The Guest Assistance Card- or GAC- is a way that Disney plusses the magic for guests with disabilities. A GAC can assist people with a
wide range of needs, by providing accommodations at attractions. For many, the GAC makes the magic accessible when they otherwise might have to forgo an attraction or experience.
A well-worn GAC...
To request a GAC, a visitor needs to go to Guest Relations at any of the parks, and talk to the cast member there about any special assistance they might require. The CM will need to know what accommodations are needed (for example, a way onto an attraction without using stairs, or a quiet or shaded area for waiting), rather than a diagnosis (“I have xyz condition”). The accommodations can be for a temporary issue, or for a permanent disability. If requesting a GAC for another person, such as a child, that person must be present when the card is requested as well as when the card is used. A GAC will allow the card holder, plus up to 5 people, access to the accommodation. This is meant to allow families to be able to stay together to experience attractions. The card is shown at each attraction entrance, and the CM provides direction.
A common misconception is that this is a front-of-the-line pass. Not so; rather, attractions will have varying ways of making accommodations. Sometimes it's an alternate entrance, sometimes GAC holders use Fast Pass lanes, sometimes there's a separate area for waiting or loading- the options vary depending on the location.
Another misconception is that you somehow have to "prove" disability in order to get a GAC. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) makes it illegal for Disney (or anyone) to require such proof. Guests need to explain what accommodations they require, not what their disability or diagnosis is. Don't bring a doctor's note- they won't want to see it.
Because no proof is required, there is somewhat of a dark side to GAC use that has sprung up over the past several years. I've read many a heated forum discussion thread on the supposed subculture of fraud and abuse of the GAC system. Apparently, people lie to get the GAC, using it to hopefully shave some time off their attraction waits. While I have no doubt this sometimes happens, I wonder how rampant it really is. I think many of these accusations are more likely other guests making assumptions, because a GAC user might not "look" disabled in their view. What do you think? I'd love to hear your take on it.
I've never used a GAC myself, but I know of a few families who would never be able to experience the magic of WDW without one. Do you have any experience using a GAC? What are your thoughts on the process?