There has been much commotion regarding Disney’s changes to their disability access policies across their Walt Disney World and Disneyland theme parks, particularly due to many misleading stories and headlines circulating across numerous outlets in recent time since the news first broke.
Disney has officially responded with official details of how the new system will work, including a response from Meg Crofton, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France.
The system that has been in place for many years issuing a Guest Assistance Card (GAC) to guests with disabilities to help them access Disney’s many attractions more easily has been subject to repeated abuse over the years. As such, Disney has offered a new solution, called the Disability Access Service (DAS) Card. The new system that started on October 9 allows guests with disabilities (and their parties) to receive a return time for attractions based on current wait time, rather than jumping straight to the front of the line as the GAC previously offered.
Some disability advocate groups have taken offense to the change, noting that it would greatly negatively impact their ability to enjoy Disney’s parks. Crofton has directly responded in a letter stating, “Our current program for providing access to attractions for Guests with disabilities has been abused and exploited to such an extent that we are no longer able to effectively sustain it in its present form. After careful consideration, and with the needs of our Guests with disabilities as our foremost concern, we are modifying the current program so that we will be able to continue to serve those Guests for whom the program is intended.”
Here is her full letter:
However, Disney also notes that guests requiring special assistance outside of this program “can talk with Guest Relations to discuss their individual situation” and that they will “provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances.”
Disney has also created an FAQ outlining the specifics of the new program, highlights of which are duplicated below.
What is a Disability Access Service Card and how does it work?
The DAS Card is designed to accommodate guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities). A Disability Access Service Card will be issued at Guest Relations main entrance locations and will offer guests a return time for attractions based on the current wait time. As soon as the Guest finishes one attraction, they can receive a return time for another. This service can be used in addition to Disney’s FASTPASS Service and Disney FastPass+ service.
Who will be eligible for a Disability Access Service Card?
Disney Parks’ goal is to accommodate guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities). Guests should visit Guest Relations to discuss their assistance needs.
Does the DAS Cardholder have to be present to obtain a return time at an attraction?
No. Another member of the DAS Cardholder’s travel party may obtain a return time but the DAS Cardholder must board the attraction with his or her party.
Where do DAS Cardholders go to receive return times?
At Disneyland Resort, guests will go to Guest Relations kiosks located throughout the parks to receive a return time. At Walt Disney World Resort, guests will go to the attraction to receive a return time.
Does a DAS Cardholder have to ride the attraction at the exact return time listed?
No. Return times are valid until redeemed by the DAS Cardholder.
How long is a DAS Card valid?
A DAS card is valid for up to 14 days depending on a guest’s ticket entitlement.
Does a Guest whose disability is based on the necessity to use a wheelchair or scooter need a DAS Card?
No, a Guest whose disability is based on the necessity to use a wheelchair or scooter does not need a DAS Card. Depending on the attraction, the Guest will either wait in the standard queue or receive a return time at the attraction based on the current wait time. For some attractions at Disneyland Resort, these guests will go directly to an alternate entrance. Guests with additional needs should discuss them with Guest Relations.