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Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

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  • [Question] Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

    Is it required that they offer something like the GAC?

  • #2
    Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

    Absolutely not. Its a voluntary program as a component of guest services, and they've considered eliminating it several times to the bare minimum of ADA requirements.
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    • #3
      Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

      As far as I know - yes and no.

      With the ADA, buildings built after 1990 have to be accessible. Buildings built before 1990 have to remove barriers to accessibility - but only if it can be accomplished without "much difficulty or expense."

      As I interpret and understand it that means that Disney has to provide accessible (ie, no steps and able to accommodate wheelchairs) entrances and exits to anything built after 1990, whether than is in the main queue (ie, Luigi's Tires, the Princess Fantasy Faire, etc.) or via an alternative entrance (like Splash Mountain). It also means that where they can, Disney has to retrofit older attractions and facilities or provide wheelchair/impaired mobility access there (for instance, providing a wheelchair ramp into City Hall or adding a wheelchair stall with support bars in every restroom).

      It also means that some attractions that are older, such as Tarzan/Swiss Family Treehouse, are exempt from being accessible because there's no way to retrofit that or provide wheelchair access without essentially taking down the structure. They don't have to make every ride vehicle able to hold a wheelchair. They don't have to have sign language interpreters for riders who are Deaf or narration for the blind. Etc. Disney seems to provide alternative experiences for those things where possible (like the Sleeping Beauty castle and Nemo submarines both have accessible alternative experiences that don't require stairs).

      So do they have to offer a GAC sort of program? I think that until or unless every single (newer) attraction is free of steps, they will always have to offer some sort of program to allow guests to use the alternative, accessible entrances. They can't turn away a rider from Splash Mountain (which has steps in the queue) because they're in a wheelchair; they have to send that rider through some sort of alternative entrance. Even some of of the attractions in DCA do require alternate access for wheelchairs/mobility issues - like the elevators at a lot of the Paradise Pier attractions because of the steps.

      As to whether they are required under the ADA to provide access/GACs for other illnesses/disorders? I don't know. I don't think so.
      Last edited by Malina; 09-19-2013, 10:50 PM.
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      • #4
        Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

        Access - yes. GAC - no.





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        • #5
          Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

          Originally posted by Sambo View Post
          Access - yes. GAC - no.
          That's the long and short of it. How to provide access without the GAC, though?
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          • #6
            Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

            You build it in to new things, and assistance for the older pre-compliant.





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            • #7
              Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

              Originally posted by Malina View Post
              That's the long and short of it. How to provide access without the GAC, though?
              You send people who need assistance through the designated way, backups and extended waits be damned.

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              • #8
                Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

                Originally posted by Sambo View Post
                You build it in to new things, and assistance for the older pre-compliant.
                True, but they haven't always done that - Splash and Indy were built after the ADA WITH steps, and so were a bunch of the DCA rides. Which leads us to this conundrum.
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                • #9
                  Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

                  Originally posted by Malina View Post
                  True, but they haven't always done that - Splash and Indy were built after the ADA WITH steps, and so were a bunch of the DCA rides. Which leads us to this conundrum.
                  Just because Splash and Indy have steps doesn't mean there isn't an accessible route available. Same with the DCA rides (although I can't think of many that would qualify. ToT has the bottom level and Screamin has the elevators to grant access, along with the single rider ramp).

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                  • #10
                    Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

                    Originally posted by Nirya View Post
                    Just because Splash and Indy have steps doesn't mean there isn't an accessible route available. Same with the DCA rides (although I can't think of many that would qualify. ToT has the bottom level and Screamin has the elevators to grant access, along with the single rider ramp).
                    Yes, I'm aware of that (and I use those because I can't do the steps - and the ones at DCA with steps include RSR, the Golden Zephyr, Grizzly River Run, the swings, ToT and California Screamin'), but if they go that way they might have a shorter wait time than the guests in the regular line, and then people get resentful, and other people try to use it as an "unlimited Fastpass" and fraud happens. Which is how it went with the GACs.

                    So it comes back to this: they need some sort of credential or pass to allow people to access the alternative entrance without things getting out of control...so there's no real way to provide access without a GAC or something similar.
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                    • #11
                      Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

                      Originally posted by Malina View Post
                      True, but they haven't always done that - Splash and Indy were built after the ADA WITH steps, and so were a bunch of the DCA rides. Which leads us to this conundrum.
                      Splash was designed and approved by code enforcers in 1987, built in 1988, and opened in 1989, so it does not have to meet ADA laws and the steps are fine.

                      Indy opened in 1995 and has a fully wheelchair accessible queue with two elevators to get you up and down into the loading area. But Park Ops has elected to not use that system and instead has a modified accessible access process. Park Ops management is seriously considering reconfiguring the queue back to its 1995 format and making it fully wheelchair accessible, thus eliminating the ability by anyone in a wheelchair to bypass the Standby line if they don't have a Fastpass.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

                        Originally posted by Malina View Post
                        That's the long and short of it. How to provide access without the GAC, though?
                        In DCA, a GAC is not required. DCA is completely ADA compliant.

                        In DIsneyland, due to the age, many rides require accessibility. For example, the Pirates queue cannot handle a wheelchair. So, wheelchairs are sent to the exit side. The ADA requires the ride be accessible, not that every person be accommodated for their individual needs. They do that for the good will. Unfortunately a few abuse that good will. I know for many, it is needed. I refuse to look at someone and say "They look healthy enough" because I know many disabilities aren't visible. But as far as Disney needing to accommodate, no they do not need to.
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                        • #13
                          Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

                          Originally posted by Malcon10t View Post
                          The ADA requires the ride be accessible, not that every person be accommodated for their individual needs. They do that for the good will
                          No

                          They must provide 'reasonable accommodations' for anyone who has a qualified disability - regardless of ADA accessible or not.

                          ADA accessibility is just a standard to ensure most spaces are accessible by default. It's an attempt to 'raise the minimum accessibility' in public spaces. But your obligations under the ADA DO NOT STOP with simply having your building built out to design guidelines.

                          The ADA design guidelines are mainly about mobility for the physically disabled. The scope of the ADA is much larger than that and includes all mental and physical qualifying disabilities.

                          Historically disney goes above the minimums for their own customer service purposes and have done so long before the ADA was law.

                          Originally posted by Malcon10t View Post
                          In DCA, a GAC is not required. DCA is completely ADA compliant
                          And assistance for the disabled is still required in DCA - it just depends on what your disability and limitations are.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

                            Originally posted by Nikefutbolero View Post
                            Is it required that they offer something like the GAC?
                            No, what they are required to do is provide reasonable accomodations for anyone disabled as defined by the ADA. You can do this on a case by case basis on an incident by incident basis.

                            Disney implemented the GAC system as a way of handling the process to try to streamline it and make it so CMs all over the park were not to interpret disabilities and how to accommodate them. The GAC program is Disney's effort to make the need a 'machine' where the CMs around the park just follow policy vs think. It streamlined it for guests, and removed liability/conflict issues for the CMs.

                            GAC was a *way* to address accessibility requirements... it is not the *only* way, nor was it lined up exactly with what the minimum requirements were.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Is Disney legally required to offer a guest assistance program?

                              These are taken straight from Title 3 of the Americans with disabilities act:

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