April 9, 2024, 11:02 AM ·

Do you need a disability access pass when visiting the Disney theme parks? Get ready, because things are about to change.

The Disneyland and Walt Disney World theme parks are about to revamp their procedures for accommodating guests with accessibility needs. The changes come after use of Disney’s DAS [Disability Access Service] pass among guests has more than tripled at the Disneyland Resort over the past five years, according to park officials.The DAS pass will remain, however Disney is putting together a new team of cast members and medical experts to determine which guests will get that accommodation, which allows guests to use Lightning Lanes after waiting the equivalent of the standby queue elsewhere. Starting later this spring, Disney visitors no longer will go to Guest Relations for accessibility passes. Instead, they will go to the new team, who will recommend accommodations based upon visiting parties’ description of their needs and how they are accommodated elsewhere.”Disney is dedicated to providing a great experience for all Guests, including those with disabilities, which is why we are so committed to delivering a wide range of innovative support services aimed at helping our Guests with disabilities have a wonderful time when visiting our theme parks,” a Disneyland spokesperson said.The changes will go into effect May 20 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and June 18 at the Disneyland Resort in California. Until then, applications for DAS passes will continue as before, though validity periods may be reduced to 30 days in advance of the procedure switch. Guests are encouraged to read about Disney’s accommodations on the Disneyland or Walt Disney World websites in advance of their visit. [Those links go directly to each resort’s accessibility services pages, which have been updated as of today.] The pages include links for people to browse options by disability category, including mobility, neurodivergent, hearing loss, and blind & low vision. The linked pages list, for example, which attractions can accommodate mobility-impaired guests through the normal, standby queues and what alternatives exist for others. The pages also detail where guests can find other services, from sign language interpretation to support animal relief locations. Under Disney’s new procedures, if a guest believes that their party will need additional accommodation or if they are unclear about what they should do when visiting the parks, they should initiate a conversation with Disney’s new assistance team. That contact can happen online in advance of their visit, but Disneyland will repurpose former ticket booths in the esplanade for in-person consultations as well. At the Walt Disney World Resort, on-site consultations will happen virtually through video chats.

U.S. federal law prohibits businesses serving persons with disabilities from asking for medical records or details about their customers’ medical history in order to determine accommodations. Disney will be partnering a third party – Inspire Health Alliance – and providing specialized training to its new teams to help them determine which accommodations will be most useful for a party of guests while ensuring that provided accommodations are reserved for those for whom they were intended, park officials said during a press briefing in advance of today’s changes.Unlike at other theme parks, which have outsourced the disability access process to a third party, trained Disney cast members will be making decisions about access in consultation with Inspire Health Alliance employees, as needed.Disney’s cast members may ask guests about other accommodations that they use in other locations, including at home, school, work or travel, in order to determine an appropriate accommodation at the Disney theme parks. Accommodations may include a suggestion to use a mobility device such as a wheelchair, clearance for use of a stroller as a wheelchair, using newly defined “return to queue” options, rider switch, or a DAS. For more specific information, see the websites linked above.Park officials said that they want to ensure that DAS is reserved going forward for guests with developmental disabilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, who are not able to wait in queues, rather than have it continue as a catch-all solution.Disney’s teams will consider the needs of guests on a party by party basis, rather than for individuals within a party, to help make a visit easier and more consistent for people in a party where individuals might need a range of accommodations. However, DAS no longer will include two advance reservations by default. And DAS will be limited to an immediate family or a party of no more than four people when a person needing the accommodation is traveling with people outside their family.Once enrolled, a DAS accommodation will be valid for the duration of a party’s theme park tickets, if they are using daily tickets. For Magic Key holders at Disneyland or annual passholders at Walt Disney World, an enrollment will be valid for up to 120 days once the new system goes into place. That’s an increase from the current 60 days.* * *
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