Changes for Disney’s Guest Assistance Cards #disney #specialneeds

by Carrie with Children with 23 comments

As a mom to a child with Down syndome, we are seasonal passholders at Walt Disney World and are fortunate to visit the parks about once a month. There is one thing we have never done at Walt Disney World though – we’ve never used the Guest Assistance Card.  (I’m not implying that it’s a good or bad thing – just stating that we’ve never used it.)

The card is meant to assist those with special needs or disabilities that need extra care when going on rides and/or waiting in lines. Over the weekend, Disney officials announced that the Guest Assistance Card would soon be replaced with the new Disability Access Service Card on October 9, 2013.

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Cinderella's Castle It truly sounds like Disney is taking a lot of aspects into consideration with this new policy. And most importantly to me, continuining to make every guest feel important no matter the situation.

Here are some Disability Access Service FAQs that I received today from the folks at Walt Disney World.

How will the new Disney program work?
The Disability Access Service Card will offer Guests a return time for an attraction based on the current wait time. Guest Assistance Cards will continue to be in effect until Oct. 9. We look forward to sharing more information as we get closer to implementation.

Did Disney receive assistance in developing the Disability Access Service Card?
Yes, Disney is engaging disability groups, and Autism Speaks was instrumental in providing feedback as we developed this new process.

Why is Disney making these changes?
Given the increasing volume of requests Disney receives for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process beginning Oct. 9 so that it creates a more consistent experience for all our Guests while providing accommodations for Guests with disabilities.

Who will be eligible for a Disability Access Service Card?
Our goal is to accommodate Guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities).

Will Guests on wish trips also use Disability Access Service Cards?
No. Guests who are visiting through wish-granting organizations will have access through a separate program.

What should Guests do if they have concerns? 
Guests should contact Guest Relations to discuss their assistance needs.

Minnie Mouse Waving in Parade

I am interested to see how this new system works.  Even though we haven’t used the Guest Assistance Card in the past with Molly, doesn’t mean we won’t be needing the new Disability Access Service card in the future.  I’m not sure if this is going to be of assistance or not for families needing extra help in navigating the parks.

I’ll keep you posted as new information is released about this new policy.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts too.

What do you think about these new changes?  


  • Pam King

    When we went a couple of weeks ago, we used them for the first time for my mom, who had her knee replaced. At that time unless there was a fast pass she had to wait in line just like everybody else. Thankfully the longest we had to wait was 20 minutes. I hope they will be consistent in how the pass is used. I realize there were concerns of people abusing the privilege, but when somebody truly needs it they will be assisted.

    • Carrie with Children

      I’m glad to hear that it worked well for your mom, Pam. I’m hoping this new method will help those that truly need some extra help too.

  • Kerri O

    I think it’s awesome that Disney wants to do what’s best to help out their disabled visitors!

    • Carrie with Children

      Me too, Kerri! It’s just the right thing to do!

  • Jackie

    It sounds like a wonderful program, but I can see how some would abuse the program too. It’s terrible that people do it and for no reason at all.

    • Carrie with Children

      I agree, Jackie! I think this new program will help a lot of families (including mine)!

  • Megan @mnmspecial

    I’ve never been to Disney, but I appreciate that they include unseen disabilities.

    • Carrie with Children

      Ah, I hope you can come to Disney soon – it’s my ‘happy place’! 🙂 Thanks for reading, Megan.

  • Angela

    I think it’s great that Disney is giving disability assistance the attention it deserves and hope the new system works out well for everyone who needs it.

  • MIZ

    more than anything it broke my heart how people abused the system before…people who didnt need the pass.


    • Carrie with Children

      As a parent to a child with special needs, it infuriated me! Here’s hoping this new system helps the cheaters! Thanks for reading!

  • Becca - My Crazy Good Life

    I love that Disney thinks ahead and is always looking for the best way to service their guests. Thanks for breaking down the new rules!

    • Carrie with Children

      I agree – they are always a step ahead! Thanks for reading, Becca!

  • Beeb

    I remember reading about the “Black market” Disney tours that some people were paying top dollar for, where they would pretend to be related to a person who had a Guest Assistance Card so that they could skip the lines. (I swear, real life is truly stranger than fiction!) I know Disney said they would take action so I am guessing this is why they are updating their program.

    • Carrie with Children

      Yep – I think that is the reason for this new policy. I’m hoping it deters the folks that abuse the system as they continue to help families with special needs.

      Thanks for reading, Beeb!

  • Rachel Nudge

    Unless I missed something, I don’t understand the difference between the old card and the new card? Is it just a name change?

    • Carrie with Children

      Rachel – With the old card, you could show it to a castmember and immediately get on the ride/attraction. With this new pass, the castmember will assign you a time to come back to ride (much like the Fastpass) and you’ll join others in the Fastpass line, requiring a small wait time.

      It takes away the ability to get on a ride instantly, but still offers some flexibility.

  • Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell

    Sounds like it’s an effort to make things more equitable for everyone. I think it’s pretty fair, to be honest.

    • Carrie with Children

      As a special needs mom, I think it’s pretty fair too Liz! Glad you agree!

  • Shop with Me Mama

    I think this is fair too! Great program!

  • Christena

    Thanks for clarifying! We are also passholders and we have used the assistance card ( almost a guilt feeling in doing so), however a cast member is the one who educated us on it. It made our trips more enjoyable allowing our son to enjoy the attractions also! Hoping this works for Disney and weeds out the “cheaters”.

    • Carrie with Children

      I’m so glad to hear that these FAQs helped you! I think the passes are definitely a big help for those of us that truly need them. So glad to hear your son had fun!