Disney’s Disability Access Abuse Skyrockets by 300%, Permanent Ban Confirmed

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A collage of two images: on the left, a close-up of a person in a wheelchair, focusing on the wheel, and on the right, a scenic view of Cinderella's Castle at Disney.

Image Credit: Inside The Magic

In case you didn’t catch it, Walt Disney World Resort is not only wholly changing its Disability Access Service (DAS). Still, it is also permanently banning those who try to abuse the program moving forward. Here’s what you need to know.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse, dressed in colorful costumes, are standing in front of a castle with the Disney Disability Access Service logo overlaid, accompanied by a Cast Member.
Image Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney Overhauling Disability Access Service; Permanent Ban on the Horizon

Starting May 20 for Disney World, guests must enroll in the Disability Access Service (DAS) program through virtual video meetings, a departure from the previous in-person registration process at the parks. While completing this enrollment during the trip planning phase is strongly advised, virtual chats will also be available on the day of visits. The option for in-person registration at Disney World will no longer be available.

Meanwhile, Disneyland guests can still register for DAS via virtual video calls before their trip, a practice strongly encouraged by Disney. However, effective June 18, the registration location will shift from guest services within the parks to the exterior esplanade area between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure.

The virtual video calls for enrollment will resemble the interactions existing and past DAS enrollees are familiar with. However, Disney has also teamed up with Inspire Health Alliance, whose experts may provide additional support. The DAS program permits the enrollee and up to four companions to benefit from its accommodations, or more if more than four immediate family members desire to experience an attraction together. Both Walt Disney World and Disneyland are revising their policies for guests with disabilities.

An array of empty wheelchairs parked outdoors in a row, featuring metal frames and blue fabric seats, with greenery in the background, illustrating accessibility around the Disney World parks.
Image Credit: Disney World

Why Are the Parks Changing up the DAS Program?

In recent years, the Disability Access Service (DAS) has emerged as the most sought-after service at Disneyland and Disney World, surpassing its original target audience and showing signs of continued growth. This surge in demand has inevitably impacted wait times and experiences for individuals who genuinely require the accommodations provided by the program.

For those asking what my source was about DAS abuse being off the charts, well now you have it. Yes, nearly 60% of all LL scans are currently DAS scans. And according to Disney, this number is 3x higher than what it used to be just 5 years ago.

@disneyglimpses on X

The upcoming changes are strategically crafted to realign the Disability Access Service (DAS) with its intended audience, ensuring that those needing the accommodations can access them efficiently. Concurrently, Disney is bolstering its efforts by increasing the number of specially trained cast members equipped to assist guests with diverse access needs.

If you’ve been to Disney World or Disneyland, you’ve noticed that the Lightning Lanes have been long and sometimes stretch out through the park. You might wonder why this is the case on days when the parks aren’t too busy. We now know that most of these people are coming from abusing the DAS system in place at the theme parks.

These accommodations may encompass a variety of services, including American Sign Language interpretation, Disney Handheld Devices offering captions and visual descriptions for guests with hearing impairments, braille guidebooks and maps, sensory guides for attractions, and, at Disneyland, Location Return Times tailored for guests with mobility devices or other physical requirements that traditional, non-wheelchair accessible attraction queues cannot accommodate.

View of the entrance to Disney World, featuring a railway station in the background, bustling with visitors under a cloudy sky.
Image Credit: Frank Phillips, Flickr

While the Florida and California resorts will maintain the popular Disability Access Service (DAS), there will be adjustments to qualifications, registration procedures, and the duration of validity to ensure guests receive the necessary accommodations. A Disney spokesperson emphasized the company’s commitment to providing an excellent experience for all guests, including those with disabilities, by delivering innovative support services tailored to their needs.

Disneyland’s DAS policy is getting an upgrade. No more false claims – honesty is the policy now! – @LAmag

Previously described as a program designed “to assist guests who have difficulty tolerating extended waits in a conventional queue environment due to a disability,” the Disability Access Service (DAS) allows qualified guests to wait in a virtual queue rather than physically remaining in line. Upon return, they undergo a shorter in-person wait for the attraction.

However, it’s important to note that not all disabilities impact one’s ability to tolerate long waits in traditional queues. For instance, guests using wheelchairs or electric conveyance vehicles may still wait in many lines using their mobility devices.

Recent updates to the resorts’ accessibility webpages have clarified DAS’ target audience, specifying guests “who, due to a developmental disability like autism or similar, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended time.” Guests who have already enrolled in DAS can continue to utilize it for 60 days from their registration date, with no changes required.

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