Traveling to Disneyland with a person that needs extra help, perhaps Autistic or Disabled in any other way? This post is all about Disneyland Disable Access and how it was a lifesaver for us.
This week is Autism Awareness Week, and I thought it was a great time to share our experience with this excellent service that Disney has made available for families that need that extra TLC.
Why did I decide to use the Disneyland Disable Access Service?
I need to start by saying Kudos to Disney for always thinking on how to maintain Disneyland and Disney World as the Happiest Place on Earth.
This promise can only hold if everyone in the traveling party is happy.
When you have a kid with a disability, life is stressful as it is. Not to mention what happens just by thinking about going to the grocery store, let alone a vacation.
In my case my youngest child (4) is Autistic, and unless you have a kid with autism, you can’t understand the level of anxiety that I live in.
If I add to the mix my insatiable desire to travel, and what happens when I decide to go in a family vacation to Disneyland with all the kids in our mixed family, you can only imagine how my stress levels quadruple. Ok, self-induced pain, but at the end all worth, because travel enriches your life in ways that nothing else can.
Back to the reason for considering using the Disneyland Disable Access Service, an amenity that I have never heard of before until earlier this year when our awesome ABA Therapist (Applied Behavior Analysis is a type of therapy for autistic kids) mentioned to me that such thing existed.
So I went and researched all about it, and what I found was encouraging, and all of a sudden it was like the weight on my shoulders had gotten lighter.
So today, I want to share with you what I learned by using this service during our Disneyland family vacation.
What is the Disneyland Disable Access Service or DAS
The Disneyland Disable Access Service or DAS as referred to at the park is a service intended for guests whose disability prevents them from waiting in a conventional queue environment. If you have an autistic kid, you know this is the case. The lines were one of my concerns with going to Disneyland for sure.
This service allows you to schedule a return time that is comparable to the current queue wait for the given attraction. You still have to wait, but you don’t have to wait in line. Once a return time is issued, you are free to enjoy other theme park offerings such as meeting a Character, grabbing a bite to eat, enjoying entertainment, going to the restrooms, or shopping at a store, and even visiting another attraction.
Return times are valid until redeemed before park closing, which means you don’t have to rush to get to the attraction you are waiting for. Which means an incredible amount of flexibility for exploring, and let’s be real for tantrums!
The only caveat is that you can only have one active return time at a time. As soon as an outstanding attraction return time is redeemed, you can receive a return time for the same or a different attraction.
Even better, you can use the Disneyland Disable Access Service in addition to Disney’s FASTPASS® Service.
How do you get your DAS
The Disneyland Disable Access Service has to be obtained at the park. Ideally, this is the first thing you will do when you get to the park; that way you will experience the benefits of the DAS from the get-go.
You can get your DAS either at Disneyland or California Adventure Park. At Disneyland, you will go to City Hall in Main Street USA, or you can go to the Chamber of Commerce at California Adventure Park.
Both of these locations are the main Guest Services facilities at the parks.
When you get there, you will explain to the Disney representative that you need a DAS or Disability Access Service for the person in your party that requires that.
They are not allowed to ask you by law why you need it, or what your disability is; however they do need to know what your concerns are so they can assist you better. For instances you can say things like: Tommy has a hard time waiting in line, or Audrey has a hard time with loud noises, etc.
In our case I just plain and upfront said: Hank has autism. I have nothing to be ashamed of, and that was the easiest way for me to request for the service.
The cast member will proceed then to link all your tickets in your party (up to 6 in total) to the ticket of the person with the DAS so that everyone can ride together.
Will they make an exception if your party is larger than 6? Sure they can, sure they did for me, but it’s not guaranteed. In our case, we had six kids and two adults; there was no way this would have worked for us if they didn’t link all the tickets.
How to use your Disneyland Disable Access Service
Both at City Hall and the Chamber of Commerce, the cast member will ask you which attraction you want to get a return time for first, so be ready to ask for that. I particularly like to always go to the furthest part of the park. I’m going to visit that day and work my way towards the entrance of the park throughout the day.
With that in mind, you can ask for an attraction that meets such criteria when you are asked that question.
As I mentioned above, the beauty of this service (different than FASTPASS) is that you don’t have to be anywhere at any particular time. You can take your time to get to the attraction.
After you ride that first attraction, you can find another guest service station to request another return time, and that’s exactly how you ask for it. Both parks: Disneyland and California Adventure park have several locations where you can do this without having to return to the main guest services locations. See below for specific areas by park:
- City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A.
- Fantasyland kiosk next to Storybookland Canal Boats
- Tomorrowland kiosk next to Star Trader
- New Orleans Square kiosk next to the Haunted Mansion exit
- Central Plaza Information Board on Main Street, U.S.A.
Disney California Adventure Park
- Chamber of Commerce on Buena Vista Street
- Information Station on Buena Vista Street
- Cars Land kiosk at the entrance of Cars Land
- Pixar Pier kiosk near FASTPASS Distribution area for Incredicoaster and Toy Story Midway Mania!
Pros and Cons of Using the Disneyland Disable Access Service
Like anything, there are Pros and Cons to the Disneyland Disable Access Service and from our point of view these is how we see it:
The Pros of this service are vast, and here are just a few of them:
- Priceless comfort for the person in your family that needs extra attention
- Quality time for everyone in your party during your vacation. No need to be agitated and angry while waiting in line.
- Which brings me to the next excellent point: No waiting in lines
- Reduced Tantrums
- Smiles. Lots of Smiles
The only con that I see to this awesome service is a first world problem type of example, so much that I’m almost embarrassed to mention it, but it’s true.
Besides my four years old we had with us five neurotypical kids, two have been to Disneyland and Disney World before, and three that will have this to be their first Disney experience.
Both my kids (the two that had been before) and Ben’s kids (the three that hadn’t been) are going to be rotten spoiled when it comes to Disneyland and Disney World waiting in line time.
It’s funny, but we were in Disney World a few years back and my then 4 and six years old stood in lines some times for up to 2 hours, without complaining. This time, after benefiting from the Disneyland Disable Access Service, by being in the same party as my 4 years old, when we did stand in some short lines they did nothing but complain… Gotta love teenagers.
I want to leave you with one inspirational thought with this post; you can still travel even if you have a kid that is disabled in any way.
The first thing to do is to accept the diagnosis, then find ways to help your child. But whatever you do, don’t keep yourself or your kids from traveling.
In fact, there hasn’t been a week since we came back that my baby boy hasn’t requested to go back to Disneyland. That by itself makes it all worth it! He can’t tell me yet why he wants to go back, or what was his favorite thing in the trip. However, when he expresses to me that he wants to go to Disneyland today, that means that he had a great time, and as a mom, that’s all I want from a family vacation: that each and everyone one of us can make life lasting memories and have a great time.
Life is a Getaway, so keep traveling.