Doing Disney With a Disability
What You Need to Know About DAS- UPDATED February 2018
All Disney parks and resorts go out of their way to do whatever they can to assist those with disabilities. As a disabled person who spends nearly every weekend in the Florida parks, I have experienced first-hand how easy and convenient it is to do everything I want to do despite having a vestibular issue that limits both my ability to move through long queue lines and my mobility.
Both Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida and Disneyland® Resort in California offer what is known as the Disney Parks Disability Access Service (DAS) to guests with disabilities that are not apparent – i.e., they are not confined to a wheelchair, scooter, or other mobility assisting device. Note that guests with disabilities related only to mobility are not eligible for the DAS as they are accommodated by other means.
The DAS card is intended to accommodate guests who cannot tolerate long queue lines due to a legitimate medical problem. Those guests and their family members are provided return times for the attractions so that they can wait outside the queue area.
How the DAS Works
Let’s use the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train® attraction at Walt Disney World® Resort as an example of how this works. With my DAS, my wife and I can walk up to the attraction’s stand-by entrance at any point during the day and request a return time. Based on the current wait time for the attraction, the Disney cast member will give us a designated return time after scanning our bands. We can return to the disability entrance at that time, or any time thereafter, and access the attraction through the FastPass line.
In essence, the DAS allows the guest and his or her party to get return times for nearly every attraction in the park, but only one return time can be held at any given time. That means the party must use its current return time before they can be issued another one.
Please note that arrangements are different for Florida and California guests. Guests at Florida’s Walt Disney World® Resort go straight to the attractions to get return times. Guests at California’s Disneyland® Resort must visit Guest Services kiosks throughout the park to get return times.
How to Get a DAS Pass
All of Disney’s Florida parks issue the DAS through Guest Services, which are located at the entrance of each respective park. In order to get a pass, the guest who needs it must go to Guest Services to complete registration, including having his or her picture taken. Once issued the DAS is good for up to 14 consecutive days and can be used at all of the parks during that period. In other words, the guest does not need a separate DAS for every park.
Guests in California obtain the DAS by visiting City Hall at Disneyland Park or the Chamber of Commerce at Disney California Adventure Park upon arrival. Again, the DAS is good for up to 14 consecutive days. Annual passholders in both Florida and California can get DAS passes good for up to 60 consecutive days, depending on the kind of passes they have.
NOTE: Every person in the traveling party who wishes to enjoy attraction with the DAS holder must also be with that person at the time the DAS is obtained. Each party member will have his/her Magic Band or ticket scanned, thus adding them to the DAS.
If a guest or his family believes that a DAS card alone will be insufficient to accommodate the disability – he may need assistance with audio/visual, for example – he need only let Guest Services know when applying for the DAS. The Disney cast member will work with that guest on an individual basis to make whatever accommodations are necessary.
There is no requirement for guests to prove medical disability with a doctor’s note or documentation; Disney takes guests at their word. However, be prepared to discuss how the DAS will enable you to access those attractions that you otherwise would not be able to enjoy without it. Cast members are allowed to ask that, and they will.
On a final note, not having to provide medical proof is both good and bad. It’s good in the sense that those with legitimate disabilities don’t have to be subject to the hassle of carrying paperwork or the embarrassment that may come from having to demonstrate one’s disability. It is bad in the sense that there is room for abuse.
The current DAS system was implemented for the express purpose of limiting such abuse. I would personally encourage all Disney guests planning to use the DAS card to do so only for legitimate disabilities. Abusing a system intended to help those in need only makes things more difficult for guests who truly require assistance.
If you’re planning a visit to any of the Disney parks in the future, and you or a family member have disability concerns, my wife and I would be more than happy to help you plan your trip. We believe our personal experience navigating Disney with a disability can be very helpful for making your trip as accommodating as possible.
Matt and Ellen Gerwitz
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We are an independent travel agency with experience serving a diverse clientele. For more information about DAS services, we suggest contacting Disney directly.