Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Disneyland Disability access Service (DAS) Review

Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS) Review  

I’ve been to the park twice since the new DAS system was instituted. The first was with a friend with mobility issues and physical issues that make long lines hard. She is in a wheelchair. The second visit was with my husband who has disabilities that make long lines impossible. He has ADHD and other issues. His limitations are not visible or noticeable. My friend was also with us on the second visit.

Let me start off with the explanation of how the system works. Be aware that things may change as Disney gets feedback from guests. Also, I am talking about Disneyland Resort not Walt Disney World. I will make a comment at the end of this post on what Disney Parks says is different between DLR and WDW DAS.

How to get and use a DAS:

1.     Go to Guest Relations (City Hall in DL or Chamber of Commerce in DCA) and ask for a DAS. They will ask what your need is. You will tell them if you can’t walk at all, can only stand for a limited amount of time, can’t do stairs or if you have a non-visible issue (ADHD/Autism, PTSD, or other issue in this category) that makes large crowds and lines hard, etc. . . If you are in a wheelchair you do not need a DAS as you will wait in the regular lines and make use of regular Fastpasses as you wish. (All lines at DCA are wheelchair accessible. Not all lines at DL are wheelchair accessible. If they are not you can go to a designated wheelchair/handicapped entrance. If the line is not wheelchair accessible your wheelchair acts as your DAS. No card needed.) You will pick your first attraction while in Guest Relations and get a return time. You will be given a card to show Cast Members at the attractions.
2.    They will take your picture to put on your card.
3.    You will tell the Cast Member how many people are in your party. They will usually give you up to 4 people on your card without seeing them but more than 4 they will want to see your entire party. The maximum allowed on the card is 8. All members of your party (up to the number of people listed on your card) can ride the attraction with you but you must ride with them. If your group splits up and fewer than the stated number on the card are going with you on an attraction that is no problem. The Cast Member at the attraction will ask the number of people going with you.
4.    Your card will be issued for one day or for the length of your stay at the resort for a maximum of 2 weeks. If your stay is longer than 2 weeks or you are an Annual Passholder you will just go back to Guest Relations and get a new card after 2 weeks. Your DAS will work at both DLR parks. One card for both parks.
5.    Return Time: your return time for an attraction is the current length of time for the standby line for your chosen attraction minus 10-15 minutes. (If the line for Haunted Mansion is 60 minutes you will return to enter the Fastpass or Handicapped access line in 50-45 minutes.)
6.    When your return time comes just go to the attraction and enjoy! Don’t worry if you miss your return time! Your return time does not “expire” as a Fastpass does. You may only have ONE return time chosen at a time and cannot get another until the current one is crossed off by a Cast Member. Just go to the Fastpass or handicapped entrance. Do not hesitate to ask a Cast Member for help if you can’t find the proper line. It can be a little confusing trying to find the correct entrance at some attractions. You will show them your DAS and be granted appropriate access.

7.    There are 10 locations in the DLR to get return times for the DAS. You can go to either Guest Relations where you get your DAS cards or to any of the 8 kiosks set up throughout the parks. There are 4 kiosks in each park. ANY member of your party can take your DAS and go to the kiosk to get a return time! The person with the DAS does not have to go get the return time. This is a plus for parents with children with ADHD, Autism and similar issues. (Please see the picture below for locations.)
8.    You can get return times for either park at any DAS kiosk. You can be in DL and ask for a return time for Radiator Springs Racers in DCA if you wish. Usually by the time you leave one park and cross into the other your return time has come.
9.    You can also use the standard Fastpass system to add more line saving options to your time in the park. You will have to follow the Fastpass system rules, such as having a one hour window on the return time.
10.  Please do not abuse this system!!! Do not use it to give tours or cut to the front of the line!! Most important DO NOT get a DAS if you do not need it!! (this message is from your Pranking Pixie)

I have found that with the new DAS in place at the Disneyland Resort (DLR) the wheelchair lines are shorter than with the old system. There were times, with the old Guest Assistance Card system that the wheelchair line was actually longer than the standby line for the attraction! There are fewer able-bodied people renting wheelchairs in an attempt to cut lines. Those with ADHD, Autism and similar issues are sent to the Fastpass line when available, helping to shorten the wheelchair lines and actually making the wait shorter for everybody.

Those with ADHD, Autism and similar issues are being served well using the Fastpass system along with the DAS. If they can wait the standard wait time of 15-20 minutes (sometimes shorter) of a Fastpass line this is great! If even that is too long a wait talk to Guest Relations about other options. They do have them available when needed.

It is a hassle to have to go and get return times for rides and does take some of the spontaneity out of your visit. The payback of shorter lines does make up for the inconvenience of having to keep going to the kiosk to get a return time.

There were very short lines at the return time kiosks. I had thought this would be a problem when I heard about the new program but actually it seems to be working well. Most times there was no line and when there was a line it was only a 2-4 people ahead of us. The short line moved quickly and efficiently.

Our last visit we had 2 members of our party with DAS cards. As a group we decided what attractions we wanted to go to and those with DAS cards would get return times for different attractions. It worked well for us.

Now for the differences between DLR and WDW. The system is the same except for one major difference. Just like the DLR DAS the WDW is one DAS card for all parks. Unlike DLR at WDW you can only get a return time for an attraction at the park you are in. The only difference is in how you get a return time. At WDW to get a return time for an attraction you must go to that attraction and ask there. It is like the old Fastpass system in that way. WDW does not have kiosks set up around the parks to issues return times.

Here are a couple of suggestions I have for Disney Parks on the new system.
·        Change the name of the system! People with limitations are still guests. They don’t want to be called disabled. It feels demeaning.
·        Make WDW DAS work more like DLR by adding kiosks where guests can get return times. It is hard to push a wheelchair back and forth across a huge amusement park. I can see how a guest would have to “roll” over to Splash Mountain and get a return time for 2 hours away. Then “roll” over to someplace else to find something they can do while they wait. It would allow the guest to get a return time at other resort parks as well.
·        At both DLR and WDW, get “Smart” Fastpass machines and have them set up in central locations, like the kiosks at DLR for the DAS return times. Many times I’ve gone to Splash Mountain at DL to find that my return time is 3-5 hours later. This is hard if you are pushing someone in a wheelchair. It means 2 trips back there instead of one.

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