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Guest Assistance Card at Disney?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
My daughter is 5yo and has Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis. She's low-tone and tires quickly compared to other children. She also has a brain injury and is prone to emotional issues easily due to this. She does have some mild weakness on one side of her body as well.

I just learned about GACs and I find the "stroller as a wheelchair" benefit to the GAC really appealing. Last time we were there, taking her in and out of the stroller constantly and having to make her walk a long ways from where we could often leave the stroller was really hard on her. She is 44" and 46 pounds and dh has terrible back problems so a lot of carrying isn't an option (though we do it anyway and end up hurting ourselves!).

ETA: She's also on an immunosuppressant so not having to wait in line with the masses (i.e. separate waiting area and being able to take the stroller to the entrance/exit of the ride) would be a huge benefit to her. The immunosuppressant is something I hadn't even thought of before reading this: http://pixiedustinn.com/disabilitiesfaq/GACFAQ.html

I'm wondering if her issues would "justify" asking for a GAC and how I would address it when I ask?

Thanks
~S
post #2 of 28
Have you tried getting a medical stroller through insurance? They'll often pay for one even if they child can walk, if there's medical need. I think you are justified in getting a GAC personally. I mean, if she can't enjoy disney because she's exhausted, what's the point in going? I don't know how THEY determine that though. Anyway, I asked about the medical stroller because I think it would make it easier for them to determine that she's eligible if an actual piece of medical equipment is involved. Just a gut feeling on my part. I have no idea how the GAC program actually works.
post #3 of 28
We got a GAC last year when we went. It was a great help. Gabrielle is on meds that cause her to run hot (besides the braces and everything else). So we were worried about having to wait in long lines in the sun. The card was great.
post #4 of 28
I'm pretty sure she would qualify. All you need to do is go to the customer service desk and tell them "my daughter has several conditions which cause her to be unable to walk long distances. She also has some health issues that require her to be separated from large crowds as much as possible". They should give her a GAC and the stroller/wheelchair thing. You do not HAVE to name a disability. I have heard some people are a lot more strict and ask for a doctors note so you might want to bring one just in case. When we went last year we did had a doctors note but did not have to show it. DS got a GAC that allowed him to enter through different spots (either wheelchair entrance on the day we used the stroller as his wheelchair or through the fastpass line), which really really helped him since he didn't have to wait with the masses. That would have freaked him out.

To be honest with you- the GAC is the only reason we are going back to DisneyWorld this year. Last year when we went it was WONDERFUL. DS had such a great time, but that would not have been possible without the GAC. Within a week of coming home ds was asking when we could go back. LOL! So.... we go again this June and will definitely be asking for the GAC (though probably not with the stroller/wheelchair option this time unless ds gets really freaked out- they actually allowed us to use the stroller as a wheelchair just because ds freaks out in crowds and having him in his stroller (where he feels safe) would help him. He has no problem walking or anything).
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks mamas! It's too late for a Dr's note as we leave tomorrow--I literally just found out about the GAC yesterday while searching the web for trip planning info. To look at her, you'd never know she has any disabilities but waiting in lines especially in more enclosed spaces is risky with the immunosuppression--she's on azathioprine which is actually a chemotherapy drug. I'm considering taking that prescription bottle if they give us a hard time. I don't even care if we get to bypass lines or get shorter wait periods...but being able to take her stroller closer to entrances and getting to wait separately would be much safer and much easier for her.

I don't think we could get a medical stroller...her gait is normal unless you know what to look for and the getting fatigued faster thing is hard to quantify. I don't think our neuro or GI would go along with that, especially when I can buy a regular stroller that will hold a kid her weight and higher. We have a double Baby Jogger (one of the huge ginormous ones LOL) that we bought when she was younger because she needed a big, comfy stroller to rest in when we're on outings/trips. We went double because she has a brother 18 months younger and we didn't want to have to make her walk when he would get tired.

We're gonna go for the GAC and hope for the best!!
post #6 of 28
The GAC is the best - we'd NEVER be able to do Disney without it!

the folks at guest services are wonderful & helpful & I am sure it will be no problem that you don't have a doctor's note... but if you can find anything that you've ever gotten from the doctor explaining her limitations (for school maybe??0 it might be helpful to take along - if not just explain what you said here - that you only found out about it yesterday...

have a magical trip!!!!
post #7 of 28
We got a GAC just a few months ago for low tone/SPD only. We requested the stroller as a wheelchair accommodation. Some rides it meant the big long line with the stroller, some rides we got to go in through the exit and avoid the line. It depended on the set up of the que. Getting the GAC was super easy. They didn't want to see a doctor's note citing privacy/HIPAA reasons. The GAC made all the difference in the world for my low-tone, SPD kiddo. Have a great trip!
post #8 of 28
We went last year and had a great experience using the GAC. They are technically not allowed to ask what her medical issues are so you don't actually need a doctor's note (although many people take them as back up just in case).

My son has low tone also and that is the reason we got the stroller as a wheelchair accomodation. We had no trouble getting the card and everyone was really very helpful.

We got our card at the Magic Kingdom because I read here (I think it was StephandOwen that posted it) that people find you are less likely to get hassled at the MK. You get the card at the Town Hall which is just to your left after you walk under the train station. We were standing in line (which I found really ironic because the other accomodation we were getting was being able to use the alternate entrances to avoid lines) so I asked a cast member who happened to be there if there was another place I could get a GAC and she said "oh, no problem, I can get it for you - which accomodations do you need?" I said "he can't wait in line and we need to use the stroller as a wheelchair". She came back with it in a couple of minutes and that was it - so easy!

One note for others who may be reading this - if you have an actual wheelchair then you do *not* need to get a guest assistance card. You automatically get to use the wheelchair entrance which generally takes you to an alternate loading area.

Also, if you are using the "stroller as wheelchair" accomodation, be aware that for some attractions like the Beauty and the Beast show at Hollywood Studios, there isn't a separate entrance for wheelchairs until you get up into the actual show area. Until that point though, you do still have to wait in line with everyone else.

HTH

Martha

p.s. Have fun!!! We are going back this year as well and can't wait!!!
post #9 of 28
We didn't have to show a Doctors note and even give a diagnosis.

Good luck! Have fun!
post #10 of 28
I was going to say the same thing as Marth. They legally can not ask you for a dr's note.
We got a GAC for my twins and Disneyland and it was the best thing we did! They tell you it isn't a "front of the line" pass but most times it ended up that way. A couple times I felt bad but then I just reminded myself that my boys go through a lot the least they can do is enjoy DL. For us, my boys can wait short times so if the line was 10-15 min long then we waited.

Have fun!!
post #11 of 28
Thread Starter 
Thanks mamas for the advice! We were at Disneyland (and California Adventure) and dh just went into Guest Services right near the entrance, said we needed the GAC with "stroller as a wheelchair" and told them of dd's woes (immunosuppressed, low tone and weakness due to brain injury) and they gave him the card no questions asked.

It made SUCH a huge difference for her to be able to sit in the stroller while waiting in lines, when we did have to wait. Some rides we did not get to bypass the regular line but she got to rest during the wait and that also meant she wasn't touching everything in sight like she normally would be.

Then at many rides there is either a wheelchair entrance or "enter through exit" designation and that usually meant no wait or a very short wait, which of course was wonderful for dd. Dh and I also did not get physically worn out from having to carry her around. I sooooo wish we had known about this when we went in 2008!

We did get some odd looks from other guests when bringing the stroller in line and often had to whip out the pass repeatedly when we'd get yelled at for having the stroller in a line (sometimes had to show it repeatedly to different cast members) but it was worth it. Dh said he felt a little like we were cheating because dd doesn't "look" emotionally or physically disabled but like someone else mentioned, she has been through so much and goes through so much that I really think she deserved to be able to enjoy Disneyland this way. If we hadn't had it, she would have spent a lot more time completely tired out and/or sleeping.
post #12 of 28
I'm glad you all had a great time!!! That's so wonderful to hear!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shellie View Post
We did get some odd looks from other guests when bringing the stroller in line and often had to whip out the pass repeatedly when we'd get yelled at for having the stroller in a line (sometimes had to show it repeatedly to different cast members) but it was worth it.
Did they not put a big red sticker on the stroller? I know at DisneyWorld they had a big red sticker that went on the stroller (that had some symbol, maybe a wheelchair?). That way any of the cast members could see immediately that the stroller was being used as a wheelchair and nobody hassles you. We only had one cast member question us, but that was because I had placed a bag on the handle of the stroller and it blocked the sticker. I just moved the bag, showed the sticker and he smiled and waved us through.

This year I have a lanyard that I will place the pass in so I can just wear it around my neck (or if ds will keep it on, he'll wear it). That was the only bad thing about the pass- by the end of the week I got really tired of taking it out of my pocket or purse every time we needed it (plus it had gotten pretty dirty and nasty)!
post #13 of 28
O.M.Gosh!!!! I totally wish we knew about this 2 yrs ago when we went to Disney, it would have totally made our visit WAY better. I mean really it has been one of the reasons why we have not gone back and were waiting until he was older to deal with the crazyness better. How does it work if you are with a group of people say it was DH and I and our kids would only the parent/child in stroller be able to enter at that wheelchair entrance or your whole party as well? I couldnt see DH and I splitting up cause the parent stuck with all the other kid would be "done" by midday.
post #14 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by luv-my-boys View Post
O.M.Gosh!!!! I totally wish we knew about this 2 yrs ago when we went to Disney, it would have totally made our visit WAY better. I mean really it has been one of the reasons why we have not gone back and were waiting until he was older to deal with the crazyness better. How does it work if you are with a group of people say it was DH and I and our kids would only the parent/child in stroller be able to enter at that wheelchair entrance or your whole party as well? I couldnt see DH and I splitting up cause the parent stuck with all the other kid would be "done" by midday.
If you are in a group then a certain number of people can go in with the child who has the pass. I cannot remember what that number is right now.... 4 maybe? I'm pretty sure it's the person with the pass plus 4 other guests. Maybe someone else can confirm that?
post #15 of 28
Steph - my ds wears his pass on a lanyard too - he *loves* that.

there are 5 in my family and the pass covers all of us... not sure what the top # would be LOL
post #16 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yes, the pass covers your whole party....our's was written out for 6.

I so was wishing I'd brought one of our lanyards from home. Almost bought one there but out pass would have had to be folded to go inside it and since a lot of the cast members wanted to actually read it, I figured I'd still be taking it in and out.

Oh, and they didn't put a sticker on the stroller or anything. Wish they had!
post #17 of 28
One of the big reasons we haven't done Disney is because of the lines. DS would not tolerate that AT ALL and I don't want to deal with the flip outs and constant every 30 second anxiety from him as a result. I know we could get a pass for him that may shorten lines but I'd feel weird about using it since he only has Autism and Anxiety issues when other kids have more physical needs for the pass. Not sure how people would react to that, ya know?

Heck, we went to the circus and sat in a more secluded area to help him deal with all the activity and help keep his "activity" to less of an annoyance to other circus goers. 2 people with service dogs (that were really badly behaved) sat behind us and made a big stink about us sitting there. Their dogs were barking in our ears, they spilled pop on my DS and they kept kicking us and be rude to us. The dogs even started crawling up between us and were in my hair. When I finally lost it and asked them to control their dogs they grabbed a circus worker who wanted to make US move. I told him we were sitting there because it was the best placement for our Autistic son, they backed off and moved the other group. The other group was pissed at us, as if we had imposed on them. We were there first but our child doesn't look like he has a special need.

Anyways, long story short, I'm very wary of having that happen again. I don't want to have to explain why he needs accomodations sometimes to everyone and yet he looks "normal". Anyone use these with kids who don't have a physical limitation?
post #18 of 28
We live here and go often. Our daughter is legally blind, has spd and photophobic.
They are generally very helpful.
The people who give out the passes sometimes do not use the right stamp and give one that simply puts dd ahead at some rides. Ask for the stamp that is an arrow. It will get you in the easier access and not make you wait. Tell them your dd can not wait in line for a long time. My daughter is 4 years old with a cane... they pretty much get that the line process will not be fun for others if they are all getting bonked by the cane on accident

If you are doing both disneyland and california adventure, get your GAC at disneyland, because California adventure tries to talk you out of it, sometimes because of the way they built the rides and line with more room.

If you go there with information about the conditions, confidence and have your daughter present with you, then you should be fine.

also... a disneyland tip ... at 2:30 m-f at the candyshop at the end of mainstreet... before the castle... alice, the mad hatter and other characters come out and play musical chairs with the kids. They are very interactive and sweet.
post #19 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kristine233 View Post
Anyways, long story short, I'm very wary of having that happen again. I don't want to have to explain why he needs accomodations sometimes to everyone and yet he looks "normal". Anyone use these with kids who don't have a physical limitation?

My daughter sometimes goes without her cane and just has sunglasses on. Looking at her you would not assume she was disabled. We have never had issues with this, and people are generally very good about it. Once you have the pass you go in through the exit and right up to the person seating everyone on rides. They are so friendly. They will ask your child if they are the person on the pass, sometimes. The manager told me they are not allowed to ask what the disability is and we have never had issues with it. Also, there are many different people with the cards, so sometimes you will be waiting with 1-4 other groups of all abilities. No one else with a GAC has ever said anything rude to us.
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kristine233 View Post
Anyways, long story short, I'm very wary of having that happen again. I don't want to have to explain why he needs accomodations sometimes to everyone and yet he looks "normal". Anyone use these with kids who don't have a physical limitation?
My son appears completely "normal" to the outside observer (well, until you spend 5 minutes with him LOL) and I have no qualms at all using the pass. It is mostly designed for people with invisible disabilities such as autism. People in a wheelchair automatically use the wheelchair entrance.

When we used the pass last year I didn't have one single person give us a hard time about it. The way the alternate entrances are set up the people in the regular line don't really see you anyway. I also found every cast member to be really discreet as well.

Please don't feel like your son doesn't deserve to use the card because he "just" has autism and anxiety. You aren't taking a card away from another child, everyone who needs one gets one.

This kind of reminds me of a discussion I saw somewhere else regarding a certain mega-popular children's band from Australia. A mum was complaining about the fact that the band mostly only does meet and greets for special needs children. She said that he son deserved to meet the band even though he was "normal". I understand the frustration but I felt like saying "well, my son deserves to have a normal life and grow up to do all the stuff that normal people do but he doesn't and won't so instead he gets to meet the band". It's the same with the GAC. I would dearly love that we didn't need the pass and were able to stand in line with everyone else. But that's not going to happen so instead we get to make our holiday a little easier to deal with.

You really should give Disney and the GAC a try, it is so wonderful and brings so much joy to the kids.

Martha
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