Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Changes to Disability Access at Disney Parks

Changes to Disability Access at Disney Parks

 Due to some people abusing the system and actually using it to earn money by offering services to help people cut lines Disney has been forced to rethink how they handle handicap access to rides and attractions at Disney Parks. Changes will be made at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort.

We all know Disney has been kind to those with disabilities at the forefront of giving as much access as possible to as many rides and attractions as possible. With that said this kindness made it easy for a very few unscrupulous people to take advantage. Now Disney is but in the unenvious position of trying to give access to those with true need and yet stop the abuse. The biggest changes will have to happen at Disneyland Resort and in fact in Disneyland itself.

The way it worked before is you got a GAC (Guest Assistance Card) with one of several markings giving the Cast Members the information they need to give the guest the help they need. These cards were good for as long as 2 months if the guest was an Annual Passholder. But that was reduced to 2 weeks after the abuse came to light. Guests with minor disabilities or with disabilities that limited the amount of time they could stay in a line often were able to just walk up the Fastpass line without getting a Fastpass. Those in wheelchairs that could sit in line stayed in the regular lines for the rides that have lines that can accommodate the wheelchair or used an alternative entrance for those rides that the lines did not accommodate the wheelchair. (Disneyland has many rides with lines that cannot accommodate wheelchairs due to the fact it was built before the ADA laws. They have always accommodated when possible, even before the laws. WDW and DCA were built after the laws so the majority of lines can accommodate a wheelchair.)

RUMORS (MiceAge/MiceChat) have been saying that the new system will be called DAS (Disability Assistance System). Here are some things rumors are saying. BTW I’m one that does not like rumors I life facts. These are UNCONFIRMED!! I was informed that no formal changes have been announced but they are coming! The people I spoke to also said MiceAge/MiceChat has been known to be wrong in the past. I don’t know if they are wrong or right at this time.

Disabled guests will no longer be able to get an assistance pass just because they are in a wheelchair. Wheelchairs will have to stay in the regular line until they turn to go to the handicapped loading area if needed.
All disabled will have to use the Fastpass system and/or a DAS equivalent of a Fastpass. No longer would the disabled person just “walk up the Fastpass line”. There would be several locations throughout the parks where holders of the DAS could go to get special issued Fastpasses for rides they wish to go on. They would have to wait the equivalent of the standby line length of time minutes 10-15 minutes. If the standby wait for Space Mountain is 60 minutes the DAS holder would be given a return time of 45-50 minutes. When they returned they would go up the normal Fastpass line to enter the ride. The exception to this FP type policy would be rides that cannot accommodate wheelchairs. Guests in wheelchairs would still be able to use the alternative entrance without a return time card.

Also suggested in the article is the fact Disney will put your picture on your DAS card and if the DAS holder is not riding the group with them cannot ride. At this time it is said the cards will be issued for one day at a time unless you can prove you are staying at a Disney or local hotel. This will be a minor inconvenience to Annual Passholders with disabilities. Instead of getting a pass for 2 week or 2 months at a time they will have to go to Guest Relations every visit to get a new card.

MiceAge/MiceChat said the roll out date for the new DAS is October 9th, 2013. When I asked I was informed there is no actually date. When I have more information I will post an updated article.

Here is a link to the article on MiceChat/MiceAge

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