Friday, October 4, 2013

Disney Parks New DAS Disability Access Service

Disney Parks New DAS Disability Access Service



First off I’ll share the FAQ Direct from Disney with a link at the end of this post to the page. Then I’ll share my opinion.

Disney Parks Disability Access Service Card (DAS) Fact Sheet

Disney Parks have an unwavering commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment and accessible experiences for guests.

Disney Parks is modifying the current Guest Assistance Card program, which provides access to attractions for guests with disabilities, 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. It will also help control abuse that was, unfortunately, widespread and growing at an alarming rate.

The new Disability Access Service (DAS) Card will replace the Guest Assistance card on Oct. 9. Guests at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort can reuest a Disability Access Service Card at Guest Relations. DAS Cardholders will receive a return time for attractions based on the current wait time.
Disney Parks has long recognized and accommodated guests with varying needs. Guests can visit Guests Relations to discuss their individual situation, and Disney Parks will continue to provide assistance that is responsive to their unique circumstances.

Frequently Asked Questions:
·        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 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 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/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 services 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.
Now for my opinion, concerns, questions that I will be asking and suggestions for Disney:
The need to change the policy is understood. I’ve seen some of the abuse first hand. I have many concerns about the functionality of the new system but will reserve finale judgment until my family uses the system. But I do have a couple of comments to make.

Opinions:

1.     The name is not as “friendly” or supportive as the GUEST Assistance Card or GUEST Assistance Pass names were. The disabled are GUESTS like any other paying customer. Many don’t like the “label”. Not being labeled but treaded as a guest is what has made Disney stand out for so long.

2.    People in wheelchairs will find this system the hardest thing to do. They will have to go back and forth across the park to the attractions at WDW and to the Kiosks at DLR to get the return time or FASTPASS tickets. What if it is a single person in a wheelchair pushing themselves around? I have a single friend who is disabled that has pushed herself around DLR for years! Even on an ECV the battery runs down. The Kiosk system at DLR sounds more reasonable IF they can get return tickets for ANY attraction NOT just the ones in that area. (IMHO this would be a GREAT idea for the FP system as well!)

Concerns:

1.     Those in wheelchairs will be underserved. Just because you are in a wheelchair does not mean you can sit in a 2 hour long line!

2.    Especially at first those with need for access will be denied. This has happened in the past when they went from the GAP system to the current soon to be defunct GAC system.

Questions:

1.     What about Annual Passholders? Will they have to get a DAS Card every day they visit the park or every two weeks?

2.    If an AP is permanently disabled can you add it to their AP so they don’t have to get it every time? Or at least do it for several months?

3.    How flexible will Disney be with children and adults with Autism, ADHD, PTSD and Panic Attacks? Many people with these “non-apparent” disabilities find they feel “normal” and are treated with respect at Disney parks. Some I know will not do will waiting for a return time to go on an attraction. I know some people that can’t even take waiting in the standard FASTPASS line.

Suggestions for Disney:

1.    Let guests with disabilities get DAC Return Time Tickets for attractions at OTHER parks at the resort. For example, a guest in Disneyland should be able to get a Return Time Ticket for Radiator Springs Racers over in Disney California Adventure. By doing this the guest could use the time to move from one park to the other in a leisurely manor. They would not have to run back and forth between parks to get Return and FASTPASS tickets.

Over the next few weeks and months I will be asking Disneyland the questions and sharing my concerns. I will be checking it out for myself, (my DH falls in the category of “non-apparent” disabled and I have friends with disabilities) and sharing what I experience, both good and bad.

Links:
Disney Parks Blog about the new DAS Card

Link to DAS FACT SHEET On Disney's Website


Please be understand I have several reason for making sure I'm well informed on this issue. First off I have family and friends that run the spectrum of disabilities. I also work for a unique travel agency called Your Fairytale Vacation that works hard at assisting those with special needs enjoy Disney vacations.

If you wish to book a vacation you can reach me at:
Carolyn@YourFairytaleVacation.com






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