Disability Access Service and Autism: Experience your Best Day Ever!

Over Spring Break, my husband and I braved the crowds and insanity and took our three boys to Disney World in Orlando. I must admit that this trip has by far been the best trip to Disney that I have taken.

In full disclosure let me start by saying how much I try to avoid Disney. In my opinion that place is overpriced, overcrowded, and overrated. I am just not a fan of the ‘Happiest Place On Earth’. With that being said, for the past five years, we try to go to Disney at least three times throughout the year because our oldest son LOVES Disney World.

Our challenges

One of our biggest challenges at Disney has always been the overcrowded park. There are just SO. MANY. PEOPLE. Regardless of what time of day or what season you choose to experience Disney World, the parks always seem to be overcrowded. With there being so many people in the park, the wait for the attractions can be unreal. When we went to Animal Kingdom, the wait for The Flight of Passage was 120 minutes! And people were waiting….in line…for hours. Also, I always feel as though 80% of my trip involves standing in one line or another, yet most of the attractions can be experienced in 5-10minutes. That is just ridiculous to me.

Another one of our challenges was our kids having a hard time waiting. Our oldest son, although he loves Disney, experiences sensory overload and a lot of anxiety. Standing in line was always a nightmare with him. There was always a lot of agitation, arguments, and whining. Our second son Isaiah does not like Disney as much as our oldest. Everything is too loud and there are just so many people. Some of the shows were ok for him while others were just too much for him sensory wise. He is agitated the ENTIRE time we are in the park. His tantrums range from being hungry to his brothers are looking at him. Standing and waiting in line was pointless. We only did rides that had less than 30 minutes wait time and whatever fast pass we were able to obtain. Our trips to Disney were very short because of this. In retrospect, we could leave him behind but then again it wouldn’t be much of a family trip without the entire family.

Disability Access Service

I actually dreaded going to Disney this year until another Autism mom suggested that I get a ‘disability pass’ from Disney to help make the trip more enjoyable for my kids. So, the Disability Access Service is Disney’s answer to help provide access to guests with any kind of disability-even cognitive disability. My mind was blown. I understand that this service has been available for a while but, I never knew this service existed. Here’s what I learned.

DAS, Disability Access Service pass is provided on a case by case basis. This is not something you can obtain in advance. The guest with the disability and their party must all be present at the time the pass is provided. DAS does not give you access to the park so you must have a purchased ticket. Once you have your ticket or annual pass you then go to Guest Relations which can be found at any park. The Guest Relations Cast member will work with you to figure out what accommodations can be provided to help you experience the best time at Disney. For us, we have a child with Autism and another with Sensory Processing Disorder. We simply explained to the cast member what our needs were and they were able to provide us with the pass.  

The cast member will register the guest and their party. Registration includes taking a picture of the guest receiving the accommodations. The cast member then will link everyone’s ticket to the DAS pass.

How to Use DAS

The process of utilizing your DAS pass is quite simple and user-friendly. First, you pick the attraction or ride that you would like to experience. Next, you go to the fast pass entry and speak to the cast member. You then let the cast member know that you would like to use your DAS pass. The cast member will then advise you on the next step. Those steps can include letting you in right away or receiving a return time frame that matches the current wait time. If you receive a return time, you can return at the time or later and experience the ride. The registered guest must be able to get on the ride or be at the show. You can only receive a return time for one attraction at a time.

How we used DAS

We were able to get receive two separate registrations. This was great for us because we had a party of 16 guest, 8 adults, and 8 kids. My husband and I along with all the children that were within the same height and age range as my younger son were linked to his pass. Everyone else was linked to my older son’s pass. This allowed us to plan rides and attractions effectively. I’m not a huge fan of rollercoasters and fast rides. Typically those are the rides that younger kids are not able to experience. With this dynamic, the other group was able to experience rides without being held back.

We only used our DAS for attractions that had more than a 30 minute wait time. This is not a rule, but this was something we decided was feasible for our kids. We also had scheduled some fast passes. This worked out really great for us in terms of fluidity and using our time wisely.

Experiencing Disney

At Animal Kingdom, we used the DAS pass to receive a return time for Journey through the Navi River, which is located in Pandora. The wait time was 95 minutes. While we waited those 95 minutes, we were able to do other things. We had a fast pass for another ride and was even able to go to a show that had a 10 min wait time. After the show, we were able to take a bathroom break and sit down for snack time. On our way back to Pandora we were able to enjoy some outside performers. By the time we made it back to Pandora, it was time for us to go in and enjoy the attraction.

We did have one setback while at Magic Kingdom. We used our DAS pass to reserve a return time for the Seven Dwarves Mine Train ride. This ride had a 65 minute wait time. Once our time came up, my son became anxious and scared and he no longer wanted to go on the ride. Despite the gentle nudging and encouragement, he wouldn’t budge. There was nothing we could do. Everyone that was linked to his pass was not able to enter at the return time. They were, however, able to go to the standby queue if they wanted. 

My favorite experience with DAS was having the opportunity to sit up close at the Lion King Show. My little one had an amazing experience. He had the opportunity to be in the show. He was a ball of nerves but a great sport.

Need to know information

DAS pass does not grant you access to the parks, you must purchase a ticket

Once you are registered, you can use the pass for up to 60 days. The Guest Relations Cast Member will advise you of the expiration date.

To receive a return time, the registered guest does not have to be present but they must get on the ride or enter the attraction/show.

DAS pass does not allow for immediate entrance into the Fast Pass Entry. This is all at the discretion of the cast member.  

DAS is NOT  a VIP pass.

Read all the information about DAS here. For additional information about the updated stroller policy check out this post from Kathy. 

 

 

 

 

 

Diana Anioce Andre
Diana was born and raised in Miami, FL. She is Haitian-American and fully embraces her Haitian culture. She completed her undergrad at University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida in Sociology and her Masters in Mental Health Counseling from Troy University. She is a Mental Health Counselor for 4 years helping children and families with their mental health needs through individual and family therapy. She has been married to her husband Andre for 10 years this December. They have 3 handsome sons; 8, 4, and 3. Their oldest was diagnosed with ADHD and Autism. She has learned to become a voice and an advocate for her son to ensure that he continues to be successful at school and throughout life. She is also a strong advocate for Autism Acceptance. They spend their weekends together as a family going to church and engaging in other activities.