Bad Attraction Assistance Pass Experience at US last time, really apprehensive for next time!

Discussion in 'disABILITIES!' started by mrjcuk, May 28, 2017.

  1. mrjcuk

    mrjcuk Earning My Ears

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    I have a physical disability which means I can't stand for long and have to walk with crutches, as well as a visual impairment which makes it hard for me to see trip hazards, terrain changes, queue ropes etc.

    I have been lucky enough to travel to Orlando several times and on each occasion have had AAP's or GAC's (or their equivalents) at Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and Busch Gardens by mentioning the above (and SeaWord and Busch Gardens I have only had to tell them once on my first trip as they are always able to pull up my details so they get extra points lol!).

    This all changed on my last trip to Universal last year. I made my usual visit to Guest Services and the team member went to find a supervisor so I knew something was up. The supervisor explained that as many of Universal's queues were part of the story of the attraction, they would not issue me with an AAP. Instead, she offered to loan me a manual wheelchair that I could either sit in or lean on in the queues as required.

    I explained to her that this would not be appropriate for me - firstly, although I find it hard to walk far and stand for long, it is still important to me physically and personally to walk as much as possible to avoid stiffness. I am not a wheelchair user and have no training in how to propel myself in one and wouldn't feel safe doing so in a crowded park. I was with my best friend and pushing a manual wheelchair round would have involved her much more than I wanted to - she wasn't there to push me around, and she would have had to deal with the chair when boarding/exiting rides too. I explained that having had an AAP previously I knew that access via the special entrances doesn't miss out a huge chunk of the story in most cases, and that I needed to be able to queue without standing and then return to the ride and walk the queue at my own pace at the return time. She was having none of it though, and in the end we walked away.

    As a result, I spent the rest of my 2 days in Universal explaining my disabilities to every ride attendant. Some were great and allowed me to access the Express line as if I had an AAP, but I felt bad about this because I wasn't given a return time - some people might like being let straight on but I don't think this is fair and it wasn't why I wanted an AAP. Others though sent me through the standard queue. Worse still, we had different experiences at the same ride - riding Kong 3 times, on the first I was sent up the exit ramp, on the second I was placed in the normal queue and on the 3rd I was let into the Express line I think. So it made it really hard for me to walk up to a ride and know how I would be accessing it and how much waiting and walking I needed to do.

    It was exhausting having to explain myself at every ride, the AAP really took care of that explanation for me. It is hard for me as an independent person to talk about my needs to a team member when there are other park guests listening in. I felt completely disempowered.

    My fiancé and I are going to Orlando next year for our honeymoon :-)D) and although I am of course excited, I am absolutely dreading having the same experience again at Universal. I just found it so chaotic and upsetting as compared to other parks and previous visits to Universal.

    My question really is whether anyone else has experienced a change in the AAP policy or something like this happening to them? What have your experiences been like at Universal lately? And what can I do to stop this casting a cloud over the buildup to my honeymoon... I'm feeling anxious already about that Guest Services window!
     
  2. TheRustyScupper

    TheRustyScupper "Grant Us Peace" (Dona Nobis Pacem)

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    1) In most cases, MOBILITY is not a condition that grants special ADA (disabled) privileges.
    2) By using an ECV or wheelchair, mobility issues are circumvented.
    3) Sure, you want to walk, but that even complicates things further.
    . . . mobility now becomes a part-time issue
    . . . it makes you only SEMI-disabled

    NOTE: There are simply too many people that claim to be mobility-challenged, or try to use it as an excuse for front-of-line or special privileges. So, all parks are getting stricter about issuing rights that other guests do not get. I know this sounds cruel, but I am a CM and (for several more months) completely wheelchair-bound, and I do not get special rights or favors.
     
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  4. gap2368

    gap2368 DIS Veteran

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    I know you do not want to hear this but the PP is right. Use the wheel chair or what ever mobility device as a tool to help you have fun. Just because you have a wheel chair dose not mean you have to sit in it all the time you can use it as a walker
     
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  5. redberyl

    redberyl Mouseketeer

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    Went in January with two disabled kids , combined they have heart disease lung disease, seizures, gastrointestinal issues, impaired immune system, cerebral palsy and autism . I explained all the issues waiting in line related to all this in addition to the mobility issue, and they wouldn't give us the pass to get return times Plus they told me I wouldn't need a stroller as wheelchair for the special needs stroller, because it qualified as a wheelchair But then I had to explain that at almost every attraction. It was a miserable trip and I wouldn't go back
     
  6. adisneyaunt

    adisneyaunt DIS Veteran

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    Imho...This just makes me sad.
    It's hard enough for a disabled person it's not easy, no one volunteers for it.

    To even think that Abusing a system ( if that's what the crackdown has actually been.. as u hear about these turn downs more and more) has resulted in what may be described as an Over Scrutinization and often times, the simple loss of common sense and with that empathy...there does not even appear to be consistency. Is it the "explanation" ... not clear enough, or too simple ..for a layperson to then make that determination? ... does one have to b at deaths door for it to pass muster?

    It's difficult for many to even have the courage to ask... it's just not a simple black and white thing.. there's Gray areas and nuances with disabilities. :(
    I hope those that do ask for help that they truly need, get it as best as can be provided, everywhere!


    OP: congrats on ur upcoming nuptials and Pixie Dust ur way for a smooth, Magical honeymoon as well.
     
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  7. mamabunny

    mamabunny DIS Veteran

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    I too want to add my Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials - I hope you all have just the best honeymoon possible! :)

    Disclaimer: I have not been to Uni in Orlando (and have not been to Uni in Cali since I have had to use a mobility device) but, if I were in your shoes, after experiencing a couple of hours in the park, I would have gone back to Guest Services, and talked with them again. You might find that you get a whole different employee, which can mean a whole different outcome. (not guaranteed, but possible) Additionally, I would have stressed to them that while you do have a mobility issue, that's not your greatest concern - that it is the accompanying visual issues that are causing you concern regarding ride and show queues; that you don't want to trip and fall and potentially be injured because you are unable to visually parse texture and elevation changes. Remember that you can write down what you want to say to them, and take it with you. Practice - either by yourself, or with someone else, talking to Guest Services.

    And don't worry what any other Guest may think about you. Who cares? The likelihood that you will ever see them, anywhere, again is so small that you have a better chance of being hit by lighting AND winning the lottery in the same day!

    Remember that using an ECV, a Rollator (which would help you walk, *and* give you a seat when you need it while standing in line) or a wheelchair is simply using a TOOL to make the most of your vacation time. We routinely walk anywhere from 2 to 10 times as much in a single theme park day as we do in our regular everyday lives; using a mobility device is not a cop out, it's not giving up - it's just using the best available tool to maximize your time and enjoyment in the Parks!
     
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  8. DisneyOma

    DisneyOma DIS Veteran

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    OP, how do you deal with the uneven pavement, trip hazards, and other mobility related issues outside of the queue areas? If you have the issues outside the queue area, as well as in the queues (and some of them are dark) you really would be better off with a rollator instead of crutches. It gives you a seat and a sturdier base for balance.

    I do agree that a visual impairment would make it hard to navigate the queues, but most of the time the lines are moving pretty slowly so there is time to adjust - you wouldn't be going full speed into a queue chain. But not being able to stand for long periods of time is a mobility issue. There's so much standing outside of the queues - get what you need to make your trip a successful for you! Maybe even use an ECV?
     
  9. joelkfla

    joelkfla DIS Veteran

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    I agree that UO has become very unfriendly to Guests with mobility issues. I am a local ECV user and usually a solo traveler, and have had no issues getting a GAS until my last visit. The GS associate was nasty, and refused to give me a GAS until I asked, "Are you going to provide someone to push me around in a wheelchair?" At that point he grudgingly relented.

    I find it hypocritical that they are so concerned about helping out a few mobility-impaired Guests, while giving thousands of resort guests and pay-to-play guests front-of-line access.

    I will not be renewing my AP.
     
  10. gottalovepluto

    gottalovepluto DIS Veteran

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    Oh my gosh. I would have definitely sent a letter to guest services at Universal after that trip. That's so messed up.
     
  11. wilkeliza

    wilkeliza DIS Veteran

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    I believe a lot of the parks are cracking down. Universal does seem to be the strictest though. I do understand you don't want to use a wheelchair or ECV but if stamina/mobility is a key situation of the request for accommodation that is going to be the default. Yes it stinks to have a party member push you if you can't use an ECV but I imagine the GR team member even saw that a wheelchair plus your party member was best for the other request because the AAP doesn't guarentee that there are not changes in texture or level of queue just that there may be less.

    It is such a hard thing because the AAP are great but at the same time they also have to enforce their policies and procedures or face abuse of large proportions. I know with Universal it is really during Halloween Horror Nights that are the biggest issues and this may have been hold over from the retraining that happened around then after massive abuse.
     
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  12. Westcoastwild

    Westcoastwild DIS Veteran

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    How they treated you sucks...

    But I guess I don't quite understand why you wouldn't want a wheelchair or ecv? Going to the parks involves a lot of standing and as someone said, pushing a wheel chair around would give you an automatic seat when there isn't a bench nearby. We travel with a wheelchair for that reason- mom rarely rides in it, but it gives her a place to rest and it provides her more stability than just her cane would.

    A manual wheel chair really is the default accommodation though. I mean other than mobility there is no reason you'd need to skip the lines. So you're pretty much the same as every person with an ecv, and those don't automatically get you a pass.
     
  13. Kaytie

    Kaytie DIS Veteran

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    If this happens again, please go back to Guest Services and explain why their "solution" isn't working - and insist on the tag.
     
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  14. k8Davies

    k8Davies K8Davies

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    It's stories like this that have me worried about UO, on our last trip as we just got my son's Autism diagnosis, coupled with him being only 3 years old and as we just went as a family of three, we decided not to go.

    On our next trip there are more of us going and as he will be older so we were thinking about giving it a go. But if I can't have return times and his stroller as a wheelchair then there is really no point in us even going, as it would just be a waste of time and money.

    I assume there is no way to check this out before you buy tickets, I also assume it's just pot luck and the will of the Guest relations on the day.

    With original OP have you thought about a rollator for the trip? as it keeps you moving and helpful for a rest if you need one, although know from your post it's not ideal.

    Alternatively even though it boils my blood to suggest it, as if people have need it's outrageous if you have to get one, but I think they still do their front of the line paid for tickets, that you can get in the park. Honestly feel dirty for suggesting it.

    Although as UO charge for it that product, might be why they are being so strict on the passes as if they give out the bear minimum they probably get people with needs purchasing them instead to avoid the complication that they may face.

    I might just be being cynical though, as it's Wednesday lol :)
     
  15. gottalovepluto

    gottalovepluto DIS Veteran

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    Bingo. That's what we'll do. Thankfully we're able to afford a night onsite at one of the EP hotels but they aren't anywhere close to "affordable" if you're on a tight budget.

    I'm appalled at some of the reports I've seen here. If Universal really is this bad with disability access why hasn't anyone gone after them? Sure, most of us don't have the budget, time, or desire to sue but the headlines over Disney and it's disabled access programs over the years show that people who do have those 3 things are certainly out there.

    In your shoes @k8Davies I'd keep a close on eye future reports. I'd analyze the trip through the lens of no return times and if it isn't worth it since you won't be able to do much don't do UO. Do parks that you know you'll enjoy with your group, vacation time and money are too precious to waste.
     
  16. wilkeliza

    wilkeliza DIS Veteran

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    The Disney lawsuits aren't actually adding up to much and I think the Universal ones would create even bigger issues. It was basically determined that the Disney has created a "greater access" accommodation because you can ride another ride while you wait your time while someone who is physically in line can not do that. Universals would get a similar ruling I bet and then the ones who get the pass that requires no wait would get even more of a benefit as they are getting something for free that others pay for. I haven't seen many lawsuits go the way of those suing except for a few based on evacing those in wheelchairs.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2017
  17. cobright

    cobright DIS Veteran

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    I will preface this by saying that I walk just fine, so I don't have that lens of a lifetime of mobility issue to view this through. I do have a special interest in the subject and a long history of helping others meet their particular special mobility needs.

    If you're asking, I would say that it's time to look into a power-chair. Having a power-chair or an ECV makes the decision to sit through a line or walk it yours to make. What you are asking for is the ability to spend a day at a theme park and rest whenever you need to without missing out on the attractions. That sounds reasonable on the surface, but where else can you do that? What store would let you walk to the front of the que on a busy day? And at some theme parks, that's a feature people pay a lot of money for.

    You have an impediment that can be overcome nicely with a mobility aid. Not as nicely as being able to dodge the line altogether, but not too shabby either. The only downsides you mention about using one are that you need to do some walking to prevent stiffness, and you don't have experience driving them. Having a powerchair, means you can walk the lines you feel up for as well as park it and tour circuitous portions of the park on foot and then rest while waiting in the longer lines. This will go a long way towards remedying several of the problems you mention, the uncertainty when approaching each ride, the exertion of having to explain your situation to every ride attendant, and the feeling of disempowerment. With an powered mobility aid at your service you can roll up on any ride, on 2 feet or 3-6 wheels, like a boss; in command of your destiny, and you don't have to say jack about it to anyone.

    Just my perspective.
     
  18. k8Davies

    k8Davies K8Davies

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    You're so right! Have to say Disney were so, so, so Amazing :mickeyjum helping us with our extra needs and I am so looking forward to taking my son back.

    So I think if UO are bad as people are saying above, it will make it that much worse. As coming Va-cay (especially from the UK) it's not cheap so to have a crap day probably isn't worth it - even for the butterbeer.
     
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  19. Selket

    Selket Been there - done that

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    I was at US/IOA in April and used an ECV and had a terrible time with the attractions. I thought the ECV lines were mainstreamed for the most part (like at WDW) but they wouldn't let me in with the ECV. They said I needed to transfer to a WC provided at the attraction and have someone push me - but every time they were out of WC's. They usually let us go on through in the express line or through some other way - but really it was a hassle - and I had to walk and park the ECV. I only rode a few things because I just got tired of the people at the ride entrance not knowing what to do with me. Plus we needed to use the new medical lockers they've put in the attractions so we could keep some of my son's supplies with us. It was honestly too much for me because each ride was different - and most importantly the workers seemed puzzled on what to do - just about each time.

    I was using an ECV rented from them (I couldn't rent one off-site because I was traveling with a school group trip). I don't know what I missed but are the attraction lines not mainstreamed for ECV's there? What happens if you're alone or your family is off doing something else and you want to ride something (like The Mummy - that was one place they wouldn't let me in with the ECV and said I needed to transfer to a wheelchair but didn't have any)?

    I won't go back - not worth it.
     
  20. QTWO

    QTWO Earning My Ears

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    I came to this board this morning for the same reason you wrote your original post, mrjuck. My husband has the disability and, for now, we can get away with just using an ECV (he will likely need a chair as time goes on) in the parks. But, with the recent "crackdown" on ECVs (I guess to prevent abuse?) we had to park it and I had to lift him into a manual chair, push him, lift him out of the manual chair, load him into the ride and assist him out of the ride- all while managing my two young children. Many times, we did it after getting a snarky attitude from the attraction attendants... with the tone of "If you were really handicapped you would see no problems with transferring into a manual chair." And, depending on which cast member we were speaking to, or which ride we were trying to get on, and at what point we were in the process, we would get inconsistent directives about how to proceed- there was no consistency in implementing these new "rules".

    It was disempowering. It was arduous. It turned me into my husband's caregiver, instead of his wife and the mother to his children. It turned my husband into a "cripple." It gave my children a window to climb the attraction walls and run under other guests' feet, because I couldn't manage them and a manual wheelchair. But, once he was in that chair and they saw me struggling to manage my husband and two small children- once I "proved" we had a "real disability" by putting him in a chair- we were treated with compassion, care and, really, more assistance than was necessary (because they felt guilty, I'm sure).

    I cannot tell you how profoundly sad I am that the parks have chosen to address ECV/disability accommodation abuse by implementing these universally limiting policies. Until my husband can emotionally reconcile being relegated to a chair to appear more disabled than necessary, we're not going to the parks. The hostility, in addition to the physical hardship, has caused us more anxiety, frustration and sadness than going on the attractions can justify. For us, it is not worth it.

    My best advice would be: plan to have the exact same experience you had previously- perhaps worse- and be emotionally prepared to deal with it. I think the only thing you can do to have an easier time is be aware that this is the new "norm." My degree of pessimism over the whole thing really saddens me, but I feel pretty hopeless- and maybe that is some of the after-effects of having such a rough weekend. If I, personally, were in your position, I would find another place to honeymoon.

    I truly wish you the best of luck.
     
  21. gottalovepluto

    gottalovepluto DIS Veteran

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    IF you're up for it you might want to consider writing Universal's Guest Services, I have no idea if they listen or not to feedback but going through what you did was messed up and maybe if enough people convey their experiences someone there will take notice and change the process in the future.
     
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