Disney theme parks are taking a stand against the misuse of their Disability Access Services (DAS). Significant changes will be made at Disney World and Disneyland in the coming months. In response to growing concerns and evidence of abuse, modifications will ensure the system benefits those who truly need it.

The DAS program, a fixture at Disney parks for over a decade, allows visitors with disabilities to receive a return time for attractions, similar to a FastPass, rather than waiting in traditional lines. This service is crucial for guests who cannot endure long waits due to various disabilities. However, the company has observed a troubling increase in the misuse of these passes.

According to a Disney spokesperson, the use of DAS has tripled since 2019, raising flags about its exploitation. Shannon McEvoy, a Florida-based travel agent specializing in planning trips for individuals with disabilities, noted an uptick in dubious inquiries. “I’ve had healthy people reach out asking how to obtain a DAS pass without having a disability. It’s disheartening to see such attempts to game a system designed to help those in need,” McEvoy shared.

Disney’s response involves several strategic changes to the DAS system. Starting May 20 at Disney World and June 18 at Disneyland, including hiring more staff trained to assist with and explain the accessibility offerings, collaborating with healthcare professionals to verify eligibility more rigorously, and extending the DAS pass validity from 60 to 120 days. Additionally, the number of people who can accompany a DAS pass holder will be limited to three to reduce the group sizes, sometimes including friends and extended family members beyond the immediate family unit.

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The Disney spokesperson emphasized that the DAS is intended for a “small percentage” of park-goers with developmental disabilities who cannot wait in lines. Misusing such services undermines the system and diminishes the experience for those who genuinely rely on it.

There is also a stern warning against fraud. Individuals caught falsely claiming a disability to obtain a DAS pass will face severe consequences. This would include a permanent ban from Disney parks and revocation of all tickets and passes.

Despite these necessary adjustments, some Disney guests are concerned about the potential impacts on those with legitimate needs. Sydney C., a frequent Disney visitor who manages PTSD and ADHD, expressed her relief over the extended validation period, which reduces the frequency of reapplication. However, she’s worried about the reduced party size, noting that Disney previously allowed more flexibility.

Lauren Rosenberg, another park visitor, highlighted the importance of the DAS for her daughter, Sophie, who has juvenile idiopathic arthritis. “The pass was instrumental for her to enjoy the park without aggravating her condition,” Rosenberg said, hopeful that the changes won’t affect her daughter’s future visits.

Disney’s efforts to refine the DAS system reflect a delicate balance between preventing abuse and maintaining essential support for guests with disabilities. As these changes unfold, the company remains committed to inclusivity while upholding the system’s integrity. Ultimately, Disney aims to preserve the magical experience for all guests.