Monday, August 05, 2013

Dis*ney's Guest Assis*tance Pass

I have SO much to tell you about this little known gem in Dis*ney World. (I'm assuming Disney*land has this too but have no experience with that park so am not sure.)


I first started hearing about this card when we began planning for our time in Orlando this past Christmas.  I was reading some of the "boards" where moms, etc would talk about the parks and tips and such.  I was looking for information about the resorts with the best decorations for us to peruse, and saw people talking about taking kids with special needs, and then lots of talk about this card.

There is much debate over this and it sounds like you never know for sure who you will get at the guest relations center when you go to ask about one of these.  (Sometimes people just won't know enough about the card and how it can apply to certain special needs.  If you get a person like that it was stated time and again to just ask for a supervisor.)  It WAS made very clear in all that I read that it does get misused at times.  It's something that should obviously be used if it is truly needed, and even those who do get one should choose the times to use it.  It is NOT a bypass the entire line card.  It may mean different things for different needs and when you do go to ask for one, you will want to discuss the NEEDS of the child and they will help you with the card and what it is for.

So here's more of what it is and how to get it.  First, please know I would never get one or try to get one with either Liam or Olivia.  As we are looking ahead to this coming Christmas, we are looking to go back to Orlando and part of their gift this year is going to be a day at Magic Kingdom with mom.  Just the two of them.  And I will not get a card (though it's tempting!) :)

Also, I did NOT use it for every ride we went on.

OK, so, this card is geared to help those with special needs.  This obviously began with the basics... wheelchair bound children and adults.  But has grown as more and more have been used for those who just have different needs to have a fun experience at a park such as this.  I liked how one person put it when they received some very disparaging looks from others in a line where they had been able to use their card and go instead through the Fast Pass line.  They said, if it were up to me, I would have traded my child's needs and the silly card, for their child who was able to wait in line even though that line was long and ugly.  That's the gist.  And even with the card, and even if you do bypass lines at times, for the kids who truly need this card you will still never have a day like those who don't need one of these cards.  

A card may be used to allow a stroller in line, where the stroller is basically used similar to a wheelchair or to give the child their own space such as a highly sensory child who couldn't handle the closeness of a line but could wait in line time wise just fine.  Or a child who has issues with loud noises, etc and would benefit from sitting farther away at a loud show, or near an exit in case they had a reaction and needed to leave quickly.  Or a child who couldn't handle the temps of waiting in a hot line and medically would overheat and may need an air-conditioned waiting area.  Etc.  I think you understand.  Here are some of Braeden's needs... lines: the overwhelming numbers of people, noises, smells, closeness, etc. and his movement and impulsivity, shows: loud noise, scary sequences, needing to be by an exit in case he bolts or needs to leave, etc.  There was no way he would have done much at all if we didn't have that card, and even with it we used it only when needed.

Here's us just trying to wait for lunch at Hollywood Studios.  He was on the verge of a major meltdown.  Luckily I was able to hold him off with an iPad in the air conditioning until we could get in for our reservation and get his sugar levels evened out.  (He hadn't wanted any of the snacks I had and did offer him!)


We went to Hollywood Studios first so that was where we got our card.  They will write it out for the duration of your trip and it's good at all of the parks, so you only need to get one for your trip.  I admit I was nervous about asking for it, but the gentleman I spoke with had no problem with it and was SO HELPFUL!  He asked about Braeden's needs and I explained.  He went on to suggest ear plugs for some of the shows which I hadn't even thought of and when he saw I had none he went and got two pair for us to use.  He reiterated it was NOT a line bypass card and I let him know I did know that.

At Hollywood, we were among the first in the gates which was so helpful!  We got to Toy Story Mania as one of the first and had NO LINE, so no card was used.  Then we went to Star Wars, even though it was across the park, because he wanted to ride that and I knew those two COULD have lines later.  Again we didn't use the card and had only about a 5-10 min wait which was perfect.  What we DID use the card for at this park was the Cars Stunt show, American Idol, and Fantasmic.

At the cars show, I knew that it was going to be LOUD and with loud you never know how Braeden will handle it, so I showed the card as we were going in along with many many others.  Braeden also has big issues with any kind of heights, and the way everyone was piling in we would have ended up at the top or part way up the bleachers which could have been a definite issue.  I explained upon showing the card that I needed us to sit near an exit.  It was so perfect.  It landed us at the far right side, right next to the exit in case we needed to leave, and in the front where the handicapped/wheelchair seating was located so we didn't have to walk up at all.  We had GREAT seats and luckily - with the ear plugs! - the noise was ok and he LOVED the show!


Later we went to American Idol.  This is a show I had asked him about because Olivia and I had gone another time and had lots of fun at.  He hadn't wanted to go which was fine with me, but later in the day when we needed to "kill" some time before Fantasmic he decided he would go.  We waited about 40 minutes and then as we were about to go in he decided he didn't want to go.  I kind of made him anyway since we had waited and showed the card to sit near an exit again.  Good thing because he wanted none of it.  The wheelchair section was where we were and it was at the very top.  Braeden was rolling around on the ground, not sitting in his seat, etc.  The few rows in front of us were empty thank goodness.  Of the 5 finalists at the show we stayed for 3 and I had had enough so we left easily and unnoticed.


At the end of the day we headed to Fantasmic. It's an outdoor show where you come in and the theater is way in front of you and down many rows of a stadium. I again showed the card and asked to sit near an exit.  Thank goodness.  We would have filed in with everyone (they file them in certain seats as it fills from one side to the other) and would have been on the far left in the front.  Again I knew this was a loud show and a bit scary in parts which he does not do well with.  We were placed right there at the entrance/exit at the very back.  During the show he "hid" behind a large cement pillar right behind us that was just enough for him to get through the scary parts as he peeked out at the show.  I'm so glad we were at the back.  And then after the show we were able to leave immediately which also meant that we were in the front of the bus line to go back to our resort!  Big time stress reliever!

On our final day, the day we went to Magic Kingdom, we used the card a bit more.  Again our first couple things had very little wait and we didn't use the card (Buzz Lightyear and the Laugh Floor) but we did use it for a few others (Tomorrowland Speedway, Little Mermaid, Peter Pan, and a couple others).  For those, they allowed us to either go in the fast pass line so there was little wait, or use the wheelchair access if there was no fast pass line, with no wait.  I did feel a bit guilty... but... I know again that we rode no where near what most who do wait in line ride, and that had we not had the card we wouldn't have even rode those.  He just couldn't have handled it with the noise and all, it wouldn't have happened.  Others we didn't use the card for included Mickey's Philharmagic and the tea cups.

One place I wish I would have pulled it out to see if it helped was at Dumbo.  If you haven't been to MK recently, there are now TWO Dumbo rides, identical!  When you get in line, it goes into a circus tent and part of your wait is spent in a play area.  Genius!  You wait in line a bit, then get a pager and go in to play.  When the pager goes off you rejoin the last part of a line and wait a bit more before the ride.  The problem for us here was that our pager went off in about 5 minutes.  Sounds great, right?!  Not much of a wait!?  Well, for most sure, but for Braeden he JUST got in and started playing and just could NOT switch out of that so quickly to get back in line.  I asked the person with the pagers if we couldn't wait a bit longer but he said no. :(  I should have pulled the card then and asked again but didn't.  I also didn't think until later about trading our pager with someone just coming in.  Oh hindsight is a great thing.  So on the verge of a complete meltdown, we took the nearest exit and missed out on Dumbo.  Not a big deal, but because he really doesn't ride much, to miss one this way kind of stunk! :(



Again, I am not wanting people to get a card to bypass lines, BUT if you have a child like my Braeden, you KNOW what a blessing this was!!!  You will NOT find this card written about ANYWHERE, believe me I looked!  And you can only get it at a park, not a resort or anywhere else.  BUT... look into it if it will help your experience!  SUCH a lifesaver!  Thank you Disney!

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About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!


Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

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Little did I know that the road would be so rocky
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