10 June 2014

So disappointed with Disneyland Paris ...


So after a magical few days in Paris the boys arrived in Disneyland Paris.  It was Murray's 12th year to visit - he really does adore all things Disney! This year, no Clive as we felt that it would have been too much for even such a good service dog as Clive.  He's getting old and three days around Disneyland Paris would have been too tiring for him.

However as in Paris, Kermit was there with Murray .....

After 12 years of visiting Disneyland Paris, Murray's Mom & Dad know the drill well and the first thing they do is go to City Hall to get a 'priority card' for Murray. This card is issued once you show written confirmation supporting the medical condition of the guest who requires the card.  Murray's ID card from Irish Autism Action is invaluable and was all we needed to acquire one of the priority passes.  This card gives Murray and "his helpers priority access to certain attractions in both Parks, although access is not instant and queuing times depend on visitor numbers"

Now, our problem with Disney this year was that yet again they have changed the rules slightly.  Last year on Murray's favourite rides "It's a Small World" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" you were given a time to come back to do the ride when you approached a cast member and showed the 'priority card'.  This was fine as the wait times were not too long.  Also, as the main queues were not busy last year, we just used the 'main' queue and were able to do the rides several times in succession thus keeping Murray very happy until his allotted time came up.

This year however, the wait time to do "It's a Small World" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" was over two hours each time we asked (we were there three days and it was the same response each day).  Now, as the main queues were minimal we went over and tried to enter the ride via the main queue (just like we had done last year!).  However, we were pulled from the rides and refused entry.  We had been seen to try and use the 'priority card' and poor Murray was easily spotted in the queue as he scripts non-stop with excitment before he's about to board a ride plus he's 15 years old and holding a green frog!

We were in the Park from a Monday to Wednesday (very quiet days with short queues) -  we specifically took Murray out of school before end of school term as the Parks would be quieter and there would be less crowds and more chance of doing his favourite rides.  Our major problem with Disneyland Paris this year was that Murray could not understand how when there was only a 5 minute queue to these attractions, we were being told come back in two hours!  Try that with an autistic kid and see how well it works!!

Disney's new rule is that for 'health & safety" reasons under "French law" - only one guest with a learning disability, mental health disorder, behavioural disorder or autism is allowed on the ride at any one time.  So for example, when a group of four French adults with intellectual disabilities arrived with their carers at "It's a Small World" as well, they were all told to come back separately at different times with their carers two hours hence!!  Disney's Accessibility Guide states "the access restrictions based on health or safety cannot be considered as discriminatory" so they claim they are not being discriminatory towards 'intellectual disabilities' - we beg to differ!

Now, if you arrived at the ride in a wheelchair (and were able to transfer), on crutches, with a walking stick, or pregnant you got straight onto the ride.  Any number of physically impaired guests were allowed access to the rides with no time wait but any guest with an intellectual disability was been given times in excess of two hours.  It wasn't busy - none of the days were so what must it be like in peak season.

Murray is as well able to exit the ride in the case of an emergency as any of the other guests - in fact he's a lot more able than those who were in wheelchairs, using crutches, heavily pregnant or very young babies! But no exceptions to the rule - we were told "what's two hours to wait" - come back then!

On a wet morning at the" Pirates of the Caribbean" ride with only 20 people queuing - we had made the mistake of showing Murray's "priority pass" - we should never have produced the pass and just used the main queues.  But we were trying to do things "properly".  At 1.30pm we were told "we could give you a time slot at 4pm".  We tried to access via the main queue as Murray was desperate to do the ride 'once' and we were leaving the Park that day to return home.  We didn't have the time to wait until 4pm and Murray is autistic and doesn't do 'waiting' well but were stopped and refused entry.  The cast member was particularly insulting towards 'special needs'.

Never again after 12 years at Disneyland Paris will we visit - we have had enough!  Murray and us were made feel like criminals for trying to question the system.  There was no understanding of autism and intellectual disability.  Being told "what's two hours to wait" is unacceptable to a child with autism.  Disney certainly has no understanding or empathy for people with autism.  Why the system keeps changing every year with ill informed cast members who don't know or understand the rules or reasons and just keep saying "come back in two hours" is crazy.  Different rules seem to apply every year and differ for every ride!  The fact that "It's a Small World" and the "Pirates of the Caribbean" are Murray's favourite but the two rides with the 'crazy' wait times meant he was constantly disappointed!


Kermit & Murray managed two rides on "It's a Small World" in three days!!


Next year, Murray & Kermit will be going elsewhere .....


- Clive & Co


28 comments:

  1. They better straighten up! No more rule changes
    Lily & Edward

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  2. Sorry to hear that you had such trouble and it seems so unnecessary. Rules are meant to help us - not to ruin our fun and there are exceptions to every rule. Perhaps the staff in Disney World have, like many other workers in different parts of Europe, been given longer hours for shorter pay and are taking it out on the customers?

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  3. Sorry to hear this! I bet they will listen if this goes viral!

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  4. Oh what an awful experience! Maybe this DOES need to go viral and maybe the ones that put these rules into place will see the folly.

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  5. Sad to hear about such a big company. What chance of change within smaller companies when the big ones get it so wrong.

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  6. That's even stupider than I thought! You might have a case for discrimination there. Be sure to send this to our new European representatives.

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    1. Lisa, according to their Accessibility Guide - "access restrictions based on health or safety cannot be considered as discriminatory'!!! They seem to think two people with autism on a ride together is dangerous!!

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  7. We had the same problem last year. When I asked why two people with autism could not go on the sane ride I was told that "In an emergency you would not know what they might do" but you could say the exact same thing about a two year old or three year old or four year old. We never even got to go on it's a small world after all as we were sent away so many times. I also took offence to the wording on the priority card. My daughter was classed as ' mentally deficient'.She has autism but probably has an IQ higher than most. There is no understanding of autism in Disneyland parus.

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    1. That was exactly our argument - a two year old could have the same issues or more in a ride that had broken down! Also if its a safety issue in terms of evacuating the ride in the case of an emergency, the elderly people, those who had just transferred from wheelchairs, on crutches, pregnant etc are all as likely to cause problems!!!

      and yes the wording "mentally deficient' is terrible on the card!! We have complained about that before as well to no avail!

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  8. That's awful, so sorry you had this experience x

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  9. That's just not good enough. What allows them to discriminate against disabled people so blatantly?
    We went to Disney World Orlando in February and their new system is far harder to navigate and less accessible than the old one. We managed but it was hard at times and there's no way I could have managed a few years ago when Ryan was younger and more impulsive.

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    1. According to their Accessibility Guide - "access restrictions based on health or safety cannot be considered as discriminatory" - we were constantly told it was for safety reasons and "French law" and that was that!!

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  10. You create a strongly worded letter and we will all sign it!!

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  11. You create a strongly worded letter and we will all sign it!!

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  12. What a bummer that this wasn't a happy experience. Maybe it's time for something new.

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  13. I think that it is not so straight forward a health and safety issues as Disney are saying. Ireland and France are covered by the sane EU Equality Directives and under Irish law you cannot treat a person less favourably because of a disability in relation to the provision of a service. Therefore if you feel like pursuing this it might be worth getting some legal advice. As a starter the Equality Authority should be able to let you know about the detailed position under Irish Law and might be able to point you in the right direction about how to ascertain if Disney are not being selective in choosing particular laws that might suit them for business reasons.

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  14. We were there for our 2nd visit this April. Have twin ASD 15 year olds. Approx 5'8". Had similar problems with pass. One of our men was refused access with pass to do the parachute drop as it was not safe for Autism. Kids from aged 3 plus were allowed on same. I kicked up and was told that my child may not cope if ride got stuck at a height!! I pointed out that he had done this ride years ago...and hence visit back. No use. He did manage to get on while not using card. Accompanied by his angry Dad and Well built cousin.,I did verbally complain and left my contact details with town hall. No comtact since. Won't be going back.

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  15. We are all so sorry that you had such a bad experience on this visit. Disney clearly needs to rethink its rules as they are discriminatory rather than being helpful!

    Angry Woofs,
    Tommy

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  16. So sorry to hear about the disappointing visit to Disneyland Paris. Disney World Orlando is our favorite place to visit and we would be very hurt to be treated so poorly. Maybe you can get together with local Autism Organizations and petition the park about a change to their regulations. Good Luck & Best Wishes.

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  17. So sorry you had to face that bad treatment!
    Yes. You need to go to a different place and I am sure you will have lots of fun again
    Take care
    Lorenza

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    1. Thanks Lorenza! Lovely to see you back blogging again! Hope all is good with you and your Mom!

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  18. Thank you so much for posting this article - so disappointed for you that it was such a terrible experience :( We're heading to Paris Disneyland in July with our 8 year old son who has High Functioning Autism (and our 2 other children) Our 8 year old doesn't "do" waiting well either, so I'm wondering if we should even get the priority card? Appreciate any advice, thanks so much.

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    1. Lee, if you do decide to get the card, only use it on certain rides, it works well for Phantom Manor, Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan's Flight - certainly don't produce it at Its a small world, Pirates of the Caribbean etc. Once, you are seen to have the card, if you do try and use the main queues (because you are being told to come back in two hours time although the main queue is only a few minutes long) you will be taken out of the main queue!! We felt we would have been better off never getting the card because of the way we were treated and the queues were not long. The only benefit for us was at the parade viewing area but they only allow one person with the pass holder at the parade area and you will be a family of five!

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    2. Thank you so much for your reply, really appreciate it. Our kids are currently watching Youtube's of Disneyland Paris, our 8 year old is choosing which rides he does & doesn't want to go on (& who he wants to go on with!!!!) It would certainly be upsetting for him to to be turned away & told to come back 2 hours later! Wow! I'm still in shock that they would do this! Have you ever purchased a Fast Pass? If so, was this beneficial?

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    3. Lee, we got several Fast Passes as we were staying in the Disneyland Hotel, we didn't use them but they wouldn't have let us as they knew Murray as special needs. We probably, as I said in my last reply, have never got the priority card and just used the Fast Pass. However, I don't think we'll be going back to Disney again. However, I hope you get the system to work the best way possible for you and your family and that you all have a great time.

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  19. So disheartening. That would be like if the chefs started telling my daughter w/ food allergies to wait 2 hours until they might be able to cook her something safe. She would be devastated to say the least. Disney is home away from home for our kids. This brought tears to my eyes. I'm so sorry.

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