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Disney’s Own Greed Ruined Its Disability Program

Disney Genie Plus ruined the Disability Program
Credit: Disney

On April 9, Disney shocked and upset thousands of guests when they announced that big changes would be coming to its Disability Access Service (DAS) at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. Disney’s DAS program allowed anyone with a disability to access the Lightning Lane for a shorter wait, except those who simply needed to use a wheelchair. However, beginning in May at Disney World and June at Disneyland, only those with cognitive disabilities will be able to utilize the program.

DAS Defenders challenge Disney disability changes

Credit: Disney

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

Disney’s announcement was met with a lot of backlash from those who will no longer be able to use the program once the changes are made. Disney has said that those with certain medical disabilities will still have something in place to help them, but they have not given any further details at this point.

A petition quickly gaining traction from a group called DAS Defenders asks Disney not to enact the changes to its Disability Program. Instead, they ask Disney to follow Universal’s example and ask guests for documentation of their disability if they want a DAS pass.

guests, family taking selfie, magic kingdom

Credit: Disney

Related: Guests Seethe as Disney Makes Highly Controversial Change to Disability Services

The real issue, though, is that this entire problem was caused by Disney’s own greed.

For nearly two decades, guests visiting Disneyland and Disney World could utilize the Resorts’ free FastPass system. A FastPass would allow a guest to get a ticket with a return time to the attraction they selected. When it was their time, they would go to the attraction, hand in their FastPass, and get to wait in a shorter line.

Disneyland Genie Lightning Lane

Credit: Disney

It was a real lifesaver for many guests with disabilities. They did not have to clog up Guest Services because they could get FastPasses without having to worry.

Sadly, in the fall of 2021, Disney announced that it was ending the free FastPass service. Instead, guests who wanted to wait in a shorter line would have to pay for Disney Genie+. The prices for Disney Genie+ fluctuate every day, and on extremely busy days, the price can get as high as $35 per person.

Disney Travel Agents Charge for Genie+

Credit: Disney

Related: Thank You For Your Service: Disney’s New Disability Policy Could Alienate One Important Group

Since getting rid of FastPasses, the use and abuse of Disney’s DAS system as rapidly increased. Disney even admitted that it was enacting the changes due to the abuse of the system. However, they are STILL not requiring guests to provide medical proof if they want to use the DAS program. Disney can choose to follow in Universal’s footsteps, but they are actively choosing not to.

The thing is, if Disney had not gotten greedy and introduced Disney Genie+, the DAS system would not be as abused as it is today.

guests looking down at their phone and smiling, castle in the background

Credit: Disney

Some people are telling those who will not be able to utilize Disney’s DAS program to quit complaining and just pay for Disney Genie+. But that is a completely unacceptable answer. If you have a legitimate medical disability and are more than willing to prove it, why should you have to pay to access a shorter line?

Some have threatened to sue Disney, but legal experts can’t agree on whether they have a legitimate argument. This is mainly because we do not know how Disney will handle guests with medical disabilities other than cognitive ones. However, if Disney does not do anything for guests with other disabilities, it is possible the company will be violating the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Man abandons child at Space Mountain Disneyland

Credit: Disney

Walt Disney World and Disneyland are the only two Disney Resorts that do not require proof of a disability. They are allowed to ask for proof, though, since Universal Studios does. Universal works with a company called IBCCES, which is where guests upload their proof, before they talk to a Universal team member.

So, it’s not as if Disney is not allowed to ask guests to register and upload a note from a doctor.

Disney caused this problem, and it seems a little ridiculous that their solution is to cut out thousands of people who legitimately need the DAS program.

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

Do you think that Disney’s actions are the root cause of DAS abuse? Let us know in the comments!

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!

6 comments

  1. My niece is autistic so we have seen DAS in action. This is nothing but a money grab and the proof is in what DAS has excluded now. We used to be able to do any ride on das, we just waited the sane wait as everyone else – just not in line. Why do I say it is a money grab? They took out Rise, Ratatouille, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – all of the pay for LL rides, even for people with DAS now. It was not even like fast pass. You could book up to three on that, DAS was one riide only, what ever the posted wait time is what you waited. It is great for us when we go with our niece because she cannot stand in line for 2 hours. Walking around and keeping her occupied is so much of a better experience for her. I would think Disney would want everyone to use something like this because we end up spending more money in the park, taking her shopping or getting food. I feel bad for other people with physical disabilities who cannot get this, even if it I is neutered now.

  2. Don’t blame Disney for the people who abused the system and caused the change. As a disabled person who always was treated fair and with courtesy my cast members I am glad to see Disney cracking down on the the people who scheme to get away with this abuse. If you don’t like it don’t go. Try Universal they could care less about disabled people

    • You’re blaming Disney’s greed for people behaving badly? No, I’m sorry…just because Disney IS greedy with the Genie+ and Lightning Lanes, that’s no reason for guests behaving entitled. These same guests messed up the legitimate single rider lines! Perhaps actually tossing people for breaking rules might stop people!

  3. I refuse to pay for Genie+ on top of the already outrageous price just to enter the park. Its already hard for people to bring their children because of the prices, but to expect them to pay another $100+ a day for their family to have Genie+ is ridiculous. And now cutting out alot of people with varying disabilities that keep them from standing in long lines is going to send people elsewhere to make memories. Shame on Disney.

  4. I really dont see what the problem is. You are getting away with nothing. You still wait the same amount of time but for what ever disability you have you may be shopping or eating till time to ride. They make money off of it. I am a diabetic and heat drains my blood sugar and yes I am inside alot waiting on rides so if I see things I do purchase whereas if I was in line I probably would do very little shopping.

  5. Both of my adult sons have developmental disabilities and received the DAS in the past. On our last visit in October, it was noticeable that the Genie + /Lightening Lanes were over occupied by people with DAS. Often those lines were much long than the standard line. Many were talking about how the DAS was saving them time and they were able to ride more rides without actually having a disability. Yes, they came right out and said that. We are cutting back on going to the parks because of the crowds and the out of control ticket/food prices.

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