JAN 202015

Disability Access Service Card (DAS) at Walt Disney World®

by Guest Blogger and Ultra Disney Fan, Kelly B.

How Disney helps eliminate some of the everyday challenges faced by families with a special needs child.

Our daughter, Macey, is 13 years old and has Down syndrome. When we arrived the first day at the park we entered the main gate and then went straight to Guest Relations -- we were at Disney’s Hollywood Studios® but each park is the same. My husband explained to them issues that we might face with Macey while at the park – primarily she does not do well with waiting in line, extended periods of darkness, or heat. For each ride we really had a small window of opportunity to get Macey on it, and if that window was spent waiting in line there would be no actual riding. With no additional hassle or questioning they took a quick picture of Macey and issued her a Disability Access Service Card. It looks like a small index card with her picture and lots of space for cast members to write. (I’ve read they can actually set-up your first fast pass time at Guest Relations, but I didn’t tell my husband that, so he didn’t ask.)

So here is how a Disability Access Service Card (DAS) works – hopefully in plain English. I read several official descriptions that were confusing, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. Basically you must go to the FastPass+ (FP+) line at the ride you are interested in. The cast member there looks at the current wait time and subtracts 10 minutes. He takes that number, and adds it to the current time and writes that down on your card as a return time.

For example – Peter Pan’s flight has a 90 minute wait. Remove the 10 minutes and that is 1 hour and 20 minutes. If it is 3:00 p.m. he adds those two together and writes down 4:20 p.m. on your DAS. Your family is free to do whatever you wish and return to the FP+ line ANYTIME after 4:20 p.m. There is no window. The only kicker is you cannot get another DAS time until after you ride Peter Pan’s Flight. When you return, they cross off the time which frees you up to get a new DAS time at another attraction. We had no problem using the DAS to ride the same attraction several times, but going through the process above for each. We were told that you could only use it once a day for the Frozen sing-along (“For the First Time in Forever.”) I had Macey with me when I tried to do it, and a manager came over and told them to make an exception for her – I got a little weepy.

Random thoughts:

We were a party of six and we all were able to ride with my daughter using the DAS – no questions asked.

Your child with the disability MUST be able to ride the ride, though. If she isn’t ready for Tower of Terror then you are out of luck :0) What our family did is use the FastPass+ reservations we were allotted each day for the scary rides that we knew Macey wouldn’t tolerate. When planning it was hard not to use them for Peter Pan’s Flight. (Since that was the reason we were going to Walt Disney World®) but with the DAS Macey got to ride it as much as her family could tolerate with no worries.

The regular FP+ and the DAS are not coordinated or linked in any way.

If you decide you don’t want to wait for a ride you already have a time for, you can just go to a different ride. The cast member there will cross off the existing time on your card and write down a new one for the new ride you’ve selected.

We had several rides where cast members would just let us go through the FP+ line right then if our wait was going to be short anyway.

You can use the DAS with any ride, show, or character meet & greet with a FP+ line. Most of the attractions that are at all popular now have that option. If there is no FP+ option, you must wait like the masses. The only places we actually had to wait more than 5 minutes or so were to meet some of the more classic characters like Peter Pan and Aladdin. In both cases we left one adult and kid in line, and the rest of us hung somewhat close, waiting for a text that they were nearing the front.

I forgot our DAS on day 3 and my husband and Macey were able to run into Guest Relations and get a new one for the day. (They took a new picture of Macey.)

Other non-DAS random pieces of information:

If you don’t use the bus to Magic Kingdom there is quite a haul from the parking lot to the front gate. There are wheel chairs in the parking lot you can use for this journey that can be left at the gate. Why tucker them out before they even get there? And ironically these wheelchair rides were one of Macey’s trip highlights.

Several of the rides have moving sidewalks for boarding. Macey was hesitant at first but got the hang of it. I learned that, if needed, they can slow it down if you ask the very first cast member at the ride.

At the Haunted Mansion you can ask to skip the stretching room at the beginning, and they will walk you around and right up to where you get onto the ride. That room scared even my typical child and she wouldn’t get on the ride afterwards.

I bought Macey a cheap (and dim) flashlight to keep with her for when she got scared – she hates the dark. It gave her courage to go into places she wouldn’t ordinarily and for the most part she kept it pointed at the ground.

Walt Disney World® is magical when you have a special needs child! While all of the accommodations almost don’t seem fair, just think about all of our daily challenges. Walt Disney World® is just doing what they can to eliminate those and insure our kids get the most enjoyment out of their trip!