CLICK HERE - Teri's Explanation of the new Disability Access Service (PDF)
The Guest Assistance Card (GAC) at Walt Disney World was also called the Special Assistance Pass (SAP) at Disneyland. Both refer to the basically the same thing. The GAC used to be called the Special Assistance Pass. The name was changed to Guest Assistance Card a few years ago because some people thought it was a “front-of-the-line” pass, which caused some confusion between guests and cast members. Some people think there is a back door into most rides that they will get to use if they have a GAC and that's almost never the case -- many attractions have mainstream access. Always ask the Cast Members at the attraction how to proceed, and please do not expect front-of-line access.
Now we have the Disability Access Service, which is electronically linked to the FastPass+ System. This is a major improvement, and like most changes, it takes some getting used to!
Expect to be given a return time that corresponds to the wait time in the regular standby line, at the attraction entrance. This is very similar to the current FastPass system. Only one ride at a time can have a pending DAS return time. Expect to have a picture taken which will be used to identify you at attractions entrances, along with identifying information. The card will be valid for the length of your stay up to 14 days, or 60 days if you have an Annual Pass. Disney WILL try to accommodate the needs of individuals with very severe disabilities on a case by case basis; this would also include individuals with moderate to severe autism... but nobody should expect front-of-line access.
The DAS is not used to jump the lines, it is used to help special needs travelers get access to attractions that they would otherwise not be able to see due to health, mobility, or major developmental and psychological issues. You may be allowed to bypass the regular lines, but you should still expect to wait. Examples of people who might benefit from using the DAS include folks of all ages and backgrounds, whether their need is temporary or permanent:
People with mobility issues that would keep them from being able to stand in long queues who are not using wheelchairs, ECVs or canes;
People who are particularly heat or sun sensitive to the point that it endangers their health or safety because of health conditions such as Lupus and Multiple Sclerosis, or people who are on certain medications;
Families traveling with special needs children or adults who have health, psychological or hypersensitivity issues that make it difficult to remain in crowded queues;
People who are easily fatigued or in pain due to serious health problems (heart, emphysema, arthritis, etc.) who plan to be ambulatory inside pavilions and attractions but park their wheelchair or ECV outside, or choose not to use wheelchairs. They get access to the seating without stairs in shows, for example. Also use of alternate entrances in places where the queue is not mainstream and there are stairs or a climb.
You can go to Guest Relations at the entrance of any of the Disney parks and register the person with the disability and the rest of the party, up to 6 people, who will be electronically linked to the DAS. (NOTE THE CHANGE: Everyone in the party has to show their pass and be linked to the DAS in order to use it.) You don't need a doctor's letter or any evidence to show that you need one, although many people do take a doctor’s letter for backup. You do need to be able to explain what your problems are and what assistance you need. The DAS is not a convenience; it is a tool for access. Guest Services Cast Members are responsible for determining who will be allowed to use the DAS... it helps to be prepared and know what to ask for, and how, before you go.
It will be good at all the Disney parks for the length of your vacation, as long as your park ticket is valid. You don't need to get one for each park or for each day. You do need to get a new card on your next vacation to WDW; it is only good for one trip. If you have an Annual Pass, it is good for up to 60 days. You must return to guest Relations to re-register.
Allows a stroller to be used as a wheelchair in mainstream queues and at alternate entrances for small children with disabilities. ECVs and wheelchairs can be taken into any building or line without having any pass or card. This allows strollers to use the same alternate entrances.
Allows a waiting spot shaded from the sun if the line is "in the sun for an excessive amount of time." For most of the lines, the largest part of the line inside a building or under a roof or shade. Some of the outdoor lines are even air-conditioned to avoid getting too hot. This is helpful to people who are sun or heat sensitive.
Allows an alternate entrance waiting area for people who can't wait in line. This one is mostly used for children/adults with conditions like autism, ADD or other health problems that make waiting in line difficult or dangerous for them or the people with them. This would also apply to people who suffer from agoraphobia or severe panic attacks that would make waiting in line in close contact with other people impossible. Also, this is used for people who are immunosuppressed and need to avoid infection.
Allows ‘front and center’ seating at shows, for people with severe visual impairments
Kids at WDW thru the Make A Wish or similar organizations. This card allows "front of line" access because these kids are very fragile and have a life threatening condition. These cards are arranged thru WDW and organizations like Make a Wish or Give Kids the World as part of their visit, and are never available to the general public.
For the first 3 categories, you will be asked to use FastPass+ if available and you are told that the card will not allow immediate access to rides/attractions. You will often still need to wait; it just may be in a different place.
Maybe, maybe not. If you have a wheelchair or ECV, cane or crutches, you will not need the DAS unless you have a medical reason not to be in the mainstream lines.
If you have medical or major psychological issues that would prevent you from being able to use the mainstream, wheelchair-accessible lines along with all other guests to the point that you would have to miss the attraction or it would endanger your health, then you will need the DAS.
Many people feel embarrassed, or like they are cheating if they ask for assistance. Please don't think that using assistance to get to alternate waiting or boarding areas is just a 'bump in' to the line... remember:
You are paying the same as everyone else at the park.
It will take you longer time and more physical energy to move from one attraction to another.
You will most likely not stay in the parks as long as average guests.
You will need to spend more time resting and refreshing in between attractions.
Perhaps other people arrive at the line ahead of you, but you have every right to enjoy the attractions at your pace. Disney has this program in place to help you get the most enjoyment possible from your visit to the park It isn't something for you to feel embarrassed or self-conscious about, when you really need it. It is not the same as a front-of-line pass, and there will be times when you may wait longer than people in the regular queue.
Better not let any of US catch you trying to pull a stunt like that! Every time someone does this, they cheat everyone. It causes resentment among other guests and cast members towards everyone who uses the special accommodations for legitimate reasons, and makes it harder for people who really need the accommodations to get them.
•Teri’s explanation of Disney’s new Disability Access Service Process (text version of the PDF)
•(an unofficial guide by a parent/advocate)
•What do you need to do? (Besides reserving FastPass+ in Advance…)
•Go to Guest Services:
•The entire party goes to Guest Services/Relations.
•Person with disability registers with Guest Services for the Disability Access Service and gets their picture taken.
•All members of the party (up to 6) are linked to the account through their park passes and wristbands.
•Go to the Attraction:
•Find the Cast Member with the scanner, show them your park pass or MagicBand, and get a return time.
•They see the picture, and know who is in the party.
•Your return time will show up along with your FastPasses.
•You will all go through the FastPass+ line when your return time comes, like everyone else.
•Things to Remember about the DAS!
•You can have one DAS return time at a time. When you have used it, you get another one.
•You can use both FP+ and DAS together!
•The person with the disability goes first, the rest of the party follows in the FP+ line.
•Return times are valid until redeemed that day.
•Another member of the party who is registered on the DAS can go ahead and get a return time, but the guest with the disability must board the attraction with their party.
•The DAS is valid through the length of your stay, or up to 60 days for Annual Passholders.
•People with Cognitive Disabilities, Autism, etc. may have problems with
•Processing information and sensory input
–(figuring out how to put things in order)
•Engagement & Reciprocity
•Understanding body language
•Understanding facial cues
•Phobias, fear of unknown
•Repetitive interests or behaviors
•Ask for Assistance!
really are trying to make the system fair. If you have problems, ask
•Links to Disney Guest Services
•Walt Disney World (Florida) - Services for Guests With Disabilities
•Disneyland Resort (California) - Services for Guests With Disabilities
•Be sure to download the PDF information pages to your computer, smartphone or tablet, along with the My Disney Experience app for FP+ and park information!
•Disney wants to encourage people to use the new FastPass+ system instead of relying on the DAS.
•This has been a major change for people who were used to the old system!
•This new system is an improvement!
•Learn to use the FastPass+ System!
–On your Smartphone or Tablet
–at FP+ Kiosks
•Reserve your favorite attractions in advance!
•Plan things to do in between attractions!
•Ask for help at Guest Services and FP+ locations throughout the parks!
•If you run into problems or somebody gives you a hard time, report them! Ask For Assistance at Guest Services!
•Is this new system fair?
This is a major improvement! Disney Guest Services listened to our
comments and requests!
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Last revision June 13, 2015
Copyright 2015 by Teri Doolittle, PA-C, MHP, DHSc
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