To say we were apprehensive about taking Sebby to Disneyland two weeks ago might be an understatement. The crowds, the noise, the waiting and lines all had the possibility of being too much for our little guy. Before I left, I had done some reading on the changes made in the past few months for Disney guests with disabilities.
What I found was a lot of negative feedback on the new program that utilizes the Disney Disability Access Service Card. With our trip booked, I knew I had to go with an open mind, and just make it work.
I'm sure you've heard by now that the system was changed to put an end to the rampant fraud going on in the parks, with people taking advantage of the previous system. Unfortunately that abuse took it's toll on park guests like my son.
When I went to apply for the card, I got a little resistance from the Cast Member at Guest Services at California Adventure. I explained I needed the card for Sebby, who had Autism. She asked me why he needed it and I said he would have trouble waiting in long lines and as I started to explain why, she cut me off and curtly told me I would still have to wait. Having already read about how the pass worked, I tried to explain it wasn't about the wait, but waiting in lines in a crowded area, and she cut me off again. It was very clear to me people were still trying to abuse the new system, but in the end, she did issue the card to him, but not without frustration on my part.
The new Disney Disability Access Service Card
Features of the new Disney disability access service card include a photo of the person with the disability, the dates of the visit and the number of people in the party. How it works is you decide on the ride you want to go on and visit one of eight guest relations kiosks (there are 4 in each park at Disneyland) and let the cast member know you'd like to ride. Say your ride is Radiator Springs Racers and the wait time in the line is 90 minutes. You get a return time for that line of 90 minutes and you enter the Fast Pass lane at that time. You can only have one ride at a time on your card.
For the most part, the system worked for us, but my son was also very focused on just a handful of the same rides, so that might be why. For most of the trip, we flipped between Radiator Springs Racers in California Adventure and Star Tour or Space Mountain at Disneyland. We were also allowed to use the rider switch pass so Sebby got to ride most of the rides two times in a row while Alan and I took turns watching Quincy and Edison. That was really great for us, and Sebby too. Not only that, but we were able to ask which rides we could go on as a family and even go to go on Peter Pan's Flight without an insane wait in line, which is a very popular ride in the park.
For a family that wants to experience a bunch of rides, I can see how this new system could be frustrating, because sometimes a kiosk isn't near your location. But in all honestly, the kiosks were centrally located near popular attractions. However, I did find that despite Disney clearly says on their site that the cardholder does not need to be present at the kiosk to get a return time, every time we went to get a new time, the Cast Member looked for my son to make sure he was there.
It is a shame however, that there is little to no accommodations made for meeting characters - from what I noticed this included people with wheelchairs. As a mother to a child with Autism and another child with developmental delays due to prematurity (therefore lacking the strength to stand for 90-120 minutes) What I was told is that one person from our party could wait in line and the rest of us could come back. I pointed out that this wouldn't work for parties with only one caregiver. Given that a person's Disney experience might be based on meeting their favorite characters and not riding rides, this is a huge flaw in the system that needs to be addressed.
Have you used the the Disney Disability Access Service Card? Did the new system work for you and your family?
Please also know all the above is based on MY experiences only with my son, and it may differ from yours. Also, our experience is based on a visit to Disneyland, the procedures in Walt Disney World seem to be slightly different. I was in no way compensated AT ALL for ANY PORTION of my family's trip to Disneyland. This is NOT a sponsored post.