How do I get to the Front of the Line at Disneyland?
OK, we figured we’d just put the question out there since that’s what you’re most likely thinking. Short or tall, disabled or not, nobody likes standing in line at Disneyland Park, California Adventure, Disney World, Six Flags or whatever amusement park you’re attending. The truth is that it used to be much easier to bypass the line based upon a visible disability, but this honor system became so abused that Disney had to put in a much more rigorous system. We used to be able to just go through the exit at Space Mountain, walk right up to the ride, wait a few minutes, and hop on.
Disneyland and DisneyWorld Guest Assistance Card
Disney has implemented an official program called the Guest Assistance Card. At Disneyland, when you first walk in you want to head to the left and stop at the Town Hall. You will most likely have to wait in a long line and when you get to the front desk, you need to ask for the Guest Assistance Card. The customer service agent will then ask you a generic question such as “What is your concern?” At this point, your line-skipping ability for the rest of your stay is based upon what you say. The customer service agent has a variety of stamps to choose from, depending upon what you say. We’ve seen a stamp depicting stairs, meaning that you can bypass the line on any ride that has stairs. There’s also a stamp with a detour arrow, which means to use an alternate entrance (usually the exit). On our last trip, we learned about another stamp which lets you use your child’s stroller as a wheelchair. Please let us know if there is another stamp that we don’t know about.
What To Say When Requesting Assistance
A person with dwarfism cannot simply just tell the cast member that their visible dwarfism features (height, short legs and arms) are what “qualifies” them to request assistance. Believe me, I’ve tried it many times, only to get the 3rd degree or dismissed immediately. The excuse of visible dwarfism used to work 10 years or so ago, but the Guest Assistance Card has been abused so much by those feigning disability that it’s really become a privilege to get a card.
We’ve tried to figure out the best response to say for a person with dwarfism but have had mixed results. In all cases, you will need to show your Guest Assistance Card to a park official/cast member at the entrance for each ride and they will tell you where to proceed based upon the stamp(s) on your card. Keep in mind that the name of the person with the disability is on the card and they may ask you for ID.
“I Want to Skip The Lines”
If you say that you want to skip the lines, you’ll be rebuffed real fast as there is no legitimate reason to get on the rides faster. Avoid saying this or you will be treated like you’re attempting to game the system.
“I Have Difficulty Walking On Stairs”
If you say that you have difficulty walking on stairs, they will give you the stair stamp so you get to skip the line on any ride that has stairs. So on some rides older such as Space Mountain, you will most likely enter through the exit. However, since so many people are giving this reason for a Guest Assistance Card, expect a lengthy wait. Last time we rode Space Mountain, there were at least 30 people waiting in queue before being allowed to enter through the exit. One ride where this stamp is extremely useful is Autopia — this ride has a huge bank of stairs to walk down to get to the track. The Disney staff managing the queue at each ride will only let a few through at a time, and they wait maybe 10 minutes between each group. At newer parks such as California Adventure, the lines are all ADA compliant so your stair stamp will be practically useless. But this is a good thing, because you can’t walk on stairs right?
“I Can’t Stand For Long Periods of Time”
If you say this, most likely you’ll be given the alternate entrance stamp and you’ll be able to enter through the exit. However, they have wised up and you will not enter onto the ride. Be prepared for a very long wait, possibly even longer than standing in the normal line. The staff use some sort of guideline regarding how long to wait before letting another group onto the ride. For Space Mountain, they have changed the disabled procedure and actually have a separate ride car that is only for the disabled passengers. The car is off the normal track and once they let people onto the car, they stop the flow of cars onto the ride so they can slide the car onto the track. When you’re done with the ride, they stop the flow again and move the car back off the track and onto the disabled platform. So you can see why they only do this every so often. Many years ago, the disabled entrance meant going up the exit and practically right onto the ride. Not anymore.
“My Child Has Difficulty Walking. I Want To Keep Him In His Stroller”
For parents of dwarf children and children who really do have a hard time walking, this request is probably your best bet. Since the disabled lines are so heavily used these days, standing in the normal line might even be faster depending upon how busy the park is. If the ride has stairs, you’ll be able to skip the stairs. If not, your child will be able to wait out the line in their stroller which will make everyone’s line-waiting experience more pleasant.
Amusement Parks and Older Kids
At some point, your child will be too old to use a stroller. Does your 7 year old really want to be pushed around Disneyland in a stroller? OK, maybe they do! At this point, the best you can request is a stamp to skip the stairs because your child may realistically still have problems with stairs (our average height daughter will frequently fall on the stairs). Whether the park has stairs or not, the park is still very large and you want to encourage your child to slow down. Slowing down isn’t a bad thing. Usually they are so excited upon first arrival and will be running around like crazy, ensuring exhaustion and pain way too fast. Take frequent breaks, enjoy the shows, and visit with Mickey, Minnie and the roving characters. By helping your child to relax and take it all in, everyone can have a more pleasant vacation experience.
30+ years ago our AH parents taught us to slow down. It helped make the trip more enjoyable. Even as adult LPs, we take frequent breaks and take our time going through the park. And if we only make it to half the rides that our AH friends and family make it to, it is alright. It is less stress on our legs, back, and whole body.
Have we missed a helpful tip for visiting amusement parks with a disability? Let us know!