Disney Revamping Disability Access Program to Curb Abuse

Earlier this summer, we told you about the latest trend among the wealthy taking their families to Disneyland: hiring tour guides with disabilities to pose as family members so they can cut to the front of lines. Yeah… that happened.

In the post, we also told you that Disney was taking the abuse very seriously. We weren’t kidding – and apparently, neither were they. Under the current system, people living with disabilities are given guest assistance cards, which allow them to have quicker access to rides. But in light of able-bodied abuse of the system, Disney announced yesterday that people living with disabilities will no longer be granted instant access to rides.

Starting October 9, guests with disabilities will be given a new disability access card and instead of going straight to the ride, they will tell Guest Relations what attraction they want to ride. They will then receive a ticket with a time to enter the ride based on the current wait time. Through this system, people living with disabilities will not be required to wait in line, but won’t have instant access to the ride. Additionally, people with the disability access card can only make a “reservation” for one ride at a time.

Disney hopes this will curb abuse by able-bodied patrons, while still creating a positive experience for people living with disabilities. Disney spokesperson Suzi Brown offered this statement:

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.

But not everyone is happy with the new system. A petition to stop these changes has already been started by the mother of a daughter with special needs. Part of her petition reads:

The Guest Assistance Pass that you presently offer is not a privilege for challenged families. Rather, it is simply an accommodation to provide access to the park for those who otherwise would not be able to enjoy the park. If you remove this accommodation, you will undoubtedly remove the ability for many to access and enjoy the park, excluding an impaired segment of the population due to the misconduct of others–which does not at all seem to make sense.

We want to hear from you! What do you think about these proposed changes? Do you think it will successfully stop abuse of the system while keeping the parks accessible? 

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