“Will I Ever Be Able To Go Again?” Disney World Forces Out Disabled Guests

in Walt Disney World

A sunny day on Main Street, U.S.A., with a view of the iconic Cinderella Castle at Disney World, as colorful balloons add magic to the cheerful atmosphere.

Credit: Inside The Magic

Disney fans around the world were stunned by the recent announcement of crackdowns on fraudulent Disability Access Services (DAS) usage and, for some, it feels like they have been forced out of the Disney magic.

A person in a wheelchair inside a photo frame with Mickey Mouse and the Magic Kingdom Park in the background.
Credit: Edited by Inside The Magic

The Walt Disney Company just announced sweeping changes to its DAS programs at Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort after worrying reports that the system, intended to help Guests who would physically have difficulty waiting in long lines, was being heavily abused by people who just didn’t feel like waiting. At its simplest, a DAS pass allows Guests who struggle with traditional lines to skip the waiting period and visit other attractions until they return for a place in a queue.

The company officially describes its system as an effort toward inclusivity, saying:

Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming, inclusive environment and accessible experiences for our Guests. As part of this commitment, Disability Access Service (DAS) is a program offered at Walt Disney World theme parks to assist Guests who have difficulty tolerating extended waits in a conventional queue environment due to a disability.

A lengthy Lightning Lane line for Walt Disney World Resort's Splash Mountain.
Credit: Donna A.

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However, it seems that in the last several years, the number of Guests attempting to use a DAS pass for fraudulent reasons and claiming false disabilities to use a Lightning Lane has skyrocketed. Disney has reacted by changing DAS rules for Disneyland and Disney World, extending the enrollment period from 60 days to 120 days and limiting the DAS party size to immediate family members or no more than four guests.

There have even been rumors that a third-party company will be coming in to administer DAS, which Inside the Magic previously reported: “The service may be similar or even the same as the IBCCES (International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards) Attractions Assistance Pass that Universal switched to last year.”

A vibrant night sky illuminated by fireworks above the Epic Universe Resort, inviting visitors to a world of entertainment and excitement.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Unsurprisingly, many Disney fans are already upset about this and asking how it will actually help visitors with disabilities.

@ejay0621 questioned how this helped inclusivity efforts, asking, “@Disney @Disneyland @WaltDisneyWorld , your magic gives hope to many, including disabled vets like me. Struggling with PTSD, crowds & queues can dim that light. How does the updated DAS embrace us with invisible disabilities? Aiming for a world where everyone’s included.✨ #DisneyForAll #DASDetails”

Additionally, Walt Disney World guest relations locations will no longer offer DAS in-person registration starting May 20. Guests instead register via Cast Member live video chat to determine eligibility for a DAS pass up to 30 days in advance of visiting. If a DAS pass is provided, the Guest with a disability will participate in the registration process.

Unfortunately, although the Disability Access Service system is designed to help people, more and more Park visitors are simply using it as a cheat code to save time. It has gotten to the point at which travel advisors are forced to warn potential Guests that they risk permanent bans for attempting to gain the system. Even worse, it has made visitors who legitimately need a DAS pass feel forced out of a Disney Resort.

Many Disney fans have taken to social media in the wake of the sweeping DAS changes to express their frustrations. A consistent thread is that the new accessibility services rules are punishing them instead of actually cracking down on frauds, forcing them to abandon plans to visit Disneyland and Disney World.

Twitter user @caitief posted, “With the news of Disney changing DAS, looks like I’m never going to Disney World or Disneyland again. I want to cry. Disney was my happy place, one of the only places that didn’t make me feel othered because I was disabled. I felt normal there, I could fully participate.”

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@DisneylandMemes added another anecdote, “This literally came up at a work meeting today. Someone I work with, who has LITERAL CANCER, had the best trip last fall with her family using DAS. She found out about the policy change today and was depressed all afternoon. “Will I ever be able to go again?”

This is not an issue that has a simple fix because some visitors will always try to take a perceived advantage, like a Disney DAS pass at a Park, and other Guests will find themselves forced out by the Mouse’s attempts to reset the rules. The company might end up having to change its policies and involve Guest Relations yet again, but it is unlikely to make anyone entirely happy.
Do you feel that these new rule changes actually help people, or will it just force visitors with legitimate disabilities to cancel trips? Tell Inside the Magic in the comments below!

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