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Guest Assistance Card
What is a Guest Assistance Card?
One of the best tools for families with Autism Spectrum Disorder who visit Disney Parks is the Guest Assistance Card. As parents of children with autism, you may have experienced frustration getting the support you need as you travel, because your child's disability is not always visibile to others around you. With the Guest Assistance Card, you have a visible and easy way to get the assistance you need as you travel through the parks.
Where do I get a Guest Assistance Card?
When you arrived at one the theme parks, simply walk up to any of the Guest Relations locations inside or outside the park entrance. At Magic Kingdom, there are Guest Assistance locations outside of the ticket entrance on the opposite end from the Monorail, or you can go to the City Hall on Main Street U.S.A. inside the park. At Epcot, Guest Relations is location on the east side of the entrance plaza. At both Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom parks, you will find Guest Relations to the left as you pass through the entrance. When in doubt, please consult a map or ask a Cast Member for directions.
How do I ask for a Guest Assistance Card?
When you are at the Guest Relations center, tell the Cast Member that you need a Guest Assistance card. They will need to know what type of assistance your child will need, and how many people are in your party. Most people find it easiest to tell them their child has Austism Spectrum Disorder, but it helps to articulate the best way for cast members to assist your child and your family.
Some things to ask for, depending on your child's needs, include:
- Alternate waiting area: this allows your child a quiet place to wait his or her turn for the ride. Sometimes this is the handicapped entrance, but not always.
- Use a stroller as a wheelchair: this allows your child to continue to sit in his or her stroller while waiting for the ride. The stroller must meet some specifications for this assistance.
Cast Members are obligated to inform you that the Guest Assistance Card is not a "skip the line" card. You will still need to wait for rides - you just have the option to wait in a quieter area with less stimulation for your child. We generally only use ours for rides with noisy or crowded queue areas, and use the Fastpass system to minimize wait times on most rides.
For families with more than one child with autism (or with any other non-visible special needs), we recommend you obtain a Guest Assistance card for each child who needs the assistance. Cards are issued for the duration of your visit, and having a card for each child with special needs allows your party to split up and still receive the assistance needed for each child throughout the parks.
At the end of the trip, hold on to the GAC. The next time you come back to the Disney Parks, present the card from your previous trip. This will help the cast member to know what you had previously done and complete the next one.
How do I use my Guest Assistance Card?
As you approach the attraction, look for the Cast Member stationed at the ride entrance (sometimes this is at the Fastpass entrance). As you approach, show them your Guest Assistance Card and tell them what your needs are (for example - "we need the alternate waiting area"). Sometimes they may ask you to identify which child is listed on the guest assistance card - this may be to help prevent fraudulent use of the card. After inspecting the card, the Cast Member will direct you to the alternate entrance or provide the assistance you need. It's that simple!
What does Disney say about the Guest Assistance Card?
We asked Disney about their official policy for Guest Assistance Card requests and usage, and what options are available for Guest Assistance. Here is an official statement from Walt Disney World Guest Relations we received via E-mail regarding the Guest Assistance Card.
“The Guest Assistance Card is a tool provided at all four WALT DISNEY WORLD Resort Theme Parks to enhance the service we provide to our Guests with disabilities. It was designed to alert our Cast about those Guests who may need additional assistance. The intent of these cards is to keep Guests from having to explain their service needs each time they visit an attraction. (emphasis added)
The Guest Assistance Card is available to our Guests with non-apparent, special assistance needs (i.e., autism, heart condition, etc.). Depending on a Guest's need, this card may provide a variety of assistance such as allowing Guests to wait in a shaded area, or providing admission to our attractions through auxiliary entrances, where applicable. However, the intention of this card has never been to bypass attraction wait times, or to be used by Guests with a noticeable service need.
Guests with an apparent mobility concern, such as Guests using wheelchairs, canes, crutches, etc., or Guests with service animals, do NOT need a Guest Assistance Card. These Guests should be directed to follow the attraction entrance procedures for guests using wheelchairs, as outlined in the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities.
A Guest with a specific need for assistance can request a Guest Assistance Card at any Theme Park Guest Relations location upon arrival. To accommodate the individual needs of our Guests, we ask that all Guests discuss their assistance requests with a Guest Relations cast member prior to the card being issued. The Guest Relations Cast Member will discuss the available service options with the Guest and provide written instructions for our cast on the Guest Assistance Card. The Guest will be directed to present the Guest Assistance Card to the Greeter or first available Cast Member at the attraction and await further directions for their experience.”
We hope this helps you have a more enjoyable trip to the Disney Parks!