Traveling with a special needs child or a person with disabilities can be challenging especially when traveling to a large crowded place like Walt Disney World, but Disney helps alleviate a lot of that stress with their Disabilities Access Service Pass (DAS). Here’s everything you need to know about obtaining and using the DAS Pass at Walt Disney World.
We have been to Walt Disney World 3 times with our 6 year old special needs child in the last 18 months. The first time we went I was very nervous. What if he had a meltdown with a sensory overload? What if he couldn’t wait in the lines? After all, this was the child that rolled around screaming in the security line at LAX. Basically, the worst case scenario of traveling with a special needs child happened. Then I reminded myself how far we had come and that he had been to Ireland with no mishaps or meltdowns. There was still some anxiety so I researched and chatted with fellow special needs parents who had been to Disney World. They told me how much easier the DAS pass made the trip. And they were right (The proof is in the pudding- we’ve been back twice since then and just booked a fourth trip!) so I am sharing our experience to let you know that with the DAS pass it is possible to visit the happiest place on earth with a special needs traveler and have a happy trip.
Where do I go to get my DAS pass?
Guests can obtain their DAS pass at the main entrance of any of the parks where they will register and have their photo taken. The cast members issuing the pass and taking the photo were very patient with Ethan during the process. We get our pass as soon as we enter the first park we go to which is usually Magic Kingdom. Guests can obtain the pass at Magic Kingdom at City Hall as shown above.
We did not receive a physical pass. The DAS pass was noted electronically on our family’s Magic Bands and Ethan was noted as the guest with the disability. The DAS pass can be used with the FastPass+ system. Once you have obtained your pass it is good at all parks at Walt Disney World.
The first two things we do are get the pass and rent one of their awesome double strollers directly across from City Hall which also makes navigating the park with a special needs kid much easier. The strollers are large and accommodating even for older kids like mine are usually past stroller age.
How does the pass work?
The most important thing to realize is that the DAS pass is not a “cut” in line. You can not walk up to a ride or event and immediately jump into the front of the line with the DAS. That was the way the old system worked and abuse of the system was rampant to the point that Disney Parks changed the way they accommodate guests with disabilities. With the DAS pass anyone in the guest with disabilities party can go up to the cast member monitoring entrance to the attraction and request a return time. (Obtaining the return time is different at Disneyland so be sure and read how the pass works at that park.) The return time will be issued based on the current wait time and so the guest with disabilities and their party can go sit down, grab a bite to eat or drink, etc. and come back at the designated time to experience the attraction with no wait. Once the ride is completed another return time can be requested for another attraction. If a DAS time is used for a ride the person noted as the guest with disabilities must be riding, otherwise a FastPass+ time must be used.
What do I need to get the pass?
We brought a letter from Ethan’s therapist to document his challenges but Disney has never asked for any sort of proof of disabilities. According to their DAS information page, Disney Parks takes their guests at their word on their disabilities and that is all that is required to receive the pass. The DAS pass is for individuals with disabilities that are both visible and not visible which is the category Ethan is in. The whole park was wonderful with working with Ethan including the characters as shown above. All of the noise and activity got to him when meeting Anna and she was so patient and let him go at his own pace and didn’t try to rush him. Both the pass and the cast members help make our Disney trips successful.
How many times can I use the pass?
We found there to be no limit on requesting return times with the DAS pass. However, with our FastPass+ times we only used the DAS pass 2-3 times per day because there is only so much riding and walking we can do in a day. 🙂
Disney magic is for everyone and with the DAS pass Walt Disney World makes their parks and attractions accessible for all guests of all abilities. Ethan is doing very well and we’ve come to consider ourselves a bit of Disney Old G’s now that we have been so many times, but the DAS pass gives us peace of mind as a traveling special needs family.