One of Disney’s latest issues in how it deals with guests with special needs is that autistic visitors (and their guardians) are taking issue with Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS) program, which allows guests with disabilities certain accommodations while visiting the parks.
On August 17th, 2018, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a trial will be necessary to determine if Disney violated any part of the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are 30 plaintiffs involved in this case, and they’ve filed on behalf of the park visitors with severe autism saying that Disney’s DAS program fails to adequately accommodate their needs – leading to “meltdowns.”
Disabilities Access Service
Disney’s DAS program works a lot like Disney’s old FastPass program in that guests with a variety of disabilities, including autism, can stop by an attraction, get a return time, and enjoy minimal wait times to ride the attraction.
The differences are that every attraction is included and there’s no limit to how many requests a guest can make during the day. Unlike the new FastPass+ system but like the old FastPass system, these guests have to get a piece of paper with a return time, and only one reservation can be held at a time.
To get a DAS card, you must visit Guest Relations and explain the requested accommodation. At this time, the Cast Member will take your picture and provide you with a card to present at kiosks throughout the park to get a return time, which will mean less than a 15 minute wait. Cast Members can also hand out readmission passes at their discretion so guests can get right back on the ride without any wait at all.
The photo identification card is meant ensure that the person who requested the accommodation is the one who is actually using it.
This system replaced the old policy where guests with disabilities could go right to the front of the line. Word got out that wealthy travelers were abusing the system by hiring disabled “tour guides” to be part of their party so they could cut the lines too.
The plaintiffs in the case are saying that those with severe autism are unable to wait even the 15 minutes or less that Disney has now instituted. They say that it’s the nature of the neurological disability that makes waiting an impossibility, meaning that this is not an adequate accommodation for this disability.
A judge, however, says that while Disney’s policy may have created a difficult situation for some guests, they didn’t intentionally discriminate against these autistic visitors. When the case goes to court, a judge will decide whether Disney needs to modify their current policy to better accommodate such individuals.
Does Disney’s DAS policy adequately accommodate guests with disabilities?