Disneyland’s Halloween Time continues, but the big scare this week was the introduction of the new Disability Access Service (DAS), the replacement for Disneyland’s much abused Guest Assistance Card program. Disney prepared for big lines at City Hall for the roll-out of the new program which has seriously changed the way disabled guests will experience the park. Meanwhile, refurbishments and construction projects continue, including the Candy Palace refurb on Main Street, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s ongoing overhaul, the new Fantasyland fall safety additions and new Starbucks construction in Downtown Disney.
DAS Your guide to the magic
The Disneyland resort rolled out their new Disability Access Service program on Wednesday. The reason behind the change is clear. With over 2,000 Guest Assistance Cards being issued on busy days over the two parks, and roughly 10% of the crowds being back-doored onto rides, there was a big problem.
While it is a shame that it took so long for Disney Management to tackle this issue, they are to be commended for addressing it now. The goal of the new DAS system is simple; weed out those taking advantage of the system. The execution, however, is far more complicated than the old GAC.
To help those who legitimately need Disabled access, we offer these helpful tips on how the system works.
When guests requiring disabled access enter the park, they should go directly to either City Hall in Disneyland or Chamber of Commerce in Disney California Adventure.
When guests speak with the Cast Members at these locations, they will need to explain their reason for needing more than the usual access. Impatience is not something that will get you an assistance card. Instead, they will ask you specifically WHY you cannot wait in the line with regular guests and will assign you a card according to your needs. Unlike the GAC card of the past, guests requiring this assistance will need to stop by City Hall at the beginning of each visit.
Once a guest is assigned a DAS card the rules will be explained to them. In short this is how it goes.
- The card you are assigned for the day will allow you and your party to make a reservation time to return to a ride without a wait.
- The return times you are assigned will be given to you based on current wait time.
- You will only be able to hold a return time for one attraction at a time.
- You can get reservation times for any ride in the entire resort, from any kiosk in any park. The kiosks are not location specific.
- Any member of a DAS user’s party may obtain the return time from the kiosk, however the actual DAS user MUST ride the attraction with the rest of their party for all to ride.
There are five different locations throughout Disneyland Park that one can obtain these reservations.
There are also three different locations inside Disney California Adventure.
Recently, MiceChatter TiggaPlease visited the park and decided to share his experience.
Once we made it through the line at city hall, our cast member greeted us and asked me what my concerns about their rides were. I explained my disability (2 herniated discs in my lower back have caused nerve damage and chronic pain in my legs).
After my concerns were heard, she explained the new DAS system cards were only being distributed to parents of children who, “do not understand the concept of time” while people with mobility issues are given the recommendation to rent a wheelchair.
The next part was a bit confusing. She explained that they are allowing cast members at the rides to let people in at their discretion. When I asked her to clarify, she only repeated herself. She was nice enough give us two return passes for the rides we wanted to do most, but suggested we utilize the fast pass system and plan out our day. She then attempted to give us an actual fast pass for Space Mountain (one of our chosen rides), but her system had a problem. She asked if we wouldn’t mind going to the ride ourselves and just waiting in line, or did I have concerns with its queue. I let her know the upwards incline of the queue irritates my sciatic nerve. She then went into the back office to ask her supervisor for a fast pass.
After a ten minute wait she returned and stated, per her supervisor, we would receive a DAS given my concerns for the Space Mtn queue. She took down my name, took my picture, etc. and printed out my DAS. We received the flyer with the DAS kiosk location to get our card signed and filled out out first ride based off the latest queue time and took off the time it would get to the ride from City Hall. The overall experience took about 25-30min.
The new DAS card system is a confusing monster of corporate double speak and veiled questions. It is all constructed to essentially allow the front of the line cast members to handle things on a case by case basis, as opposed to the blanket rules from before. There are a million variables happening each day that the plaids are having to deal with. But it all boils down to trying to create a more acceptable experience for everyone.
Is it fair? No, not at all. But, it’s a tough call and one that Disney is currently grappling with.
Our advice at the moment is simple. Be kind, patient and understanding with the cast members having to roll out this new system. They are not the ones that created it, but they are the ones that have to administer it, and they are the ones that will convey your concerns. This is an evolving story and one that will take a while to play out as there will no doubt be many adjustments made to the system in the coming months.
Starbucks in Downtown Disney
The new Starbucks location in Downtown Disney continues to percolate slowly behind yellow construction walls. Progress may seem iced from a guest perspective, but in addition to the notable visible changes to the storefront’s facade, there’s plenty of work going on inside to convert the space from a retail store to a food service location. This project will be fully caffeinated soon enough.
Starbuck on Main Street doing well
Meanwhile, on Main Street, the new Starbucks in the Market House is doing well. No matter how you feel about this big change to the Market House, the addition is proving popular with regular guests and is undoubtedly a success story for the suits at Disney who approved it.
Candy Palace Progress
Monorail Track Work
A portion of the Monorail track near the old Motorboat Cruise dock is under refurbishment.
Not far from the Motorboat Cruise dock, the rooftops of Fantasyland continue to see new fall safety protections installed. So far, the fall safety here in Fantasyland has turned out rather nice, whether it be seamlessly extending existing castle walls or adding new turrets, the additions are mostly well-done and address Disney’s Cal/OSHA issues.
Haunted Mansion Holiday updates
Last week Disney announced new additions to Haunted Mansion Holiday that celebrate its 13th anniversary. The additions are part of the on-going “Limited Time Magic” promotion and mostly amount to simple decorations that feature the number 13, to commemorate the anniversary.
It happened a week later than fans originally expected, but the Court of Angels is now sadly closed. The space will now begin its conversion into the new private lobby for Club 33, which includes enclosing the courtyard’s gated entrances with opaque glass and installing a new elevator.
And that’s the Disneyland week in review. Let us know your feelings on the various projects. We hope to see you again soon. . . In The Parks!
Oh, there’s a little matter we forgot to mention . . . Beware of hitchhiking ghosts!
If you have about an hour of time, sit down, put on your headphones and enjoy a REALLY unique podcast episode from Window to the Magic. It’s a Halloween themed radio drama in the classic style. Best of all, it takes place in the Haunted Mansion!