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  • Writer's picturePractically Perfect Pixie Dust

The New DAS Changes: Our Thoughts

Updated: Jun 12

The newly updated DAS requirements and procedure to qualify have been in place for roughly two weeks.  We have been reading different articles, plus many Reddit boards and Facebook groups dedicated to disability travel, and watching people’s reactions on TikTok and Instagram.  There are a lot of hurting, angry guests posting about their experiences and we feel for them.

Let’s start with, we 100% believe that cheating with DAS is running rampant. Clearly, social media has made more people aware of DAS and taught them how to use the system to their advantage. This needs to be curtailed in some way, but right now it seems like Disney’s correction was an over correction. 

Disney’s new solution is clearly hurting people in the disabled community. Many guests with disabilities which make a conventional Disney vacation impossible, who had previously relied upon DAS, no longer qualify for this service. For years Disney has been a safe accessible place for them to visit. When our own son, who is on the autism spectrum, was young, Walt Disney World was the one place we knew we could manage a successful vacation. We did not become a Disney family because of this, we had been visiting every couple of years since our oldest was born. But there is no doubt our affection and love for this place increased because of the respect they gave our family dynamic and the things they had in place to make traveling possible for us. 

With the tightening up of who is eligible for DAS, Disney is suggesting a number of alternative solutions for guests who no longer qualify for DAS. You can read those here. While on the surface these suggestions may seem reasonable, I can tell you that many of these suggestions for other accommodation would not have worked for our family. Autism, like many, many other disabilities, is not convenient. The struggles that surface throughout the day often resulting in our family having to change what we can do in a day on the fly. Something that was perfectly reasonable one minute becomes absolutely impossible the next. Enclosed spaces, crowds, and the unexpected can lead to a broken child that cannot be put back together. One thing Disney is almost patronizingly suggesting is to have guests with crowd or sensory issues wearing noise canceling headphones. Every family who has a loved one with sensory issues, someone for whmo noise canceling headphones would help, is already using them. They are already practicing being in crowds.  They are practicing dealing with the heat. We practiced all of these things over and over, front-loading as we went in oder to help our son prepare to do a Disney trip sucessfully WITH DAS. When you have a medical or neurological condition that makes standing in line or being in crowds difficult, just trying over and over again does not fix it.  Or, believe me it would have been fixed already.

It is also concerning at the moment, because the accommodation of line re-entry does not seem to be something that is actually available in the parks. This is theoretically where a guest can exit the queue, while the remainder of their party stays in line, and then rejoin, meeting with their party at the lighting lane juncture once they are able. But the CMs in the parks do not seem to be trained on this, and so it is not actually a viable option. 

All in all, these changes are very disheartening to our family, and many others who have relied on this service for the ability to positively enjoy a Disney vacation. When so many facets of your life are difficult, Disney being a safe place to be different was part of what made it magical for us. 

Now, we have no idea how many people are being approved, and what the ratio is to people who are being denied.  We do not have a trip scheduled until the fall, so we have no first hand experience with any of this. While our son will theoretically still qualify under the new requirements, he is in college now and technically an adult. We have read that there are adults on the spectrum being denighed DAS, or told it is approved for them, but not any addtional guests. We do not know if this is correct, but it is very concerning to us. Until our trip, we will watch, wait, and listen to people’s stories.  We are trying to think outside the box. How could we, or a family who has stuggles like ours, manage a vacation with out DAS in a way that is still meanful and worthwhile. While it will look different, we think it is possible. Look for articles from us in the future for how we suggest handling a Disney vacation with a disabilities, without DAS, moving forward. Do you have a story to tell us about your experience?  Leave us a comment or send us a DM on Instagram. We would love to hear your perspective and we will keep you posted as we learn more.


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