Disability Access Service Card FAQ

What is the Guest Assistance Card, or GAC? It is changing to the DISABILITY ACCESS SERVICE CARD on October 9, 2013. As more details become known, this page will be updated.

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.

What we know about the proposed changes: Expect to be given a return time that corresponds to the wait time in the regular standby line, at the attraction entrance. This is very similar to the current FastPass system. Only one ride at a time can have a pending wait time return. Expect to have a picture taken and be on the card, along with identifying information. The card will be valid for the length of your stay up to 14 days. Disney WILL try to accommodate the needs of individuals with very severe disabilities on a case by case basis; this would also include individuals with moderate to severe autism... but nobody should 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 regular 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:

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 be more.
 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.

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 the attraction.  

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... remember:

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 queue.

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 October 8, 2013
Copyright 2013 by Teri Doolittle, PA-C, MHP, DHSc
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