I feel like my previous post is misunderstood by some people. It seems like people are thinking we are a "special snowflake" situation. I hate that term, it's super derogatory & honestly hurts my feelings. Alex was born with something called CHARGE Syndrome from the get go I've been wishing we could give that & other diagnosis back... I certainly was not a seeker of any of this. Alex has a VERY visible disability from a cranio facial standpoint, from the way he moves, from his noises & his behaviors, no one wonders why we are in DAS line. The DAS did work for us, my issue is with the rigidity of it, that was hard for Alex but once we figured out the system we did work it pretty well and by work it I mean in the same way that people work the fast past system, we planned times in accordance to what we had coming next.
Also you think I'm joking about only waiting in line if I have enough people... let me tell you a story: When Alex starting wanting to ride the bigger rides Geoff felt funny about using "the pass" he felt like since we could still carry Alex if we needed that we were using the pass for our sake more than his. I agreed to try it out. We stood in the Splash Mountain line chatting & having a good time, in front of us was a cute little blonde girl who loved to swing her hair around. I was nervous but Alex was doing fine so we stayed. Then in a split second that girl was screaming & my kid had 2 hands firmly grasped into her hair. It as horrifying. That mom was yelling at us, I was trying to extract Alex's hands & apologize, honestly it SUCKS when Alex hurts someone else. We ducked out of the line & Geoff agreed that using the pass now made sense because having Alex that close to strangers is really tough, even at 15 keeping his hands to himself is a challenge when he's either excited or sad. That's part of CHARGE. We have to have enough people that Alex is compltely insulated from strangers, if you sign on to go to DL with us then you kinda sign up for the occasional "targeted hug" that Alex might dispense but strangers get SUPER pissed when they get a pinch from a random kid.
As far as my saddness over the loss of "rockstar treatment" you can disagree if you want but I think Disney's treatment of special needs kids has always been an amazing part of their charm. It's kind of hard to explain but the way the characters will go out of their way to communicate with Alex is heartwarming (that takes a little longer than so they spend more time), the way many of the operators at the Matterhorn see us worrying so they triple check his seatbelt and give us an extra second to lift him out at the end, the way that they understand when our giant stroller is in the way, etc. Disney makes us feel like we're on a "normal" vacation because they take away some of the stuff that is hard for Alex, that's what the DAS or the GAC was about... about making it easier for disabled people to have a good time. It was never supposed to be about guides or people who fake a need. The abusers ruined this system, not kids like Alex or his friend Jillian. When a commenter mentioned the amount of people using the GAC, yes a lot of those were people abusing the system & guess what... they still can do that because for the same reason you cannot really ask why someone needs a DAS. This time we were waiting our turn at the Radiator Springs ride over in the "non stairs" side which is where some of the DAS people go like us because of the stroller and a family came off that ride. They were carrying off their little girl who was trached & clearly had a lot going on but they were beaming. Her little brother was excited, she was smiling, mom & dad looked happy & gave me a little wave. That's what it's all about, I can tell you from experience that traveling with a child with a trach and/or feeding tube is a serious undertaking, I can't see how anybody would begrudge them a DAS pass. Disney made things easier for them whatever you want to call that, it's awesome in the same way that Bat Kid was awesome. Sure, did the whole Bat Kid thing probably inconvenience thousands of people due to traffic or whatever? Yes but was it awesome? Yes! I think most of those people were probably understanding of that situation & they realized that their inconvenience was a small price for such a big event in that boy's life.
I do want to clear up some of the things that are big misconsceptions in regards to how the old pass system worked:
1) It was never IMMEDIATE access. You always waited about 10 minutes to sometimes a lot longer if it was busy before you go on. They had to work you into the boarding numbers. You just waited off to the side. The busier the park the more you wait with a GAC or a DAS, this is why we really try to choose less busy times, I haven't been to DL on a weekend or during the summer in years.
2) There was never access over & over for us at least. Imagine being at Costco & they are giving out an amazing little sample of cheesecake. After you go once & then turn right around to go again they give you a "weren't you just here?" look. You feel like a jerk, it's a sample not a full portion. Same thing with rides & the GAC pass. Alex is a memorable kid (see above) so trying to act like we weren't just there is impossible. Even this time on the last day the Matterhorn guy knew Alex's name because we had been there a lot between the line & the DAS system. In this case the primary difference between the DAS & the GAC was that before if Alex was upset because he wanted a second Matterhorn then we could take him to another ride to distract & avert a meltdown easier than we might be able to now. But again, we worked this out with a lot of extra planning, good friends & being as flexible as we could on other stuff for him.
Anyway, I know I broke the cardinal rule of blogging by responding to comments when I was angry but sometimes I just cannot help that. Alex has been through so much in his life and in particular this last year has been brutal for him. I feel really defensive of my boy & anyone how acts like we get a DAS because Alex has some made up acronym of a diagnosis makes me want to scream. Alex is a disabled boy with a mama who has feelings, please be mindful of what you say when leaving comments here, we are not nameless or faceless. If you want a constructive dialog I'm all in but do not mistake us for someone who cheats that system because that could not be further from the truth.