People with disabilities will no longer be able to skip lines at Disneyland or Walt Disney World parks as officials cite growing abuse by able-bodied visitors.
A rise in the phenomenon of disabled "tour guides" charging able-bodied guests -- sometimes hundreds of dollars -- to escort them through the parks and jump lines for popular rides like Space Mountain has proven more widespread and successful than old-fashioned faking it.
Under the new system, visitors with special needs will be given tickets with specific return times and shorter waits, similar to the FastPass system in effect for all visitors. Guests with park-issued disability cards can present them for reservation tickets at rides.
"We have an unwavering commitment to making our parks accessible to all guests," Disneyland spokesperson Suzi Brown said in a statement. "Given the increasing volume of requests we receive for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process to create a more consistent experience for all our guests while providing accommodations for guests with disabilities."
The change will take effect October 9, after all Disney park employees have been briefed on the new rules.
Though some guests with physical disabilities have said they don't mind the change, parents of children with epilepsy and autism have criticized the change.
Rebecca Goddard takes her sons, aged 4 and 6, to Disneyland once a week, and is skeptical of the new reservation system with shorter waits.
"My boys don't have the cognition to understand why it's going to be a long wait," Goddard said in an interview. "There are so few things for my boys that bring them utter joy and happiness -- to mess with it just makes me sad."
But the advocacy group Autism Speaks consulted with Disney on the new policy, and is urging parents to keep open minds.
"Change is difficult," said executive director of the Southern California chapter Matt Asner. "I didn't want it to change, but I understand there was an issue that needed to be dealt with."