Disney's new theme park disability policy sparks anger

Disney fans with disabilities are facing challenges as the company has implemented stricter rules for the Disability Access Service (DAS) pass, which allows them to reserve a time for a ride and avoid long waiting periods. Annie, a multiple sclerosis patient who has used the DAS pass numerous times, was denied the pass under the new policy.

Disney’s revised policy, effective from May 20, 20XX, only allows those with developmental disabilities such as autism or similar disorders to request a return time. Previously, anyone with a disability that made it difficult to tolerate extended waits was eligible for the program. The company did not provide specific details on the number of DAS passes issued each year or how the new policy will affect this number.

Guests now need to schedule an interview with a Cast Member (Disney employee) to discuss their medical issues and reasons for needing the pass. Disney states that guests may discuss their needs with a Cast Member via live video chat as soon as 30 days prior to their park visit. Once approved, a guest’s DAS is valid for 120 days.

The changes to the program have caused outrage among guests who benefitted from it, leading to the creation of a group called “DAS Defenders.” They launched a Change.org petition seeking to restore the old policy for passes. As of now, the petition has over 21,000 signatures.

Disney, known for its disability inclusion efforts, states that it made the change to its disability policy because people who did not really need assistance were abusing the system. However, some guests have found the new process demeaning and traumatic, triggering medical PTSD and causing them to cry during the interview process.

Some theme parks, like Universal Studios Hollywood, require documentation to obtain privileges like reserving a spot in line, which some affected guests find preferable to Disney’s approach. As a result, some are considering switching to Universal Studios for their annual visits.

Individuals with specific medical needs, such as Patricia Martinez who suffers from psoriatic arthritis and autoimmune disease, have been denied a DAS pass despite their requirements. When discussing her concerns with a park employee, she was told she would need to rent a wheelchair and wait in line like everyone else. This, she argues, is not accommodation but profiting off the disabled. As a result, she has decided not to return to Disney.

.st1{display:none}See more