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Disney’s Inclusivity Initiative Comes to an End According to Expert

das service at WDW
Credit: Natasha Caudill

The conversation surrounding Disney’s Disability Access Service pass (DAS) pass has been vibrant since Disney announced their new changes, and now, it seems that their goal for inclusivity may have just come to a stark halt, as many guests with medical disabilities are stating they no longer feel welcomed in the most magical place on earth.

Mickey and Minnie Mouse, dressed in colorful costumes, are standing in front of a castle with the Disney Das logo overlaid, accompanied by a Cast Member.

Credit: Inside the Magic

If you were not aware, Disney has a Disability Access Service pass that guests can attain when they arrive at Disney World or Disneyland at Guest Services or beforehand via the My Disney Experience app or Disneyland app. Until now, Disney has allowed guests who cannot stand in long lines to speak to a cast member who can potentially approve them for a DAS.

A DAS allows guests and their party to select an attraction and virtually wait in line. For example, let’s say you want to ride Haunted Mansion, and it’s 1:00 p.m., and the ride has a 75-minute wait; the DAS will offer a return time for 2:15 p.m. and at that time, you will be able to return to the line and enter the Lightning Lane queue that Disney Genie+ guests who paid for the service typically use. You will still have to wait in the Lightning Lane queue; however, it will be much shorter.

A sign that reads "lightning lane" in red letters on a white background. A clock is positioned next to the sign. This entrance also services those who use a Disney Das Pass.

Credit: Five Fires via Twitter

Guests who have mobility issues are not qualified for the DAS, as you can use a wheelchair or ECV that Disney rents out to guests to avoid standing or walking in line. Now, the limits of who can get a DAS are being shrunk once again.

It was reported that over 60% of Lightning Lane entry scans were not from Disney Genie+ guests but actually from DAS guests. With DAS usage increasing quite a bit over the recent years and accusations of guests lying about their medical needs, Disney has decided to crack down. 

These changes take effect on May 20 at Walt Disney World and June 18 at Disneyland. According to Disney’s website, DAS passes will now only be available to “guests who, due to a developmental disability like autism or similar, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended period of time.

The Disney website now reads:

Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming, inclusive environment and accessible experiences for our Guests. DAS is one of the programs offered at Walt Disney World Resort theme parks intended to accommodate only those Guests who, due to a developmental disability like autism or similar, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended period of time.

For Guests visiting from April 9 through May 19, 2024, please note:

  • Pre-arrival conversations to determine eligibility for DAS are available 2-30 days prior to your park visit.
  • In-person conversations to determine eligibility for DAS will continue to be at Guest Relations locations.
  • You can book up to 2 one-hour return windows for select experiences using our DAS Advance planning option.
  • DAS is valid for up to 30 days from the start of the registration. Once the service has elapsed, Guests will need to re-register.
lightning lane web slingers entrance

Credit: Disney Parks Blog

With the new changes only being inclusive to guests with developmental disabilities, others are quite stunned that medical disabilities are no longer being recognized.

Natasha Caudill is a Disney fan who also has achromatopsia, which has allowed her to use the DAS on her trips out to Walt Disney World. According to Medline Plus, “Achromatopsia is a condition characterized by a partial or total absence of color vision. People with complete achromatopsia cannot perceive any colors; they see only black, white, and shades of gray. Incomplete achromatopsia is a milder form of the condition that allows some color discrimination.”

Natasha spoke out in a recent TikTok video where she highlighted how nice it was for her to wait indoors for an attraction since she feels pain from the light that the sun creates. Now, her condition may no longer qualify for DAS.

@natashac44

This truly makes my trips so much easier because being outside is so painful 😭 #Achromatopsia #Blindness #DayBlind #Colorblind #Accessibility #DAS #Disney #DisneyWorld #Travel #Disabled @Disney Parks

♬ original sound – Natasha Caudill

The video went viral, and Natasha was also interviewed by PEOPLE to further dive into her thoughts about being someone with a medical disability.

“I feel like it’s still a little unclear why Disney changed the DAS pass,” Caudill says. “People are speculating that too many people are lying to use the service. I wish Disney was more upfront about the change. Disney World offers such a welcoming atmosphere, but as a disabled person, I just don’t feel as welcome now,” she continues.

Statue of walt disney holding hands with mickey mouse in front of cinderella castle at disney world, with a clear blue sky background.

Credit: Disney

Natasha went into more detail on her experience:

“I’ve received hundreds of comments from people who are also no longer eligible for the DAS pass,” she says. “I’ve also received hundreds of comments about how I ruined DAS by sharing it online, that I’m faking my disability, and that I don’t deserve to use DAS in the first place.”

“The bullying on my video has gotten so bad that I stopped reading comments, but I am glad that I’ve been able to connect with some of the people who also used DAS in the past. Disney was an accessible option for so many people, and I really hope someone at Disney sees not just my video, but all the content that’s been going around about the DAS pass,” she adds.

“I love Disney, but I care deeply about accessibility and the disability community, so if I have to call them out, I will. Hopefully, it can inspire positive change for the system,” she concludes.

Caudill did state that she will still come to Disney World, she will just have to endure the pain or not wait in queue that have an outdoor portion to them.

Disneyland officials told PEOPLE, “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.”

The updated guidelines signify that individuals with various disabilities will have their eligibility for DAS assessed individually by Disney’s accessibility team.

Next month, guests will be able to discover if they still qualify for the DAS or if they will be forced to wait in long lines. This certainly will leave some guests with medical disabilities frustrated and unable to have the same style of Disney trip they are used to.

Disney has also made it clear that anyone who is caught lying about their disability will be banned from the park for life. 

What do you think of Disney’s upcoming DAS changes? 

This post originally appeared on Inside the Magic

About Alessia Dunn

Orlando theme park lover who loves thrills and theming, with a side of entertainment. You can often catch me at Disney or Universal sipping a cocktail, or crying during Happily Ever After or Fantasmic.

2 comments

  1. It’s completely unfair that guests with mobility devices are now excluded from Disney’s “disability access” system. I understand that people were abusing the system, but not everyone in a mobility device can wait in line. And they are the ones with OBVIOUS disabilities. And what if you are using a mobility device AND are autistic or have other disabilities that would otherwise qualify you for a pass? Disney says “nope, no DAS for you” solely on the basis of your mobility device?

    I find it hard to believe that this would stand up to ADA complaints……maybe that’s what needs to happen for the folks at Disney to get their heads out of their posteriors.

    Universal is 10X better than Disney now….we are giving up our annual passes because of crap like this from Disney. Pay more, get less is now their motto!

  2. I am 90 years old and just returned from a 5 day trip. I rented a scooter and was a das member. I was treated with great respect and care. Thank you all for being so great.

    Nancy

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