Our guest post comes from Faith Mooney, a young Proverbs 31 Woman, World Traveler, Entrepreneur, and Health and Wellness Coach.
Although Disney Parks have attempted to cater to special needs families, we have found it too difficult to accommodate our highly disabled family member. It became a so difficult that our family ultimately stopped going to Disney with her.
However, just recently, with such a high need to serve so many low-functioning individuals on the spectrum, Disney has finally devised a more realistic and far more supportive resource called Disability Access Service (DAS) as a better resource for families to take low-functioning disabled family members to enjoy as much of the full experience of Disney Parks as possible.
The DAS Pass is very similar to the FastPass, though, we noticed FastPasses have changed drastically compared to when Disney Parks first offered them. When before, you could use a FastPass (or MagicBand) at any time, unlimited on a ride, we were slightly disappointed that due to popular purchase of FastPass, they’re now almost no better than waiting in the Standby line. Basically, all a FastPass offers now is five or ten minutes less than an original Standby line. For instance, if Space Mountain was a 50 minute wait, FastPass for Space Mountain is no less than a 40 minute wait.
The only difference is that with a FastPass you don’t necessarily have to wait in line. If you go to a FastPass Ticket Return Distribution hub, you’ll basically get an “order number” and time slip for the ride you’re choosing. It’s kind of like waiting for your order number at In-N-Out Burger. You may have to wait 40 minutes, but at least you can walk around, buy some Mickey ears, a balloon, or a popsicle. Yet, there are only so many Mickey ears you can buy and so many popsicles you can get stuffed on, when you have nothing left to do during those extra 30 minutes.
So, to put a FastPass in short, instead of waiting in the Standby line for ten hours a day and only getting to ride seven attractions during your entire day, with a FastPass you have a chance to maybe ride eight or nine attractions during your entire day. Perhaps that was the most confusing to us, as to why FastPasses are still being purchased by nearly over half of park guests. Then again, that’s the whole reason they got ruined in the first place. Think: “I’m putting out two grand to take my family to Disney; no way I’m gonna waste time in line when I can get a Fastpass for ten bucks (times me, my husband, little Jimmy, little Katie and the grandparents).” per day.
And if you really want to become a Disney martyr and let them milk you for your entire trip, for only ten bucks more, (times you, your husband, etc…) per day, you can get a MaxPass. In addition to your FastPass, that is. Yes, we mean it when we say Disney will milk you for your entire trip. With a MaxPass on the Disneyland app, you can reserve dining anywhere in the Parks—unless, that is, you sadly attempt to reserve the Blue Bayou, which now must be reserved months prior to your visit and can no longer be reserved during your visit.
You can download Disney PhotoPass, which also is a rip-off because every time we tried to get our photos from the attraction, we were pushed, shoved, and kicked out of the way by dozens of other families in a fight to the finish to get their photos first before the screens timed out. But aside of that, what’s truly worth getting a MaxPass is… absolutely nothing, except those two unrealistic options and letting Disney rack you for an extra hundred bucks.
This was all the more reason why a DAS pass was just a no-brainer for our family. It comes with all the extra benefits, except—at no extra cost! Because Disney still hasn’t found a way to exploit disabled families (but don’t hold your breath) legally yet. At least one of the perks with getting a DAS pass, is we didn’t have to stand at the Guest Services line outside of the gate for an unnecessary length of time and miss out on an hour and a half on the park like we used to do. All we had to do was go straight to City Hall on Main Street, get the DAS pass placed on the handicapped family members’ ticket, and we were all set.
There was another perk we loved more about our DAS pass than that of a regular FastPass. The downside about a FastPass is once you get your return time for your chosen attraction (basically your “In-N-Out order number”) you have to redeem it at the attraction within that envelope time, or you’ve just lost that FastPass and waited for an hour, all for nothing. This would really bite if you spent thirty minutes at Jedi Training in TomorrowLand, then had to race all the way to New Orleans Square on the opposite side of the Park for Pirates of the Caribbean and you happen to time out five minutes short while beating your way through the crowd.
With DAS Pass however, the envelope never times out. You can, for instance, get your return time for Peter Pan between 11 AM and noon, but even if you can’t make it in time, it’s still redeemable even until when the Park closes. We gathered this because—having assisted a low functioning handicapped family member—everything is unpredictable.
At any moment, there could be a meltdown, a bolting, a seizure that lasts for twenty to thirty minutes, etc. We figured Disney took this into note when they first designed the DAS Pass, realizing it would be an emotionally unfair hardship on both the family and the handicapped individual if they were short five minutes for It’s a Small World due to little Bobby getting his feeding tube changed (which could even lead to a behavioral episode when an individual on the spectrum has been looking forward to an attraction and their brain can’t break a cycle formulation reasonably when it’s interrupted due to spontaneous circumstances).
Perhaps the most IMPORTANT and CRITICAL thing to remember if you use a DAS Pass on your trip, is that only the handicapped cardholder’s name carries the DAS Pass for the entire family. So say mom has both her’s and Bobby’s DAS Passes, but she has to help him change his feeding tube in the bathroom, so she asks dad to visit an Information Hub (which are located in every park section) to reserve their next attraction with his DAS pass. It won’t work. They need the barcode on the handicapped individual’s card first before they can add the rest of the family.
Also, only after the Guest finishes one attraction, can they receive a return time for another attraction.
An easy hack we figured out on our first day was to put our DAS Passes inside our clear iPhone cases so the barcode could easily be read without having to take it out. Keep in mind, this only works with clear iPhone cases. You only have to take out your ticket for a FastPass ticket distribution hub so it can read your barcode and spit out your wait time (In-N-Out order number). You don’t actually have to keep the wait time ticket to show or present at the actual attraction. However, it automatically links to your DisneyPark ticket. You can keep it to remember the time (like 11 AM – noon) that you have to return to your attraction, but if you can memorize it or just pull up the Disneyland app linked to your ticket, you can just toss it.
Do not confuse FastPass return time tickets with your DisneyPark ticket. You can throw out a FastPass ticket. You cannot throw out a DisneyPark ticket, as it’s a long process to go all the way back to City Hall and get a new ticket printed out.