Disney has long been known for its accessibility and inclusivity, welcoming guests of all ages, abilities, and all walks of life. While Disney has gone to great lengths to ensure attractions are wheelchair/scooter accessible and able to be experienced with alternative listening and audio devices (as they should, of course), Disney also has a system in place for individuals with disabilities that are not physical and/or outwardly apparent, and for the neurodiverse population as well (again, as they should).
What is DAS?
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The Disability Access Service (DAS) at Walt Disney World is a program designed to accommodate individuals (and their families up to a certain number) with disabilities that make it difficult or impossible for them to be confined to a traditional line or queue for attractions.
If a person is granted a DAS Pass, he/she and their party do NOT get to skip the line. Instead, once an attraction is requested, the party will be given a return time equal to (or sometimes slightly less than) the current standby wait time. For example, if the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has a standby wait time of 50 minutes at 1pm, a person with a DAS pass would be given a return time around 1:40pm, plus or minus a few minutes, depending on the day and cast member discretion, if guests aren’t using the self-selection tool in the app (more on that under How to Utilize a DAS Pass).
DAS is designed to allow guests (who need it) the freedom to wait for an attraction in alternative ways as opposed to waiting in the confines of a traditional line. Therefore, guests with a DAS Pass can walk around the park, grab something to eat, shop (or window shop), or even visit other attractions (if those attractions have tolerable wait times for the person with the DAS Pass) while waiting for their return time to the selected attraction.
Who is eligible for a DAS Pass?
Anyone who has a condition, whether it is outwardly noticeable or not, that prevents them from being able to wait within the confines of a traditional line or queue can apply for a DAS Pass. Conditions that can make someone eligible for a DAS Pass can range from severe developmental delays to mental illness to Tic Disorders to Autism to…anything that would cause a person to have difficulty waiting in the same way as other guests, though even within that range, there is such diversity and individuality among disabilities that simply stating, “I have (fill in the blank),” or “My child has (fill in the blank)” would not guarantee anyone a DAS Pass. In fact, Disney is not even allowed to ask for a diagnosis or require a doctor’s note for legal reasons (more on this under How to Register for a DAS Pass).
People who are NOT eligible for a DAS Pass are those with mobility restrictions, such as people who require a wheelchair, scooter or other mobility device. Disney has been careful to make almost all attractions wheelchair accessible, and therefore would not consider the use of a wheelchair as a reason to not be able to wait in a traditional line/queue. If a person uses a wheelchair or mobility device AND ALSO has a condition that makes waiting in a traditional line intolerable for them, they could get a DAS Pass for the non-mobility-related condition. However, if someone in your party sprains their ankle right before your trip, and you’re hoping the silver lining will be the ability to skip the lines in the parks, you will definitely be disappointed when Guest Services advises you to rent a wheelchair and use either the traditional standby line, or purchase the Genie+ and/or Lightning Lane ticket enhancements.
How to Register for a DAS Pass
There are now two ways to register for a DAS Pass: you can register in person by visiting Guest Relations inside any of the four parks, or as of November 1, 2021, you can register by participating in a live video conference between 30 and 2 days prior to arriving at the parks. Currently, both options have positives and negatives, so each process is outlined below to help you make an informed decision about which is best for you and your family.
Pre-Arrival DAS Registration via Live Video Conference
Disney recommends registering for a DAS Pass through a live video conference as opposed to visiting Guest Relations in the parks. The process would work as follows: At some point between 30 and 2 days before your arrival to the parks, you would participate in a live video conference with a Cast Member by clicking the link on the DAS Information page of the Disney website (which can be found here).
In order to participate in the conference, the guest speaking with a Cast Member must be at least 18 years of age, and must have a Disney account. In addition, the guest requesting the DAS Pass (or whose parents are requesting one for them), MUST be present at the time of the call. The cast member will likely need to speak with them directly (if they are old enough and/or able to, depending on their disability), and they will need to have their picture taken if they are deemed eligible for a pass. At this time, conferences are only available in English, and between the hours of 7am – 11pm EST.
Registering for a DAS Pass before arriving at the parks allows you to take advantage of the new DAS Advance feature, which permits guests who are approved for a DAS Pass during their live video conference to select up to 2 DAS Advance Passes for each day of their trip (based on availability). For each of the DAS Advance Passes booked during the live video conference, you will be given a one hour time frame to redeem your selection (note that DAS Advance Passes are NOT available for attractions that currently have Lightning Lane Individual Passes available for purchase).
DAS Advance Passes are in addition to the regular DAS Pass benefits that qualifying guests can use throughout their days at the parks. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you have your DAS Advance selections planned out BEFORE you begin your live video conference to prevent frantic, rash decisions and help the conference go smoothly. Also, be sure to include everyone in your party on your DAS Advance selections, since guests are not able to be added on at any point later, even if they are part of your DAS Pass party. DAS Advance selections are NOT available to guests who register for a DAS Pass in person at Guest Relations.
Between the convenience of registering from the comfort of your own home before you even arrive, without having to wait on the Guest Relations line, AND the DAS Advance selections available to you when you register for a DAS Pass through a live video conference, you are probably wondering what could possibly be a downside to this option. The negative aspect of this option is the current wait times for live video conferences once you click the link to start one. People attempting to get a conference have reportedly waited over eight hours, only for the time frame to close at 11pm without having gotten the chance to speak with a Cast Member. It is a brand new system, so hopefully over time the kinks will be worked out, but for now, if you choose this option, be sure to clear your schedule for the day, or even the few days, that you will try to get a live video conference, and don’t forget to have your DAS Advance selections ready, too!
In-Person DAS Registration at Guest Relations
Before the Pre-Arrival virtual registration option was available, the only way for a guest to register for a DAS Pass was by speaking with a Cast Member at Guest Relations inside the gates of any of the four parks (although there are Guest Relations outside the gates of the parks as well, guests requesting a DAS Pass have often been referred to the inside-the-gate Guest Relations locations for that service, even after waiting on the outside-the-gate line).
This option is still available, and is an effective way to receive a DAS Pass if you or a member of your family qualifies for one. As with the virtual option, the guest who needs the pass MUST be present to answer questions if they are old enough and/or able to, and to have their picture taken.
The downsides to this option are somewhat obvious in that you will have to wait on the Guest Relations line to get a DAS Pass to help with waiting in traditional lines (seems a bit ironic). It’s also slightly disappointing to enter the gates and have to run right into Guest Relations instead of heading up Main Street towards the Castle for your first moments in the park; it’s a worthwhile sacrifice, but still a sacrifice nonetheless. Another downside of the In-Person option is that the DAS Advance feature is NOT available to guests who receive their DAS Pass through Guest Relations. The perk of requesting a DAS Pass In-Person is that many people have reported the process taking a significantly shorter amount of time than waiting for a live video conference.
Disney is clearly pushing the Pre-Arrival Live Video Conference method, not only by recommending it on the DAS information page of their website, but also by giving guests with Pre-Arrival Passes access to DAS Advance. While it seems like a great idea to provide this service virtually in order to keep lines at Guest Relations locations to a minimum, the current wait times for a Live Video Conference make that option difficult for many people to use. Hopefully, Disney will sort out the issues, as they always do with new systems, and the virtual system will run smoothly sooner rather than later.
How to Prepare for DAS Pass Registration
Whether you are registering for a DAS Pass virtually or in-person, it will help to be prepared for the process. Legally, Disney is not allowed to ask for a diagnosis or a doctor’s note “proving” the disability or condition. Persons with disabilities are not required to “prove” their disability to anyone in order to receive the services they need. Therefore, the Cast Member determining eligibility for a DAS Pass will be more focused on WHY you, or your child or family member, needs a DAS Pass, rather than on WHAT your disability or condition is. However, if you do have a doctor’s note, it certainly wouldn’t hurt your case to show it, but just don’t expect to be handed a DAS Pass with a doctor’s note alone.
Before your video conference or visit to Guest Relations, it would be beneficial to consider how you would answer questions such as: Why is waiting in a line difficult for you? What do you feel or experience while waiting in a line? How does being able to move around outside of a line help you? The exact questions may vary depending on the Cast Member you speak with, but having a general sense of how you would answer questions about WHY you or your family member has difficulty waiting in traditional lines is a good place to start.
How to Utilize a DAS Pass
Once a DAS Pass is deemed necessary and you are registered, the rest of your party needs to be linked to the DAS Pass as well, which can be done during the virtual video conference or at Guest Relations. DAS Passes accommodate parties of up to 6 people, so if your party is larger than 6, you will have to speak with the Cast Member in charge of your DAS registration to discuss options for your group.
Making DAS Pass Selections
DAS Passholders can now select return times to attractions directly in their My Disney Experience App! This is much easier and more convenient than the previous method of requesting a return time in person at an attraction, because it allows you to make the most of your time in the park without running back and forth to the same attraction for check in and return times. Of course, the original method is still available, and if you have issues with either method of requesting return times, you can visit any Guest Relations or Guest Experience Team locations (noticeable by their blue umbrellas throughout the parks).
Selecting and Redeeming Return Times for Attractions
When selecting return times in the My Disney Experience App, or in person at an attraction, any member of the DAS Pass Party can request the return time WITHOUT the guest to whom the DAS Pass was issued present. This is particularly helpful for individuals with a DAS Pass whose disability makes using an app difficult, and for those who would have a tough time going up to a ride just to obtain a return time, without actually getting on it.
However, the guest issued the DAS Pass MUST be present when redeeming the selected attraction, AND must be the first person to be scanned in with their Magic Band, ticket or phone. In addition, the entire party must enter the ride together (members of the DAS Pass Party will not be permitted to enter the attraction through the DAS entrance at a later time if they miss entrance with the rest of the party).
Once the current return time is redeemed, you are able to select another return time for another attraction, and there is no limit to the number of times you can select the same attraction.
The DAS Pass return time does not expire until the park closes, so you cannot “miss” your return time. However, you cannot obtain another DAS Pass return time without redeeming your last selection; in other words, you cannot have more than one return time at once. It is possible to cancel a return time in order to choose a different attraction by using the App or by visiting Guest Relations or a Guest Experience Team location.
Furthermore, DAS Advance selections ARE able to be redeemed at their scheduled times, even while holding a day-of DAS Pass return time. In addition, you are still able to join a boarding group for attractions with virtual queues (such as Rise of the Resistance) while holding a day-of DAS Pass return time for another attraction.
When you redeem your return time, you will proceed onto the attraction through the Lightning Lane (formerly FastPass) entrance; therefore, it is possible to experience a slight wait time, even through the expedited entrance, as there always was. It is advisable to be prepared to wait up to 20 minutes, depending on the popularity of the attraction, so make sure you have some distractions and/or snacks to make it through that period of time in a “traditional” line.
Although most attractions are able to accommodate the use of the DAS Pass, if an attraction does not have a Lighting Lane entrance in addition to the Standby entrance, the DAS Pass will not be able to be utilized. However, if the attraction is able to provide another form of modification that would help, speak with a Cast Member from that attraction, and they will accommodate you and your party as much as possible.
Other Things to Know about DAS
A DAS Pass is valid for up to 60 days, and then registration would need to be completed again, and a new pass would be issued.
While a DAS Pass is valid throughout all the Parks of the Resort at which it was issued, it would not be valid at another Disney Resort; for example, a DAS Pass issued at Walt Disney World would be valid throughout Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom, but it would not be transferable to Disneyland, and visa versa.
A DAS Pass CAN be used in combination with Genie+ and/or Lightning Lane purchases. With all of these options available, and with some serious pre-planning, you could really experience a high number of attractions during each of your days at the parks (if you so choose, and if everyone in your party is up for an intensely busy day).
If you attempt to obtain a DAS Pass with false claims, Disney has issued the following statement to describe the consequences of such actions:
If Disney determines that any of the statements a Guest made in the process of obtaining DAS are not true, the Guest will be permanently barred from entering Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort, and any previously purchased annual passes, Magic Key passes, tickets and other park products and services will be forfeited and not refunded.
In other words: Don’t lie. The people who truly need DAS Passes have enough difficulties in their lives, and should not have their services compromised due to overuse by people trying to cheat the system. Also, it is worth remembering that the Disability Access Service was created specifically to help people whose disabilities and conditions may or may not be seen or noticeable in the few moments a passerby or other guest in line observes them. Sometimes the disability or condition of the person with the DAS Pass goes unnoticed BECAUSE of the success of the services they are receiving that allow them to experience life in a way that is as similar to other people as possible. Everyone deserves the Magic of Disney without anyone else questioning the validity of the Magic a certain guest is experiencing.
Like any other system at Disney, including Genie, Genie+ and Lightning Lane, if you are new to requesting and utilizing a DAS Pass, it might take a bit of getting used to, but it’s nothing that a little pre-planning can’t help. Of course, if you or someone in your traveling party needs a DAS Pass, a travel agent, such as myself, would be happy to talk you through the process. Whether you need to talk it through, or you feel confident in requesting a DAS Pass after reading this blog, I would be happy to assist you in planning your upcoming Disney vacation. Click here for a free quote from me, Gina Pantina, a proud member of the Love of the Magic Vacations Travel Agency Team!
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