How to Use Disneyland’s Disability Access Service (DAS)

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Nobody wants to spend time at what is supposed to be the “Happiest Place on Earth” managing meltdowns but it’s the life of parents who have children with special needs. Prolonged exposure to bright lights, long lines, loud noises and the over-exuberance that is Disney can be trying for any child. For a child with sensitivities, Disneyland can be overwhelming. Proper use of Disneyland’s Disability Access Service (also known as DAS) can be wonderful.These helpful tips can make it work for you and your family.

Boy and girl inside Dumbo at Disneyland

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Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS)

Disneyland offers a Disability Access Service (DAS) for guest with special needs. This was previously called a Guest Assistance Card (GAC). My family had been able to use the GAC on many trips over the years. Our daughter has autism and when she was younger (and meltdowns were more prevalent), we used the GAC on each visit.

Boy and girl in Mr. Toad's Wild Ride car at Disneyland

How Did GAC Work?

In the past with the GAC we would show it to the Cast Member at the front of each ride and they would then instruct us where to go, which was either through the Fast Pass line or through the exit.

Sometimes the Cast Member would give us an alternate waiting area where our daughter had a bit more room instead of being held in a tight line. For example, we were allowed a separate waiting space in the shade to wait for Tinker Bell.

Girl talking to Tinker Bell at Disneyland

We used FASTPASS when we could but when the lines were long, was in the bright sun or in a tight space, we opted to use the access system. I allowed time in our schedule to go back to the hotel and take a break in the pool. Our family used the GAC on many trips. Each time our daughter was tantrum and melt-down free the entire day!

When the Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS) was introduced we were nervous to try this new system. The old system had worked out well for us and I’d heard not-so-good things about the DAS. I completely understand the need for change. The GAC system was being abused. Some visitors felt it offered “front of the line” privileges that were unfair. It’s definitely a hot-button subject.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland
Waiting in line at Disneyland for “it’s a small world”

How the DAS Works at Disneyland

The Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS) system has morphed a bit with several notable changes. If you have used the GAC in the past or are new to trying the DAS, keep reading for my tips on how the system can work for your family. 

DAS allows guests to have a “virtual” waiting area. A Cast Member will assign a return time for a chosen attraction. The DAS holder and the rest of their group can arrive at that designated time, allowing them to wait outside of the regular queue. The DAS holder and those going on the ride will then be allowed through either the exit or via the FASTPASS entrance.

Girl and dad standing in line for Autopia cars at Disneyland

In addition to cogitative issues, the DAS can also be used for those with physical or mobility disabilities. DAS can also be obtained for adults, not just children. I cover an overview on the system and some tips on how to use it with your group. Once assigned, DAS is valid for up to 60 days.

How to Obtain a DAS

Before your trip, download the Disneyland app to your smart phone. Take note of guest relations “Information” kiosks on the park maps. These are located all around the parks, and that is where you’ll visiting throughout the day.

There are several locations to obtain a DAS:

  • City Hall in Disneyland
  • Chamber of Commerce at Disney California Adventure park
  • Any of the guest relations kiosks located through the Parks. In the morning, the lines will be much shorter at the kiosks, so I recommend going there.

Some children with cognitive disabilities may feel more comfortable waiting in line from their stroller. Request a “stroller as wheelchair” tag at either City Hall or Chamber of Commerce.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

Assigning the DAS

You will be asked to explain to the Cast Member what the possible issues might be. With regards to our daughter, it’s anything from a full-blown tantrum with hitting and screaming to laying down on the sidewalk and refusing to move. You may hear stories online of Cast Members being rude or interrogating families when they request a DAS. Please know that the DAS system is often abused. You will never be asked to provide “proof” of a disability. But it’s the Cast Member’s job to make sure the DAS is being used properly and if it’s really necessary.

Girl wearing sunglasses at Disneyland

In general Cast Members are very understanding and cooperative. The person obtaining the DAS must be present. Once my daughter was being very uncooperative and ran off. The Cast Member helped us track her down and supplied us with extra FASTPASS for the day. She even told us where we could get free ear plugs (at First Aid) in case any of the attractions were too loud for our daughter.

The Cast Member will request to see your park tickets. Up to 6 members of your group may benefit from a single DAS. Park tickets should have the name of each group member written on the back. This will make it easier to redeem the DAS at each location.

Back side of a Disneyland park ticket
Sign where it says “signature” to keep track of each person’s ticket

Choosing an Attraction for the DAS Pass

The Cast Member will use the DAS holder’s park ticket each time a ride assignment is made. They will ask you which ride you’d like to get the pass for. You may choose any ride or attraction with a queue. You are not limited to only rides that offer FASTPASS. Also, if there is a ride for which there are no more FASTPASS available for the day, you may still choose it for the DAS. One instance when DAS cannot be assigned is if the ride is currently non-operational or “down” during that time.

The Cast Member will scan the DAS holder’s park ticket and give your party a scheduled time to arrive at the attraction. This “reservation” will be noted on your Disneyland app for reference.

Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge spires above the Millennium Falcon
Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run allows DAS use without FASTPASS

Getting a Return Time with DAS

Once you’ve received the Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS), you can visit the guest relations kiosks scattered through out the Park. Here you’ll receive a designated return time for a particular attraction. You will be pulling the park tickets in and out all day long. In order to minimize wear and tear (or risk losing them!), I suggest keeping it all inside of a Disney Lanyard.Once there a Cast Member will can the DAS holder’s park ticket and ask you which ride you’d like it for. You can choose any ride or attraction in the park, not just one in the “Land” you’re currently in. Then the Cast Member will refer to the wait times on their laptop computer and tell you a check-in time to get on that specific ride.  You are expected to keep note of this time yourself or on the Disneyland app.

You can show up anytime after this point and there is no “window” of time (like with Fastpass). Cast Members can only assign one ride at a time on your DAS. The DAS holder must have their ticket scanned at each location and actually be going on the ride. This means that if the DAS is assigned to your child, your child has to board with the rest of the group. 

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland
Handheld DAS scanner at Fastpass entrance

Checking in with Disneyland Disability Access Service (DAS)

When your check-in time rolls around you’ll show the DAS ticket to a Cast Member at the entrance/FASTPASS line of that ride.  Cast Members have scanners which scan each ticket. This allows them to see the designated return time for verification. You will pass through either the FASTPASS line or through the exit to access the attraction (whichever the Cast Member indicates).

The DAS does not allow you to “skip the line”. There will still be a wait until it’s time to board. Additionally if using the FASTPASS entrance, there may still be a wait in that queue. See these ideas on Things to Do Waiting in Line at Disney Parks.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

What Works With DAS

I will greatly admit that having a special needs child is a challenge in itself because you never know what you might get one day (or moment) to the next. During one particular visit, there was no less than six times that our daughter got to the front of the line and then decide she did NOT want to ride after all. A few times she got back in line again after bailing out and would go on the ride.

Being able to have that ability (for her to think it over and then try again) was very helpful. I know that if we’d been standing in a 30-minute…60-minute…or goodness, a 90-minute line only to have her say she didn’t want to ride would have been very frustrating for everyone. And Cast Members were very patient about letting us get in and out of line!

Girl sitting inside Dumbo at Disneyland

The assigned wait times are generally comparable to FASTPASS times. It could be only a few minutes or a few hours before your reservation time is ready. The wait will allowed time to walk to the ride, have a snack in the shade, or ride on something else in the area.

Challenges When Using Disneyland Disability Access Service

Some of the kiosks are spread far away from each other. It’s easier to use in certain areas and more difficult in others. For instance, in Fantasyland the rides are close together so there isn’t as much walking back and forth. In other areas of the park the kiosks are a bit more spread out and there is a considerable amount of walking back and forth (sometimes through very congested areas) if you want to use the DAS.

Cars Land decorated for the holiday season
DAS can be a challenge when the parks are busy.

Using DAS can be very challenging to accomplish with only one adult in your group. We tried the system on a busy Saturday in early summer. Lines were long and the park was packed. It was helpful that my husband and I were able to trek back and forth between the rides and the DAS while one of us stayed in a ride line. Having to take the kids back to the kiosk each time would be hard if you were the only adult and also dealing with a special needs child.


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Getting the Disneyland Disability Access Service to Work For Your Family

The DAS does work for us but it’s definitely work. Having to go back and forth to the kiosk each time can drag down the day. It takes a bit more planning than usual. Sometimes the lines for DAS are very long. Trying to do the DAS for a child with more severe disabilities would be a challenge because there is much more back and forth and lots more waiting. Having a second adult is a must.

Girl wearing princess hat at Disneyland

These are a few important things to know:

  • The DAS holder does NOT need to be present each time you request a new return time. One adult can grab the new DAS time while the other adult waits with kids.
  • You may request a DAS for the other park (if you have a Park Hopper). This means you can be inside Disneyland and request a DAS for an attraction at Disney California Adventure.
  • You’ll be able to access the DAS return time on the Disneyland app.
  • DAS can be used on rides that do not offer FASTPASS. This includes Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge or Dumbo The Flying Elephant in Fantasyland.
  • If you have a DAS for a child that doesn’t meet the height requirement, they will not be able to ride. This also means nobody else in the group will be able to use that DAS for the attraction either. Make sure to know Disneyland height requirements before requesting the DAS time.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs and obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) #Disneyland

What to Do While You’re Waiting

  • Finding things to do in between Disneyland Disability Access Service times isn’t too hard. Some special needs kids can get scared or anxious at Disneyland. There are so many non-ride things to experience at Disneyland. Rather than jam-pack the day with ride after ride, consider spacing out the entertainment. 
  • There are certain accommodations for some attractions like the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through. If you can’t take the stairs or don’t like confined spaces, there is an alternate area to experience the attraction.
  • Plan your day by alternating rides with other experiences that don’t require DAS. There are parades, shows or attractions like the Enchanted Tiki Room or Tarzan’s Tree House.

Girl in Tarzan's Tree House at Disneyland

  • Have a snack or a meal in between DAS times.
  • Young kids can burn off energy at one of the play areas inside the Park.
  • Seek out another attraction with a short wait time.
  • Visit one of the quiet resting areas I talk about in this post, How to Avoid the Disneyland Meltdown.
  • Go back to the hotel for a nap or swimming. Your DAS return time doesn’t expire until the park closes.

Using DAS with Other Disneyland Services

One of the best things about DAS is that it can be used in conjunction with other Disneyland services.

Rider Switch – If your special needs child opts out, the rest of the family can still go on an attraction. One adult will wait with the child, then have a turn to “switch” places with the adult that already went on the ride. I outline all the details on how to best use Rider Switch on this post about Disneyland Ride Height Requirements.

FASTPASS – When obtaining FASTPASS, these ride assignments are kept separate from the DAS reservation. You’ll be able to see both in the Disneyland app and the DAS will be noted as such.

If you're planning a Disneyland vacation these are the must-know tips for special needs including physical, mobility and cognitive. Tips for obtaining a Disability Access Service pass (DAS) at the Disneyland resort including how it works, who can use it and ways to keep your Disney day melt down free! #MomRewritten #Disneyland #DisneyTips #SpecialNeeds #Disney #Autism #Autistic

 


This article originally posted Jun 20, 2014 and has been updated with new information.

5 thoughts on “How to Use Disneyland’s Disability Access Service (DAS)

  1. Thank you so much for the review. My husband and I are planning on going to Disneyland next summer. Our oldest is ADHD and has meltdowns when hes over stimulated and fee is “trapped” ( his words) in lines. Your article has replaced my fear of Disneyland with hope.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Kelli! If your son has never been to Disneyland it may be a good idea to prep him on some of the rides, especially those that are especially dark, fast, scary or loud. Because I’ve been to Disneyland many times over the years, I’ve been able to explain to my stepdaughter ahead of time what to expect. However if you don’t have experience of the Parks you could try watching YouTube videos of the rides in advance or even just asking (you can reach out to me at any time, [email protected]). Bring a comfort item for him (my stepdaughter likes to carry Lego Mini-figures in her pocket for comfort) if that helps with the over-stimulation. Blessings and have a wonderful trip!

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