Disability Access Service
One of the questions I have been asked after our recent vacation, was about our experience with disability access at the Disney Theme Parks. Several years ago Disney did an overhaul of how they manage disability access due to rampant abuse. Here is my short answer – our park experiences have been great.
We have utilized Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS) during our last two Disney vacations. According to Disney, the goal of DAS is to “accommodate guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities).” DAS allows guests with disabilities to receive a return time for attractions based on the current wait time.
How We Signed Up For The Service
We signed up for DAS at Epcot’s Guest Relations on the evening of our first day. This allowed us to avoid the long lines that occur in the rush of the mornings. Once at the desk, the process took less than 5 minutes.
In terms of explaining, Jessica’s disabilities tend to be fairly obvious. Generally, families should be prepared to state why they are asking for the service. However, don’t expect to be asked for proof. Disney Parks “takes Guests at their word” because there are legal restrictions around asking for proof.
Guest Relations will also ask how many people are in the party that want to be connected with the individual using the DAS. When we told them it was just the three of us, they genuinely seemed relieved and moved right along with the process. I guess if you had a large group it may be more of a challenge or time-consuming to get everyone connected.
After approval, Jessica’s Magic Band was scanned into the DAS system, then mine and Campbell’s were scanned. The sign-up process included having Jessica’s photo taken – a required step in the process. They came around the counter to Jess and took the picture with an iPad. It was done fast enough that Jess didn’t even have enough time to protest.
The DAS was valid at all parks for the remainder of our stay at Disney World.
Our DAS Strategy
Our Disney strategy includes plans to get DAS return times that fall in-between our scheduled FastPass times.
When we are planning a trip to Disney, we (as in I) plan way ahead. It’s almost like an illness. Part of that planning includes scheduling FastPasses for our favorite rides.
The way the FastPass program works is that with the purchase of tickets to the parks, passes for 3 attractions per day can be scheduled ahead of time. It’s actually more complicated than that – if you want to know more about FastPass you can find info here… https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/fastpass-plus/
On our last two trips, we used the service quite a bit and it helped us in many ways. The obvious – not being stuck in crowded and long queues worrying about a meltdown rearing its nasty head.
During one past visit, we were ‘trapped’ in a smallish space inside a room in part of the Peter Pan’s Flight queue – around all these cute little kids all happy as can be. While at the same time, Jess was on the fast track to meltdown. The experience was worrisome and uncomfortable. I found myself looking around planning an escape strategy if needed. What I figured out was that there would have been no way to ‘slip out’ without a big scene.
I knew right then that I would never again put us in that situation.
Another big benefit of our DAS/FastPass strategy is that it helps our days move quicker which keeps fatigue and frustration at a Disney minimal. That means a more pleasant trip for all of us.
How To Use DAS
I’ll use Peter Pan’s Flight as an example. While Campbell was finishing up at the Hall of Presidents, Jess and I went to the Peter Pan’s Flight entrance and asked a Cast Member for a return time. With smiles all around, they quickly scanned Jessica’s Magic Band and told us our return time. Since I utilize the My Disney Experience app on my phone, a return time actually shows up on my schedule for the day which is perfect since I struggle to remember those details.
Jess and I moved along and bought an ice cream sandwich to share and found a shady spot to hide from wait on Campbell. He found us just as we finished our treat and then we made our way to our next scheduled FassPass. When we had finished that attraction, and maybe even another, we headed back to Peter Pan’s Flight.
The great thing about DAS is that you can show up anytime after your return time. The return time is valid until redeemed.
Back at the entrance to Peter Pan’s Flight, we went to the FastPass queue, scanned Jessica’s Magic Band first, then ours and went on through. At no point did we end up on the inside of that building like we did the previous time. It was so easy.
Afterwards, we could use the DAS again on another attraction.
Dirty looks? Bad attitudes? None of that anywhere. The way DAS is set up, it’s discreet, and fair. The initial business is handled at Guest Relations so you don’t have to ‘tell your story’ to anyone else. When you go back for your return time, it would appear to others that you are simply using a FastPass. Other guests don’t know that you are using DAS.
Need Additional Assistance?
If more assistance is needed than their Disability Access Service provides, Disney says they will work individually with guests to provide assistance “responsive to each unique circumstance.”
Other services available include a handheld device for assistive listening, captioning, and audio description.
Have questions? Please let me know.