Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Disney World Guest Assistance Card for Autism

If you have a family member with autism and are traveling to Walt Disney World, you can request a Guest Assistance Card which is designed to help accommodate people and their family members who have special needs. This has been our experience with the GAC: upon entering the parks, you would go to the Guest Relations area which is visible upon entry. If you are entering Epcot thru the International Gateway from the Epcot Resort Area, they can assist you at the regular ticket booths. The person you are requesting the GAC for needs to be with you at this time. You don't need to give the cast member your family member's diagnosis, but you do have to request specifically what accommodations you need. For Dylan we have historically requested "stroller as a wheelchair" and "alternate waiting area". They will make note of this and also how many people in your party and how long you are vacationing at Disney. With this pass we can use the wheelchair entrance, which in our experience usually puts you in an air conditioned quieter setting while you wait to go on the ride. One time while attending Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, when Dylan was about 3, the person at guest relations denied our GAC saying because it was a special event we wouldn't need it. This was a nightmare because the park was in a gridlock shortly after and we had to leave without even going on one attraction. After I sent a 3 page email to Disney regarding our experience in detail, I received an apologetic phone call and park tickets for the four of us, which was a nice gesture, but I would have much rather been able to enjoy the Christmas Party while we were there. So, lesson learned, if a Disney cast member tries to tell you you don't need a GAC for any reason, ask to speak with their supervisor, do not take no for an answer.

All this being said, the way the parks are so extremely crowded anymore, we usually go on only 2 rides even with the GAC before Dylan has had enough, but it does help. Even under the best of circumstances navigating the Magic Kingdom and Epcot thru the masses can be a pretty grueling experience.

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