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Guests Seethe as Disney Makes Highly Controversial Change to Disability Services

guests angry at disability changes
Credit: Disney/Canva

On April 9, Disney announced that some big changes were coming to its Disability Access Service program (DAS) at both Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. For years, Disney has allowed those with physical, medical, and cognitive disabilities to use its DAS program. However, beginning May 20 at Disney World and June 18 at Disneyland, the DAS program will be limited to those guests with cognitive disabilities like autism.

Disneyland Chemical Spill

Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Just Told Thousands of Disabled Guests That They Don’t Count

Disney has said that there will be an alternative option for those with certain medical conditions — like a bathroom pass — but has not given many specifics.

The massive changes — while needed because of the rampant abuse of DAS — did not sit well with many guests who felt their disability no longer mattered. They were shocked that Disney would only appear to count certain disabilities as ones that truly need a shorter wait, when there are plenty of medical disabilities that do as well.

I hope they still cater to guests with medical disabilities. That inclusivity is so important. ❤️

Some even mentioned that DAS abuse has gotten worse since Disney eliminated its free FastPass system and replaced it with the paid system, Disney Genie+. They felt that FastPass put people on an even footing, but Genie+ is only for the privileged. Those who might have been using FastPass instead of DAS were then forced to use DAS so they wouldn’t have to pay for a shorter line each trip.

…Disney eliminated a free service utilized by a large percentage of disabled people, forcing us to start using DAS & because the replacement service was pay to use, lots of folks began trying to take advantage of DAS. Keep in mind DAS was already hard to qualify for….

It is no secret that there is a lot of abuse of the DAS system. Disney does not require medical proof of a disability, and that has enabled people to lie. But is the correct solution just discounting a lot of people who truly use it for certain physical and medical ailments?

DAS is 💯 a broken system that many people are abusing and my experience is that most people who actually need DAS seem to agree with that.

Disney’s solution of making it a system only for developmental disabilities excludes many people who actually need help. It just seems like the wrong solution to the problem.

And honestly, cynical me believes they are only doing this so they can sell more genie plus and the LL lines won’t be any shorter. But I hope I’m wrong there.

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

At this time, Disney has only focused on helping those with cognitive disabilities like autism, but has said there will be options for those with other disabilities. Some are thinking that Disney will end up in court over the new policy, which on its face, might violate the Americans With Disabilities Act.

Lawsuits are coming against Disney in violation of the ADA rules for discrimination if their new policy becomes active on May 20th for allowing only the limited scope of developmental disabilities for DAS, while denying everyone else.

It should be noted that Disney could ask for medical documentation from those wishing to get a DAS pass. Universal works with a third-party contractor for its disability program. Guests wanting to get a Universal disability pass must pre-register and upload documentation. Disney has continued to ignore this option.

When its new changes are enacted, Disney will still not require guests to submit medical proof.

Do you think Disney’s new DAS system will actually reduce 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. Knew it, knew it, knew it! The biggest gripersg are probably those who abused the system. Blame them, not Disney. I’m sure Disney will come up with a way to make sure those truly disabled will still be able to get a DAS. In Japan, written documentation is required for anyone to receive accommodations. If you are truly disabled, why would you be against getting said documentation?
    It’s always blame Disney. How about putting the blame where it really belongs?

    • I agree…..the one’s who abused the system are who caused this…..but I also see Disney looking at this as a way to get more people to pay for Genie and LL…..I have three medical conditions that qualified me for a DAS pass…now Disney says no longer valid. I have no problem getting a letter from my doctor. Anyone with legit medical conditions will have no issues. This whole thing will end up biting Disney in the backside.

    • Oh dear Cookie, I’ve had a aDAS since it was a GDS or something similar- it’s been so long ago I can’t even remember er. I’ve got so many disabilities but seen and unseen and you bet I’m griping. I won’t be renewing my annual pass if all of a sudden I’ve got to wait in those long, dark, enclosed, noisy queues. Believe me, you wouldn’t want me to either! I always carry medical proof of my medical conditions and I am always told proof isn’t needed. Most disabled people have proof. Even disregarding our right to privacy under the ADA it’s amazing how others, like you, you judge us. I wish you could put yourself in our position and maybe you’d see why we complain.

  2. I’m all for the documentation. I’m physically disabled and would gladly provide it. This thing about possibly excluding some disabilities is just wrong. The disabled community is already made to feel less than in some places. Disney has always been my safe place. I’ve called it the most accessible place on the planet l. I guess not. Do better Disney!! Let’s not be insulting to a portion of society.

  3. My niece is autistic and still qualifies but…Das was not something that let you skip the wait. You still had to wait, just not in line which is a godsend for us. You could only book one thing at a time and it gave you a return time based on the wait time of the ride, then we could find something with little to no wait to keep her occupied. This is just a money grab from Disney. Big surprise. Why do I say that? The rides they now exclude from DAS. You could book Rise, Mine Carts etc on DAS previously. Now they have purposely excluded those paid lighting lane rides. I remember the last time we go the DAS. The woman in front of us had a double knee replacement and was asking for it for her trip. They told her she could rent a wheelchair and that was not a legitimate reason. She nearly burst into tears. She tried to explain that she was a few months into recovery and walking was fine but if she had to stand for an hour it was harder because of swelling and pain and if she could walk around rather than wait it would make her experience that much better. The 20-something cast member just brushed her off, even though the poor woman has a disabled parking pass and could prove she had the surgery. I was angry for her. I an sure people abused it but you know Disney is just all about money these days so all they are thinking is how much money are we missining out on? Now even with DAS we have to pay 100 dollars to ride Rise..once.

    • There are so many people with so many issues that are true and real!! I have worked for years with people with disabilities, like severe circulation issues in their knees and legs! Hip and knee replacements, and other real issues who cannot stand four hours without getting in pain and swelling. Everybody ages is different. The DAS did not let you skip a line.! You still had to wait at least the amount of time the normal wait time was listed. Forgive me if I am skeptical but with Disney pushing so many add-ons and genie plus being the new big money grab, I cannot in good conscience believe this is for anything but improving profits.! Disney is having financial difficulties and the parks are still the cash cow to support losses at movies and Disney+ – Disney has been bragging how much money Genie+ has been bringing in!

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