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Sunday, May 26, 2024
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BooksThe Dish on Disney

Some Disney updates

Good evening, folks! Today I want to shar some interesting information that stuck out to m the most. So, let’s get started, shall we?!  Walt Disney World and Disneyland are changing their policies for guests with disabilities. The Florida and California resorts will keep their popular Disability Access Service (DAS), but adjust qualifications, registration procedures, and length of validity to help ensure guests receive the accommodations they need. “Disney is dedicated to providing a great experience for all guests, including those with disabilities, which is why we are so committed to delivering a wide range of innovative support services aimed at helping our guests with disabilities have a wonderful time when visiting our theme parks,” a Disney spokesperson said in a statement. Disney World and Disneyland previously described their Disability Access Service as a program “to assist guests who have difficulty tolerating extended waits in a conventional queue environment due to a disability.” Guests who qualify for and enroll in DAS wait just as long as guests in the standby line, sometimes a little longer, but they don’t have to physically stay in the queue. Instead, they can join the line virtually, wait out the designated time elsewhere in the park, and then return to the attraction for a shorter in-person wait. Not all disabilities impact the ability to tolerate long waits in traditional queues. For example, guests in wheelchairs or electric conveyance vehicles may still be able to wait in many lines in their mobility devices. New updates to the resorts’ accessibility webpages further clarify DAS’ intended audience: “Guests, who due to a developmental disability like autism or similar, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended period of time.” Registering for DAS involves meeting with a specially trained cast member, who can determine if DAS is the right fit. In the past, that could be done in advance online or in person at both resorts. The conversation lasts just minutes, though online waits have historically taken longer. Starting May 20 for Disney World, guests may only enroll in DAS with a virtual video meeting, not in person at the parks. It’s highly recommended to do so in the planning stages of the trip, but virtual chats will also be available on the day of visits. Again, they will no longer be available in person at Disney World. Disneyland guests may continue to register for DAS with a virtual video call ahead of their trip, which is strongly encouraged, or in person on the day of visits, but starting June 18, the location for registration will move from Guests Services inside the parks to the outside esplanade area between Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. Virtual video calls will be similar to what existing and past DAS enrollees are used to having with cast members, but Disney is also partnering with Inspire Health Alliance, whose experts may be brought in. DAS may be used by the enrollee and up to four companions (or more if there are more than four immediate family members who all want to experience an attraction together). Guests who have already enrolled in DAS may use it for 60 days from their date of registration, with no changes required. New enrollees registering between now and May 19 at Disney World or June 17 at Disneyland will have up to 30 days to use the service, starting from their date of registration. Beginning May 20 at Disney World and June 18 at Disneyland, new DAS enrollments will be valid for 120 days, double the previous 60. DAS has become the most requested service at Disneyland and Disney World in recent years, with the volume of users eclipsing the program’s intended audience and numbers only expected to grow. That in turn impacts waits and experiences for those who need the accommodations. The changes are designed to help ensure DAS reaches its intended audience. Meanwhile, Disney is also increasing the number of specially trained cast members to help guests with other access needs find the right accommodations. Those may include American Sign Language interpretation, Disney Handheld Devices that provide captions and visual descriptions for guests with hearing impairment, braille guidebooks and maps, sensory guides for attractions, and at Disneyland, Location Return Times for guests with mobility devices or other physical needs that can’t be accommodated by older, non-wheelchair accessible attraction queues. Disney recognizes all kinds of disabilities and access needs, many of which are invisible. While guests won’t find an exhaustive list of disabilities on Disney’s websites, their newly updated accessibility pages serve as a first stop in navigating accommodations. Cast members are also available to answer questions in staffed virtual chats. Disney does not require documentation proving disability or access needs, nor will they be required with these upcoming changes.

 In the FAQ for this service on both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort websites states that guests found lying to obtain DAS will be permanently banned from the parks. Disney states the following in answer to the question, “What happens if any of the statements made by a Guest in the process of registering for DAS are found to be not true?”

If it is determined that any of the statements a Guest made in the process of obtaining DAS are not true, the Guest will be permanently barred from entering the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort, and any previously purchased Annual Passes, Magic Key passes, tickets and other park products and services will be forfeited and not refunded. The updates hope to crack down on the overuse of DAS that has resulted in longer wait times for disabled guests and others using Lightning Lane. Use of the service tripled in the past five years. It is now designed to only support guests with a “developmental disability like autism or similar, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended period of time.” Disney is restricting the party size attached to a DAS pass to four immediate family members, with exceptions for minors. The pass will be valid for the length of the guest’s ticket or up to 120 days, whichever is shorter. Walt Disney World will also require virtual registration and Disneyland Resort will limit in-person registration to one location on the esplanade. A defined “return-to-queue” service for guests who may need to leave a queue to use the restroom is also in the works. Other services for guests who may not be eligible for DAS are outlined on the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort accessibility pages. Overall, I think this seems to be interesting and I wonder how that is going to impact guests with disabilities.

So, what do you guy’s think about the DAS changes?! I would love to hear your thoughts and comments are down below!

Stay tuned for Disney updates.

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