You might have heard the rumbling that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are doing away with their Disability Access Service Card (DAS). This is the long-running program that allowed parents of children with special needs to get guest assistance cards. These cards let children and teens with physical, cognitive, developmental, or behavioral challenges skip the long ride lines. For many of them, this is the only way the Disney theme parks are even doable for their families.
A while back, we wrote about a trend in which rich socialites were hiring disabled people to get their children through the lines faster. Rumors recently surfaced that, due to this, Disney was getting rid of DAS. According to the Huffington Post, the rumor is not true, but Disney reps have confirmed that there will be a change to the program in October.
"Given the increasing volume of requests we receive for special access to our attractions, we are changing our process to create a more consistent experience for all our guests while providing accommodations for guests with disabilities," Suzi Brown, Director of Media Relations and External Communications at Disneyland said in a statement to the Associated Press.
MiceAge, a website that reports on Disneyland news, reports that DAS-card-holders will no longer be able to bypass the line. In lieu of this, the cardholder will tell Guest Relations which attraction he or she wants to ride, and this person will then give a “return time” to come back for the ride.
As HuffPo points out, the reactions have been a mixed bag. Kim McClain, a mother to a daughter with special needs, began a petition that included the following statement:
“To the decision makers: It is not a privilege to our challenged families in this Guest Assistance Pass that you presently offer. Rather, it is simply an accommodation to provide access to the park for those who otherwise would not be able to enjoy the park. If you remove this accommodation; you will undoubtedly remove the ability for many to access and enjoy the park, excluding an impaired segment of the population due to the misconduct of others. Which does not at all seem to make sense.”
Others, like Ellen Seidman of the popular Love That Max blog about her son with special needs, said people should give the new Disney changes a chance before jumping to the conclusion the new policies won’t work.
"So before we get too riled up, let's see how the system plays out. Parents of kids with special needs sure aren't shy about speaking up when something isn't working. If the realities of the new program prove too hard to handle, the parks will hear about it, and hopefully make adjustments accordingly," she wrote.