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Disney restricts its park passes for disabled visitors

Disneyland and Disneyworld, two of the most popular theme parks in the world, have long made several accomodations for visitors who have disabilities. One of the parks' longtime features for disabled patrons is to provide them with guest assistance cards. These cards allow those with disabilities, including those who qualify for Social Security Disability, and their families the chance to avoid long waits at rides to move to the front. The idea is to make their experience at the park easier.

However, there have been several anecdotal reports that some wealthy, non-disabled people were taking advantage of the system. A new report in May said that some families were hiring disabled people to pose as their "relative" to allow them to skip to the front of the line.

In response to this apparent abuse of the system, Disney has announced that it is changing how it provides assistance to disabled customers. Starting on Oct. 9, the theme parks will no longer issue the guest assistance cards. In their place, Disney will issue tickets with a scheduled time to come get on the ride.

This system, while likely well-intentioned, could make experiencing Disneyland and Disneyworld more difficult for disabled people and their families, some observers said in a story in CNN. One woman who lives with a painful condition that makes her very sensitive to touch and standing for long periods said she may have to cut back on her visits to Disneyland.

Another woman, the mother of a child with spina bifida, noted that her child's day must be strictly scheduled because of regular medical procedures that he needs. Adding individual rides to the schedule will complicate things, she said.

On the other hand, most would probably agree that exploiting a program for disabled people is not a good thing. We will see if this new system will be a good compromise.

Source: CNN, "Disney tightens up resport disability program," Katia Hetter, Sep. 25, 2013

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