Disneyland Resort makes for a toadally magical family vacation. However, you may have questions or concerns if visiting the theme parks with someone who has special needs. Not to worry, frogs! You will still have a magical time. Disneyland Resort helps guests navigate the challenges of visiting the parks whether you have someone with a chronic illness, a physical disability, an injury, a cognitive disability or developmental concern like autism. Today, we're going to cover one of the services the parks offers to those with disabilities — the Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS).
Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS), Disneyland's disability pass, works to meet guests’ needs on an individual basis. Disneyland already complies with the ADA when it comes to disability ride access — so if you have mobility issues or need to transfer from an ECV or wheelchair to ride, you do not need DAS. You only need this pass if you have needs that make it more challenging to navigate the parks or if you are unable to wait in a standard line or area.
The DAS is also ideal for froglets who wander or elope to other locations because of autism or related disabilities, since it allows you more control over your wait time and location — and the ability to keep a child in a stroller far past the usual parking point.
Not sure if the DAS is right for your family? Never fear, we’re here to answer some basic questions and refer you to the right sources at Disneyland so you can have a frogtastic trip.
Overview of Disneyland Disability Access Service
What is DAS?
Disneyland Disability Access Service is specifically for guests who have disabilities that do not allow them to tolerate waiting in a standard line. Instead of waiting in line, the guest and his or her party use the DAS pass to schedule a return time to ride attractions. The guest will use the FASTPASS Return entrance, the ride’s exit or an alternate line, depending on the ride. Some attractions have a “secret” entrance designed for just this purpose.
The wait time is comparable to the current attraction wait time. However, guests using DAS are free to wait elsewhere (in a more comfortable environment) or enjoy other park entertainment. Guests may only have one active return time at a time. Once you go on the ride, you can schedule your next return time. You can schedule another time for the same ride or for a different ride. Ride times remain active until used or park closing.
Disneyland Disability Access Service is very similar to the disability pass program at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. (Read more about Disney World Disability Access Service.) There are some minor differences you should be aware of if you’ve used the Disney World disability pass in the past and are now heading to Disneyland for the first time.
Who can use the Disneyland disability pass?
Many disabilities are not visible to others. DAS is a way to meet the needs of guests with special circumstances that make it difficult or impossible to wait in a standard queue. A guest whose disability is based on needing to use a wheelchair or scooter does not need DAS. If a guest in a wheelchair has additional needs, then that person might benefit from the DAS.
Do I need to bring proof of a disability/special need to Disneyland?
No, you do not need proof of your disability. Disneyland takes guests at their word and doesn’t have the legal right to ask for it. Keep in mind that the more detail you can share with cast members, the better they are able to assist and accommodate you!
If it is difficult to talk about medical issues, write them down so you have something to refer to when discussing them or bring a companion who can help communicate.
How do I acquire and use the Disneyland disability pass?
Here is a step-by-step guide to using the Disneyland Disability Access Service:
Enter a theme park, using your ticket. You’ll need to be inside the park to request the DAS.
Stop by Guest Relations. At Disneyland, visit City Hall or any of the Guest Relations kiosks. At Disney California Adventure, visit the Chamber of Commerce or any of the Guest Relations kiosks. The kiosks usually have shorter lines than City Hall and Chamber of Commerce. Bring all of the valid theme park tickets or passes for each member of your group with you.
Explain your needs to the cast members. You do not need to have a doctor’s note or even talk about your specific disability (and they will not ask). What you should talk about is the challenges your party member has. Be as detailed as possible so cast members can provide accommodations based on your specific needs. If your child can’t wait in a crowded or noisy place, elopes or wanders when outside of a stroller or experiences sensory overload, then explain these things to the cast member.
Someone who abruptly needs to exit a show or attraction because of sensory issues is a risk to themselves and others, so even if your child can successfully enjoy a ride, he or she may need the extra help of the DAS at shows and other attractions with high levels of sensory input.
Obtain cast member approval. If they determine that they will provide DAS, they will have the guest or his or her guardian register. Provide the valid park ticket for each member of the party upon signing in. The guest will sign and accept the conditions. Once your DAS expires, you will have to re-register for a new one. DAS Passes generally expire after 14 days, depending on the ticket. Annual Passholders may obtain DAS for up to 60 days.
Outfit your stroller: If you’ve been issued a stroller as wheelchair pass to prevent wandering, then add this huge sticker to a prominent place on your stroller. Even an umbrella stroller can be used for this purpose, provided you attach the tag. It is the size of a bumper sticker for a car and once applied, should be left in place for the duration of your trip. This signal lets cast members know your child does not need to disembark until the loading point.
Begin planning to ride. You may obtain your first ride time immediately upon receiving DAS. You must have the valid theme park ticket for each person in your party who wants to ride with you at this time. However, you can add or remove people throughout the day if you have people joining you later. If you do want to add people to an existing return time, the clock will be re-set and you will then get a new time.
Obtain additional return times at any Guest Relations kiosk. Present the park ticket of the guest receiving DAS benefits (the guest with DAS does not need to be present). You do not need to present other party members’ tickets to reserve because they are electronically linked to the main DAS user. Let the cast member know if all members want to ride, or just certain members. If you are park hopping, you may reserve DAS return times in either park.
The guest and party must report to the ride together. The guest who has the DAS must ride with the guests in his or her party and must scan his or her ticket first before other party members or an error message will occur. Each person must scan his or her park ticket upon entering. You have to enter the ride queue together, but there is still time for your froglet to change his or her mind.
Some kids love the idea of riding when they are looking at the outside of a dark ride structure but change their minds when confronted with the actual ride vehicle. One adult member of your party will be able to depart from the ride (usually through a hidden exit) and the others can still ride. If an adult does have to leave, they will be issued a pass to return (similar to the child switch program, just at the last minute).
How do I find a Guest Relations kiosk?
Look on the park map for the "i" symbol. At Disneyland, there are kiosks in front of Plaza Inn (that's a new location for the kiosk that used to be in front of the Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe), in New Orleans square near Haunted Mansion, in Fantasyland near Dumbo and in Tomorrowland near Star Tours. In Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, look for a pile of crates just inside the tunnel of the middle entrance to the land (coming from Frontierland). If you are not sure, ask any cast member where the closest Guest Relations spot is, they will either direct or escort you there.
At Disney California Adventure, the booths are located on Buena Vista Street near Carthay Circle, near the entrance to Cars Land and at Pixar Pier across from Jessie's Critter Carousel. The kiosks usually look like a podium with an umbrella and have cast members waiting to serve you and answer any questions.
We are using or renting a Disneyland wheelchair. Do we need DAS?
If you use a wheelchair or scooter for mobility and have no other issues that impact your ability to ride, you do NOT need DAS at Disneyland. Guests using a scooter or wheelchair can either wait in a standard queue, use a separate accessible queue or receive a return time that is comparable to the current wait time, depending on the attraction. Many lines in Disney California Adventure are wheelchair accessible. In some cases, modified ride vehicles are available that can accommodate the ECV itself, so the rider never has to transfer at all.
Pick up a Guide for Guests with Disabilities from Guest Relations to get an overview of services, facilities, companion restrooms and the Mobility Access details for each ride. You can hop here to find tips specific for using a wheelchair at Disneyland. We have visited Disneyland with a friend who uses an Electric Convenience Vehicle in the park, but also has some special needs in addition to mobility issues, so she did qualify for DAS. But generally, guests in wheelchairs do not need to use DAS if they have no other concerns.
What can we do while we wait for our ride time?
You can meet a favorite Disneyland character, eat some food, visit another attraction, see a show, go shopping or enjoy park entertainment. You can also take a sensory break or rest. If you have a young child that needs a rest, there are baby care centers in the park that might work for you.
Do I have to ride the attraction at the exact return time listed?
No. Return times are valid until they are redeemed or the park closes. If you no longer wish to ride, inform a cast member at a Guest Relations kiosk.
What if we have to leave the line due to disability?
If you have to leave a line, talk to the nearest cast member or Guest Relations kiosk in the park. If you are viewing a show, it is usually best to let the cast member in the boarding area know you may need to leave. Disneyland often puts special needs seats right in the middle of the action so everyone can see — if someone in your party is sensitive to sensory input, this could be the wrong place for your family. Shows are also dark and difficult to navigate, so it might be better to seat your party near an exit. The cast member running the attraction can accommodate you if you let them know you might need to leave in the middle of the program.
What if DAS doesn’t work for us?
Disneyland is committed to accommodating guests with disabilities and their varying needs. If you have a truly unique situation, such as a person whose disability limits choice of attractions or limits the amount of time they can spend in the park, then talk to Guest Relations once you are in the park.
We encountered a situation in which we had entered the FASTPASS return line using DAS. The ride was held up temporarily, so we were stuck longer than usual in a sunny spot. The heat was too much for our DAS user. We explained the situation to a cast member to see if we could come back later. Instead we were redirected to an alternate shady location, where we could wait until it was our turn. Always communicate your needs because there may be a solution to your problem.
Can I use DAS with other services?
In addition to using the Disneyland disability pass, you can also use FASTPASS, Rider Switch and Single Rider to make the most of your visit. Those are just a few of our favorite ways to maximize time at Disneyland. Use FASTPASS to shorten your wait for rides that offer FASTPASS service.
If you have a non-rider who needs supervision (including a small child who is not riding, a person with disabilities who is not riding or a service dog), ask at the ride entrance about Rider Switch. One person can supervise the guest while the rest of the party rides. Then, you can swap out the sitter with the Rider Switch pass so they can skip the line once the rest of the party has exited the ride.
Some rides provide temporary kennels for service animals. Bring all party members to the line entrance, and a cast member will scan the park tickets for the supervising party so that they can receive a return time without having to wait in line. One tool that works for riders ages 7 and up who do not require assistance or supervision is Single Rider, which is offered at select rides. Single Rider especially comes in handy when visiting attractions like the Radiator Springs Racers and can significantly cut your time in line.
How does MaxPass work with DAS?
MaxPass is a paid option for making and managing FASTPASS reservations through the Disneyland app. (We have a full guide to Disney MaxPass here.) Our friend has disabilities that would qualify him for DAS, so we recently park hopped with him to see how DAS and MaxPass work together. We park hopped, visiting both Disneyland and Disney California Adventure. And we are hoppy to report that it worked great!
We were able to reserve FASTPASS return times through the app and DAS return times by visiting the Guest Relations kiosk. All of our reservations showed up in the Disneyland app, making it easy for us to keep straight (since the DAS return times are not written down, having the reminders on the app helped us remember and stay on schedule).
As soon as we used a DAS return time, we scheduled the next one. We usually had a couple of FASTPASS reservations and a DAS ride time scheduled at a time. Once the DAS return time is valid, you can visit the attraction from that point until the park closes. The DAS return times do not expire until the end of the day, and this gave our DAS user the flexibility of managing his day, working the DAS return times in between the FASTPASS return windows, which are not flexible.
We developed some pro tips to maximize using both Disneyland disability pass and MaxPass:
- Use MaxPass for rides that offer FASTPASS.
- Save DAS for rides that do not offer FASTPASS — unless the return times are a long way off or FASTPASS return times are gone for the day.
- Use the time you would have spent waiting in line to enjoy parades and shows, to eat or to meet characters or even to rest in a shady spot.
- You can get a DAS return time directly from a cast member at some rides rather than visiting a kiosk, but that is good for that ride and not for selecting other rides.
- Use MaxPass for rides that the person using DAS doesn't want to ride.
You can apply these tips to the free paper reminder FASTPASS system too. Families using DAS might find the paid MaxPass to be more convenient. When you have someone with special needs, you might not be able to move about quickly or as freely, so having MaxPass is especially valuable. Because you can reserve return times from anywhere once you have entered the park for the day, it can save a lot of walking and keep you cooler than running for the original FASTPASS tickets.
Our friend who used DAS doesn’t sweat, which can put him at risk for overheating on a hot day. Combining DAS with MaxPass enabled him to do and see a lot while managing his body temperature in shaded and air-conditioned areas so he would not overheat. This allowed him to stay in the park longer than he might otherwise have been able to do. Plus he accomplished everything he wanted to do in both parks while staying healthy and comfortable.
Can I view DAS times in the Disneyland app if I don’t have MaxPass?
Yes! It can get toadally confusing to remember DAS return times, especially when you are also using FASTPASS and even Rider Switch. That’s just too many times to keep track of! They all start to blend together in my head and mistakes can happen.
Instead of trying to remember everything, use the Disneyland app to manage all of these return times and keep them straight so you don’t miss anything, even if you are using the free paper FASTPASS system. To link your party members’ tickets to the Disneyland app, go to the app’s home screen, click My Tickets, then the + at the upper right corner, then Link Tickets & Passes. You scan the barcode for the pass or ticket (or type in the number). Then, you can manage your FASTPASS reservations (and even cancel them), view your DAS return times, see any Rider Switch return windows and see any Replacement FASTPASSes that may occur if you encountered any ride closures during your FASTPASS return window. This is such an improvement over trying to keep it all in your head and not being able to change your mind and cancel a FASTPASS.
How does DAS affect rides with Boarding Groups or virtual queues?
If a ride has a virtual queue, such as a Boarding Group for Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, there is a different system in place for DAS.
If all riders must join a Boarding Group (through the Disneyland app or through designated kiosks in the park) to enter the ride queue, then DAS users would also need to join a Boarding Group to access the queue before they can use DAS. From the time your Boarding Group is called, you usually one to two hours to go to the ride. Once your Boarding Group number is called, you hop by a Guest Relations kiosk before heading to the ride. They may send you to the ride, or could have you wait a bit.
At the ride entrance, let the cast member know you use DAS. Scan the DAS user first and you will likely enter a separate queue. We hopped along with our niece who uses DAS, and the alternate queue took us straight to the the point where the immersive part of the the experience begins. There is no FASTPASS service offered for the opening period for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge rides, so for now, the people in that FASTPASS queue would be primarily other DAS users.
How does DAS affect shows?
You may be eligible for a separate entry or waiting areas for some shows like Frozen — Live at the Hyperion or Mickey and the Magical Map. If you feel like you need special assistance, check with cast member near the entrance, and they can help you. You should also let the cast members know you might need to leave the show prematurely if your froglet or companion has sensory issues. These shows are designed to be high energy and to make an impact, meaning there is a lot going on — music, sound effects, lights, performers, visual imagery and special effects may all happen at the same time — and that can get overwhelming for a child or teen with autism. You should be able to leave the show swiftly if you need to.
Are any other Disneyland disability services available?
There are many types of disabilities, and Disneyland does its best to accommodate them all. The general Guide for Guests with Disabilities covers information for guests with mobility issues, service animals, visual disabilities and hearing disabilities. Disneyland can provide a handheld device for assistive captioning and audio description. It is available with a $25 refundable deposit.
There are also braille guides and portable tactile maps (also available for a refundable deposit). Sign language interpretation is available with advance reservation on certain days. Call 714-781-4636 option 1, option 0 for details. If you aren’t using DAS but have crutches or any difficulty walking, there are more accessible loading areas or elevators so you can avoid going up and down steps.
Be sure to pick up a Guide for Guests with Cognitive Abilities if someone in your group fits that description. There are break areas, companion restrooms and attraction guides available to support these guests.
Disneyland rents strollers, manual wheelchairs and motorized scooters (Electric Convenience Vehicles). You might want to bring a cushion or pad for comfort when using a manual Disneyland wheelchair. Note that while Disneyland offers both strollers and wheelchairs, it do not offer special needs strollers for rent. These are usually oversized and can accommodate a rider up to 100 pounds. They also have large hoods that allow for the creation of a quiet, sensory fee place if needed. You’ll need to bring your own special needs stroller if you want to use one or rent one off site for the duration of your trip.
There are several off-site locations that offer rentals. If your child with cognitive or physical disabilities uses a stroller as a wheelchair and must remain in a stroller while in line, visit Guest Relations to receive a special tag. The tag identifies your stroller as a wheelchair so that you may use it in line. (Other guests are required to park strollers.) Many rides require you to park your stroller at a distance from the actual ride entrance and walk – if your froglet is a flight risk, tends to wander or needs the security of the stroller, the DAS stroller as a wheelchair pass will help.
Disneyland Resort can provide dietary accommodations for most food allergies, intolerances and special needs. You may request an accommodation in advance when making restaurant reservations. Many locations offer special menus upon request, or gluten-free alternatives. The latest dining updates include accommodations for plant-based diets.
What if multiple people in my party have different disabilities?
Talk to guest relations when you arrive about each person's needs. If you will all be riding together, you can get by with one DAS. If you will be splitting up for different rides, you may need to get DAS for each person who needs it. The problem with that is that the guests who use DAS cannot be linked to each other's pass. Other party members can be linked to each pass, though. So if you are riding together and can get by with one DAS, it will keep things simpler. Get it for the older or taller person. If, say, an older child and a younger sibling each qualify for DAS, get it for the older child. That way if the youngest is not tall enough to ride or backs out of the ride, the older child and other party members can still go.
Can I bring my service animal to Disneyland?
Leashed and trained official service animals (dogs or miniature horses) are permitted at Disneyland. There are specific relief areas they may use. They may not be permitted on all rides due to safety reasons; they simply can’t be securely buckled in to some ride vehicles. You may use portable kennels at large roller coaster-type rides or use Rider Switch. You can also consult the Guide for Guests with Disabilities for more specific details about service animals.
Are there ways to prepare a person with cognitive disabilities and autism for a visit to Disneyland?
Do research in advance to learn about the parks. If someone in your party has a cognitive disability, there are several ways to prepare them for the visit. You can practice waiting in line before your visit.
Even if you do not wait in a conventional queue with Disneyland DAS, chances are you will have to wait in security lines, character lines, food lines or entrance lines. Even FASTPASS return lines can back up and be longer than usual. Plus, rides break down and can cause a line to be longer than originally posted.
Go over a timeline of the day so he or she knows what to expect. For example, you will park the car and go through security and ride a tram or bus to the entrance. You will go through the entrance to the park and then visit Guest Relations. Give him or her a map to follow. Talk about things you will see and hear and eat. Bring familiar foods if necessary. Earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones can be toadally helpful. A sensory toy or activity can also be helpful. But don’t bring a beloved item that you cannot risk getting lost.
Social stories that highlight the things people do in a theme park can be helpful, so can watching ride-through videos. These videos will spoil the attraction for you but will be very helpful in letting your child know what to expect on the ride. Every child is different, but many of our young friends with autism prefer rides that can be seen from the outside. Dark rides or those in enclosed spaces may be more challenging, so viewing a ride-through video in advance could help encourage them to ride with the group. Some families like to know how many people can sit together on a ride so they can choose seat mates in advance.
What if I have a guest who is prone to wandering or elopement?
Make a plan in case you become separated. This is especially important if you have a family member who gets easily distracted and tends to wander off. Lost kids are an everyday occurrence at Disneyland, and your risk of separation goes up if your child has autism or a sensory processing disorder. Prevention is best, but it is possible to do everything you can to prepare and still get separated. Plan ahead to be reunited quickly.
Choose a meeting location in advance. You should be specific and the location should be one your child can easily get to. “Sleeping Beauty Castle” is not ideal, because it is just too large. A favorite ride or restaurant may be a better choice. Stress the importance of getting help from a cast member with a name tag should you become separated.
Consider creating a name tag with the person’s name, your name and your cellphone number (just in case). A temporary tattoo that can be applied to the arm and hidden under a sleeve can’t be lost and will remain with your child no matter where they go. A pendant or bracelet that contains scannable details can help as well (shoe tags are often tolerated by our young friends with ASD).
You should also take a photo of your family before entering the park. That way you'll have a visual with the clothing everyone is wearing in case you need it later. Follow these tips for not getting lost at Disneyland.
What can you do to protect guests from overheating?
If your child has a sensory processing disorder that puts him or her in danger of overheating, there are some steps you can take. You might plan your trip for cooler weather, avoiding July through October. Prepare for warm days by dressing your child in light colors. Bring spray bottles of water and cooling towels to keep cool. When you take steps to avoid temperature discomfort, you can also prevent sensory overload and meltdowns (not the Olaf kind, but heat does have a way of leading to the other kind of meltdown). Do not overdo it. It is better to take a long break or end the day on a high note than trying to fit everything in and taking things too far.
After all that, just knowing to check in with Guest Relations upon arrival and where the kiosks are located can help you put your plan for the day in motion.
What if I have more questions about special needs at Disneyland?
You can call (714) 781-4636 if you have general questions before your visit. Discuss your specific questions with Guest Relations once you are in the park. You cannot receive advance accommodations before your visit. All accommodations will be determined on-site.
Some of these details may feel non-specific, and that is because Disneyland offers DAS and other services on an individual basis. Go to Guest Relations with any questions or concerns. A cast member will be happy to assist you. If you have a particularly challenging situation or a disability that is harder to explain, it can be helpful to supply them with as many details as possible.
Hopefully we have cleared up any confusion over the Disneyland disability pass and how to use it. Now that you know where to go and what to do, you can hop to it and have an amazing trip to the Happiest Place on Earth!
Are you familiar with using the Disneyland disability pass? Do you have any tips to share about making the most of your visit using DAS? Let us know in the comments below!