A Game That Can’t Be Won! Disney’s Disability Access
During September of 2013, Disney announced that their Guest Assistance Card would be withdrawn from use at its theme parks.
The cards offered a guest with disabilities and accompanying guests, front of line access to most rides and attractions within the parks.
Over the summer however, news broke that fit and wealthy guests were hiring in the services of disabled guests in order to gain privileged access to the parks.
Disney have an amazing reputation for guest service in their parks and we have often praised their caring attitude to all guests, but our guess is that this news item was the final straw that broke the camel’s back on an issue that they probably already had in their sights.
The distinct tragedy here, is that Disney must do something to keep the parks flowing freely while tackling what many regular park guests consider to be widespread abuse of the disability access system. Sadly, some deserving guests will most certainly feel let down by what looks set to be a less easy trip to the Disney parks. Thanks to a bunch of selfish people that defy belief!
Something that people may wish to bear in mind also, is that the scale of the challenge for Disney is huge. This isn’t a minority situation.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that Disneyland California’s Cars Land ride, the Radiator Springs Racers averaged around 5,000 Guest Assistance Card users per day out of a total 20,000 riders!
With figures like that, it is fundamentally clear that a disgraceful systemic abuse of the system has brought about this inevitable change.
Disney’s Disability Access Service Card starts up on October 8th 2013.
This new access system allows guests front of line access, much in the same way as a Fastpass Ticket would, however guests will be required to return at a specific time of the day in order to enjoy the attraction as a front of the line guest.
(Guests may, if they so choose, still join the regular line).
Reactions to the new Disability Access Service Card
Some organisations and guests are already voicing concern to Disney about the upcoming changes, forcing Meg Crofton – CEO of parks in the US and France, to issue an open letter to disability organisations;
“Unfortunately, our current program has been abused and exploited to such an extent that we are no longer able to effectively sustain it in its present form,”
“We have long recognized that people may have different needs, and we will continue to work individually with our Guests with disabilities to provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances.”
We have seen blog and forum posts that denounce Disney for not acknowledging guests with ‘hidden’ disabilities which obviously cause a challenge to Disney’s ability to administer a fair system.
Our Opinion about the Disability Access Service Card
We aren’t going to take the easy route on this one and not make a comment.
Firstly, Disney are faced with having to deal with a social problem. One of selfishness and greed. We as individuals should visit the parks with courtesy and responsibility and not leave it down to Disney to ‘police’ the selfless behaviour of people that are just too damned lazy to stand in a line.
Secondly, there are many who would stand in a court of law to defend their right to Disability access. Sure, we agree, that some forms of hidden illnesses are debilitating and can prevent a comfortable time in a line wait, but sadly, those that deserve some help, look set to be nudged out by a significant number that choose to be selfish. We know for a fact that we know many guests that deserve some support when on vacation with this category of disability, but we’ve also heard loads ‘bragging’ that they are having a great vacation because they lied about awful conditions such as ADD and ADHD.
Disney know this is taking place. They now have no choice other than to take a stance.
In reality, Disney are bringing a part of their Park Access systems in line with the other parks of Orlando, such as Universal, making their new system at least comparable in some respects.
Although we’ve made it clear that we deplore the behaviour of the selfish abuse of the disability system, Disney would do very well to look at the root cause of the problem: Attraction wait times are simply too long and guests cannot upgrade to priority queue passes.
The problem that Disney must face up to, is that unlike Universal and SeaWorld, they do not offer a PAID access system to skip the lines.