This card can help you
access various forms of help around the park. You can get these at
Guest Relations. The card can be issued for length of stay, or for up
to three months at a time with an Annual Pass. The card is valid for the
holder and up to five companions, though you must specify at Guest
Relations the number of people in your party. GACs are issued in various
formats according to your need. If you are disabled in any way, whether
or not you are in a wheelchair, describe your disability and needs to
the Guest Relations cast member. He or she will issue the most
appropriate GAC for your condition(s). Although they are not medical
professionals, Guest Relations cast members are highly trained in
discerning the most appropriate GAC for each situation, although you
must stress your needs. Make sure that you fully understand exactly what
accommodations your GAC provides.
If you will be using a wheelchair or ECV, you may not need this card.
You will automatically be permitted to use the park and attraction park
wheelchair entrances, and you’ll be allowed to stay in your chair on
rides that permit this. However keep
in mind that beyond this, Disney cast members have no obligation to make
any special accommodations for wheelchair/ECV users without a GAC. So
even if you’re in a wheelchair, if you have any additional needs it’s
best to get a GAC. Some GAC formats provide accommodations that are
absolutely unavailable to those without one.
If you will be parking your
chair at times and walking into an attraction queue, but you still need
assistance, then you may want to get a GAC. If you have a disability
that is not visible or obvious, you may want a GAC. The GAC tells the
cast members what your needs are and can make for a much easier
experience. Without a GAC or a wheelchair you will not be allowed in
the special wait areas, entrances or handicapped seating areas.
Issues that GACs can be
extremely helpful for include invisible ailments like autism, ADD/ADHD,
heat and sun problems, claustrophobia and crowd phobias. Whenever
possible and depending on the specifics of your GAC, the cast members
may take you to an alternative queue or wait area that can make things
much easier. Those with other issues such as visual or hearing problems
can benefit from a GAC. For example, you may be able to be seated
toward the front of shows.
The GAC is the only means of using a stroller as a wheelchair. Without a
GAC that specifies this, the stroller will not be permitted in queues,
What the GAC won’t
usually do is get you to the front of the line; however, this does
occasionally happen. At times we’ve actually had wait longer than if
we’d gone through the main queue. The GAC can get you various forms of
assistance, which may differ from attraction to attraction. Just
approach a cast member at the entrance, show your GAC and make your
Occasionally, we’ve gotten
a cast member who just wouldn’t help. You can try asking for a
supervisor, which may get you better results.
Some forms of help a GAC
can get you include:
Ø The ability to use your stroller as you would a wheelchair, taking it
through the wheelchair entrances and paths.
Use of the special entrances, exits and waiting areas as needed.
Allowing you to sit in front seating areas of shows if you have visual
impairments. Arrive early if you need this accommodation, or wait for
the next show. Seats are not set aside specifically for the visually
impaired, so they may be full if you arrive at showtime. If the seats
are available, however, you will have priority seating.
Ø Allowing you to wait in a shaded or air-conditioned area if the waiting
area is too hot or sunny. This may not always be available.
Ø The ability to approach a cast member with your specific and unique
needs. They will then usually try to help if your request is possible
at that attraction.
If your disability is not
visible, you may have a much easier time getting a GAC if you supply
some kind of proof of your issue. Years ago it was easy to get a GAC.
We noticed over time that the Guest Relations staff were getting less
willing to hand out the card. Sarah’s physical issues were not visible,
and so after meeting some frustrating resistance we finally started
bringing written evidence. We’ve brought doctor’s notes that were
written for other purposes, and on another occasion a copy of a legal
document confirming Sarah’s disability. Though this is not required, it
made things go smoother.
You may wish to have a
doctor’s note written stating the nature of the problem and the need for
special assistance. If you prefer, the note does not have to reveal the
actual diagnosis. In fact, the diagnosis is not needed for the cast
member to determine what type of GAC you should be issued. It should
focus on the special needs you may have with your condition.
Be sure to bring the person
who needs the GAC into Guest Relations with you. We have heard that
there have been people who have tried to fake the need for a GAC. Guest
Relations tries to be certain that the person the GAC is being requested
for is really there at the park. They also want to be sure that there
is true need for a GAC, before issuing it. It can help the process go
more easily if the Guest Relations cast member can see the actual person
requesting the GAC.
Here’s an example of a note
that your doctor might write, and it should be on his professional
letterhead and signed by the doctor:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing concerning ___________ who has been diagnosed with
__________. These problems cause an inability to [stand, sit or walk
for extended periods of time, stand in crowds (whatever your issues
are)...] This will definitely impact his/her ability to wait in lines.
Please provide an alternative whenever possible that will minimize
_________. Additionally, he/she should also be out of the sun and in a
cooler environment as often as possible. Please offer any assistance
Your Doctor’s Name
On occasion we have
encountered a cast member at Guest Relations who did not know about the
GAC. Don’t argue or bother explaining. There’s a whole park out there
waiting for you, and it’s not worth the time. You don’t need to spend
time demanding your rights or correcting someone. Once in a while some
cast members may be fairly new, inexperienced and/or not thoroughly
trained. Just nicely request a supervisor, who is likely to be
knowledgeable and able to help you.
On occasion at the
attractions you may encounter a cast member who does not understand what
to do with GAC holders, or who does not handle your issues with the
sensitivity required. If this occurs, just politely ask for a
supervisor. Don’t let it get to you! You’re there to have a blast, and
sometimes people lack experience, maturity or judgment.
One GAC is fine for all
four parks on the date(s) specified on the GAC. You can obtain a single
GAC for the entire length of your stay.
(This article was taken from the guide
book Walt Disney
World with Disabilities).
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