Disney Alters Disability Access Policies For Theme Parks

Disney’s parks are known for their rides and characters, a popular tourist destination. Yet, the experiences those with disabilities have at Disney is of particular importance. Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS) is a program that is offered at Disney World theme parks to help guests with disabilities and to provide a more accessible and inclusive environment. For example, lessening the wait times for rides and reserving time slots to meet their favorite Disney Characters.

For visits occurring on December 20th or later, there is a new advance planning option available for those who need it. This new expansion and update to the program will allow visitors with disabilities to request accommodations between two and 30 days before arriving at Disney Park with a Cast Member. During the video chat, guests can also choose two experiences per day from selected options, where they will receive a one-hour window to enjoy during their visit.

Disney implemented these new policies due to a response to widespread abuse of a system that let people with disabilities skip to the front of the lines. As of 2013, Disney’s DAS program has permitted visitors with disabilities to reserve a slot time for one ride at a time, so they don’t have to physically wait in line. Due to the 2013 changes, many families of children with disabilities sued due to the reasons of insufficient return-time offering and a violation of their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In an article made by the Orlando Informer, it states, “Some reported that kids in the Autistic spectrum have comfort in being able to ride their special cocooning ride three times in a row before their need is satisfied. Will they be able to do that without having a meltdown right there on the spot? In my daughter’s case, she will have to go up to the ride entrance, thinking she is entering the FastPass line, only to have to turn around and wait.” (par. 3) Due to the 2013 changes, there were apparent flaws and outcries from parents and guardians.

Another flaw is the difficulty of being accepted into the DAS program if you don’t have a visible disability. Further in the article, it says, “Another hole in the system is those who have muscular disabilities and use adaptive devices other than a wheelchair or ECV (Electric Conveyance Vehicle). They have been able to get a GAC as part of the old system, but most likely will be denied the DAS as part of the new system. They are going to have to pay another $12 for the privilege of waiting in line with those with NO mobility problems.” (par. 3) The 2013 update has impacted the Disney experience for many families, so with the new DAS policies, we hope these issues can be resolved. Disney is supposed to be the happiest place on earth, so we must advocate so we can all enjoy an inclusive and enjoyable experience at Disney Parks.



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Dismantling ableism and advancing disability equity through education, conversation, and grassroots activism.