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“It’s a small world after all…” and it seems full of people who would rather exploit disabled individuals than wait in line with everyone else.

After too many abuses in the system, the Happiest Place on Earth is finally cracking down on guests who pretend to have disabilities or go as far as hiring disabled tour guides just to get special access to the attractions.

Disneyland’s Guest Accommodation Card (GAC) allows those with disabilities to go to the front of the line with their family and friends. But as of Oct. 9, Disney is discontinuing the GACs and replacing them with a different kind of access card that acts like a Fast Pass (come back at a certain time for quick access to the ride).

The response to the change has been mixed. Some people believe they will no longer be able to enjoy the rides, since waiting in some sort of line (even though it’s not the main line) will now be required.

I’ll admit that it might be a little more difficult on rides such as Space Mountain, where disabled guests currently get backdoor access directly to the ride.

If this privilege disappears after the implementation of the new program, disabled guests won’t have to wait outside, but I’d imagine they would still have to go down the switchbacks of the space station and wait in a short line in the main chamber where the rollercoasters are (but they’d likely still have access to the alternate loading area created just for disabled guests).

Still, this is a much-needed change after reports of park guests (primarily at Disney World) hiring disabled tour guides in order to get the front-of-the-line benefit. This is not just a matter of abusing Disney’s GAC system — the continuation of this practice means more disabled individuals will be exploited under the not-so-clever guise of “Well, at least they get to make some money and have fun at Disneyland!”

This should not be tolerated, and kudos to Disney for changing its policies to discourage this practice.

I’m not saying the exploitation of disabled individuals will completely end after Disney’s new policy is implemented. It won’t. People with more money than time on their hands will still find a way to beat the lines.

But the Fast Pass-esque system strikes a happy medium that will both accommodate guests with actual disabilities and diminish incentives for people who hire disabled “tour guides.”

Some people argue that this new policy doesn’t go far enough. They say Disney needs to request verification of a disability when someone applies for a disabled access card.

In status quo, Disney pretty much takes your word for it — and it should stay this way. Imagine the inconvenience of having to bring paperwork or other means of proof of a disability every time you visited Disneyland.

It’s an added hassle, assumes dishonesty and is borderline discriminatory.

Disney’s new policy won’t be perfect from the get-go. It’ll require some tweaks and perhaps some exceptions (for rides with twisting, narrow lines, such as Indiana Jones, for example).

But ultimately, something needed to be done to minimize abuse of GACs, and this new policy seems to be the optimal alternative to the current one.

 

Kelly Kehoe is a third-year international studies major. She can be reached at kpkehoe@uci.edu

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