DASneyland struggles with new Disabled Program

Written by Andy Castro. Posted in Disney, Disney News, Disney Parks, Disneyland Resort, In the Parks

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Published on October 11, 2013 at 3:00 am with 92 Comments

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.

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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.

GUests assigned DAS cards are given this location card.

Guests assigned DAS cards are given this location card.

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The Tomorrowland location.

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The Haunted Mansion location.

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The Fantasyland location near Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride

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The Central Plaza Location.

There are also three different locations inside Disney California Adventure.

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The location near Little Mermaid

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The Cars Land location where the Radiator Springs Racers kiosk was.

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The information board on Buena Vista Street

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.
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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.
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Candy Palace Progress

The facade refurbishments at the Penny Arcade and Candy Palace continues as the October off-season heads toward the start of the hugely popular holiday season.
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Monorail Track Work

A portion of the Monorail track near the old Motorboat Cruise dock is under refurbishment.

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Fanta-safety-land

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.
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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.
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Yet another Jack face has been exposed in the advent gingerbread house.

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Ribbons on attic presents feature a “13″ pattern.
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one of the gifts which follow you home is a 13.

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Court Closed

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.
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Another victim of this Club 33 expansion is the small L’Ornament Magique shop, which will now act as the new front door of Club 33.
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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!

Direct Download | iTunes Link

About Andy Castro

Andy is a Southern California native, raised with Disneyland and a life-long fan of Disney theme parks and animation. Andy writes the weekly Dateline Disneyland column, which can be found every Monday on MiceChat.

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92 Comments

Comments for DASneyland struggles with new Disabled Program are now closed.

  1. They are making it way too complicated. The object was to weed out the abusers. Simply requiring an in person check in at the beginning of your day (or the beginning of your trip in case of longer stays), requiring the disabled individual to be present for the pass to be used, and a photo on the pass would be sufficient to fix the problem. I do agree that they are punishing the intended users. Having to “dissect” each and every ride/experience to determine if you will be allowed a pass, having to go back and get a new pass every ride.. when you have a disability you already get to experience less and have more issues in your day, this adds 20-30 minutes to every attraction not even counting the travel time back and forth to the kiosk and waiting in line. You are looking at 2 hours plus of “pass procurement” for just five rides! Plus it completely ruins any spontaneity, you can’t simply change your game plan on the run, you have to plan out every ride and acquire the pass for each one. I can’t imagine how frustrating it would be for the parent of an autistic child (for example) who already has a pass to one ride but passes by another that they want to ride instead and has to either explain that they can’t ride it or go back to the kiosk (for the fifth time that day) and wait yet again for another pass… then repeat the entire process for the ride the original pass was for when they are done. If the object was to get people to stop using the passes completely (or choose another venue for their vacation that was less stressful) they are on the right path.

  2. I just wanted to give a heads-up; the location pictured for the Haunted Mansion kiosk is NOT the actual Guest Relations kiosk. That is a return time kiosk (for guests using wheelchairs) for the Haunted Mansion, staffed by Mansion Cast Members. The Guest Relations kiosk in New Orleans Square is located near the Haunted Mansion exit, under the large tree on the right-hand side.

    No wonder we had so many people coming up to us today thinking our little kiosk was where they got their DAS filled out ;)

  3. I had a thought. So Disney is rolling out the new bands in Florida. Everybody wonders why they would put fastpass on rides that never have a line?

    What if this new system is the future? Nobody would ever stand in line? You’d get a ticket and come back when it was your time, then you could go wander through a gift shop or get something to eat?

    They wouldn’t need to have such huge ques for the rides, and there’s no revenue from someone standing in line for an hour waiting to ride a ride?

  4. What’s sad, is the fact that most people don’t have a legitimate disability and ruin it for everyone. I have bad discs in my back, multiple knee surgeries, and guess what..I walk everywhere and you’d never know I have any issue at all. Everyone has “issues”. I understand the problem and will gladly hand over my place in line ANYTIME to someone with a disability. My niece cannot walk or move her arms, legitimate disability. How many people flat out lie, or simply are overweight and call it a disability? We’ve become a “me” generation, instead of thinking about or considering others. I was recently horrified when my neighbor asked me if we use the “gold pass”, which I had no idea what he was speaking about. He informed me that he goes to City Hall and tells them his kids can’t handle long lines, and will flip out. Disgrace. Period. I personally wish you had to show a real doctor’s note, but we certainly can’t because of HIPPA. There would be no problem at all with guest assistance, if it wasn’t for cheaters and scammers. Those who have done this, and I’m sure there are some here on these boards..should be banned from the park. End of rant.

  5. My wife is dissabled, and I’m glad they have made the change to the DAS. I just saw way too much abuse. Including teens swapping the rented wheelchair to go up the exit of Splash Mountain. I just hope the kinks get worked out quickly. It was smart of them to roll it out in the fall, so that it may run smoother durring the busy summer.

  6. I am still truly confused as to how this system will work for a person like me. I’m totally ambulatory; I have no issues waiting or standing; but I have issues with my knees that make it impossible for me to do stairs. Generally I just wait in the standby or Fastpass queue and then show my GAC where appropriate to be routed to the elevator or disabled loading area, so I am not “cutting a line.” There are a few rides, like Splash Mountain, where I do need to go in through the exit or on a special line.

    The thing is, since I can walk and stand, I DO Need to show the GAC to the cast members or they won’t let me use the elevators/etc. So am I going to need a DAS? If not, are the CMs going to let me use the elevators without one? What about rides like Splash or small world where I DO need a separate exit due to the steps, and have always had to show my GAC?

    • I think you’re assuming that this is all something that is written in stone and there are rules that MUST be followed.

      As with everything in life, there will be issues, and then there will be fixes for those issues. It is all a necessary part of making these changes.

      • No, what I WISH is that there was more written out. Right now it seems very vague. I’ve read the information Disney has available and there’s nothing there that applies to me, or my situation – I know that since there are CMs talking it out with each guest I will be able to explain things, but my stomach is already in knots thinking of the possibility that they won’t offer me help and I won’t be able to do some favorite rides anymore. There are already a few that are off limits because they’re not accessible (like the Tarzan Treehouse and Columbia – and I’m not suggesting those rides SHOULD be ADA, I just think it’s a bummer for me personally because I LIKE those attractions), and I would hate to have to add even more to that list.

    • I think if you go to Guest Relations and tell them what your disability is they will give you something that will enable you to bypass the stairs. Clearly, you are not abusing the system.
      When we were there, the CM that helped us really listened to what our disabilities are and then made an evaluation. If the CM you get says there is nothing he or she can do for you, ask for a supervisor because they have a greater circumfernce to evaluate with.
      I’m with ya with your stomach being in knots, ours were too on the first visit with DAS. It wasn’t as bad of an encounter as we were imagining after reading lots of negitives on the threads.
      Bottom line……… if you are really a canidate for DAS, you will get it.

  7. this was a step that was severely overdue. kudos to disneyland management and cast members for taking this on. shame to the cheaters for causing this hardship for the people who are truly in need of assistance!

  8. The incline to Space Mountain irritates a sciatic nerve, but getting in a small roller coaster car and being thrust down a twisty roller coaster at 25-30 mph doesn’t? Hm. I am all in favor of people who genuinely need assistance being given the assistance they need. I’m not sure everyone gets the idea of what constitutes a disability, though. If your doctor and the state won’t issue you a placard or a letter stating that there is a physical or mental disability, and you can otherwise get around, the issue becomes (in my mind) whether you are seeking true and necessary assistance or whether you’re just looking for some extra convenience.

  9. [...] Story 3: DAS what I’m Talking About [...]

  10. I apologize for this if come off as insensitive, but as I read the experience of TiggaPlease int he article, I found myself asking why, if the incline of a queue is bad or damaging for his/her sciatic nerve, would they be going on Space Mountain where they would be going up three serious inclines followed by several minutes of twists and turns with high G-forces.

    I imagine that the LAST thing a doctor would recommend to a patient diagnosed with herniated discs would be to go on Space Mountain…

    • One more point – could Disney actually be liable for giving a line pass to a person who clearly stated that they are not medically able to experience that ride? The ride has giant signs stating that people with back injuries should not ride.

      Common sense (on the severe decline in this country) says that there comes a time in a person’s life when they need to give up roller coasters. It’s a very sad day, but something that needs to be acknowledged.

      Personally, I think that every GAC should involve signing a liability release, if they do not already do so…

  11. The DAS works because you can only get one return time before getting another. The abusers depended on being able to run around getting all the hand written fast passes they wanted after getting their GAC. That way, once the first fast pass time became active and they rode the first ride, most likely the rest of the fast pass times were active and they would just go from ride to ride to ride. Legitimate impaired people don’t have the stamina to do that. When I go with my husband and we would get a GAC we only rode 3 to 5 rides for the whole day depending on how well he was doing and how long we stayed.

    In actual time, legitimate GAC, or now DAS holders usually wait longer to get on a ride than stand by. They didn’t just show up to the fast pass line with their GAC card in hand and get directed in immediately. They have to wait the stand by time before they can return, then wait in whatever fast pass or handicap line there is. When my husband is getting his return time our family members will get in the stand by line. While I wait with my husband for the return time, and then wait in the fast pass or handicap line, they get done riding way before us. But then we use it the way it is intended to be used.

    Also families can no longer use their disabled family member or friend as their perpetual fast pass because of the new system. We’ve seen GAC holders hand off their cards to the family while they went to do something else or just left. Even if the family could still get several return times at one time, the photo of the user is now on the card and it can’t be used without them. The user has to go on the ride with anyone else in the group. If at the last minute the user of card decides they don’t want to ride the ride and wants to leave, the others in that group have to leave with them.

    The abusers were actually cutting both the stand by line and the GAC line.
    Because of the way they used it, they were getting on rides faster than stand by and getting in many more rides than the average guests. And they were making the fast pass lines longer for the legitimate GAC users who had been waiting the stand by times because they hadn’t initially ran all over the park gathering up written fast passes and then waited the fast pass or handicap lines.

    So people, rest assured that the fakers will be eliminated once they know that DAS isn’t a perpetual fast pass, and know that the DAS holders are not getting a front of the line pass. They wait too, usually a little longer in actual time. You will be off waiting for your next ride before they get done with the same ride and go back to the kiosk to get their next return time. They just aren’t standing on the hard pavement as long and believe me, most of those people would rather stand in the stand by line than have the pain or infirmity that they suffer.

    Don’t just assume that anyone requesting a DAS should just get a wheelchair or scooter. Can you imagine the grid lock in the parks if everyone that can walk but can’t stand on hard pavement or long lines for extended times were in wheelchairs or scooters? All those chairs and scooters would make stand by lines extremely long. The DAS people are waiting, just some where that doesn’t worsen or make their condition impossible. Besides, my husband uses a scooter when we are in WDW because there is just too much territory for him to manage, and a lot of people are very unkind to him and have even called him names because they might have to navigate around him. Then there are the people who look right at him, see us coming and step right in front of him and get mad because he ran into them. We really try tobe mindful of those around us when he has a scooter because for many years we navigated around people with them and know the problems from both sides of the fence.

    Stand by people be thankful that you are in good health and that your family members are in good health. Please be patient with those who use the DAS. Their injuries and/or conditions aren’t always their fault and no two injuries or conditions, even seemingly like injuries or conditions, act or react the same to different stimuli. There may come a day that you too will need a DAS when you visably don’t look like you need one. There are all kinds of mental, internal organ, (ei. heart, lung, etc.), bone and muscle infirmities that are not readily visiable.

    Those of you that think you are truly eligible for a DAS and the first CM that you talk to doesn’t want to issue you one, stay calm and composed and ask to talk to a supervisor. Most of the front line people are acting on the way they have been trained and by who they have been trained by. What ever you do, don’t get angry and irate. Be nice, then most likely you will be issued one if you need it.