WDW MK v's UNIVERSAL and autistic child trip report

My sister and her 2 kids have just returned the the UK from 14 days in Orlando. They had a fab time due to a little help from the touring plans guide book. My darling nephew 10 suffers from ADHD and high function Autism. During my 2 hour debrief yesterday the one thing my sister said that differentiated WDW ( and in particular MK) and the Universal resort was how the CM’s treated families with the Disabled Access Passes. At Universal Studios and IOA the staff went above and beyond to help them out. My nephew didn’t do many of the rides but was accommodated in the rider swap rooms so he was safe while my sister rode with her other child. On other occasions they should have been given a return time as the wait was over 30 minutes but the staff could see my sister stuggling with 2 kids on her own and offered to let her in straight away if she wanted. ( she took them up on this offer a few times but not every as she had other stuff planned.)

At WDW and in particular both days they went to MK she says she couldn’t put her finger on it exactly but felt that the CM’s treated her and the kids like second class citizens because of the pass. Small comments like " this doesn’t get you in now you have to come back you know" when she approached looking for a return time, and I think it was more how the CM’s spoke to her as opposed to what they said. Has anyone else encountered this at MK? She got the impression that it was a “CHORE” for the Cm’s to work out the return time and write it on the card for her.

I think MDE might have gone down when she was there ( if not there was def something causing confusion). One of their fpp rides was down during their visit ( Splash)and the CM’s gave them a paperslip which said something like FPP swap to take to another ride of their choosing ( have never heard of this) They then went to HM and were able to use it but she said there were loads of guests trying to get into fpp line for HM and another ride but they were refused as they didnt have slips from Splash. I thought if a ride was down you got your FPP via the app not bits of paper? All very strange !!!

She also got stuck on COP (think a liner posted about it) either 20/40 mins in the 40’s which is fine, things happen but my nephew was very agitated and a little upset when they eventually got off and as my Sis was trying to calm him down so he would walk ( when he gets upset he freezes and until he’s calm he won’t go anywhere) and a CM came up and started giving her abuse because her son needs to move!!! Don’t know how Sis reacted.

In all MK was a bit of a disaster Pooh was down when she went to it 7 dwarfs was down and they lost their fpp. I think it was Thurs and didn’t reopen until very late so didn’t get to ride and she got stuck on Splash for 20 mins and had to get walked off. No aplology or anything. She didn’t even think to ask and she wouldn’t complain. She says MK isn’t what it used to be and the Magic isn’t there anymore. :disappointed_relieved: She doesn’t use my nephews disabilities to get special treatment ever but couldn’t believe the differences between MK and Universal/IOA.

She had no problems or issues in HS AK or Epcot and found all the Cm’s there to be polite, friendly and courteous and they all really enjoyed the other 3 wdw parks.
Does any one else feel Mk has lost its Magic or that the CM’s there have a bit less pixie dust than the other wdw parks?
Or was Dsis just really unlucky. As said they did really enjoy their vacation but found Uni trumped WDW for dealing with families with Autistic kids, which surprised me and if the go back they will probably avoid MK as it was too stressful and upsetting.


I found the same…I’m grateful for any help managing DS’s anxiety (autism). At WDW there was a lot more of the “attitude” about return times. Unv was nothing but kind and helpful. Uni employees went way beyond, engaging with him in meaningful ways and having fun with him. We are going back for DS’s birthday in june, and skipping WDW altogether. The FP planning, coupled with DAS planning, is just too much. Uni express pass seems much easier (and cheaper!)

Very interesting, thanks for sharing.
WDW seems to get a larger, and slightly younger demographic, and has the reputation (whether deserved or not) of being very accommodating of exceptionalities. I wonder if the DAS and its predecessors have been abused so much in the past that CM’s are cynical now and thus skeptical of any child who seems to be atypical - “is it the autism or is it the poor parenting?” (I say this as a mom of 2 kids with autism, and I’ve certainly been told more that once that my kids would be normal if I just “parented better” - but mine, by luck and nothing I’ve done - cope well in lines at WDW so we haven’t needed DAS - yet.) I don’t know of a good solution since so many people will behave unethically to get a perceived advantage - and this ends up punishing people like your sister and her family and souring CMs on the whole system. If the folks at Uni or IOA had the same volume of families using a DAS or equivalent, and the same number of families who they suspect are mis-using the system, I wonder if they’d seem just as jaded, too?
By the way, this musing certainly DOESN’T excuse impolite behaviour or attitude: if WDW sets up DAS a certain way, then it is NOT in any way the role of the CM to decide if they “think” a certain family is abiding by or skirting the rules; the CM’s job is still to be POLITE, HELPFUL, and RESPECTFUL of the system that WDW has set up.

@mossmacl I explained to sIs about the past abuse of das but families now shouldn’t be treated like second class citizens due to the past failings of WDW. What my sis did point out was that it was only MK that she came across this and in the other 3 parks CM s were very friendly and helpful.
She is really upset about MK now she is home but didn’t make a scene or complain because it was hard enough emotionally for her to hold it together for the sake of the kids while they were there.
The CM at COP was out of order with what he did. I would have expected a good CM to ask if there was a problem/ is everything ok not shout at a 10 year old kid having a meltdown.

Absolutely agree with you, which is why I said this:

I just wonder if over time we’ll see more of the WDW CM attitude in Uni rather than vice versa.

So sorry to hear of your sister’s problems. I think it would be beneficial to let Disney know of the problem. I’m not saying to expect anything back, but maybe they can address issues so that another family does not run into same thing. wdw.guest.communications@disneyworld.com I wrote once to praise a plaid that had done an awesome job on a tour and they were very quick to respond


Oh boy can I relate to this. Supportive :heart:.


We used the DAS on our last trip (Aug 2014) for our DS10, who is high functioning ASD w/ ADHA. We also had used the old GAC on three trips before that.

I don’t recall feeling that any of the CM’s were treating us disrespectfully or poorly at any of the parks. They did struggle a couple of times finding the stamp for the DAS card (may have been the 1st of the day), or a couple times I was pass to a different CM who was authorized to stamp the DAS. I remember being reminded that the person pictured had to be with us to get on the ride, and most of the time they looked at the picture to make sure DS10 was in the group. The DAS was still fairly new, and I think the CM’s were still getting the hang of it, and making sure that families understood the new rules.

The biggest struggle we had with the DAS was the CM at guest relations had a hard time understanding that our trip really was going to be two weeks long – he kept putting a end date that was in the middle of the trip. He got it right after 3 tries & 3 printing, but I would have be back in line a guest relations mid-trip if I didn’t keep on insisting on what would meet our needs.

I remember that when we had the GAC, some CM’s seemed to be looking at us like we were trying to game the system, but they were never explicitly rude.

Unfortunately it sounds like a trip that had a run of bad luck (all the rides going down), mixed with a couple cases of very poor CM behavior, and the MK time was un-magical. I know I can feel stressed when I have any two of our three kids by myself for a while in the parks, I can’t imagine how much effort it takes to keep it together on your own for a whole trip.

We have never done Universal, it’s great to hear that she received great service there. It will be something to keep in mind for future trips.

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@jec I think she might email them. There was another bad CM moment at DTD but not related to DAS but wrong info. She had 14 day Uk tickets which are similar to an unlimited wp&m hopper and was going to DQ and was told by a CM they would need to pay .She did other stuff and contacted me and I told her CM was wrong but by the time she returned and was told yes DQ was included my nephew was ready for pool time instead.
However another CM at DQ was amazing the next visit as my sister lost their tickets on the second last day . He just pulled up details via MDE and issued them DQ passes in under 2 mins with no issues

@dannyjojo my sis got her DAS at Epcot and they were super helpful. No issues with 14 day validity and couldn’t have been nicer. She did take proof but we know they cant look at it. My mum 68 ( going on 21) went with my sis but on a 2 days she took time out and my sis went to the parks on her own and at other times Mum took my niece on rides that my nephew wouldn’t do so they split up . On speaking to Dsis today most of the CM attitude happened when Mum wasn’t with her don’t know what that implies
Alot of the Uni rides were too over stimulating for my nephew( 3D in particular) but the waiting areas ( think he waited in child swap area )were great and my sis felt totally safe leaving him there while riding with my niece.(there is a min age for leaving them unsupervised but I don’t know what it is) It also meant he got to walk through all the interactive queues with his Mum and just miss the ride at the end. He had a fab time as he is harry potter daft and loved the Hogwarts express ( all4 times) eveything Harry Potter except the rides and Seuss land as well as the less stimulating rides and the meet and greets . She highly recommends Uni/Ioa they went 3 days out the 14 they were there but felt another day would have been good as one of the days my nephew had a melt down and they had to leave earlier than planned.