Friday 27 September 2013

Disney Shutting Down Disability Passes

For awhile now, Disney has had a policy in place which allowed people with disabilities to skip the lines when they weren't physically or emotionally able to tolerate the wait.  This has been a great program for families with special needs children or parents, letting them enjoy what should be a wonderful family-oriented holiday.  Unfortunately, there are those who decided they shouldn't have to wait with the plebes.

The discovery of blackmarket 'disabled' guides who are paid to escort wealthy families to the front of the lines was bound to spark outrage and policy changes.  I've been waiting to find out what Disney would decide to do.

As of October 9th, the Disney Guest Assistance Card program will be cancelled.  It will be replaced by a Disabled Assistance Card program.  I don't think anything has been finalized but it looks like disabled people will be able to reserve a time to ride an attraction.  Only one ride can be reserved at a time and people will still have to wait the equivalent of the line time.

There are families with genuine disabilities who are concerned about having to track back and forth to Guest Services and wait in line each time to sign up for the next ride.  Some of the blog posts I read suggested that Disney may allow families to book a ride series (ie. 9:00-10:00, It's a Small World; 10-11, Space Mountain, etc.).  Personally, I think that would be a great idea, especially for kids with autism.  A schedule for the day would make the visit much easier.

Of course, I'm also cynical enough to believe that privileged wealthy families will continue to find ways around the system.  Money and an assumption of superiority can batter down a surprisingly large number of doors.  To me, Disney should accept that and offer ridiculously expensive "skip the line" passes (maybe $ 1000 per ride?) and donate the money to charity.  A charity which helps special needs families would be a great ironic counterpoint, don't you think?  Heck, even a charity that brings special needs kids to Disneyworld for free, like Dreams Take Flight.

Disney's made real efforts over the years to accept all shapes and sizes of families, no matter what their needs.  I'm hoping they continue to do the right thing.

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