The Los Angeles Times continues in their coverage of Disneyland’s shifting policies concerning the Special Assistance Pass, now the Guest Assistance Pass. (The somewhat abused, but much needed pass that helped those with disabilities to enjoy their visit to Disneyland.)
Read the rest of the post for my editorial on the current system.
As someone who has needed to use an SAP in the past due to injuries from a car accident, I have personally witnessed the abuse of the system, and the definite need for a functional system for those who truly need it. With their recent change, Disneyland swung the pendulum from one extreme to the other hoping that they can refine it and find a balancing point at some point along the arc. Unfortunately this process has resulted in confusion among guests, cast members, and the press (this article gets a couple facts wrong).
Helping the disabled enjoy their day at Disneyland is never going to be a one size fits all solution. There are too many variations of needs. So Disneyland’s current system where they aim to help each guest on an individual basis is admirable in intent. But as a system it is too complex to work in an theme park which is really tightly controlled chaos at best and pure chaos at worst (ever been to the park on New Year’s Eve?). I don’t have a solution to this problem, but I can tell you something still isn’t right at the park.
Disneyland has to remember the goal is to help disabled guests enjoy the park. Now, here is the crux, that doesn’t mean they have to twist the park to make it disabled accessible in every way and force the disabled to go through the same hoops, loops, and crowds that non-disabled guests have to take. No, what it means is that Disneyland has to recognize that being disabled and visiting a 160 acre themepark resort with over 70 attractions, dozens of restaurants, and miles of walk-ways, can be exhausting for the disabled on a good day and flat out devastating on a busy one. So a system that accommodates the disabled and allows them to enjoy as much of the park as they can while the regular guest goes about their business is the best one, in my opinion.