To: Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company, Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, and Jayne Parker, Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer The Walt Disney Company
Disneyland / Disneyworld Discontinues Guest Assistance Card for Special Needs Families
Disney is planning to end the Guest Assistance Card Program at Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. We need to communicate how this change will impact the families of people with disabilities. Our voices need to be heard. The proposed change will prevent our families from being able to access the park and will result in fewer visits by those impacted by special needs.
Why is this important?
The Disneyland Guest Assistance Card HAS ENDED!
Look at the result!
First of all, I would like to thank you for all of your hard work in this matter. I have truly appreciated the updates. I have been so hopeful that adjustments would be made to the new guest assistance program.
It is with great sadness, that I share with you our recent heart breaking experience at Disneyland. Our daughter, Amanda, has a life threatening condition, that has resulted in developmental delays, deafness and autistic tendencies. Amanda, has a condition where she will spontaneously stop breathing and requires CPR until she resumes breathing again on her own. Sometimes these spells will last for only a few minutes and other times she may require CPR for 30 minutes or more. Unfortunately, she has spent a great deal of her life in an intensive care unit on full life support. We have nearly lost her many times and sadly, since there is no cure for her condition, we have been told she will likely pass away during one of these arrests. She has been cheated out of most normal childhood activities, including even being able to attend school. Her absolute favorite thing in the world is Disneyland. It is the one place that she lights up and smiles. In fact, although we only get to visit 6-8 times a year, I spend nearly $350 a month on annual passes so that we,as a family, can share these special moments with Amanda. When we do go to Disneyland our visits must be brief due to the fact that if she gets over tired, or over heated, she will likely have an event. We also must carry a heavy emergency bag that contains oxygen and all the equipment necessary to save Amanda's life during her spells. In addition, her behavior issues make it difficult for her to wait in long lines or to be in tight quarters. A few years ago, Amanda went into an arrest in a fast pass line at Disneyland anD getting help to Amanda was a bit of a challenge because they had to clear all the people from the long, twisted lines. Once paramedics reached her she was rushed to CHOC hospital. It was shortly after that event that Disneyland gave Amanda the green-light pass. This pass provided special accommodations for Amanda, allowing her to get on and off all the rides she enjoyed within 2-3 hours, which is about her limit, and it kept her in an open area where help could get to her immediately if needed.
After hearing about the change that was going to take place, we planned a visit to give Disney's new program a fair chance. On October 10th, we visited City Hall and explained very clearly, in private, Amanda's limitations and her special needs. We told the cast member/supervisor that she could tolerate a maximum of 3-4 hours at the park. We were introduced to the new program and told that they were sure it would work for us. After 2.5 hours of struggling with the new program, we had gone on Pirates of the Caribbean, and Haunted Mansion. The next ride we were hoping to go on was Peter Pan. We waited in another line at the kiosk for about 15 minutes and we were told we could get in line for Peter Pan in 45 minutes. At that point we could see this was not going to work for us, Amanda was already showing signs of fatigue. We made our way back to City Hall and requested to meet with a manager. As we began to express our concerns, Amanda dropped to the ground, in a respiratory arrest, right at the Guest Relations Managers feet. We spent the next 3 days watching her go through spell after spell.
Despite this, when my husband made contact with the same gentleman who witnessed our nightmare, he, apologetically, told us that Disney was not willing to make any additional accommodations for Amanda. We were offered the option of canceling our passes or told we could put them on hold for a couple months to think about what we wanted to do, but we would still be required to pay the monthly payments.
I still have been unable to make a decision on what to do with our annual passes. We know we cannot return to experience a repeat of our last visit My heart aches at the thought of knowing that the one thing in Amanda's life that she has enjoyed more than anything else will be gone forever since Disney is being so unaccommodating to those who honestly need "special assistance."
The Autism Society of Los Angeles was on hand today October 14, 2013, to help parents with children with disabilities get through the new Disability Assistance system. This was a very busy day at Disneyland but to get your Disability Access service card it required a 1-2 hour wait. This is after they had to wait to park and get tickets. The cast members were very nice but really did not explain this very complicated system very well and could not accommodate parents who's. children had autism or other developmental disabilities.
How this system work is that you start at City Hall or chamber of commerce in California Adventure, you are asked what difficulty your child has. They do not want to see any doctors notes or other documentation. They will take your child's picture and print out a card. They will explain to you that you have to go to the kiosks that are throughout the park and you will be asked what ride you would like to go on. They will write on the card the wait time. Today it was never less than 30 minutes more like 60 minutes. You then have to wait around for your allotted time then you can go on the ride. After your one ride is done you go back to the kiosks and get another time for the next ride. Again you have to figure out what to do for 60 minutes before going on the ride. We figure that with this new system that the family with a child with a disability will only be able to go on four - five rides in an 8 hour day. The feedback from the parents that we spoke to was that this is a crazy system to do with a child with autism who has a problem waiting on the best of days. Parents were exhausted , frustrated and just plain sad. It is like something has...