Passing along information from this week's visit.
Checked in Monday night @ DL Cityhall and was advised that as of Wed. 4-27-11 their GAC/SAP policy would be changing. CM was vague and left it at that and issued a GAC valid only for Mon&Tues and advised us to check back in on Wednesday when new policy changes went into effect.
Did as advised and on Wednesday Cityhall CM said that really not much had changed, but that they were intending to prevent "abuse" of the GAC/SAP. She took the time to highlight the part of the card which states "this is not intended to provide immediate access" and stated that verbally (but very nicely). She also told me that the card was for the person it was ISSUED for and that would only be applicable if that person was going on a ride/attraction/etc.
I will relay what I experienced:
Nothing in DCA, because I was only in DL on Wed/Thurs.
* Was asked to show GAC each time and CMs took more time to ask questions.
Questions asked were consistently these:
1) Can I see your card (and they took time to see what was stamped on it, for us it was use of stroller as a wheelchair)
2) CM asked "Who is Chloe (the name who the GAC is issued to)" (and even though she is 6, they did ask HER directly her name/if she was Chloe)
3) Is "person's who's name is on the card" going to be riding ON this attraction?
4) How many are in your party?
Now, none of these things are actually policy changes as far I understand. Use of GAC has always been that the person it's issued to and their party up to 6 INCLUDING the person on the GAC can board an attraction at a time via the alternate entrance. BUT it I have never been so very consistently questioned, WHO is the person the card is FOR and clarifying each time that THAT person would be going on the attraction. In other words, I think the CMs are really supposed to pay attention and consistently enforce the rules!
More conversation with a Fantasyland CM explained an actual CHANGE:
Previously, only up to six ppl could ride w/the GAC user. The number would of course have been stamped on the card itself, but that number would never be more than 6. And, two years ago, we did specifically ASK that it be more (my grandparents took 5 grandkids, including 3 4year olds and so there was 7 in their direct party, that the two adults had to be responsible for) and they would not. Explained to me was that the rule of 6 is no longer in force when using a GAC, that the number could be higher but you would need to address that at CityHall (etc) at the time the pass was issued. The CM said party size would still be limited to "immediate party", and that she said you'd need to address the issue at City Hall to clarify what that would mean. But she said that they were not now held to a strict number for GACs.
They will make effort to strictly enforce the rule of 6 when guests use the "handicap/wheelchair" access and do NOT have a GAC. As most of you probably know any guest who has a "visible" walking device/accomodation (examples: wheelchair, electric scooter, cane, leg cast/braces, vision cane (not sure what the canes that the blind use are called??? sorry) can use the handicap entrance as needed, as always, but they will be inforcing the rule of six.
Also, at Fastpass entrances, a couple of times, I was advised that in leiu of waiting in the wheelchair access, IF the person using the GAC was able to navigate the Fastpass queue, they would encourage us to do so. If not, we could wait for the standard wheelchair queue (FOR INSTANCE: we were told this at Big Thunder RR and Space Mtn). I am not sure if that is different? I am not sure if the encouraging the use of the FP line is a change or not... our needs continue to evolve as my child ages so this was the first time for some of these access issues.
Overall, I see this as a positive change. We have had issues where before, we have 7 in our party, and it required splitting of our immediate group, etc. I think the idea is to be more strict and consistent in general about the standard "wheelchair/disabled" access lines. I think the idea is also to allow perhaps more flexibility to those who take the time/have the need to talk directly to CityHall/Guest Services and explain what their needs are (which of course is not the same for everyone!). Hope this helps.