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

walt disney world disability access service
Credit: Disney/ Canva

This is shocking news today. Disney has announced that it will be shaking up its Disability Access Service Program, also known as DAS.

DAS disney parks mickey mouse walt disney world

Credit: Disney/ Canva

According to our own Krysten Swenson, “Beginning May 20, DAS would only be available to guests who were diagnosed with autism and other similar cognitive disabilities. Before this, DAS was available for anyone who had a medical disability, be it a cognitive disability or a different kind of medical problem.”

Disability Access Service Changes at Disney World Were Overdue?

The news is a shock to many who utilize the DAS system to avoid difficulty traversing ride queues at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. Many are completely flabbergasted by the change, which comes as DAS, which normally was a quiet resource for certain guests, has become a mainstream tactic for many to utilize to skip the lines selfishly.

Ultimately, those lying about conditions to access DAS at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland are fooling themselves. Although you don’t have to wait in the physical queue, utilizing this service still means that guests must wait an appropriate amount of time before accessing the Lightning Lane queue for a ride.

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

Still, the problem has forced Disney to flex its muscles, tightening the restraints of the service down to only those with autism or similar cognitive disabilities. Now, assuming we can thank those who’ve abused the system, many who typically utilized the Disney Disability Access System will no longer have access beginning May 20.

For guests who still fall under the new guideline and wish to have Disability Access Services, they can still access consumer information via the My Disney Experience App or by speaking to a Cast Member at Guests Relations.

Although it is being reported that Disney will work with some who have issues such as severe IBS, a potential group of DAS users could be getting the axe.

Veterans at Walt Disney World

Disney World has a strong history with the United States military. Walt Disney was an incredibly proud American who offered the use of many of his intellectual properties for campaigns during World War II. Disney also proudly hires veterans, keeps traditions such as retreating the American flag on Main Street, U.S.A., and celebrating veteran-related holidays very much living in their parks.

Guide to Disney's Disability Program

All Images Credit Disney

So, what happens to our Disabled Veterans who typically utilize DAS at their favorite Disney Park? Ultimately, this question remains to be answered. However, I’m sure that many utilize Disability Services to avoid extremely uncomfortable situations surrounding close quarters in enclosed spaces with other guests, some of which don’t adhere to unspoken rules of personal space.

Some veterans, especially those who have fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, may experience lasting symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Anxiety Disorder, making queues a trigger for them.

The new DAS ruling doesn’t seem to have an exception for this population, which is a bit concerning, as Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort were intended to be enjoyed by everyone.

Related: Disney Makes HUGE Change To Its Disability Program

Speaking from personal experience, the anxiety of being in enclosed spaces, such as the bunker hallways at Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, tight corners at the Haunted Mansion, and Avatar Flight of Passage, combined with waiting for multiple hours, is too much to handle. I simply cannot do it.

Of course, anxiety and PTSD are manageable, but for some, the expression of conditioned responses from combat or training doesn’t always go away, even with appropriate medication and attention.

Will This New DAS System Solve the Problem at Walt Disney World and Disneyland?

Our veteran population is a unique blend of men and women who have all sacrificed something for the betterment of our country. If this particular change alienates them, it must be remedied at some point.

Ultimately, it’s difficult to know how well these new procedures will tighten the misuse of DAS Pass for guests who actually need it. Looking further into developmental disorders, there are plenty of opportunities for some to lie about disorders and issues to still attempt and possibly obtain a DAS pass.

veterans disney world

Credit: Disney/ Canva

As mentioned in the original article at Disney Dining, which highlighted the upcoming changes, those looking to obtain a DAS Pass from guest relations don’t currently require actual documentation at Walt Disney World or Disneyland. Much like Universal’s change, international parks require official healthcare provider materials.

This seems to be the eventual resolve at domestic Disney Parks; as mentioned by Krysten in the original cited article, very few individuals who actually need DAS would have issues with providing proof of the need from the doctor.

This fact also applies to United States veterans, who often can provide proof of their disability ratings through the VA. From personal experience, I can attest to the difficulty in explaining why I can’t stand in line every 60 days at Walt Disney World, although I have a letter from the VA that explains it perfectly: a documented disability that I’m happy to provide.

As access to attraction queues through DAS evolves, we’ll continue to monitor how Walt Disney World and Disneyland approach the problematic situation of providing needful guests with boarding availability when a disability keeps them from standing in line.

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

About Michael Arnold

Michael is a father, husband, and an Army Veteran. Michael spends his weekends at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando checking out new merchandise and food. Michael is a graduate of the University of Alabama and has an education background in Public Health. You can find Michael riding Pirates of the Caribbean over and over again or binge watching new Marvel and Star Wars content. Han shot first. Thor is the strongest Avenger. Roll Tide and Wash Your Hands!

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