In order to help make attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland more accessible to all guests including those with disabilities, Disney will be replacing the current Guest Assistance Card on Oct. 9, 2013 with the new Disability Access Service Card.
The current Guest Assistance Cards are free to guests with disabilities, and allow them to skip most regular attraction lines and enter the attraction from a faster access area immediately with their families.
With the new card, guests will receive a return time for a certain attractions based on its current wait time and enjoy the attraction with little to no wait when they return. Guests who cannot wait in a traditional queue due to a disability, including non-apparent disabilities, will be eligible for the new card.
Although not officially announced, the new cards are thought to be more secure in preventing fraud, as was reported on by the New York Post and Today show. Some for-hire unofficial “tour guides” were exposed using their ability to get Guest Assistance Cards to help their non-disabled clients skip the lines.
Disney reports they have been working closely with disability groups and Autism Speaks for feedback into the new process. Disney provided this statement: “We have an unwavering commitment to making our parks accessible to all guests. Given the increasing volume of requests we receive for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process to create a more consistent experience for all our guests while providing accommodations for guests with disabilities.”
Those with questions about the new Disability Access Service Card should contact Disney’s guest relations to discuss their assistance needs. Those visiting with a wish-granting organizations will have access through a separate program.
UPDATE (10/5/13): Meg Crofton, President of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Operations, U.S. and France, has sent out a letter to guests about the changes, which can be read by clicking the image on the right. Also, Disney has provided guests with a fact sheet on the Disney Parks Blog which can be seen below.
• What is a Disability Access Service Card and how does it work?
The DAS Card is designed to accommodate guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities). A Disability Access Service Card will be issued at Guest Relations main entrance locations and will offer guests a return time for attractions based on the current wait time. As soon as the Guest finishes one attraction, they can receive a return time for another. This service can be used in addition to Disney’s FASTPASS Service and Disney FastPass+ service.
• What will Disney Parks do if a Guest is concerned the DAS Card doesn’t meet their needs?
Disney Parks have long recognized and accommodated guests with varying needs and will continue to work individually with guests with disabilities to provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances. Guests should visit Guest Relations to discuss their individual needs.
• Who will be eligible for a Disability Access Service Card?
Disney Parks’ goal is to accommodate guests who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities). Guests should visit Guest Relations to discuss their assistance needs.
• How will guests get a Disability Access Service Card?
A Disability Access Service Card will be issued at Guest Relations main entrance locations. Guests will participate in a registration process, which also includes having their photo taken.
• Why is Disney Parks doing this?
Disney Parks is modifying the current Guest Assistance Card program so it can continue to serve the guests who truly need it. The new program is designed to provide the special experience guests have come to expect from Disney. Disney Parks also hopes it will help control abuse that was, unfortunately, widespread and growing at an alarming rate.
• Does the DAS Cardholder have to be present to obtain a return time at an attraction?
No. Another member of the DAS Cardholder’s travel party may obtain a return time but the DAS Cardholder must board the attraction with his or her party.
• Where do DAS Cardholders go to receive return times?
At Disneyland Resort, guests will go to Guest Relations kiosks located throughout the parks to receive a return time. At Walt Disney World Resort, guests will go to the attraction to receive a return time.
• Does a DAS Cardholder have to ride the attraction at the exact return time listed?
No. Return times are valid until redeemed by the DAS Cardholder.
• How long is a DAS Card valid?
A DAS card is valid for up to 14 days depending on a guest’s ticket entitlement.
• Is a DAS Card issued at one Disney theme park valid at other Disney theme parks?
Yes, the card will be valid throughout the resort at which it was issued.
• Why doesn’t Disney Parks ask for proof of disability, such as a doctor’s note?
Disney Parks takes Guests at their word and there are legal restrictions around asking for proof.
• Is this the only service available to Guests with disabilities?
Disney Parks offer a variety of services to guests with disabilities, such as Disney’s Handheld Device that offers assistive listening, captioning and audio description. Additionally, Disney Parks has developed a “Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities.” This serves as a tool on how best to experience its theme parks and is expected to be available online by mid-October. Disney Parks will continue to provide excellent guest service and accessible experiences. Guests should visit Guest Relations at any park should they feel they need assistance due to a disability.
• Does a Guest whose disability is based on the necessity to use a wheelchair or scooter need a DAS Card?
No, a Guest whose disability is based on the necessity to use a wheelchair or scooter does not need a DAS Card. Depending on the attraction, the Guest will either wait in the standard queue or receive a return time at the attraction based on the current wait time. For some attractions at Disneyland Resort, these guests will go directly to an alternate entrance. Guests with additional needs should discuss them with Guest Relations.
• Will Disney Parks continue to provide a service to wish-granting organizations?
The change will not affect those who are visiting on trips organized by wish granting organizations. There is a separate program for children with life-threatening illnesses.