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Old 01-01-2013, 09:19 AM   #1
IndianaPrincess
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If you are on the fence about the GAC...

...just get it! TRUST ME! I'm hoping someone can learn from my mistake.

My son has anxiety and defiance issues. He does pretty well nowadays with his current treatment plan and therapy. He gets A's in citizenship at school and manages a pretty "normal" 6 year old life.

We did 9 days at the parks in October (plenty of time so no major rushing around, slow mornings, etc). For some reason, that I'm sure many will relate with, I just couldn't pull the trigger on asking for a GAC. I can't put my finger on it but I just thought that this magical place should be magical enough for everything to just go smoothly.

I "caved" on the last day and we got a GAC. Our vacation ended up being 8 days of stress and frustration... and one picture perfect day of fun and family bonding.

And you know what... our family using the GAC made the Magic Kingdom a better place for all the other people visiting. No one else had to see or hear or be affected by his behavior. There were times when I felt like he was being rewarded for being naughty by us getting to bypass a long wait, but you know what... no one wants to be around him in line (he can be very annoying) and this way they all got a more peaceful wait and we still got to enjoy Disney.

In the end, it's hard for me not to be disappointed in what "could have been" if I'd gotten the GAC on the first day. So I hope that I can help another family that deals with anxiety or ODD or any similar condition. Even if your kid does okay at home, go in with not only an open mind, but just pull the trigger and allow your family (and the others around) a peaceful and less stressful trip!
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:51 PM   #2
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I'm glad you found a GAC to be helpful to your family. We also experienced a very rough first day one trip before trying a GAC. Since then we have discovered that some advanced planning and using a touring plan does just as well, with the GAC as a back-up though not used much.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that while you felt you were bypassing lines, the GAC very specifically is not intended to work that way. Yes, it might make the lines shorter, but it can also result in a much longer wait. Some of it depends on time of year and overall crowds, it can also depend on crowds at any specific attraction and/or the number of people using an alternate entrance. When many people are using the alternate entrance, it can and will increase your wait time. And at some rides it may seem like you are bypassing the line, but because you go a different route it ends up being the same.

I just wanted to point that out so others reading this post who are not familiar with the GAC don't automatically assume a GAC will bypass lines. We have first-hand experience that it does not. Again, I'm glad OP was able to have an enjoyable day for her family using a GAC.
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Old 01-01-2013, 10:40 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lanejudy View Post
I'm glad you found a GAC to be helpful to your family. We also experienced a very rough first day one trip before trying a GAC. Since then we have discovered that some advanced planning and using a touring plan does just as well, with the GAC as a back-up though not used much.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that while you felt you were bypassing lines, the GAC very specifically is not intended to work that way. Yes, it might make the lines shorter, but it can also result in a much longer wait. Some of it depends on time of year and overall crowds, it can also depend on crowds at any specific attraction and/or the number of people using an alternate entrance. When many people are using the alternate entrance, it can and will increase your wait time. And at some rides it may seem like you are bypassing the line, but because you go a different route it ends up being the same.

I just wanted to point that out so others reading this post who are not familiar with the GAC don't automatically assume a GAC will bypass lines. We have first-hand experience that it does not. Again, I'm glad OP was able to have an enjoyable day for her family using a GAC.
+1.

Also to those who aren't familiar with the GAC, it doesn't always mean things will suddenly go smoothly with once you get it. It can help under the right circumstances but not all situations are benefited.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IndianaPrincess View Post
...just get it! TRUST ME! I'm hoping someone can learn from my mistake.

My son has anxiety and defiance issues. He does pretty well nowadays with his current treatment plan and therapy. He gets A's in citizenship at school and manages a pretty "normal" 6 year old life.

We did 9 days at the parks in October (plenty of time so no major rushing around, slow mornings, etc). For some reason, that I'm sure many will relate with, I just couldn't pull the trigger on asking for a GAC. I can't put my finger on it but I just thought that this magical place should be magical enough for everything to just go smoothly.

I "caved" on the last day and we got a GAC. Our vacation ended up being 8 days of stress and frustration... and one picture perfect day of fun and family bonding.

And you know what... our family using the GAC made the Magic Kingdom a better place for all the other people visiting. No one else had to see or hear or be affected by his behavior. There were times when I felt like he was being rewarded for being naughty by us getting to bypass a long wait, but you know what... no one wants to be around him in line (he can be very annoying) and this way they all got a more peaceful wait and we still got to enjoy Disney.

In the end, it's hard for me not to be disappointed in what "could have been" if I'd gotten the GAC on the first day. So I hope that I can help another family that deals with anxiety or ODD or any similar condition. Even if your kid does okay at home, go in with not only an open mind, but just pull the trigger and allow your family (and the others around) a peaceful and less stressful trip!
I agree with you. My son is almost 3 and has Autism and SID and we were at WDW over Thanksgiving. We are also season passholders at DL so we go there quite often. For some reason, he seems to do fine at DL so we don't use a GAC there but we also usually only go for no more than a few hours when we do go because we live close. WDW was a totally different story. We were there for 8 days and I am not sure if it's because we were somewhere he was unfamiliar, staying and sleeping in an unfamiliar place or what but we made it 3 days before I broke down and got a GAC. It was a miserable 3 days and he usually is very good. He was in major sensory overload and didn't know quite how to handle it. We plan on going again in another 3 weeks and I plan on getting a GAC from day 1. We will play it by ear and use it as needed. Basically, the only accommodation I ask for is that we use his stroller as a wheelchair so he can have the protection of the stroller to block out a lot of the stimuli around him. Luckily, as long as he is in his stroller, he has no problem waiting in lines so we usually just wait in the regular lines as long as they can accommodate the stroller. As you said, this makes the lines not only enjoyable for us but for everyone around us. I just wanted to add that for us, allowing my son to stay in his stroller really made a difference. He was much more calm and wasn't screaming and having meltdowns the whole time. He also seemed to sleep better.
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Old 01-02-2013, 06:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LockShockBarrel View Post
+1.

Also to those who aren't familiar with the GAC, it doesn't always mean things will suddenly go smoothly with once you get it. It can help under the right circumstances but not all situations are benefited.
You are sooooo right !!! We made the mistake of going during spring break with a GAC. While it helped in so many situations it could not make up for the crowds. We will never go again during a school break. Luckily our kiddos school is understanding about pulling him out for family vacations.
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Old 01-02-2013, 08:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lanejudy View Post
I'm glad you found a GAC to be helpful to your family. We also experienced a very rough first day one trip before trying a GAC. Since then we have discovered that some advanced planning and using a touring plan does just as well, with the GAC as a back-up though not used much.

Anyway, I just wanted to point out that while you felt you were bypassing lines, the GAC very specifically is not intended to work that way. Yes, it might make the lines shorter, but it can also result in a much longer wait. Some of it depends on time of year and overall crowds, it can also depend on crowds at any specific attraction and/or the number of people using an alternate entrance. When many people are using the alternate entrance, it can and will increase your wait time. And at some rides it may seem like you are bypassing the line, but because you go a different route it ends up being the same.

I just wanted to point that out so others reading this post who are not familiar with the GAC don't automatically assume a GAC will bypass lines. We have first-hand experience that it does not. Again, I'm glad OP was able to have an enjoyable day for her family using a GAC.
This.

I am really glad the OP found the GAC useful, but others should not expect it to work exactly the same way for them, or even the same way on the same trip. Exactly how a GAC works depends on many factors.
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Old 01-03-2013, 05:47 PM   #7
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I agree as well-so glad you got one. Our first trip to WDW with our autistic son, we did not get one either until day 2 after meltdowns and aggression. Live and learn....Now we get one every trip-DL, WDW, even Disneyland Paris. It helps! We plan breaks mid day and that helps as well. He is 11 so we do not use a stroller or wheelchair. Sadly, with our school schedules we have to go at the busiest times but we sure use EMH as much as possible.
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:17 PM   #8
IndianaPrincess
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I honestly don't understand everyone putting disclaimers on my post. Of course other's exact experiences will be different than mine. Everyone has a different family and different issues. I hope everyone is smart enough to figure that out.

I feel like I missed that the first rule of GAC is don't talk about the GAC. I was trying to be helpful to others with ODD and/or high anxiety kids who function decently at home.

So to be clear, let me rephrase: Don't second guess asking for a GAC to give it a CHANCE to make your trip (and others around your family) less stressful and frustrating. It worked for us.
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:36 PM   #9
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Indianaprincess, i think what they are trying to say is that some people that do not really know or understand what a gac is for might try to take advantage of it.
This service is not for just anyone, the need must be there.
My dd has health issues & she needs to have one for several reasons, i bring a note from her doctors to help explain her issues, because just looking at her, you would not know that anything is wrong.

I am glad that it helped your family.
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:13 PM   #10
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Agreed PP. People who are truly in the dark about how the GAC works or who think they know how to play the system could look at your post and go "Oh well..Sally is a bit of a brat so that's a "defiance issue" right? I'll get this card!" or "Johnny really does have "insert legit issue here" and if we get this card everything will automatically be better!"
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2012bella13
Indianaprincess, i think what they are trying to say is that some people that do not really know or understand what a gac is for might try to take advantage of it.
This service is not for just anyone, the need must be there.
My dd has health issues & she needs to have one for several reasons, i bring a note from her doctors to help explain her issues, because just looking at her, you would not know that anything is wrong.

I am glad that it helped your family.
Yes, but you do NOT NEED to bring a Dr's note to get a GAC and frankly I am extremely surprised a CM would even look at it. I have witnessed them say to other guests that they cannot look at Doctor's letters. I suspect part of it is privacy and part of it is because there it really no way to verify it's authenticity. In this day and age of computers, any computer savy person can doctor up a quality Dr's note. And also most of the time, the Dr's note states what the diagnosis is, not what accommodations are needed. Guest Services doesn't care what the diagnosis is, they are concerned with what accommodations are needed. Very few Dr's letters include that or ones that they can do. Like if the Dr says they cannot wait in lines, Well you shouldn't have come to Disney! Because that's just not reasonable to expect to come to WDW and never wait in a line. But a new poster reading this thread and seeing your post might think they need a Dr's note and when they absolutely do not.


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Old 01-08-2013, 06:11 PM   #12
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You may wonder why I closed this thread.
The short answers are -
1) most of these threads end when people start to get rude to other posters.
2) people read about shorter waits some people feel they experienced and EXPECT that is how it is and always will be.
3) my philosophy is to give people realistic expectations of what might happen so they can plan. Not 'best case scenarios saying you won't have to wait. I HAVE received PMs (Personal Messages) from people who read the 'best case scenarios' especially those where people posted "I don't know why other people say a GAC won't shorten your wait because it always did for us." People reading that expected they would get in the exit or not have to wait and were angry that things did not happen that way each time and felt mislead by the posters who reported they did not wait for anything.

I have never gotten an angry PM from someone because things worked out better than they though. But I have gotten them from people who felt mislead by posts saying they would not have to wait.



The long answer is this, copied from the Open Letter from SueM near the top of this board.

Even if one guest posts, "I was just at WDW and this is what happened".........
that doesn't mean the same thing will happen to each guest, or even that it would have happened just that way if the poster had gone on that attraction later in the same trip.

CMs have different methods/tools available at each attractions in order to give accommodation. Exactly WHAT tools are used are going to depend on the needs of the person with the GAC, what is available at that attraction and also on things that are not visible to the guest - like how many people with special needs are already waiting, what the general wait time is, the staffing levels, the space available for waiting.
That can mean that same guest can go to the same attraction
on the same day
with the same needs
and the same GAC
and be treated differently on a second ride on that attraction than the first time.


Actually using the Fastpass system as it is set up for guests to use will give consistent results; using a GAC will not.

That is one of the reasons people on this board who have been to WDW many times caution against expectations. When people read "I had a GAC and I did xxxxxxx", they expect the same experience, even if their situation is different or the conditions are different when they go. (There is more information about this on the disABILITIES FAQs thread in post 6 about GACs).

Most of the regular posters on this board (me included) have been to WDW many times and have seen/experienced the different ways of dealing with the same GAC themselves. That's one of the reasons we are 'cautious' about telling people exactly what to expect - it changes and people often post "I expected xxxxxxx, but yyyyyy happened".
So, we tell people to expect that yyyyyyy (or even zzzzzz) might happen instead of what they expect. That is the point where some guests post, "But, I used a GAC on my trip and xxxxxxxx did happen" and kind of imply that would be/should be what happens every time, since that was what happened to them.
We're just saying that what some people experience and think is the rule is actually the exception, rather than the rule.

As another example, on our last trip in October, lines were short. At Buzz Lightyear, DD entered the regular 'stand-by' line with her wheelchair. The CM at the Fastpass entrance motiioned us to come over and told us to use the Fastpass line, giving us a handwritten Fastpass to give the CM collecting Fastpasses.
We also received the same 'treatment' on some other attractions during that same trip.
If this was our first trip, I may have come back and posted on the DIS Boards that using a wheelchair 'allowed' us to use the Fastpass lines. I would have probably thought that was what was the rule about what was 'supposed' to happen. I would not realize that was the exception rather than the rule.

The report would be the truth as far as reporting our experience, but it would not be the whole truth because there are things that I know as an experienced WDW visitor that someone on a first trip with a guest using a wheelchair would not know/notice.
In these case, both the Fastpass and the regular line were short. Because the regular line has more twists and turns, it would be more difficult for us to get thru it with a wheelchair; not a problem when the line is moving slowly, but actually slows down the line when guests are walking thru quickly. So, in that situation, it's better for the attraction when the CM sent us to use the Fastpass line.
The same thing happens with GACs sometimes. The way the CM chooses to give accomodation may look like an advantage for the person with the GAC, when it's actually to WDW's benefit to handle it that way.
And, in this case (as well as for most shows, even when it's busy) using the Fastpass line did not really get us in more quickly; it just was more convenient for both us and the CMs.

Someone posted recently in a trip report that they used a GAC and were able to use the Fastpass line instead of waiting in 'hour long lines' to see Indiana Jones. The accomodation needed was to be able to sit in front rows of shows because of a vision problem. Because of their needs, there had to be some way to separate that guest's party out from the other guests. The way the CM's did it was to use the Fastpass line so they were in a smaller group and were allowed in before the majority of guests before all the close seats were gone.
They saw using the GAC as an advantage and felt kind of embarrassed using it, but they didn't realize that their initial assessment (that people wait for hours in line for Indiana Jones) was not correct.

The last point I want to make is that a GAC only helps with attractions, and even then maybe not with all attractions. If the park is busy, it's going to be busy all over, not just in lines/attractions. That general 'busyness' in the parks can be even more overwhelming to many people than waiting in lines.
It is a much bigger 'advantage' to know what is busy and when, so that you can go when it's more quiet. With a few exceptions, attractions have slow times when your wait in the regular line is only a few minutes (Soarin' and Toy Story Mania are exceptions because they are popular and fairly new). Going to MK at opening usually means being able to go on most attractions with waits of less than 15 minutes. Going mid day might mean a wait of 45 minutes - 1 hour for some attractions. All parks have situations like this and a good touring plan can minimize or eliminate the need to use a GAC. (Many people like to use easywdw.com, touringplans.com or tourguidemike.com)
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