Disney World Under Fire: Called To Uproot Classic Attractions After “Insulting” Decisions

in Walt Disney World

A vibrant image of a fairytale castle with tall spires, blue roofs, and intricate gothic architecture, set against a bright blue sky with radiant sunbeams.

Credit: Becky Burkett

Imagine stepping into Walt Disney World Resort and finding classic attractions fundamentally changed.

No longer just whimsical rides, but redesigned to include new features like bathrooms midway through queues or themed porta-potties at strategic points. This concept might seem bizarre to some, but for many Disney fans, especially those with medical conditions, it represents a potential change that could make their park experience significantly more enjoyable.

A road leading to the entrance of Walt Disney World is shown, with a large, colorful archway overhead. The arch features the Walt Disney World logo, the phrase "The Most Magical Place on Earth," and images of Mickey Mouse on the left and Minnie Mouse on the right. Tiana's Bayou Adventure awaits inside.
Credit: Becky Burkett

The idea of transforming beloved rides at the likes of Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT to accommodate needs has ignited a fervent discussion among Disney enthusiasts. For those with chronic illnesses or disabilities, the convenience of accessible facilities within ride queues is not just a luxury but a necessity, many argue.

However, this discussion isn’t just about the physical changes to the theme park’s infrastructure. It highlights a deeper issue related to Disney World’s Disability Access Service (DAS) program. After weeks of anger, petitions, and legal arguments, May 20 marked the implementation of a new, more stringent DAS system at Walt Disney World Resort. The revised program has left many fans worried and disappointed, feeling that their needs are being overlooked in favor of stricter regulations.

The Hollywood Tower Hotel, a fictional eerie hotel with a vintage sign illuminated against a stormy night sky at Disney World, struck by lightning.
Credit: Disney

One concerned fan shared, “This is what I’m concerned about, too. I have Crohn’s and utilized DAS previously and it really made a huge difference in my trip. I’m religious about taking my medication, my supplements, and watching my diet/trigger foods but sometimes when urgency happens there’s nothing I can do to prevent it and it’s a mad dash to the bathroom. I’m a grown woman who has literally shit her pants before. I’m very nervous about any upcoming trips.”

The new DAS system now requires guests to participate in a video conference with a cast member before their visit to determine eligibility. Additionally, the definition of qualifying conditions has been narrowed, now focusing primarily on developmental disorders like autism. This shift has reportedly intensified anxiety among those who relied on the more flexible old system, which allowed Disney World guests to obtain a DAS pass on the day of their visit after a brief meeting with a cast member.

Accessing Genie+ service from smartphone on the My Disney Experience app
Credit: Disney

Previously, the DAS pass was a lifeline for Disney park guests with conditions like IBS or Crohn’s disease, enabling them to receive a return time for attractions and avoid the stress of prolonged wait times.

However, the old system was susceptible to abuse, as some Disney World guests exploited it to avoid purchasing Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane passes, leading to longer wait times in the Lightning Lane for legitimate DAS users and those who had purchased the paid systems.

This misuse prompted Disney World to tighten the DAS program’s criteria and procedures, a decision met with significant backlash, but also understanding by one side of the fanbase.

Kid riding Avatar Flight of Passage in Pandora: World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom
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In a social media thread, One fan suggested a practical solution to alleviate some of these issues: “I wish they would put a bathroom in queues at like the one-hour wait point. I’m sure there’s a reason they don’t but it would just be convenient.”

Another fan pointed out the logistical challenges of such an idea, “Sewage lines. They would have to rip up nearly the entire park to install new sections of sewage lines and you can understand why they wouldn’t between the mess and the time the rides themselves would be down.”

In response, another fan proposed a compromise, “Sure, and I totally understand why they don’t retrofit them. But when they build a whole new ride from scratch I have to imagine that’s something they can fit in to the plans. Maybe it’s hard to find space, or an expense, etc, but it would be nice. Maybe there can just be a point halfway through with a door and a cast member. They give you a card and you can go to the bathroom outside the ride and come back in or something.”

70 Minute Wait Time at Disney World
Credit: Zach Gass

The practicality of these suggestions is debatable, but they highlight a common sentiment among many fans: the need for accommodations that consider the full spectrum of disabilities and medical conditions. The idea of themed porta-potties was even floated by another fan, though the issues with smell and maintenance were quickly acknowledged.

The changes to the DAS program have left many long-time users feeling anxious and unwelcome. The new system, while potentially more secure against abuse, appears less accommodating to those with conditions that do not fit neatly into the revised criteria. The requirement for pre-approval via video conference adds a layer of complexity that some find daunting.

Disney World’s intention to curb abuse of the DAS system is understandable, but the impact on genuine users has been profound.

The new Disability Access Service program will soon be introduced at Disneyland Resort as well, slated for June 18. It remains to be seen how these changes will affect guests on the West Coast and whether similar concerns will arise.

What do you think of this hot-button discussion about Disney World? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments!

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