Today is the end of GAC and tomorrow is the beginning of DAS. Your next possible thought might be “what the heck is GAC and DAS???” Until recently, I would have thought the same. GAC stands for Guest Assistance Card and DAS stands for Disability Access Service, and both represent the means for guests with disabilities to enjoy Disneyland with more comfort. Guests would need only go to city hall and declare their need for a GAC card. Presumably they would need to disclose their disability and the cast member on hand would provide the GAC card. This card would then offer the guest and the rest of his or her party (up to 5 more people) the ability to skip any line in its entirety. It’s a great idea, and typical of Disneyland’s efforts to include EVERYONE in their wish for a great day spent at Disneyland.
Trouble with GAC
However, as often is the case, the best intentions didn’t turn out so well. The GAC policy was abused. Abused on a massive scale. When the story broke on the TODAY show on NBC, it was learned that guests who had disabilities were pimping themselves out to the rich as a sort of paid escort in order to skip lines. That by itself is pretty sad, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg it would seem. Disney launched a full investigation in to the problem to find out how deep it went, and the results were kind of scary. According to an article released today on MiceChat, Disneyland was giving out more than 2,000 GAC cards every day. And if we assume a party of 4, that’s 8,000 a day. On a busy day of maybe 75,000 guests, that’s 10% of the total attendance.
In a vacuum those numbers don’t mean much. Maybe that’s a lot, maybe it isn’t. But that’s just Disneyland and DCA we’re looking at. The same study was done at WDW and it’s reported that they were giving out only 250 GAC cards per day. And that’s at a park that sees twice as much in total attendance. It’s obvious then that there was some abuse going on. So Disney has come up with the new DAS card (Disability Access Service).
So what is DAS then?
This new card eliminates the line jumping aspect of the service. Instead, it acts more like a fast pass card. Guests with disabilities are asked to speak with a guest services cast member at each attraction to make arrangements to enjoy the attraction at a later time. This time will correspond with the going wait time for stand-by guests. If it’s 55 minutes for Spae Mountain at 2:00 pm, the guest and their party is asked to come back at 2:55 where they will THEN be permitted to move to the front of the line. It’s waiting by proxy. They still have to wait, they just don’t have to wait in line. This seems to me to be a fair compromise. The card also comes with some security. The disabled guest will have their photo taken when they receive the card, and will need to be present when boarding the attraction. There is also a spreasdsheet of sorts on the back of the card where cast members can log attractions for the day, which I guess is meant to create more oversight.
Will it work?
Proabably not. With regard to any impact on lines and fast passes and wait times, probably yes. But there will also likely be quite a bit of anger, even some rage, over the new policy. This is how it goes when the abused puts their hand up against the abuser. Denial and anger. Disneyland is so sure of this in fact, they’re adding security around city hall and throughout the parks to be ready for any “incidents.” Eventually that too will die down as guests get used to the new system. But I do think the proposal itself is at least fair. But one thing we’ve all observed I’m sure is that it’s very difficult to legislate morality. Cheaters cheat. Eventually they’ll start figuring out how to game the new system and we’ll be right back where we started. After all, I’m sure the GAC system at one time was thought to be a brilliant solution to the same problem once before.
Let it not be misunderstood by any Fresh Baked reader or fan of Disneyland that Disney has a problem providing services like these to guests in need. Guests with disabilities deserve to have an experience at Disneyland that is no less enjoyable as any other guest. I would be willing to bet that Disney will go out of their way to properly serve every guest to the highest degree possible. And for my money, I’d rather accept the status quo than make life more difficult for others. I’d gladly trade an extra 10 minutes of my own time in line at the Matterhorn for a little extra joy for someone else. Disabled or otherwise. THAT’S the Disney way.