Disneyland with Disabilities…

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.

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4 Responses to Disneyland with Disabilities…

  1. Lynnette says:

    I agree! As a person who has SLE aka Lupus, I have been blessed in the past with a pass as long as I had a letter from my rheumatologist explaining that I must limit exposure to the sun. My last two trips were awful, not for me, but for my Mom who has limited mobility and drives a mobility scooter. I find it offensive, even laughable that DL calls these ECV’s because they are not convienient, but more a burden.

    What, if anything can be done to change this policy? I’ve asked, we were given complimentary tickets, and had a worse visit this time then the last. Disney refused to accept their responsibility when a cast member slammed a counter top on my Mothers legs, and they refuse to accept the fact that they DO NOT offer any solution for disabled, truly disabled guests.

    Their cast memmbers have become ignorant, arrogant, and incompetent with this new policy. It is ridiculous to go to city hall and request a pass only to be denied, even with a letter from a higher up in the food chain.

    It’s time Disneyland is held accountable for the thousands of dollars people have thrown away in hopes of having a magical time.

  2. Pandora L Pensiero says:

    I must agree. I have Multiple Sclerosis and like a lot of people with this disease, I look fine. But walking can be such a hardship on me, so I try and “manage” my disease by taking the monorail, train and visiting in the cooler weather (late fall, early spring and winter). We love Disneyland, but I must say I don’t think they go out of their way to help the handicapped. For example, if you request a room at one of the resort hotels that is closest to the entrance or monorail (which is always broken down) they inform you that you can’t make this request. It is very frustrating because people like me try to manage our disabilities so our time will be the best it can, and then the resort does not help. Monorails are down, passages blocked (without warning)thus making walking longer and harder, etc. If you want to see the fireworks you are expected to stand with everyone else for hours and by the time they start it is hard to even look up to see them. I am starting to wonder if it is worth it for me to try and go to Disneyland. If anyone knows of a site that gives helpful tips about the handicapped and Disneyland please let me know.

  3. Diana Givey says:

    Hi, I am a Arizona State University student doing a project on a child with Prader-Willis syndrom going to Disneyland. I was wondering if anyone has any personally experience with this or has useful comments about it that might be helpful. Thank you.

  4. Colleen says:

    I just started to work with people with this disorder, the only things i believe you need to worry about with a trip to such a place would be access to food, and ratio of staff and clients.
    My clients would absolutely love a trip to Disney Land. :) They are all adults but love to have fun. They still find it hard not to beg people for food: in bathrooms etc.. they need to be supervised at all times.
    I truely dont know if this was helpful, but I love my job and my clients ROCK!! :) they would have a blast.. good luck with your study. Collen

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