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One Family's Experience Using Disney's DAS

by FrogBlog on May 17, 2016 13 Orlando

Leap's Note: Today's guest post comes from Undercover Tourist customer Heather Camden, who just returned from a vacation to Disney World and is writing about her family's experience using Disney's Disability Access Service (DAS) Card

When my oldest son was 4, we planned his first trip to Disney World. Knowing the limitations of his 4-year-old temperament (and legs!), we planned to visit during a non-peak time and utilize the old Fastpass system. All went off without a hitch, and it was a great trip for all.

Fast forward six years. My youngest son is now 4, and a great age to experience Disney World. I dusted off my old planning skills, again booked for off season and navigated the new Fastpass+ system. I was hoping for the best ... but a little apprehensive. N is a different personality than his big brother and gets help in his Special Education class for his Sensory Seeking behavior. I knew that when faced with delays or distractions, after 20 minutes or so, my good natured 4-year-old could quite possibly turn into a meltdown puddle of epic proportions.

woody-jesseUndaunted, I moved forward with planning and prepared N the best I could for the experience. My preparations came to an interesting point, when during a conversation with his Special Ed teacher, she suggested getting “that card thing.”

That card thing, is known as Disney’s Disability Access System (DAS), and was previously known as the Guest Assistance Card (GAC). You may remember reports a while back of rampant misuse of the GAC, with families “renting” a disabled person to act as a guide, and skipping the lines. Disney has changed and revamped the program, to ensure fair and equal access for all families visiting the parks.

Armed with paperwork from N’s teacher, we set off on our trip. Day one was at Disney's Hollywood Studios and was smooth sailing. This smaller park was set up perfectly for our family, and we were able to see all the attractions with minimal wait by arriving at rope drop, maximizing Fastpass+. Piece of cake, we thought!

Disney DAS Review - Sword in the StoneDay two was at Magic Kingdom ... a whole other animal (albeit a cute and cuddly one). By late afternoon, N was starting to feel it. We had planned an early dinner to recharge, and on our way, stopped by City Hall to check into the DAS, and see if N was eligible.

Upon arrival, I explained to the cast member about N’s Sensory Processing challenges, and offered the paperwork from his teacher. The cast member proceeded to outline the way the DAS was set up. If the line at an attraction was over 20 minutes, we could check in with the cast member at the front of the queue, and he or she would give us a return time. When we returned, we would then enter the Fastpass+ queue. We could have one return time scheduled at a time, and the holder of the DAS, would of course need to be with us, but our whole party need not be. So I could take N on It’s a Small World, and my husband and older son could ride something by themselves. Our whole family had their MagicBands scanned, and N had his picture taken. The CM then set up our first return time. This shows up in your My Disney Experience account, along with your scheduled Fastpasses, dining ADRs, etc.

Disney DAS Review - Daisy at the Buffet

The rest of our trip went just as well as our first day. Again using our Fastpass+ selections, along with the MDE app, and arriving at rope drop, we avoided meltdown. When afternoons came, and the parks got busier, it was a relief to know N would be covered. We utilized the DAS 2-3 times per day the rest of our visit. I would step up to the cast member manning the queue to scan my band and get a return time (the DAS only requires one party member for the initial scan, good to know if your child would be upset by approaching an attraction without immediately entering it), and when our time approached, enter the Fastpass return, and scan the bands again. This process was very discreet since DAS holders go through the same process as Fastpass+ holders. We quickly learned to avoid any snags, to have N scan first, since he was the DAS holder. One nice feature we appreciated, is there was no expiration on return time. If N wasn’t ready for a ride at the appointed return time, we could have a rest and snack, and go when he was ready.

For us, the DAS really helped our vacation come together. Our preplanning was a major part of the trip’s success, but Disney’s planning will always trump mine. It’s amazing that whenever one may anticipate a hurdle, Disney has already thought of it, and has a plan in place. I am so appreciative to the folks at Disney for ensuring that all guests and families will have a magical time, like we did.

Related: Overview of Disney's DAS Card

Have a question about Disney's DAS Card and how it works in the parks? Share them in comments below. Have you used the DAS? We'd be so hoppy to hear from you!

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Jul 16, 2016 at 8:29 p.m. James Says...

We had used the old GAC with our autistic (high functioning, yet prone to meltdowns) whe she was 3,5, and 7. We went the week prior to Christmas this past winter when she was 10 and although concerned about the changes, worked wonderfully. It really is a fairer system and doesn't give families like ours an advantage, just makes the day a little easier. I know everyone has something they deal with (some much more than others), but is a little magic pixie dust Disney provides our family for this thing we call life.

Reply
Jul 5, 2016 at 4:17 p.m. Shannon Says...

Hi, we will be traveling with my mom who has had both knees replaced, and has handicap parking. She won't use a wheel chair or scooter, but waiting in lines will be very hard for her. Do you think this physial disability will qualify for the DAS? Thanks in advance for your advice.

Reply
Jul 18, 2016 at 10:06 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Shannon,

You can definitely try for it! Go to Guest Relations when you arrive at the park and explain her disability. You don’t have to provide a doctor’s letter, but if you’re comfortable with it, it can help provide more information. A Cast Member will help with making accommodations for her.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jul 4, 2016 at 8:54 p.m. Melissa Pfeil-Schaub Says...

I have had the DAS in the last and u forth alert will require it again this trip. We will be meeting up with various groups of friends throughout our trip- do all members of our various parties have to be included or is it on a "ride per ride" basis? Thank you.

Reply
Jul 18, 2016 at 10:06 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Melissa,

Not everyone has to ride, just the person who is registered for the DAS has to be present at the attractions; however, you need to let the Cast Member at Guest Relations know how many will be in your party in order for everyone to be covered!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
Jun 9, 2016 at 6:40 a.m. Becky Says...

We are currently on our Disneyland trip and the DAS has been a lifesaver. In California Adventure a cast member noticed me looking at the very long Frozen FP line and asked me if we wanted to go.....as VIP guests. That experience made our trip. We didn't have to wait in line for the FP or in line before the show. We simply walked up 15 minutes before they started seating and they escorted us inside where we picked our seats on the front row. I have also noticed that return times are not strictly followed. Towards the end of our day we were given a return time for Radiator Springs Racers for 8:55. We also had FP's for WOC. At 7:55 we simply presented our tickets at RSR and they let us on which allowed

us to watch WOC at 9.

Reply
May 22, 2016 at 7:57 p.m. Tami Spencer Says...

We have a Disney vacation planned for late October and just found out our daughter is pregnant. She will be 31 weeks when we are at Disney. Will she qualify for a DAS card? It will be hard for her to be on her feet for that long. We are trying to decide if we should postpone our vacation or not.

Reply
Jun 3, 2016 at 3:39 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tami,

No, pregnancy doesn't usually qualify for the DAS. Have you considered renting a wheelchair/ECV? That should help keep her off her feet and most of the attractions make accommodations for them.

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 18, 2016 at 6:36 a.m. Asia Says...

It is amazing how life works out sometimes! I've been reading about the DAS for a few days now trying to find a review like this one to really decide whether or not my family was up for a trip. This has eased my mind about going for it! We love Disney and I hated the idea of everyone missing out because of my bum leg- thankfully, Disney doesn't want anyone to miss out either! After reading your post I am certain that this is the perfect option for my family! Thank you!

Reply
May 18, 2016 at 9:26 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Asia,

We're so glad to help!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
May 17, 2016 at 9:14 p.m. teri dalco Says...

We also have used this DAS system and I think it is great. My son has Austism and ADHD and it is far better for us and everyone who would be around us. It protects their vacations too, not having to be annoyed by the kid who won't "shut up."

Reply
May 17, 2016 at 7:37 p.m. Amy Says...

Thank you for sharing your experience. My son is 6 and has ADHD. Even with medication he has trouble with lines and can melt down quickly. I've scheduled fast passes and am trying my best to plan well by avoiding the middle of the day. Do you know if the DAS card is appropriate for a child with ADHD?

Reply
May 20, 2016 at 10:49 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Amy,

The DAS card is used for a wide array of non-apparent disabilities, so definitely stop by Guest Relations and ask!

Keep hopping!

Leap

Reply
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