The Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts have long been recognized as among the most inclusive and accessible vacation destinations in the world, largely because of the high standards of hospitality and customer service set by their namesake in the 1950’s.
Tradition notwithstanding, times do change and in many ways for the better. Improvements in health care and pharmacology are enabling adults to live longer. Advances in technology allow those with mobility challenges to maintain active lives within the community. Increased social awareness and acceptance of people with differing levels of functional ability provide greater opportunities for everyone to access and participate in travel and recreational activity.
Updated 30 Mar 2022 – for mobility issues section.
Given all this, it would be difficult to imagine a travel party that does not have at least one member with some sort of special need. This is especially true for our military members and their families.
In October 2021, Disney completely overhauled its system for accommodating Guests with disabilities to coincide with the new Genie+ System of reservations for attractions.
So, what does this mean for you as you plan your Disney vacation with extra challenges? Let’s look at what the parks offer for differently-abled Guests with special needs.
Disney calls their system for guests with disabilities the Disability Access System or DAS.
Top Things to Know About DAS
- DAS is intended for Guests who have difficulty tolerating extended waits in a conventional queue environment due to a disability.
- DAS doesn’t provide immediate access to experiences, but rather allows Guests to request a return time for a specific experience that is comparable to the current standby wait. This allows the Guest using DAS to enjoy other experiences in the park instead of physically waiting in the standby line.
- The Guest who is requesting to use DAS must be present during registration (in person or live video call) and when redeeming a DAS return time at Walt Disney World theme parks. The Guest using DAS doesn’t need to be present when a return time is requested at an attraction or any Guest Relations location.
- Once registered, DAS is valid for up to 60 days.
- Two exciting new features have been added to the DAS program: (1) the opportunity to pre-register via live video call and use DAS Advance pre-arrival planning and (2) a convenient way to receive DAS return times through the My Disney Experience app.
Before You Arrive
Pre-Registration and DAS Advance Planning
Eligible Guests can now pre-register for DAS Advance virtually with a Cast Member, using live video chat. Please note that you may pre-register as soon as 30 days in advance of a park visit, but no less than 2 days before arrival.
During the registration chat, you will be able to work with a Cast Member to book up to 2 one-hour return windows for select experiences using the new DAS Advance planning option (you may also make additional DAS selections on the day of your visit). Please note that all park visits must be within 30 to 2 days of the live chat.
There are 2 ways for eligible Guests to register for the DAS program:
- The pre-arrival via live video chat
- In person at Guest Relations during a park visit.
Cast Members will work with Guests individually to discuss specific requests and offer assistance.Before you register, make sure to:
- Add your travel party to your Family & Friends list, so they can be included in DAS plans
- Link valid theme park admission for each member of your party
- Ensure that the Guest who is requesting to use DAS is present at the time of registration, either via live video chat or at one of the Guest Relations Main Entrance locations
Pre-Arrival via Live Video Chat
Eligible Guests now have the option to pre-register virtually with a Cast Member via live video chat between 2 to 30 days in advance of a park visit. If DAS is provided, you (or a parent/guardian if under 18 years of age) will participate in the registration process, which requires having a photo taken.
DAS is valid for up to 60 days. After this time period, you’ll need to re-register.
When you’re ready to chat with a Cast Member to register for DAS, you can engage in a live video chat using the “Request Live Video Chat” button on this page.
Other Important Things to Note
- Live chat is available from 7:00 AM – 10:00 PM Eastern Time.
- The recording of this video chat is not permitted.
- The Guest requesting DAS (or their parent/guardian) must be 18 years of age or older to register. The Guest requesting to use DAS must be present during the video call.
- If you’ve not logged in to your Disney account, you’ll be prompted to log in. If you don’t have a Disney account, you’ll need to create one before continuing.
- Video chat is screen reader-friendly for Guests with visual disabilities and available with text chat for Guests with hearing disabilities.
- At this time, live chat is offered in English only.
Disney has information for Guests with Disabilities available for review on the official website. This should be your first stop when seeking information because it comes “straight from the Mouse’s mouth!”
Planning with DAS
Making Experience Selections with the DAS Advance Planning Option
During your initial registration call, you were able to work with a Cast Member to pre-select up to 2 experiences per day of your visit (subject to availability). These selections are in addition to the return times you can request throughout the day of your actual park visit. View experiences that may be eligible for DAS Advance planning.
Please keep in mind that DAS Advance selections must be made at least 2 days prior to the day you plan to redeem them.
If an experience is available, you’ll be given a one-hour return window to redeem during the day of your visit. Any selections you make will appear as plans on the My Disney Experience app or on this website.
If you’re a returning Guest registered for DAS and simply need to plan additional selections, you can chat with a Cast Member via the link on this page.
- Before you make plans, ensure that every member of your party has valid park admission as well as a valid theme park reservation via the Disney Park Pass system.
- DAS Advance selections must be made between 2 and 30 days prior to the park visit. If you’re scheduling for multiple days, please note that all days must fall within the 2-to-30-day planning period.
- DAS Advance experience access is subject to available inventory and is not guaranteed.
- There is a maximum of 2 DAS Advance selections permitted per day and specific experiences are subject to availability.
- DAS Advance selections are valid for use only on the date chosen.
- DAS Advance selections cannot be transferred.
- The registered Guest utilizing DAS needs to be present at the time of a DAS Advance selection redemption.
- Guests who do not register pre-arrival will not be able to make attraction selections in advance of the first day of their visit.
- DAS is valid for up to 60 days. After this time period, Guests will need to re-register for the program.
After You Arrive
On-Site at Guest Relations
If you prefer to register in person, you may stop by a Guest Relations Main Entrance location during a park visit. Guest Relations Main Entrance Locations at Walt Disney World Resort:
- City Hall at Magic Kingdom park
- The Guest Relations lobby (near the Main Entrance) at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park
- The Guest Relations lobby (near the Main Entrance) at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- The Guest Relations lobby (near Spaceship Earth) at Epcot
- If DAS is provided, you (or a parent/guardian) will participate in the registration process, which requires having a photo taken.
DAS is valid for up to 60 days. After this time period, you’ll need to re-register.
Same-Day DAS Return Time Self-Selection Tool
In lieu of having to physically go to an experience or to a kiosk to obtain a return time from a Cast Member, Guests registered in the DAS program (and their party members) can now make return time selections right from the My Disney Experience app during the day of a park visit.
Any member of a DAS party can obtain a return time for the whole party, but the registered Guest using DAS must be present when the DAS return time is redeemed. Return times do not expire, but a party can only hold one active return time.
Guests can also visit Guest Relations or speak with a member of the Guest Experience Team to receive return times when using a mobile device is not possible.
How to Access the DAS Return Time Self-Selection Tool
After entering a park, open the My Disney Experience app and sign in to your Disney account. Tap the “More” option at the bottom right of the welcome screen. Then, tap on the Disability Access Service (DAS) button to enter the self-selection flow. The tool can also be accessed from attraction detail screens.
How to Redeem Your Experience Selections
On the day of your visit, you can redeem your selections by scanning your MagicBand or barcode at the entrance of the experience.
Note: if you did not register pre-arrival, you won’t be eligible to make DAS Advance selections on the day of your visit. But, once you’ve registered for DAS at Guest Relations, you’ll be able to request a return time in the My Disney Experience app.
At the Theme Parks
The Guide for Guests with Disabilities is a brochure that provides a detailed overview of services and facilities available for Guests with disabilities. It is available at Guest Relations locations within all 4 Disney Theme Parks, 2 Disney Water Parks, vacation planners, front desk and concierge areas, and wheelchair rental locations.
This guide provides a detailed overview of the services and facilities available for Guests with disabilities, including information about:
- Companion restroom locations
- Accessible drinking fountain locations
- Auxiliary aids
- Telephone assistance
- Transportation facilities
- Specific attraction entrance and boarding procedures, as some attractions allow Guests to remain in a wheelchair and some are transfer-accessible.
Additionally, Guests with specific disability concerns can visit Guest Relations at any of the Disney Theme Parks or Disney Water Parks for additional information and assistance.
Note the locations of the First Aid Station in each of the theme parks. First Aid Stations provide a place to store medications and spare oxygen tanks, or to receive assistance.
Disney offers several accommodations for Guests with visual and hearing challenges and for Guests who utilize trained service animals – for the most part, these have not changed.
Some examples of accommodations include:
- Assistive Listening systems
- Reflective Captioning
- Sign Language interpretation
- Text Typewriter telephones
- Handheld Captioning
- Video Captioning
- Audio Description devices
- Braille guidebooks
- Digital audio tour
Trained Service Animals
It is important for you to know that Cast Members are not permitted to take control of service animals. Guests with service animals should follow the same attraction entrance guidelines as Guests who use wheelchairs.
Each Theme Park allows Guests to use (backstage) locations for service animal relief areas. Please consult the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities, for specific information.
Accommodation for Guests with Cognitive, Sensory and Mental Health Challenges
Disney has created a Resource for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities Including Autism Spectrum Disorder for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, also available as pdf files. Some of the information is applicable to Guests with Anxiety Disorders and PTSD, so even if the need is unrelated to Autism, it is worth a review.
It is important for you to know that the American’s With Disabilities Act prohibits Disney from requesting “proof” of disability or even a specific diagnosis. You are, of course, free to divulge your diagnosis if you so choose. However, Cast Members are being discouraged from accepting “doctor’s notes” that in past years could support the Guest’s request for accommodation. This is to avoid the perception that Disney is requiring proof, which would be against Federal Law.
In addition, please be aware that Cast Members are not health care providers and most likely will not have a clear understanding of your needs if you simply provide them with a medical diagnosis. Therefore, it is important that the Guest or the Guest’s representative be able to clearly articulate the need.
While DAS is most commonly requested for use by Guests with cognitive, sensory, or mental health challenges, there are other invisible medical challenges for which a Guest may find the card useful. Again, it all depends upon the individual need. Some examples are:
- Medical conditions that may result in a rapid change in blood sugar, necessitating immediate treatment
- Medical conditions that may result in seizures, necessitating immediate treatment
- Medical conditions that make it difficult for a Guest to wait in a traditional queue, yet preclude the Guest from utilizing a wheelchair or ECV
If there is more than one Guest in a travel party with the need for accommodation with a Disability Access Service Card, it is highly recommended that each Guest obtain his or her own card. This allows the guests to “split up” if needed and still make use of the accommodations.
The process sounds overwhelming, but it is easier than you may think to obtain the accommodations you need.
Accommodations for Guests with Mobility and Endurance Challenges
Note: (Mar 2022) I’ve received 3 reports in the last week (one via email and 2 blog comments (see comments section below), that Disney has stopped issuing DAS for mobility issues. They instead advice the use of a wheelchair (their rental they hope) and the standby line or pay for Genie+ . See comments from from John and Bunnie below.
Wheelchairs and Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECVs or “scooters”) are available for rent in all the theme parks. Quantities are limited and they are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Guests are permitted to bring their own mobility assistive devices.
Disney’s scooters are expensive to rent, MDT suggests Amusement Park Rentals who offer military discounts!
Guests using wheelchairs or ECVs are provided the accommodation of alternate entrance. It should be noted that, due to safety regulations concerning the number of mobility-impaired guests that may utilize an attraction at one time, the wait for a particular attraction may actually be longer when using this accommodation. Options for boarding procedures are posted at the entrance to each attraction and may vary.
If the Guest has both a cognitive and a mobility disability, the Guest should request both accommodations.
Most attractions, restaurants, shops and shows are accessible to all Guests. In some cases, however, Guests may need the assistance of a member of their party to fully utilize these areas. Also, at some attractions Guests using wheelchairs may need to transfer from their wheelchairs onto an attraction vehicle. Disney Cast Members are not permitted to physically lift Guests from wheelchairs. Disney recommends that Guests who need assistance plan to visit with someone who can physically assist them, when necessary.
A Prosthesis Information Sheet is available at Guest Services. It will detail the restrictions in place for attractions for different types of prosthesis. These restrictions are different for each theme park. Cast Members operating attractions reserve the right to determine Guest safety on an individual basis. The deciding factor appears to be whether or not the Guest is able to be adequately restrained (on thrill rides) or is able to properly brace him-or herself, with or without the prosthesis.
Cast Members / Lifeguards who are operating the attractions at the water parks should have a laminated copy of the information sheet with them, but it has been reported that many do not. It is recommended that you keep a copy of the information sheet in a waterproof envelope / Ziploc of some sort. This will help prevent any confusion.
The Disney theme parks provide numerous accommodations for Guests with disabilities and special needs and Cast Members in Guest Relations are typically willing to discuss these needs on an individual basis.
If you require additional information about Services for Guests with disabilities at the Disney Resorts, please call:
Walt Disney World Disability Services at (407) 560-2547, or send an email to [email protected]
Disneyland Disability Services at (407) 560-2547, or send an email to [email protected]
This MDT Post By: Steve Bell
Steve is the the Military Disney Tips Founder. He a retired U.S. Military Member who's been touring the Disney Parks since 1971! Steve's mission is to help military families with their Disney vacations in every way. Check out Steve's Bio.
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