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March 4, 2006

Other

Question from Bristow, Virginia, USA:

We are taking our four year old to Disney World this Spring and have heard that some parks grant handicapped passes so that these children don't have to wait in the general line. Have you heard of this or do you have any recommendations?

Answer:

First off, if it isn’t dreadfully hot, there’s no problem and no reason to get a Guest Assistance Card. The worst concern is the heat and how it affects your child and the insulin. So, no heat, no worries… just crowds.

If it were in the 85 degree or higher range and it were my family, I would go to Guest Relations at City Hall in Magic Kingdom – with your child – and ask for a Guest Assistance Card because your child has type 1 diabetes and does not do well in the heat. The cast member will ask you what accommodations would be helpful. So, think about that. What would be helpful to you realistically? For some, a wait in the shade or air conditioning is really what is needed, so that’s what they write on the card. It is not a good thing to ask for “front of the line pass” or “handicapped entrance pass.” That is considered abusive (and I agree). In most cases, when you approach the person who is working the attraction and show them your pass and ask what to do, they will simply direct you to the Fast Pass entrance line, which is usually no more than a 10 minute wait at any given time. I think once – and only once – my son and I were escorted to an air conditioned waiting room at the Haunted Mansion, where we sat for about 10 minutes and then were escorted into the attraction.

Disney truly does try to accommodate (at our conferences, they actually come to our hotel and give each family a Guest Assistance Card on the main registration day so we don’t all have to wait in line at Magic Kingdom). I have been very pleased in working with them since 2000.

For my family, I have to say, the easiest way to maneuver around Magic Kingdom in normal weather (i.e., it’s under 85 degrees) is by using the Fast Passes. You will find Fast Pass machines at each major attraction. It will say something like “Fast Pass Returns at…..” and will give a time frame of 30 minutes. You insert your admissions card, and the Fast Pass machine gives you a little printed ticket that states this 30 minute time period for you to return (and gives you your ticket back). Then, you come back at the stated time and get in the Fast Pass Return line, which as I said, is usually no more than 10 minutes long. You really can get through most of the park that way, assuming you go early and stay late.

Guest Relations in any Disney Park should be able to give you Guest Assistance Cards, however, we’ve had the best luck with City Hall in Magic Kingdom because of CWD’s close work with them on our conferences.

LB