Traveling with someone with special needs can be a challenge. AND then to navigate the crowds and the parks can make it miserable. Disney has come up with a special pass to bring some relief to some of that stress. The Guest Assistance Card (GAC) was designed to reduce wait times for guests that have difficulty standing in the lines.
Some special needs that you can receive a GAC for is: Autism, Cerebral Palsy, ADD/ADHA, foot, knee or back problems, heat and sun problems, claustrophobia and crowd phobias, and hearing problems, and necessity of a wheelchair. Please be considerate. If you can stand in line, please do so. This card shouldn’t be abused by able bodies.
How Do I get a Guest Assistance Card? Getting a GAC is simple if you or your child has special needs:
- Visit Guest Relations in one of the four theme parks with the child or person that needs the GAC.
Guest Relations Locations: ~ Magic Kingdom: Inside Town Hall on Main Street ~ EPCOT: To the left of Spaceship Earth after the restrooms & gift shop ~ Animal Kingdom: After you enter the park, it’s immediately to your left near locker rentals ~ Hollywood Studios: After you enter the park, it’s immediately to the left
- Explain to the cast member that you or your child has special needs and you would like to know about the Guest Assistance Card. The cast member can’t ask you for documentation but can ask kind of condition
- If the medical condition is visible, medical documentation can help make aquiring the GAC easier.
- The cast member will ask for the your or your child’s name, dates of your vacation and the number in your party (up to six guests). The pass is good for the lenghth of your star at the Disney Resorts.
- Be sure to take the person who needs the GAC with you to Guest Relations. This way cast Members know this person is actual in the park, as people have taken advantge of the system.
How Do I use a Guest Assistance Card?
- If there is a Fast Pass entrance, you would show your pass to the cast member.
- If there isn’t a Fast Pass for a specific ride, you would go the exit of the ride.
- The person who’s name is on GAC and their guests (up to 5 guests + themselves) can enter together and ride the ride.
During the busier seasons, you may be given a time to come back and ride the ride. It’s doesn’t give you immediate access to the ride.
What happens if I lose my card?
- All of you have to do is repeat the process of it being issued.
Other important things to know
The GAC is the only way you will be allowed to use a stroller as a wheelchair. Without a GAC that specifies this accomodation, the stroller will not be permitted in queues, rides, etc.
Our staff writer Lucinda from Without a Care in the World received a GAC card and a stroller accomodation on one of her Disney vacations. “I received this with my son’s GA card and it was a lifesaver. I cried when they gave it to me. Allowing my son to remain in his stroller during our wait times made ALL the difference in the world. I didn’t get the card until the end of our vacation because I didn’t want special treatment for our special needs, but it totally saved a vacation that was spiraling out of control.”
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, you need to acurately describe your disability and needs to the Guest Relations Cast Member. He or she will issue the most appropriate GAC for your condition. Although they are not medical professionals, Guest Relations Cast Members are highly trained in deciding the most appropriate GAC for each situation. This is where a note from a physician can be helpful.
Make sure that you fully understand exactly what specific accommodations your GAC provides.
On a personal note: Please be considerate. If you can stand in line, please do so. This card shouldn’t be abused by able bodies. My son has autism and this card has allowed us to enjoy our vacation and has actually been a type of therapy for him. I one day hope that I won’t have to use this card for him. If the wait is short, we stand in line with everyone else. It may seem very trivial for most people but it’s a huge accomplishment for him. I would hate for this service to disappear from abuse.
Frances Hedrick is a Disney Vacation Planner for Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys. She has stayed more than 150 days at the Walt Disney World Resort and at 14 of the resorts with her own family and friends. She loves sharing Disney magic 365 days a year.
You can contact her at email@example.com or on her cell: 404-414-6198. You can follow her magical vacations on her Facebook page: Disney Vacations by Distinctive Journeys.