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Disney announces changes to disability access at theme parks

Disney is set to overhaul its disability access services at its California and Florida theme parks, the company announced on Tuesday, April 9. 

The changes were announced in updates to the “Disability Access Service (DAS)” pages on the Disneyland and Walt Disney World websites. 

The service, which is free, allows those with disabilities to get a return time for attractions rather than wait in a standard line. 

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Now, the Disneyland and Walt Disney Resort websites state, “DAS is intended to accommodate a small percentage of Guests who, due to a developmental disability like autism or similar, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended period or time.”

Previously, DAS was indicated as for “guests who have difficulty tolerating extended waits in a conventional queue environment due to a disability.”

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DISTHE WALT DISNEY CO.117.93+0.57+0.49%

The new changes will go into effect on May 20 at Walt Disney World in Florida and June 18 at Disneyland in California, the company said. The existing “DAS” procedure will continue until then. 

In addition to the specification for those who qualify for DAS, Disney also changed the procedure for requesting the service. 

Disney World's castle in Magic Kingdom

On April 9, 2024, Disney announced changes to its Disability Access Service for its theme parks in Florida (pictured above) and California.  (Getty Images for Disney Dreamers Academy / Fox News)

At Walt Disney World as of May 20, all DAS registrations must occur via virtual video chat, and “in-person registration will no longer be available at theme park Guest Relations locations starting May 20, 2024,” says the Walt Disney World website. 

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At Disneyland, after June 18, guests applying for DAS can either use a virtual chat or a dedicated “accessibility services” window for same-day requests. 

Once DAS is granted, it will be valid for either the length of the guest’s theme park ticket, or for up to 120 days. 

Photo shows car driving through entrance of Walt Disney World in Orlando

DAS, a program that allows for those with disabilities to avoid waiting in traditional lines, now will be limited to those “due to a developmental disability like autism or similar, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended period or (iStock / iStock)

It is possible to re-register for DAS once these dates have passed, said Disney. 

Previously, DAS was valid for a 60-day period. 

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Those who presently have DAS will have to re-apply for the service, the company indicated. 

DAS is also now limited to a guest’s “immediate family,” or a group of no more than four unrelated people, say the websites. 

Haunted Mansion queue

Disneyland (pictured above) and Walt Disney World will soon be introducing new procedures for guests with disabilities.  (Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Travel website TouringPlans, which reports on theme park news and assists with trip planning, said that other changes to Disney’s disability access polices were rumored — including accommodations for those with non-developmental disabilities that impact their ability to stand in a line.  

“There are reports that Disney will introduce a defined ‘return to queue’ process for guests who need to leave a queue and re-enter,” the website indicated, noting that this may be a suitable accomodation for people who previously qualified for DAS. 

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DAS, which was introduced in 2013, was an update of the “Guest Assistance Card,” a previous policy that enabled park guests with disabilities to skip most attraction lines. 

In 2013, Disney stated that it hoped DAS would “control abuse with the current program that was, unfortunately, widespread and growing at an alarming rate.” 

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FOX Business reached out to Disney for additional comment and clarification on the new policies. 

For more Lifestyle articles, visit www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle.

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