Sheila Gallant-Halloran

Made-to-measure travel; please, go away! :-)

Disney’s “Guest Assistance Card” (GAC)

I was recently reminded by a colleague that not everyone is aware of Disney’s “Guest Assistance Card” or GAC. So, I thought if other travel professionals don’t know about the GAC, then surely there are clients out there in the same boat – and worse still, clients who may not be visiting Disney because of their family’s special requirements, and they don’t know about the assistance available to them. 

A GAC is a special card that Walt Disney World (WDW) gives guests needing assistance in the park.  (It is called a SAP, or Special Assistance Pass, at Disneyland).

The GAC is meant to help those that have conditions that aren’t immediately obvious to an uninformed bystander.

Many folks visiting Disney have “hidden” conditions.  If you have a family member that has an autism spectrum disorder, you know full well that waiting for rides in crowds of people will not work well. The GAC isn’t a “cut to the front of the line” pass. Sometimes that may happen for GAC holders, and sometimes you might end up waiting much longer than if you’d not used one. Instead, the GAC is meant to accommodate those with special needs, and make the Disney experience as fun as possible for all. 

If you’re in a wheelchair or scooter/ECV, you may not need a GAC, of course – the wheelchair or scooter itself are pretty visible signs that you need assistance.  (However, if you have additional requirements beyond that of the wheelchair/ ECV, it can’t hurt to get a GAC to outline your needs.)

The GAC can be very helpful to families dealing with autism, ADHD, or cognitive disorders. Even folks with heart disorders, etc., sun and heat issues, or claustrophia who cannot queue up may be accommodated with special considerations.

Every guest who is in need of special assistance should get their own GAC – and you should present the GAC to the attending cast member at each ride/ attraction to garner the assistance your family needs. For example, you may be shown a separate queuing area than the regular stand-by queue, or you may be shown an auxiliary entrance.

The amount and type of assistance will vary with the attraction, but if you get a GAC from Guest Relations, it should specify the ailments you are dealing with, and the nature of the issues you’d like assistance with.  While a letter from your doctor may not be required in all instances, it will certainly ease the issuance of the GAC (especially if discussing the issues with strangers is embarrassing for you).

Of course, Disney trains its staff to be sensitive, but having a doctor’s letter that outlines how a GAC can assist your family, with your requirements, can make the process of getting a GAC go much more smoothly for you. It is indeed unfortunate that some folks with no visible or invisible ailments try to abuse this assistance. Guest Relations’ cast members will have an easier time assigning the GAC, and you receiving one, if you have documentation. (They’re not medical personnel, so make it as easy on them, and as easy on you, as possible.)

A GAC is usually issued for your length of stay at WDW, and can be used at the 4 major theme parks.

So, if you have a family member who could use special assistance and/or accommodation while visiting WDW parks, come armed with a letter from your doctor, and go visit Guest Relations with the person needing the GAC.  The GAC is there to help you make your vacation as magical as possible! Disney vacations are for everyone.

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October 3, 2010 - Posted by | Lush Life Disney, Lush Life Other Items, Lush Life Travel TIps & Advice

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