ANAHEIM (CBSLA.com) — Disney rolled out new guidelines Wednesday in an attempt to prevent what it describes as “growing abuse” of an earlier system that allowed disabled visitors and their families to bypass long lines at the park.
The changes were made to the Guest Assistance Card (GAC) program, which was reportedly exploited by guests who would hire a disabled “guide” to pose as a family member and allow their party to skip ahead in line at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Park.
KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports in some cases people paid $130 an hour for backdoor access to the park under the old system.
Under the new program, disabled visitors who cannot tolerate long wait times will be asked to sign a form and be photographed for a new disability access service card. Cardholders will then visit one of three kiosks around the park and receive a time to return to the attraction based on current wait times.
“It will have their picture on the pass so they won’t be able to sell it to somebody else and they’ll have to schedule a ride time to return to the attraction to ride, so there’s no real advantage of being able to ride quicker than anyone else,” said Todd Regan of the website MiceChat.
Some parents of children with behavioral challenges object to the changes.
“It’s important to me because Disney is so important to my son,” said Stacey Presley, whose son has autism. “It’s the only thing that really gets a smile on his face. And I want him to be able to enjoy the park.”
“Our kids have had meltdowns under the old system where they were basically offered abilities to have very, very brief waits,” said Judy Mark, who together with Presley attempted to bring a petition opposing the new system with 40,000 signatures to Disneyland Wednesday. “And to say to these families now who have such a stressful life that this one thing has been taken away from us is absolutely abominable to me.”
In a statement, Disney Parks President Meg Crofton said the program is being modified to serve those guests who “truly need it.”
“Our new program is designed to provide the special experience our guests have come to expect from Disney and help us discourage growing abuse,” Crofton said. “We have long recognized and accommodated guests with varying needs and will continue to provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances.”