Menu

Disney Just Told Thousands of People With Disabilities That They Don’t Count

Disney disability changes
Credit: Disney

On April 9, Disney announced some BIG changes coming to its Disability Access Service Program, also called DAS. Disney said that beginning May 20, DAS would only be available to guests who were diagnosed with autism and other similar cognitive disabilities. Prior to this, DAS was available for anyone who had a medical disability, be it a cognitive disability or a different kind of medical problem.

This change, of course, left hundreds, if not thousands, of guests wondering what they are going to do now.

guests, family visiting magic kingdom

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney’s Disability Pass: Everything You Need to Know!

Millions of people visit Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort every year, and some of those people have invisible disabilities that are not cognitive. They have issues going on inside their bodies that make it very difficult to wait in a traditional ride queue, and having a DAS pass is truly a lifesaver.

But Disney does not think those guests really count all that much.

disneyland's matterhorn bobsleds attraction ride age limit bumpy old track mountain older back pain

Credit: Disney

Disney made these changes to its DAS program because of the rampant abuse by those who lie just so they don’t have to wait in line. Which is totally understandable. But, the thing is, those with actual disabilities would be HAPPY to provide a doctor’s note or proof, whatever Disney needs.

It is being reported that Disney will work with those who have other disabilities, giving them the ability to leave the line for “bathroom issues.” But that also shows that they don’t understand how many of these invisible illnesses work. For those guests who suffer from something like severe IBS, it is so much more than a bathroom issue.

Restroom

Credit: outhouseofmouse.com

Related: Woman’s Rude Remark About Disability Ruined This Guest’s Day

There are also people who have physical issues that can make it difficult for them to stand for an extended period. For that, Disney says that wheelchairs can be rented.

But there are those who do not need a wheelchair all day. Or, just maybe, they don’t want to put their disability on full display by being made to use a wheelchair that they would not need if they could just wait in the shorter queue.

What makes this particularly frustrating is that Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort are the only Disney Resorts that do not require proof for guests who wish to obtain a DAS pass.

Shanghai Disney, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney, and Hong Kong Disneyland all require proof to obtain a DAS pass.

Disney wheelchair costumes

Credit: Disability Scoop

Related: The Battle For DAS Supremacy: Universal vs Disney

And it’s not like Disneyland and Walt Disney World are prohibited from asking for confirmation from a doctor.

Disney’s biggest theme park competitor, Universal Studios, requires guests to register with IBCCES — The International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards.

Guests must upload documentation from a doctor stating that they need disability access. They will then speak to a Universal team member about their need for the disability pass. And guess what? Guests don’t complain because they have no problem cutting down on abuse of the system by providing the necessary information.

diagon alley harry potter dragon fire, universal studios orlando

Credit: Brian McGowan, Unsplash

Disney is still not requiring proof of a disability, and that is really at the heart of the problem. Disney caused this issue by not requiring proof in the first place, but now, instead of trying to fix a problem they created, they are just tossing thousands of people to the side.

It will be interesting to see if any guests accuse Disney of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act. The ADA does not limit disabilities to simply those with cognitive disabilities. It applies to everyone who has a “physical or mental impairment that substantially limits a major life activity.”

A mom and dad, each holding a son, ride the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover

Credit: Disney

Guests with disabilities should not feel pressured to purchase Disney Genie+ just so they can avoid a long line. The other option is just not going to a Disney park, which is also a terrible choice for those who love Disney.

Disney can do better with its Disability Access Service, and it needs to. Punishing the many for the sins of the few is not the direction to take. Disney prides itself on creating magic, but these changes to its accessibility services are definitely anything but.

Do you think Disney did the wrong thing with the changes to its disability program? Let us know in the comments. 

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and may not reflect the views of Disney Dining as a whole.

About Krysten Swensen

A born and bred New England girl living the Disney life in Southern California. I love to read, to watch The Golden Girls, and love everything to do with Disney and Universal. I also love to share daily doses of Disney on my Disney Instagram @BrazzleDazzleDisney!

16 comments

  1. All they have to do is request a doctor’s note…that’s it. If I qualified for a DAS pass before, then that should not be an issue. I have no problem’s presenting such documentation, nor do others who have legitimate medical issues. This new policy is going to bite them in the backside. Sounds like they just want us to pay for LL and Genie. Sorry…not going to play that game. Will spend my money elsewhere….

  2. It’s about time the crack down on the liars and cheaters out there. For every person that seriously needs a pass there are 4 that don’t and still get one. Don’t be mad at Disney, be mad at the fakers that abuse the policy instead. Go Disney!

    • Sadly, this will not crack down on the cheaters. Everyone will now say they have autism. People w actual disabilities are the ones who will suffer. My son has autism. Hes 26 and needs an ADA pass. He will be anle to get one. Its sad to think somexwill not becayse they dont have the “right” disability.
      I also feel the right thing to do is requurecproof of disability.

  3. This makes me sad, as I have a 75 year old parent who loves going to Disney and uses the DAS pass, as she is unable to be in the heat for extended periods of time, has a medical issue that is both physical and cognitive, and the DAS allows her to choose a ride at a time to go on when she can. This new DAS rule will now eliminate her from enjoying the place that makes her feel like a girl again in the last years of her life and it’s a shame. What a world this has become and shame on Disney.

  4. Disney have got it wrong, I’m sure the many veterans won’t be very pleased, I hope they take Disney to task

  5. Don’t blame Disney for the people that lie and cheat, their asking for documentation is that too much? I have mobility issues and I don’t even think about asking for it because 1) their are people who really need it and 2) I don’t want to be put in to the mix w/the ones who lie. If you can’t do the park stay home!!!

  6. I am a 75 year old woman who has medical conditions I use a mobility scooter and have a Service Dog who alerts for Diabetes, Migraines, Pacemaker, High Blood Pressure and Mobility
    I have used DAS MANY TIMES
    I don’t have a problem showing a Doctor’s note for my conditions
    Without DAS I can not enjoy the 3 or 4 rides I only go on
    Disney please reconsider

  7. People here are saying , “Don’t blame Disney.” Yes, blame Disney for not even trying to fix the problem. Disney- Ask for the doctor’s note. .

  8. My adopted Son is delayed and has Add/ADHD. He does not do well in long lines or long stops. He get agitates and aggressive. It’s not fun for anyone at that point. I also have a 75 year old father who served our country and has 2 Purple Hearts. He stepped on a mine I the Vietnam war and it is now hard for him to walk a long period of time and stand for a long period of time. He does have a scooter but also likes to get up and stretch and walk a little too. This is very disappointing to us that maybe we won’t be coming back. This park was for families to come and have fun and make memories and now it’s not about that any more

  9. I’ve been to Disney quite a few times since 1995 & 2010 with my disability; and nobody made a hoot out of it; considering Down Syndrome is not a disability; of what I read is total discrimation among the disability community. That’s exclusion of what I’ve seen; nobody should be picked out that way especially of what’s going on at Disney; like come on people everybody needs to go where dreams come true but you’re not making it come true.

  10. The problem is Disney’s ignorance and its unwillingness to educate itself/cast members making these widespread umbrella policies that are illegal. Just because Disney thinks that there are only two classifications for disabled persons, ie, cognitive and wheelchair bound, does not make it reality. Those using wheelchairs, scooters, etc can and should go through the lines that are adapted for that. However, it is the many other disabilities that they have ignored. Just because Disney turns a blind eye to these does not mean they do not exist. I really thought Disney was magical until one day, prepandemic, my son and I were waiting in line at City Hall in Magic Kingdom to get a DAS pass. Next to us was a veteran that lost both of his legs due to his service. He had battery powered legs he walked on and tried to tell the cast member that he needed a DAS because he couldn’t wait in a long line because that would use all,of his battery. He just wanted to be able to sit on a bench and wait for his appropriate DAS return time. The CM said he should rent a wheel chair and walked away. It was in that moment I realized Disney did not have a heart. It is just a big tin man greedily wanting every penny just like other big corporations. Know I do know that Disney is a big corporation and of course there is greed, but I thought Disney would try and do better. This new policy just shows how blind Disney is. If it is something they can fix but it might cost them a few dollars in the process without making a roi, Disney will not pursue it. Most people with a legitimate disability would provide Disney information to substantiate such a claim. I mean we trust Disney with our credit card information and the ages of our children, etc, this would just be another piece of the puzzle protected and encrypted in our Disney profile. If it was a lifelong, permanent disability it could be marked as such so you would not need to go through this song and dance again. Sensitive information is provided to access handicap placards for the car. If you feel this is an invasion of privacy, etc, then you do not need to participate in the program. My son carries doctors’ letters with him through TSA and other areas in case of issues and/or questions. It is a general letter stating the disability in basic terms and basic accommodations needed. We are not bothered by showing someone this so they gain some understanding of the issue if it will protect my son. Heck, I carry a piece of paper saying I have metal implanted in me for going through security. And, while that is medical information it certainly does not go against any privacy issues. This is a problem Disney does not want to deal with so they will sweep it under the rug until they can’t. Disney is an industry leader and if they wish to remain an industry leader then they need to lead. This is just one more way Disney is loosing the “industry leader” title.

  11. This article is spot on!!!!! Awesome! I agree that the problem would be better solved if they would require a doctor’s note. I can’t believe Disney is so blindsighted and want to know who the person is that came up with this solution? Now the only solution is for everyone to SAY they’re autistic or bi polar, etc. Good job Disney!!!!! NOT!

  12. Christine Lockmon

    I have a daughter who’s a burn survivor and can’t handle heat like the rest of us. She doesn’t sweat and can get over heated quickly, we’ve gotten her a pass and it’s up to her to use it if she feels the need to. She doesn’t want to take away from others who may need it more although she has these life long problems but now she’s not even given the option to use it because her brain is ok but her body is over 55% graphed. Disney can do better but At this rate I doubt it will!

  13. I’m certain that those with real disabilities that prohibit them from standing in the ever increasing standby line will get the DAS. I read that a lot of the “unofficial “ park guides had coached their clients to obtain the pass stating that they have Irritable Bowl Syndrome and need to frequently use a bathroom. Abusers of the system and these lowlife creeps are the cause of the increased friction involved with getting a DAS pass. Disney is to blame for their money grabbing Genie+ program that has caused the standby wait times to increase.

  14. Disney has created this problem when they eliminated the original Fastpass program that EVERY guest had the benefit of using, and replaced it with the expensive Genie+. No one wants to save up thousands of dollars to take their family for their only trip to Disney, and only get to ride a few rides because of the ridiculously long wait times. The original Fastpass system allowed EVERYONE to reserve a timeslot to come back later for the ride…exactly the same concept as the DAS system that is used today. No one is negatively affected by reserving a timeslot, and no one is forced to spend 2 hours waiting for slinky dog because they can’t afford the Genie+. Disney just wanted to force everyone to pay more…don’t want to wait in lines, pay more money. The Genie+ is so bad because it is limiting on what rides you can actually ride, so people with even more money are opting for the personal cast member guide services. Go back to the original Fastpass policy so EVERYONE can enjoy Disney the way it was intended.

  15. I have several invisible disabilities. When they act up, which occurs esp in the heat, I can’t tolerate standing for long periods of time. The government recognizes me as a permanently disabled person. As such, I receive, SSDI. I would think Disney would preserve the dignity of disabled persons and let medical documentation or proof of SSDI be enough. I’d much rather be able to stand in a line all day as an able- bodied person than get through the line faster as a disabled one

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.