By April 7, 2014 0 Comments Read More →

Does my husband qualify for disability access at Disney?

The card entitles the holder and his/her party to get a later return time to avoid waiting in line for an attraction.

The card entitles the holder and his/her party to get a later return time to avoid waiting in line for an attraction.


We had heard that Disney changed its policy on access for the disabled, primarily to prevent able-bodied tourists from scamming the system so they could jump to the head of the sometimes interminable lines at Walt Disney World.

The most famous example was a report in the New York Post in May 2013 that a wealthy New York couple hired a disabled “guide” for $130 per hour ($1,040 per day) to usher their able-bodied children to the front of lines at Disney World. As the Post reported:

“My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” crowed one mom, who hired a disabled guide through Dream Tours Florida.

Under Disney’s new Disability Access System (DAS), guests with disabilities must apply to a Guest Relations desk and register for the card. The card enables the visitor to go to any attraction and reserve a “return time,” based on the average wait at that moment. The visitor can then return to the attraction at any time after the given hour. A return time can be requested for only one ride or attraction at a time.

See more details at

Disability Access Service Card

We wondered whether my husband would qualify under Disney’s new rules. He had recently undergone rotator cuff surgery that left his right arm encased in a sling, but we were sure that alone wouldn’t qualify him under the new policy. What might work is that he is a 70 percent disabled U.S. Army veteran, even though he has no mobility restrictions and played golf five days a week until his recent surgery.

We also wondered whether I, with no obvious disabilities, would be able to accompany him.

The new policy, according to Disney, is designed to accommodate guests “who aren’t able to wait in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities).” But the rules are vague about how such determinations are made, and what kind of evidence might be required. A Disney spokeswoman will say only that such decisions are made on a “case by case” basis.

As it turned out, my husband was granted the card easily when he simply gave his name and address and the clerk entered his name in a computer. We assumed that Disney must have access to a U.S. veterans’ database contains my hsuband’s name, because the clerk did not ask to see identification or any other credentials that attest to my husband’s disabled status. (He’s a member of the Disabled Veterans of America, but didn’t have to show his membership card.)

He had his photo taken, signed a card, and voila! , he had his Disney DAS—issued for two people, meaning I was automatically allowed to accompany him, and the card was valid for the next day as well.

The new system worked fine for us—though, to be honest, we never used it—but not everyone is happy with it.

The DAS Card “might be effective for some, [but] it doesn’t work for all, including those with cognitive disabilities—waiting isn’t something they are good at,” freelancer Tracey Harrington McCoy wrote for Newsweek in an article titled “In Disney Crackdown, Disabled Kids Are Collateral Damage.”


(For more details on access at Disney World, check out our other stories: Disney Removes Obstacles for Theme Park Visitors, and  Insider Tips for a Smooth Ride at Disney.)

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