Guest Assistance Card FAQ
What is the Guest Assistance Card, or GAC?
The Guest Assistance Card (GAC) at Walt Disney World
is also called the Special Assistance Pass (SAP) at Disneyland. Both
refer to the basically the same thing. The GAC used to be called the Special
Assistance Pass. The name was changed to Guest Assistance Card a few
years ago because some people thought it was a “front-of-the-line” pass,
which caused some confusion between guests and cast members. Some people
think there is a back door into most rides that they will get to use if they
have a GAC and that's almost never the case -- many attractions have mainstream
access. Always ask the Cast Members at the attraction how to proceed, and please do not expect front-of-line access.
The GAC is not used to jump the lines, it is used to help special
needs travelers get access to attractions that they would otherwise not
be able to see due to health, mobility, or major developmental and psychological
issues. You may be allowed to bypass the lines, but you should still expect
to wait. Examples of people who might benefit from using the GAC include
folks of all ages and backgrounds, whether their need is temporary or permanent:
- People with mobility issues that would keep them from being able
to stand in long queues who are not using wheelchairs, ECVs or canes;
- People who are particularly heat or sun sensitive to the point
that it endangers their health or safety because of health conditions such
as Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis, or people who are on certain medications;
- Families traveling with special needs children or adults who have
health, psychological or hypersensitivity issues that make it difficult
to remain in crowded queues;
- People who are easily fatigued or in pain due to serious health
problems (heart, emphysema, arthritis, etc.) who plan to be ambulatory inside
pavilions and attractions but park their wheelchair or ECV outside, or choose
not to use wheelchairs. They get access to the seating without stairs in
shows, for example. Also use of alternate entrances in places where the queue
is not mainstream and there are stairs or a climb.
How do you get a GAC?
You can go to Guest Relations at the entrance of any of
the Disney parks and request one. You don't need a doctor's letter or any
evidence to show that you need one, although many people do take a doctor’s
letter for backup. You do need to be able to explain what your problems are
and what assistance you need. The GAC is not a convenience; it is
a tool for access. Guest Services Cast Members are responsible for
determining who will be given the GAC... it helps to be prepared and know
what to ask for, and how, before you go.
How long is it valid?
If you are given a GAC, it will be good at all the Disney
parks for the length of your vacation. You don't need to get one for each
park or for each day. You do need to get a new card on your next vacation
to WDW; it is only good for one trip.
What does it allow you to do?
The cards all look the same, but each card has different
instructions stamped on. We are aware of 5 different messages; there may
- Allows a stroller to be used as a wheelchair in mainstream queues
and at alternate entrances. ECVs and wheelchairs can be taken into any
building or line without having any pass or card. This allows strollers
to use the same alternate entrances.
- Allows a waiting spot shaded from the sun if the line is "in the
sun for an excessive amount of time." Fo most of the lines, the largest part
of the line inside a building or under a roof or shade. Some of the outdoor
lines are even air-conditioned to avoid getting too hot. This is helpful
to people who are sun or heat sensitive.
- Allows an alternate entrance waiting area for people who can't
wait in line. This one is mostly used for children/adults with conditions
like autism, ADD or other health problems that make waiting in line difficult
or dangerous for them or the people with them. This would also apply
to people who suffer from agoraphobia or severe panic attacks that would
make waiting in line in close contact with other people impossible. Also,
this is used for people who are immunosuppressed and need to avoid infection.
- Allows ‘front and center’ seating at shows, for people with severe
For the first 3 categories, you will be asked to use FastPass
if available and you are told that the card will not allow immediate
access to rides/attractions. You will often still need to wait; it just
may be in a different place.
- Kids at WDW thru the Make A Wish or similar organizations. This
card allows "front of line" access because these kids are very fragile and
have a life threatening condition. These cards are arranged thru WDW and
Make a Wish or Give Kids the World as part of their visit.
Do you need a GAC if you have a wheelchair or ECV?
Maybe, maybe not. If you have a wheelchair or
ECV, cane or crutches, you will not need a GAC unless you have a medical
reason not to be in the mainstream lines.
If you have a legitimate reason for a GAC as outlined above, then you need
to advocate for yourself at Guest Services in order to get the GAC.
They may try to tell you that you do not need the GAC because the wheelchair
or ECV will be enough to let the CMs at the attractions know that you need
to use the accessible entrances. This is true if your reasons for
being in the wheelchair or ECV are only due to mobility issues. However,
if you plan to leave your wheelchair or ECV at the entrance
of an attraction or pavilion and walk inside, having a GAC will alert the
CMs that you need to use the accessible seating or boarding areas inside
If you have medical or major psychological issues that would prevent you
from being able to use the mainstream, wheelchair-accessible lines along
with all other guests to the point that you would have to miss the attraction
or it would endanger your health, then you will need the GAC.
About using the GAC when you need it...
Many people feel embarrassed, or like they are cheating
if they ask for a GAC. Please don't think that using the GAC to get
to alternate waiting or boarding areas is just a 'bump in' to the line...
- You are paying the same as everyone else at the park.
- It will take you longer time and more physical energy to move from
one attraction to another.
- You will most likely not stay in the parks as long as average guests.
- You will need to spend more time resting and refreshing in between
Perhaps other people arrive at the line ahead of you, but you have every
right to enjoy the attractions at your pace. Disney has this program in
place to help you get the most enjoyment possible from your visit to the
park It isn't something for you to feel embarrassed or self-conscious
about, when you really need it. It is not the same as a front-of-line pass,
and there will be times when you may wait longer than people in the regular
About using the GAC or wheelchairs when you don’t really
need them, to get into attractions ahead of other guests…
Better not let any of US catch you trying to
pull a stunt like that! Every time someone does this, they cheat
everyone. It causes resentment among other guests and cast members towards
everyone who uses the special accommodations for legitimate reasons, and
makes it harder for people who really need the accommodations to get them.
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Last revision June 3, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Teri Doolittle, PA, MHP
All rights reserved