Thursday, November 21, 2013

Update On The Disney World Magic Kingdom Disability Assistance Services Situation

An update: Yesterday, I called the number listed on the Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card Fact Sheet

I spoke with a live person who answered the phone right away. She listened to my issues. She apologized for the problems that my dad and my daughter had last weekend. I explained to her that we actually had plans to go again next month and for the first time ever, I was thinking of not going. She took down all my information and said that someone from management would be calling me back. She said that what happened was not supposed to happen and detailed what should have happened. She said that the CM should have given my dad a Guest Assistance Services Card that they would present at each ride and be given a return time. She said that they could return to the ride any time after that return time, it did not have to be that exact time, just after. She said that if that is not something that works for my daughter's disability to explain that to the CM at guest services at that time and they would work out something that would work for her needs. I explained that although this new system is not as accommodating as the old one, that at least that would have been better than putting her in a stroller or a wheel chair and having my dad try to navigate a double stroller though the lines that are not made for a stroller or a wheel chair. I told her that offering a stroller or a wheel chair is not a welcomed assistance, she spends hours in therapy every week trying to get stronger and balanced to ensure she won't need something like that. I also mentioned that my dad, who is a 68 year old grandfather, was there by himself, essentially as a single parent/grandparent with 2 young girls and that it showed just how hard the system is on single parents. Going back and forth to try to get fast passes at kiosks  meant everyone trekking together. I specifically mentioned the problem they have with the fast pass kiosk for The Little Mermaid Ride all the way at Mickey's Philharmonic. She said that the CM should not have sent him to go get the fast pass, that they should have had someone bring it to him! Again, the posted accommodations and what "should" happen is not what actually is happening. I am thankful that they listened and she wrote everything down, even read it all back to me. I made a point of telling her that I was calling not only for my daughter, but for all of the other families that feel turned away by Disney. I mentioned that my own social media and message boards are filled with people saying they are not going back until they have a reassurance that it is fixed. I told her that we never saw any abuse of the previous system and that it seems like they let a few bad apples spoil the bunch at the expense of people young and old with special needs that needed that assistance in order to be able to enjoy the park. She said that they were working on it and that someone from management would be calling me back to make sure that our trip there next month was "a magical experience again". I will keep you all posted!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Magic Kingdom Abandoned Helping Those with Special Needs

As an update to the experience I posted over the weekend that my dad had with my daughter and my niece. I had some more details to add once I was able to speak with him.

When he went up to the Disney Cast Member (CM) at City Hall, instead of greeting him she asks, "What's your issue with Disney?" He went on to explain to her that they were hoping to get assistance for his granddaughter and explained to the CM that she has Cerebral Palsy, doesn't have use of her right arm, she fatigues easily, and has balance issues. She kept repeatedly asking HIM what his handicap was and what services HE needed. He kept repeating back that it wasn't for him, it was his granddaughter and was pointing to her. The CM didn't even look at her or acknowledge the doctor notes and school notes he brought in. She was robotic, uncaring, condescending and bordering on rude. Finally Chianna had to pope up and said "It's me that needs assistance, not him!" He asked about the fast pass assistance to minimize their wait times so that they could see the park before Chianna got too tired out and they had to leave. She said they didn't have anything like that and offered a stroller or wheel chair at no charge.

He finally opted for the stroller, getting a double one so that she could fit in it. He said navigating the lines in any stroller or wheel chair is not easy because the lines were not made for that. It causes unnecessary and undue attention.

The fast pass kiosk for The Little Mermaid ride is all the way at Mickey's Philharmonic for some strange reason, so after walking all the way over to Little Mermaid, they were sent all the way back to Mickey's Philharmonic to get the fast pass.

The system they have does not help those who need assistance and certainly does not help single parents or grandparents there by themselves!

For the first time EVER, I am thinking of not going back to Disney World and the Disney Parks when we are in Orlando next month. And until they fix this broken system, they are going to continue to lose money and have families like us disappointed and upset!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Disney Magic is Gone

It sucks to only post on my blog nowadays when something is wrong, but I wanted to share. . . .

My 41 years of Disney Magic were erased today. The new Guest Assistance program for handicapped guests is no help or assistance at all. My dad is in the Magic Kingdom today with my daughter who has cerebral palsy. She has a somewhat mild version of C.P., meaning she is not wheel chair bound and does not have any cognitive issues. She has a right sided weakness, she doesn't have use of her right hand and she wears a brace on her right leg.

They went to City Hall to request the new guest assistance accommodations explaining that although she walks on her own, she can lose balance and fall and that she fatigues easily. Waiting in long lines would exacerbate her issues greatly and put her in danger of getting hurt. They had NO SPECIAL ACCOMMODATION with fast passes whatsoever!

The information Disney released had said that the new changes would mean they could get multiple fast passes and would be given times to return to rides. They did not have anything like that available. They told him they had to get a fast pass for each ride and gave a complimentary stroller to MY EIGHT YEAR OLD so that she could use it as a wheel chair. They gave her stroller as wheelchair access and told them they had to wait in line with the stroller with everyone else.

Sure, that will help her not get fatigued, but way to go in making her FEEL singled out and handicapped. She doesn't use a stroller or a wheelchair any other time. Previously, they always gave us an alternate entrance pass and we were able to see everything she wanted in Magic Kingdom before she tired out.

I told my dad to speak to a supervisor, but he does not want to spend their one day there waiting to talk to people since he will evidently have to wait in line too. We live in Florida and usually visit Disney World several times a year. I have gone to Disney World at least once a year for all 41 years of my life. In the last 4 years since we adopted our daughter, we have been thankful to be able to have the guest assistance card so that she could experience the same magic we felt growing up. We went to the parks in Orlando several times a year, every year and never saw any abuse of the previous system when we were using it, which leaves me wondering if the change was even necessary.

Regardless of whether the change was necessary or not, there has to be a better solution so that you could continue accommodating guests that need assistance. Until I have confirmation of better accommodations for my daughter, sorry, Mickey, we won’t be “seeing you real soon”.