Disney World’s Newest Policy Starts Soon, And Guests Are Not Happy

in Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Statue of walt disney holding hands with mickey mouse in front of cinderella castle at disney world, with a clear blue sky background.

Credit: Disney

Last month, when the Walt Disney Company announced that it was utterly revamping the Disability Access Service Program at Walt Disney World and Disneyland, the blowback from those who had previously used the DAS system was brutal.

Some created petitions to return the old system, while others threatened Disney with Federal Lawsuits for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Despite the public pressure, Disney World will institute its new policy in just over two weeks, with Disneyland to follow on June 18.

An image of a fairytale castle at a theme park at sunset with a bright sunburst in the background and a blue "das" logo with a circular arrow on the right side.
Credit: Becky Burkett/Disney/Canva

Related: ‘Misplaced Entitlement’ Legal Expert Completely Destroys Arguments Against Disney’s DAS Changes

With time running out, Disability Advocate Kevin T. Mintz took to the pages of the Orlando Sentinel to accuse Walt Disney World of “ableism, sexism, and corporate greed,” and renounce all of Disney’s arguments for changing the DAS pass system.

Mintz wrote:

Disney has chosen a policy that is blind to the different kinds of care and kinship arrangements that disabled folks create for themselves. Perhaps unintentionally, Disney is feeding into the stereotype that those with developmental disabilities are eternal children who are always reliant on parents for help. The company is living in a Fantasyland, one rooted in ableism and sexism rather than magic and imagination.

The new DAS pass system will require guests seeking a DAS pass to have a virtual meeting with a cast member before arrival. It also limits the people who are eligible for a DAS pass to those with a developmental disability such as autism.

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

By his estimation, Mintz believes that this new system will make 90-95 percent of the people formerly eligible are no longer eligible. This number includes those with “invisible disabilities” that would require them to use the bathroom while waiting in long lines.

However, Mintz’s main complaint about the change has little to do with the lack of inclusion. Instead, he argues that Disney is showing its corporate greed by eliminating the program.

When Disney announced the changes to the DAS pass program, it said that, as an alternative, guests and their families who could not wait in long lines could skip the lines using the Disney Genie Plus Lightning Lane pass.

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

However, while the Disability Access Service Pass was free, Disney Genie Plus Lightning Lane passes are not. And if a guest like Mintz requires additional assistance to get into Disney World attractions, you must pay Disney Genie Plus for every person at your party.

Mintz said:

What frustrates me most, however, is that after all this time, Disney is again painting itself as a hero in safeguarding disability modifications from abuse. While Disney should take reasonable steps to ensure that DAS is not abused, these changes also mean that increasing numbers of disabled people will be forced to purchase expensive Disney products to skip lines and enjoy the parks.

I understand that the company has a legitimate interest in maximizing profits. But I am tired of profits making it harder for me and others with disabilities to access Disney.

For its part, Disney World and Disneyland have said that abuse has been rampant in the DAS program. Guests would misuse the program to skip the line at rides and attractions.

A sign that reads "lightning lane" in red letters on a white background. A clock is positioned next to the sign. This entrance also services those who use a Disney Das Pass.
Credit: Five Fires via Twitter

Disney has said that this new policy will cut down on abuse by able-bodied individuals who do not have a genuine need for the program and will allow disabled individuals to access the program better.

Well-meaning arguments and protests aside, it appears that Disney World and Disneyland will continue with the changes in the DAS pass. Disney assumes that guests who formerly used the program will continue to do so but will spend their money on the privilege of skipping the line.

What do you think of the changes coming to Disney’s DAS program? 

in Disney, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

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