As an individual with limited abilities Disneyland has always been a refuge. Disneyland and Disney in general is always billed as a place where everyone can have fun with the family no matter what their abilities. Everyone can ride the rides and enjoy the shows together. In my experience this has always held true. But Disney is more than the standard moniker of being “Handicapped Accessible”. This we already know since it is legally required to. What does that mean though? What extent does Disney go to make things ADA compliant and a safe place for those with limited abilities?
Over the course of several posts I will go into detail of how to access rides and experiences when you have limited abilities. First let’s discuss the different types of services Disney offers to make their experiences more inclusive for those with different assistance needs. Disney currently offers 3 major ways to receive assistance: Disability Access Service (DAS), Visual Indicators of Mobility (i.e. Wheelchair, walker, cane, red tag) and Closed captioning/American Sign Language (ASL) services and translators. In this first post I will discuss the DAS pass and how to utilize it.
The DAS card is a card that allows you to go to several guest services kiosks located throughout the parks so that you can receive a return time equivalent to the current standby wait time for a ride. This card can be used with any ride in the park and is separate from the Fast Pass system that many day guests utilize. With this service you can safely wait your turn at a different location. Be it some place in the shade or walking through a store among many other places. This allows those that do not have visual indicators of disability to be assisted. This is typically provided to those that have cognitive concerns and are unable to wait in the line. The card can be received at Guest Services. When looking to receive this card you are asked what kind of assistance's Disney can offer to make your trip more enjoyable. Disney Cast Members are not allowed to ask for doctor’s notes or ask what your specific ailment is, only how they can assist you in managing the park.
Once you have received your card you will head to any of the kiosks and tell the Cast Member which ride you would like to ride. At that time, they will scan your park entry ticket and attach a time to the ticket for your entire party (up to 6 people including the guest needing assistance). The time that they give you is the time that you can return to the entrance of the ride up to an hour and speak to a cast member at the ride. Now that you have received your return time you are free to roam the park until your 1 hour return window. You can only have one time attached to your pass at once, however you can have a fast pass in addition to .your accessibility return time since the return time is the equivalent of standing in a standard que.
The DAS system is the successor of the Guest Assistance Card (GAC) that was used before October 2013. This system was changed due to people taking advantage of the GAC cards. Before DAS everyone was issued a GAC card that was shown at the ride exit and you were taken on the ride immediately over those that had been waiting in line. Because people were taking advantage of this system they opted to split people between having a visual indicator over those without. In our next post I will discuss these Visual Indicators and how to move around the park if your assistance needs are more mobility based over cognitive.
My name is Amanda and I have a disability. I have fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I love to go on adventures but my illness' makes that a challenge. I didn't want to spend my life living in bed so I got an electric wheelchair (thanks to my parents) and I am hitting the road. Going to some of my favorite places, exploring new places, and sharing with you how I get around with a disability.
I wanted to give a special thank you to my amazing husband Jon. In addition to being my travel buddy he is also my editor. It's thanks to him that these posts aren't nearly as rambling as they could be.