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AVP
12-19-2003, 11:15 AM
Disneyland has put their new Special Assistance program into effect, starting today.

This information is REALLY preliminary - please do not take ANYTHING here as gospel. The Guest Relations department was briefed on this new policy for the first time this morning, and attractions cast members still don't know that anything has changed.

1) The "Special Assistance Pass" is being replaced with a "Special Assistance Card."

2) IN GENERAL, visitors with ambulatory impairments are being issued a SAC. Those who use crutches, braces, canes or wheelchairs will be issued the card.

3) IN GENERAL, visitors with "endurance" issues are not being issued a SAC unless they are using a wheelchair. The definition of "endurance" impairment is not being disclosed.

I personally watched someone walk into City Hall and declare that she needed "one of those front of the line" passes because she had a pacemaker and could not stand in line. The cast member told her that they are no longer issuing SAPs to people with endurance issues, and that the visitor would need to rent a wheelchair. The woman's daughter came back and said that her mother was perfectly able to walk, but that she could not stand in line. The cast member repeated that she would need to rent a wheelchair in order to get a SAC.

4) IN GENERAL, parents with autistic children can still get the SAC.

5) IN GENERAL, people with sun allergies and related impairments will not be issued the SAC.

There is no written policy that guest relations could give me. Basically, they are handling these things on a case-by-case basis. I am working to get some official comments on this change, and I'll share them as I get them.

AVP

Disneyphile
12-19-2003, 11:36 AM
I think this is a good thing! Hopefully it will minimize the abuse the program has had for the last few years.

dsnyredhead
12-19-2003, 12:12 PM
Originally posted by AVP
Disneyland has put their new Special Assistance program into effect, starting today.

1) The "Special Assistance Pass" is being replaced with a "Special Assistance Card."

2) IN GENERAL, visitors with ambulatory impairments are being issued a SAC. Those who use crutches, braces, canes or wheelchairs will be issued the card.

3) IN GENERAL, visitors with "endurance" issues are not being issued a SAC unless they are using a wheelchair. The definition of "endurance" impairment is not being disclosed.

IThere is no written policy that guest relations could give me. Basically, they are handling these things on a case-by-case basis. I am working to get some official comments on this change, and I'll share them as I get them.

AVP

AVP, So as far as the ambulatory impairments, you mention those with crutches, braces, canes, or wheelchairs. What about those people like me who can walk but for short distances and can't stand still in an hour line due to sciatica, pain, etc? Since I don't have crutches, etc, how does that affect someone like me? Do I have to get a wheelchair now when I don't always need one?

justagrrl
12-19-2003, 12:15 PM
How does this keep someone, who is trying to cheat the system, from renting a wheelchair and getting one?

Kevin Yee
12-19-2003, 12:16 PM
I regard the new policy as a positive step in the right direction. Teens and repeat visitors who were abusing the system in the recent past are unlikely to pay $8 each time for the right. Besides, there is a limited supply of wheelchairs for rent, which implies a cap on the SAC lines.

Now, if they would just institute a "FASTPASS-like" element to it, like what WDW has, then it would be just about perfect. That way, someone without a wheelchair but who cannot stand for an hour will be able to sit on a nearby bench (in the shade, one hopes).

Of course, if all this comes to pass, I'll have to start a new crusade: BUILD MORE BENCHES, DISNEYLAND! You auctioned off too many on eBay!!!

LSPoorEeyorick
12-19-2003, 12:19 PM
AVP, did you hear anything about the nature of doctor's notes? If a guest with a doctor's note being approved?

I guess this is all moot for me, since my mother is wheelchair-bound anyway, but she has endurance trouble these days with cancer/immunodisease/arthritis and I was hoping they might go to the WDW procedures.

dghosthost
12-19-2003, 12:39 PM
Do DMV papers do enough if I'm also in a wheelchair?

Thanks!

Lani
12-19-2003, 12:48 PM
Originally posted by AVP
5) IN GENERAL, people with sun allergies and related impairments will not be issued the SAC. Depending on how severe the sun allergy is, I'm wondering if a strategy of wearing 36 SPF sunblock, 40 SPF sunblock clothing (http://www.travelsmith.com/ts/searchresults.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@1159596853.1071 870328@@@@&BV_EngineID=cccjadckelgfdkdcgencfhjdfjmdhfl.0&Keyword=SPF), paper parasol (http://search.shopping.yahoo.com/search/__yltc=s:14489115,d:14489115,sec:search,slk:button ?p=paper+parasol&did=), and a cloudy day couldn't help--even a little bit?

dghosthost
12-19-2003, 12:52 PM
I'm wondering about people like my sister who does not need an aid but has nerve pain.

She is really concerned about the SAC program.

AVP
12-19-2003, 01:06 PM
Repeating my disclaimer, the opinions expressed here are mine alone, I DO NOT work for Disney, I DO NOT represent them in any way, and I CAN NOT tell you what they will or will not do in your individual situation.

I can guess, based on what I was told and what I experienced:


What about those people like me who can walk but for short distances and can't stand still in an hour line due to sciatica, pain, etc? Since I don't have crutches, etc, how does that affect someone like me? Do I have to get a wheelchair now when I don't always need one? Probably. Disney seems to consider that an endurance issue. However, this may depend on the cast member you are dealing with that moment.
How does this keep someone, who is trying to cheat the system, from renting a wheelchair and getting one? Even if you are using a wheelchair, you still need to get a SAC. Which means describing the nature of the accomodation you need. That may be enough to put off the teenagers, who used to only need rent the chair. Now they need to rent the chair, go to City Hall, and present a compelling explaination.
AVP, did you hear anything about the nature of doctor's notes? If a guest with a doctor's note being approved? I was told that "Dr's notes are good to have," but that someone won't automatically get a SAC just because they have a note.
Do DMV papers do enough if I'm also in a wheelchair? If you use a wheelchair - especially if it's your own - that should be enough, but the DMV-issued ID will provide backup.
I'm wondering about people like my sister who does not need an aid but has nerve pain. Again, it's case-by-case. They *may* issue you a SAC, but they will most likely "suggest" that you rent a wheelchair.

Folks, I'd REALLY like you to report your experiences under this new policy here, so we can see what different people are being told based on their specific disability.

AVP

TP2000
12-19-2003, 01:14 PM
This is great news! It sounds like this is just the first step, and more restrictions and tinkering will come along after the Christmas rush. But thank God they are trying to reign this free-for-all in a bit before the two busiest weeks of the year.

I also have to commend the new executives for having the guts to put up with some complaints and grumbling from longtime SAP abusers, as well as some more legitimate SAP users who may not get the white glove treatment they were used to.

I hope Disneyland eventually moves to the "Color Coded" SAP system I saw being used in WDW a few years ago. You have to prove to Guest Relations that you deserve the most advantageous color coded pass for your particular ailment. For example, if you say you "Can't walk up stairs", then you get a pass that allows you to bypass the line only on attractions that still have stairs in their queue with no elevator/ramp alternative.

But again, this is great news that Disneyland is finally getting a backbone and ready to stop the horrible and practiaclly useless sham that the SAP program had become.

TP2000
12-19-2003, 01:30 PM
Originally posted by dsnyredhead
AVP, So as far as the ambulatory impairments, you mention those with crutches, braces, canes, or wheelchairs. What about those people like me who can walk but for short distances and can't stand still in an hour line due to sciatica, pain, etc? Since I don't have crutches, etc, how does that affect someone like me? Do I have to get a wheelchair now when I don't always need one?

I would think that the most gracious thing Disneyland could do would be to give you a SAC that is good on attractions that don't have Fastpass. For the Fastpass attractions, you would need to get a Fastpass from the machines just like everyone else. Then when your Fastpass return time comes, you wait through the 5 to 10 minute long Fastpass line.

Of course that's the most "gracious" thing they could do. But as I understand it, legally they don't even have to offer that.

dsnyredhead
12-19-2003, 01:31 PM
Once again...

I'd be fine with a fastpass type system for the SAP's. However, there are only so many attractions with fastpass. By mid-day some of the fastpasses are sold out. I'd be fine with a previously discussed system that Cedar Point in Ohio had for special assistance visitors where they gave a booklet for the most visited attractions, then you went and got an appointed time "fastpass" for the attractions you wished to visit. However, the current fastpass system isn't going to work for that type of assistance.

dsnyredhead
12-19-2003, 01:39 PM
Originally posted by TP2000
I would think that the most gracious thing Disneyland could do would be to give you a SAC that is good on attractions that don't have Fastpass. For the Fastpass attractions, you would need to get a Fastpass from the machines just like everyone else. Then when your Fastpass return time comes, you wait through the 5 to 10 minute long Fastpass line.

.

I typically do use the standard fastpass for attractions when there are fastpasses available. However, they are not always available.

TP2000
12-19-2003, 01:44 PM
Originally posted by dsnyredhead
I typically do use the standard fastpass for attractions when there are fastpasses available. This of course, varies on how long I am going to be in the park and how late the fastpasses are going to be and whether or not fastpasses are completely sold out for an attraction yet. However, there have been cases where fastpasses are sold out, or not even available on all attractions.

Well, yeah. Exactly. That's the challenge with Fastpasses and busy days. Especially people like me who have an AP and may not get to the Park until one or two in the afternoon. Sometimes I get to the Park, but I only am going to be there for 3 hours and I really want to ride Haunted Mansion. But Haunted Mansion Fastpasses are being given out for 5 hours later, and the Standby line is two hours long. So I have to make the decision not to go on Haunted Mansion that day because the Fastpasses are way past the time I'm going to leave the Park.

Or worse yet, Fastpasses at Splash Mountain and Grizzly River Run are all gone for the entire day by midafternoon when it's a hot day in summer.

But those are the challenges and difficulties of visiting Disneyland some days. You can't always have a slow day in the Park when all the lines are only 5 minutes long. Fastpass really benefits the people who get to the Park early and likely paid full fare with a day ticket. For AP's who just "pop in" for 4 or 5 hours every month, it can get tricky when you try and get a Fastpass ticket on busy days.

JeffG
12-19-2003, 02:43 PM
Originally posted by TP2000
Well, yeah. Exactly. That's the challenge with Fastpasses and busy days. Especially people like me who have an AP and may not get to the Park until one or two in the afternoon. Sometimes I get to the Park, but I only am going to be there for 3 hours and I really want to ride Haunted Mansion. But Haunted Mansion Fastpasses are being given out for 5 hours later, and the Standby line is two hours long. So I have to make the decision not to go on Haunted Mansion that day because the Fastpasses are way past the time I'm going to leave the Park.

Or you can get into the standby line, an option that isn't available to a disabled guest that couldn't possibly stand in a 2 hour line without experiencing severe pain.

I'd certainly have no problem at all if that disabled guest were given a pass that allowed them to go wait somewhere in comfort for 2 hours and then return and experience the attraction. Simply telling them they are out of luck because the Fastpasses are out strikes me as inappropriate.

-Jeff

AVP
12-19-2003, 02:45 PM
As you can imagine, Tony and I have been discussing this issue A LOT, and I'll add one comment to the discussion of Fast Passes.

At WDW, you are supposed to use FastPass where it is offered. If the FastPass tickets for the day have been issued, then the CM is supposed to issue you a hand-written FastPass with a return time equal to the current stand-by line.

If the attraction does not offer FastPass, then you use whatever alternate access is available for your specific needs. If the FastPass return queue is not accessible to you, you can use the accessible entrance only at your FastPass return time.

Now, here's the challenge. You can only have one FastPass per 2 hour block. And I know that doesn't sound like a big deal - the rules are the same for everyone, right? So you can't get a FastPass for Pirates and Mansion at the same time - get a FastPass for one, and stand in line for the other.

TP2000, you said "So I have to make the decision not to go on Haunted Mansion that day" because the standby line is too long, and the FastPass return times are too late.

If Disneyland implents the "thou shalt use Fastpass" rule, most people who will be issued a SAC won't get to make that choice - either they get a Fastpass, or they don't go on the ride, because they *can't* wait in a two hour stand-by line. It's not a matter of "don't want to," it's a matter of "can't."

If DL goes to the FastPass system, I hope they allow guests with the SAC - and their parties - to get an additional FastPass w/o the two-hour time lag.

AVP

Cat H
12-19-2003, 03:06 PM
In regards to those who are allergic to the sun-My mom is allergic to the sun and no amount of spf sunscreens, long sleeve clothing, sunblock clothing, shade or cloudy days help because the uva/uvb rays can still penatrate these things to some extent and this would actually kill my mother. Her kidneys stop and she gets a massive rash and super high fever with any amount of sun exposure. If you have ever seen the movie "The Others" where the kids can't get sun. that is what it is like.

sediment
12-19-2003, 03:16 PM
My proposal for the FastPass System, so SAC/SAP privileges can be absorbed into it and are equitable enough that "Healthies"can't abuse it:
1. All rides' FastPasses should be connected. The system programs can be adjusted to allow overlaps for some rides and not others.
2. Unlimited FastPasses for everyone, but return times depend both on ride status AND one's own set of FastPasses. For instance, if you have a FastPass for Splash, you can't get another one for the same time. (Maybe with a return window three hours later.) And if you have a FP for Splash to return at 2:00, you won't have a FP for another ride with a return of 2:00.
3. FastPasses are not merely collected by a cast member. They are put through a machine that documents the pass as being used, for queuing management as well as allowing guest to receive another for that ride.
4. FastPasses have a time limit. Use it or lose it. Or get another one.
5. For internet purchasers and AP's: allow preordering of FastPasses via Disney web site. You don't have to use it, but it would be great for planning purposes. (Small population would actually use this, as capriciousness adds to the fun. But think about ToT or any new attraction. Can be limited availability, as an AP might not be able to get to the park on a planned date.)
6. For SAC/SAP: the day's passport used for FastPass will indicate the special privileges, determined at City Hall for the or through the AP (if chronic). Perhaps no time limit, for example.

Just an idea. I'm sure there are flaws, and I'm interested in hearing them.

AVP
12-19-2003, 03:17 PM
Cat,

In your mom's case, I do think you want to contact Disney *again* before you come, and work out details of the SAC. And if you get any of the "notarized Drs note" stuff again, ask to speak to a lead.

AVP

sediment
12-19-2003, 03:20 PM
Cat H, that condition seems to prohibit a visit to Disneyland, except at night. Just getting there might be risky.

Cat H
12-19-2003, 03:29 PM
That's the problem. My mom can only go at night because of her sun allergy-which limits the amount of time she can be in the park so a pass where she would not have to stand in long lines so she could see more than maybe one attraction in a night. The park only stays open late in the winter when it is busy so she would have long lines and not see many attractions and in summer when it does not get dark until very late. When it is slow the park closes early and paying full price for two hours or so of park time seems too expenisive. Oh well. I understand that people abuse the system so I guess there is no alternative.

sediment
12-19-2003, 03:40 PM
I can think of only one possibility: corporate party night, which are sometimes held in the dead of winter after hours. Crowds are low for these. Chances are that you won't know someone who will be having one of these in the future and plan a vacation around it. It's almost worth thinking about. (Some ideas just aren't any good.)
Do they even have these anymore? Well, there are the CM holiday parties, recently held in early December. Maybe for next year's parties, we could rustle up a CM around here who will spread the magic to your mother. (Don't get your hopes too far up, though.)

Cat H
12-19-2003, 04:10 PM
sediment-Thanks for the ideas.

cryan71
12-20-2003, 12:33 AM
Hey, maybe I should set up little shop on Harbor where I do day rentals of crutches and wheelchairs -- $20 bucks a day.