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"Assisted" guest experience


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  • [Other] "Assisted" guest experience

    Good morning everyone!
    I'm just about to start packing up the car for a trip down to DL and DCA. We'll be leaving just as soon as I can round-up the four little mouseketeers.

    There's a lot of discussion on these threads about the GACs and their abuses. I thought I'd give those interested an insight to how/why those little gray cards make DLR possible for some.

    I have a chronic illness, as well as painful stress deformities in my spine from years of gymnastics. The chronic illness results in a condition wherein the bottoms of my feet break out in very large, painful blisters on occasion. None of these issues are readily visible and, with the exception of this post, I rarely point them out to people. But, as you might imagine, my days at DL or DCA are painful and a little more constrained than most peoples'.

    Our days look about like this...
    I get the kids to the gate at opening. The walk from the tram or the hotel is usually okay because it's early and my pain is managed. I have the four kids, two teens and two small kids (5 and 7). We go through the gate and I spend about ten minutes just watching their faces light up as they see the characters waiting at the entrance. My five year old is enamoured with the trains, so there's a mandatory expenditure to wait for the train to go buy. Then it's off to Guest Services. This can take a while, but it's cool (GS seems to be some of the hardest working folks in the park and I wouldn't want that job). At GS, I present my paperwork (even though it's not required) and the card from my last trip, which they (90% of the time) stamp graciously and happily once I explain my needs. By this point, we've generally spent an hour just getting inside and the kids are ready for the obligatory, morning churru. Off to find a cart. Ride time.
    I often send the older kids through the line (so they can enjoy the build-up and sights) while I go through the other entrance and stand at the loader to wait for them. This standing gets painful, but it's the only way they get the experience. While I'm waiting, I wonder..."Who are they talking to? Who's talking to them? Are they okay?" and it's always a relief to see them come up to the front. Our waiting time is the same as standby with this method. And, while that's fine and proper, after doing this six or seven times, I start to feel like I'm missing out on experiencing the park with the kids or being neglectful because I'm not with them and I don't know who's with them in my absense. There was a thread, a while back, about a guy masturbating in line and that's, truthfully, one of my fears every time I send my kids through the line.

    By mid-day, I'm ready for lunch and a rest...but the kids aren't. So, we head to ToonTown (or Bug's Land, or the old boat, if we're in DCA) so that they can run while I rest and re-medicate. In the worst times, we head to First Aid so that I can lie down and regain composure from pain and exhaustion. If that's the case, I can keep them happy with coloring books or the DS I carry in my backpack. But, they'd rather be enjoying the park with everyone else.

    After that, it's a crap shoot. If I use my GAC and keep the kids with my in the handicapable line,...we may get in a ride an hour (those lines aren't always the fastest). We try to make the best of the situation by chatting it up with cast members or playing "I spy". The "Hidden Mickey" book was a godsend! That'll kill time while I rest and they stay entertained.

    I don't always take my wheelchair, but *if* I do...I deal with the crowds and trying not to run over anyone. Ever tried to hold a child on your lap and push your own wheelchair? Ever tried to watch over four other humans while you're at butt level with the crowd? Ever think about how tired your hands get going over the cobblestones and planking? If I don't take my chair, we're parking out for Fantasmic by six or seven. Not because I want the best seats, but because I'm spent! And, I know I still have a responsibility and need to get everyone back to the car or hotel before I can call it a day.

    What's my point: the point is, don't begrudge someone with the GAC. I realize some people abuse it and don't need it. I also know that there are some who you wouldn't think would need it, who couldn't go to the park without it. If you see them go in front of you on a ride, just think about how that might be the one ride they get in the space that you ride three or blaze across the park in good stride.
    And, if you see a limping mom with four kids...say "hey!"

  • #2
    Re: "Assisted" guest experience

    Thank you for posting your experiences in a thoughtful and eloquent manner.

    It wasn't me, it was Lisa! :angel:


    • #3
      Re: "Assisted" guest experience

      I think it is great you still try to give your kids the Disney experience even though it is difficult for you! Hats off for your efforts!

      My husband has a permanent spine injury from a motorcycle accident (some guy rear-ended him) and has to use a motorized Go-Go scooter anywhere a lot of walking is required. Without it, well, there would be no Disneyland for him.

      We have 2 grandkids - now ages 8 and 6 - who we bring on a regular basis. At first, Russ's scooter was another ride for them. One would stand in front of Russ and drive the scooter themselves, or, later, sleep across his lap while we tool around the Park. Now that Kyla is older, she is too big for the scooter, but big enough to walk all day on her own.

      We have found all the castmembers to be very helpful and courteous in our situation. We use the exits on every ride possible. The kids now complain if grandma takes them through the regular line because papa can't ride that ride. Yeah, spoiled!

      On rides like the Carrousel, Russ will park the scooter, and use his cane to walk to the handicapp entrance. He then sits on the bench in front of Jingles and the rest of us ride the horses. On Pirates, where there isn't much to see in the regular line anyway, going in through the exit has its own wait area for the handicapp and it is a short walk to the boats. Jungle Cruise has a special-needs boat that can be brought over for those who have difficulty walking down into the boats. Even Space Mountain has a special loading area for special-needs people where there is no hurry to either load or unload. And it is kinda cool when that special car slides over onto the track! I believe you need to use the exit to get there, though. Rides in Fantasyland like Toad and Pan don't have much in the way of a queue experience, and their wait-times can be quite low.

      Keep up the good work! And if you see a blue scooter zipping by with a guy in a black stetson driving and a gal trying to keep up with him, say hi!
      Hidden Mickey - Historical fiction about Walt that mixes action and mystery with time travel and fantasy! Tweens to adults will enjoy these novels. And now, three gamebooks to play in Disneyland, DCA and WDW Magic Kingdom!

      Check out my six action/adventure novels about Walt's lost diary and his epic quest. Visit my blog page!

      Sometimes Dead Men DO Tell Tales!


      • #4
        Re: "Assisted" guest experience

        I can imagine how difficult that must be with such an injury. But I'm right there with you when saying that the GAC card makes it possible for people with disabilities to enjoy the magic as well.

        I have to use one because I have a rather severe panic anxiety disorder. It's not obvious by the eye, at all. I'm a nineteen year old girl usually there with my best friend or mother. So, it really does look like I'm just doing it to make cuts. But, I've gone to Disneyland since I was a child.. It's a very happy place for me and I hate not being able to enjoy my trip due to panic attacks. I have a hard time being in crowds, lines, or enclosed places. I can't even go to the grocery store during remotely busy hours. The GAC is a godsend for me. I used to freak out and have such a hard time standing in lines (even in the off seasons) that I'd have trouble breathing and be crying the entire line and ride due to my panic attacks.

        Plus, sometimes the wheelchair lines have a longer wait than the regular ones, or fastpass that I could go to. Usually the wheelchair lines are more spacey (since they're exits) so I don't freak out, like I could in a regular, more enclosed line. It's sort of aggravating when I get dirty looks or questioned for my pass. I don't think any of us with GAC's mind waiting for more people in the regular line to go in front of us. I actually usually feel pretty bad getting in to the first car when walking up to a ride.

        I just hope that.. eventually.. people will become more understanding. Not every problem is as visible as a wheelchair. I don't think many of us do it just to skip lines. It's for good reason.


        • #5
          Re: "Assisted" guest experience

          Thanks to Disney's accommodations of people with disabilites and understanding that people with disabilities are just trying to enjoy the park in their own way, I am able to give the gift of Disney to special kids.

          I volunteer with an agency that brings kids to Disneyland for 1 day... That's right, just one short day (9-6pm). Imagine trying to fit everything that Disney has to offer into ONE day for a kid.

          Thanks to the special "handicapped" entrances, we were able to do as many rides as possible in one day (our group got 10 done, including Splash, Space, Matterhorn, BTMRR, Indy, POTC and HM). If we had not been able to utilize the special entrance, we would have been lucky to get 4 or 5 rides as the lines were long (the park was super busy that day). While my group did not have as many visible disabilities in it, others had multiple disabilities that would not have enabled them to use the regular entrances. Near where I live, there is a theme park that is NOT accessible, and so this trip to Disney is the ONLY chance that a lot of these kids have of going on rides of any type.

          I do know that the spirit of Walt lives on... that he would want everyone to get a chance to experience the magic of Disney.

          **A big shout out to the CMs who are very understanding and accommodating for all people with disabilities.


          • #6
            Re: "Assisted" guest experience

            It's nice to see some folks with positive things to say! It's a shame that the passes get abused, but that's the way with everything in this life, right? But as you've mentioned above, not all ailments are visible. There was a time when I was recouperating from an injury and needed the "handicapable" restroom stall and was berated by a lady with a stroller who wanted the extra space so that she could take her kids into the stall with her and I was trying to explain how I actually needed the grab bar and... well, it was just a bad experience all around. People assume that if your leg isn't in a cast, then there's no reason why you shouldn't be in line with everyone else.

            I, personally, think its nice that the newer rides have queue spaces wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs, so that parties don't have to be split up. Although, I'm sure there are people who prefer to have the quick entrance instead, but that way just because you have an injury or whatever, you're not missing the experience/theming of the waiting area. But as MissMasyumaro pointed out, sometimes the quick entrances are the point -- to escape the queue itself.

            Maybe the MiceChat boards should group up some "park angels" who can give respite to folks who need a break! So that people like fourmountain can take a rest on the bench and someone else can oversee the kids in line or fetch churros or something.
            things I write: Mice Chat Blog ||
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