Disabled Visitors Rejected by Disney: Told to Rehearse New Policy Before Entry

in Disney Parks, Walt Disney World

A crowd of people gather around the statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella's Castle at Disney World. The castle is adorned in blue and gold spires, while the people wear various casual outfits, enjoying the lively atmosphere of the park.

Credit: Nicholas Fuentes, Unsplash

The new Disability Access Service (DAS) at Disney World changed over to their new rules and policies yesterday, and now, a majority of guests are getting denied DAS access, with Disney suggesting some very shocking alternatives.

A large crowd of visitors plagued by line cutting issues gathered at the entrance of Magic Kingdom, with a clear view of the park's iconic entrance station under a bright blue sky.
Credit: Disney

The Disney Disability Access Service (DAS) program offers alternative queuing options for guests who experience difficulty waiting in traditional lines. Previously, DAS eligibility encompassed a wider range of disabilities, including those affecting mobility. However, recent adjustments have narrowed the program’s scope.

Prior to May 20th, 2024, at Walt Disney World and June 18th, 2024, at Disneyland, guests could access DAS via Guest Services or the My Disney Experience/Disneyland app if they were unable to tolerate extended queuing due to a disability. Upon approval, DAS allowed guests to select attractions and receive designated return times, eliminating the need to wait in line physically. This return time would often grant access through the Lightning Lane queue, which typically has a significantly shorter wait time compared to the standby line.

However, concerns arose regarding the potential misuse of the DAS program. Notably, reports indicated that over 60% of Lightning Lane entries at Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom stemmed from DAS usage, exceeding the number of entries generated by paying Disney Genie+ users. Additionally, there were accusations of some guests misrepresenting their medical needs to qualify for DAS.

A bustling amusement park scene with visitors waiting in line near ornate, castle-themed ride entrances. the crowd includes diverse groups of adults and children, some in wheelchairs, under indoor lighting.
Credit: Flickr/Michael Gray

In response to these concerns, Disney has implemented stricter eligibility criteria for DAS. As of the aforementioned dates, the program now caters specifically to “guests who, due to a developmental disability like autism or similar, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended period of time.” This change has caused some disappointment, as guests with other types of disabilities, previously included in DAS, are no longer eligible.

The Disney website now states:

  • DAS is intended to accommodate only those Guests who, due to a developmental disability like autism or similar disorder, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended period of time.
  • DAS doesn’t provide immediate access to experiences but rather allows Guests to request a return time for a specific experience that is comparable to the current standby wait.
  • The Guest for which DAS is being requested must be present during registration and must experience the attraction when redeeming a DAS return time at Walt Disney World theme parks.

Now that the new system is being rolled out, guests who typically use the DAS system are being rejected. Even medical conditions like PTSD and nonverbal Down Syndrome are being turned away, with alternative measures and options being offered to guests.

haunted mansion line after three day refurbishment causes 10 hour prolonged delay in opening
Credit: Inside the Magic

Jacqueline shared a screenshot of Disney’s suggestion page, stating, “This might not be new new, but it is new to me. And this is hilarious. It is nearly impossible to recreate the experience of Disney just about anywhere else in my opinion. Ex: I’ve never been unexpectedly and frequently touched in queues literally anywhere else.”

This page popped up when it was confirmed that Disney would be changing DAS, and now, the theme park is suggesting that guests practice waiting in line at home, which is quite difficult to replicate, as Jacqueline mentioned, as you would need a very hot climate, with humidity, thousands of others around you, often in a tight and confined space.

This is just one of the many alternatives the company is suggesting guests prepare before visiting if they have mobility issues, are neurodivergent, have hearing issues, or are blind/have low vision, as none of these and more will be accepted as DAS eligible moving forward.

Another guest, Zach, also shared their shock, stating, “Seeing what Disney has been telling people in regards to the new DAS program is horrible. Practice waiting in lines at home? Learn how to manage your disability better?? Managing the number of registered guests was necessary, but this is NOT the solution.”

Overall, it is likely that if you are used to having DAS at the Disney World parks, that is something you may need to forget for future visits. Disney is implementing a line re-entry policy where guests can leave the line and rejoin the queue multiple times. This does seem to already be an issue as online reports have shared cast members not knowing how to instruct guests getting in and out of line, as well as not having a solution for parents who need to keep and eye on their kids, but if they bring their kids, they will lose their spot in line.

If you are planning on signing up for DAS, you must do it before you arrive to the theme parks. Guests can discuss their needs with a cast member via live video chat starting 30 days before their park visit. Cast members will work with guests individually to address specific requests and offer assistance.

Before speaking with a cast member to determine eligibility, make sure to:

  • Sign in to the Walt Disney World website or your My Disney Experience
  • Link valid theme park admission for each member of your party
  • Ensure that the guest requesting to use DAS is present during registration via live video chat

Live video chat is available from 7am to 8pm Eastern Time. The guest requesting to use DAS must be present during the video call. Currently, live chat is offered only in English.

What do you think of Disney’s new DAS rules and regulations? 




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