitor. But judging by the reactions I’ve seen, I feel it’s important that we give Disney a chance to tweak the new system. There’s a definite reason why it had to be changed, because people were abusing it for their own gain. I’d actually quite like to see parks in the UK implement the attention to detail that Disney have put into their new system. I’d be happy to hear of people’s experiences in EuroDisney, and in British parks. I’m pretty sure that the American resorts have better organisation than we do in Europe, I might be wrong!
Feel free to leave your thoughts below, or email me about your experiences on firstname.lastname@example.org with your tales.
To infinity and beyond!