Monthly Archives: September 2013

Disney’s Guest Assistance Card Program Is Changing!

If you watch the news, you have probably heard by now that Disney has announced that it is changing it’s Guest Assistance Card program. This program allowed individuals with either special needs or handicapped issues to show a card that was issued by Disney, and to enter attractions through the Fast Pass line or the exit, depending on the attraction, to avoid having to stand and wait in line.

The Guest Assistance Card, or GAC received a huge amount of bad press earlier this year when it was discovered that wealthy guests were hiring disabled travel guides in order to take advantage of their GAC, and not have to wait in the long lines like everyone else. The idea of this “taking advantage” outraged many, and forced Disney to take a hard look at the program. Disney was aware that at times people were abusing this system, but the extent of the abuse had not been known to the general public.

This week, The Disney Company has announced that it worked with disability groups such as Autism Speaks, to come up with a new program in attempt to curb the abuse the current system is enduring. The Disabled Assistance System, or DAS, will replace the GAC on October 9, 2014.

Unlike the GAC, which is issued and good for the entire length of your visit, the DAS card will need to be issued to a guest each and every day of their stay. Guests will need to check in with Guest Relations, and have their photo taken to be printed on the card they will receive. This will allow cast members to be sure that the guest who has been issued the card is in fact riding the attraction with the family members present. The cardholder will present the card, and will be given a hand-written return time, based on the actual wait time of the attraction at that moment. The guest will be allowed admittance into the attraction at the time of the hand-written return. There will be DAS kiosks around the park to assist guests with obtaining these return times. Only one DAS ride return time will be issued per individual at a time.

For guests requesting a DAS card based solely on their use of a wheelchair for mobility, the DAS card will only work on attractions that are not currently accessible by wheelchair. At this time, Walt Disney World has 46 vehicle ride attractions, and 38 have line queues that are wheelchair accessible. At Disneyland, there are 55 vehicle ride attractions, and they also have 38 that the line queues have already been made wheelchair accessible. Eventually, all line queues will be made to allow wheelchair access all the way up to the front of the ride. If a line queue is not wheelchair accessible, return time entrance to the attraction will be allowed through Fast Pass entrances or through the exits at select attractions. At California Adventure Park, DAS cards will not be issued to guests whose DAS needs are solely based on the need of a wheelchair, as all of their vehicle ride line queues are already wheelchair accessible.

This new assistance program will not apply to children visiting the parks through the Make-A-Wish foundation. They will still be allowed unlimited FastPass entrances to all attractions so that they will not have to endure waiting in long lines.

While some people are voicing concern with the announcement of these changes, it is important to remember that Disney is making these changes to enhance the Disney experience for all of their guests, and to reduce the abuse by those who feel the need to be ‘privileged’. You can count on the fact that just as Disney does with everything, they have researched and well planned for these adjustments, and feel as though they are making the best improvements they can make. Disney wants all guests, no matter their limitations, to feel welcome in their parks, and to make lasting memories and enjoy their experiences. For more information or concerns about your family and the Disabled Assistance System, contact me today with questions, and see Disney’s website here:¬†https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/guests-with-disabilities/

Disney’s New Rapid Fill Mug Program

For quite a while now, Disney has offered refillable mugs as part of their Disney Dining Plans, which were refillable at no cost at any beverage station in your Disney Resort. Alongside the beverage stations, you can find a mug washing area to keep the mug clean between uses. Many frequent Disney goers even count these mugs as collector’s items. I can not lie, I drink coffee out of mine almost every morning! They have lids on them and are great travel mugs for the car.

mugs

The mugs have even been available for purchase if you did not purchase the dining plan when you booked your reservation. Many Disney guests have brought their mugs back on return trips for re-use. Call it recycling, call it taking full advantage of an opportunity, call it being cheap. Whatever you call it, Disney has decided that they no longer want you to bring back your old mugs and re-fill them.

The new mugs which started rolling out at select Disney resorts (All-Star Resorts first) in August, 2013 have an RFID chip in the mugs. The mugs become active the day of purchase, or check in if you purchase the applicable dining plan, and are active for a limited time. If you purchase a dining plan, you can still use your mugs your entire visit. When you fill your mug at the beverage station, the screen will let you know when the mug will no longer be of use at the stations.

If you purchase the mugs separately, you will be given the option to purchase a 1 day usage for $8.99, 2 day usage for $11.99, 3 days for $14.99 and length of stay for $17.99. Prices are subject to change.

What can you do if you happen to bring back an old mug? Well, you can still refill it with water at the beverage station, as all of the beverage stations in the parks and resorts will dispense water for free. Otherwise, you purchase your beverages each time you are thirsty, or succumb to the new program and purchase a brand new mug each visit. Some Disney guests have expressed that they are not happy with this new program, calling it Disney being ‘wasteful’. Given the fact that I get really excited about the new mug each time I come back to the World, it doesn’t really bother me personally. What do you think about the changes in Disney’s Refillable Mug Program?

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