September 2013 Update: There have been numerous news reports indicating that Disneyland Resort (and Walt Disney World) will be replacing the Guest Assistance Card with a new system called the Disabled Assistance System (DAS) on October 9th, 2013. As predicted there has been a wide variety of responses including praise and backlash. We’ll update with more information once it’s available.
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.
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!