Disability Access Service

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My Personal Experience with Using Disability Access Service, DAS, Pre-Registration at Walt Disney World and Disneyland

The Disability Access Service at Disney Parks, or the DAS Pass, is available for those guests that cannot wait in traditional line queues for extended periods of time. This does not include people with mobility issues, requiring a wheelchair or ECV. Many line queues are actually ADA Compliant. This is for the Guest with cognitive disabilities, like autism or ADHD. Or diseases like Crohn’s Disease, where a Guest has to have immediate access to a restroom.

Disability Access Service
Space Mountain – Disneyland

How to Qualify for DAS

In order to qualify, you will be required to explain why you, or your child, cannot PHYSICALLY tolerate long lines. For example, a child with sensory issues may become triggered by crowds and the loud noises they come with. Or a child with ADHD may not be able to physically stand still, and could become aggressive when forced to do so. Whatever the reason, be prepared to explain it in as much detail as you feel comfortable with. Disney cannot and will not accept a Physician’s Note, so don’t waste time with that. Just kindly and clearly explain your needs. Approval and denial is entirely at cast member discretion.

What is the Difference Between DAS and Genie+? Do I Need Both?

Disability Access Service - Genie+

DAS is a free service only available to those guests with disabilities. Genie+ is a paid service that anyone can use to skip waiting in line. That’s the first difference! The second difference is how/when you obtain the return times.

Genie+ – Walt Disney World

In order to obtain a return time, or Lightning Lane, for Genie+, you need to first BUY it. Then, you need to get onto the My Disney Experience App at 7:00 am every day and start booking your Lightning Lane return times. (This is for guests that are staying on-site at a Walt Disney World Resort). Next, this is only for those attractions that have the Lightning Lane included in Genie+. If it is an Individual, i.e. paid, Lightning Lane, that is a different process. If the attraction doesn’t have Lightning Lane but there is a line, you just wait.

Genie+ – Disneyland Resort

Now, on the West Coast, you can only buy Individual Lightning Lanes or book Lightning Lane return times once you tap in to the park. PERSONAL OPINION: Genie+ is MUCH better on the West Coast. Don’t shoot the messenger!

do i need both?
Rise of the Resistance

The answer to this one is complicated. So, if the person that the DAS is registered to is NOT riding, and you want to ride, you will need Genie+. If the person that the DAS is registered to is fully intending to ride every single ride, you can double up with Genie+. But if the wait times and crowds are low? You might not need it. It will all depend on how much you want to do and how quickly you want to ride. We use the waits, sometimes, to sit down and rest, use the bathroom, or gets snacks and drinks. It will all be a matter of preference!

DAS Pass – Pre-Register

Before you use it, you must register for DAS and get approved. You can do this in two ways. First, you can pre-register by taking part in a video chat here for Disneyland and here for Walt Disney World. With pre-registering, you can get your pass between 2-30 days before your first PARK PASS RESERVATION (not the first day of your stay, unless that is also your first Park Pass). Once approved, you may also reserve up to two one-hour return times per day with the Cast Member on the video chat. The Attractions eligible for pre-registration are LAND and WORLD.

das pass – on-site register

You may also choose to wait until you arrive, and obtain your DAS Pass on-site. To do so, you will need to visit Guest Relations (Disneyland – City Hall, Chamber of Commerce, or any Guest Information Location. Walt Disney World – City Hall at Magic Kingdom or Guest Relations at any park). Once there, the person that needs the DAS will need to be present, you will explain why you need the pass. If approved, the Cast Member will take your (or your child’s) photo and link your party to that DAS Pass. Make sure everyone who will be in your group is all linked together. Then you can obtain your initial return time. You cannot pre-register for more than 1 attraction at that time unless you do so in advance via video chat.

Disability Access Service
DAS Return Time in Plans
DAS Return Time in Plans
das-personal experience

I have had the opportunity to visit both parks since DAS became available for pre-registry, so let’s talk about it. I have sat on hold for the video chat for over 6 hours 3 times and have yet to get an actual person. In both instances, though, we were able to obtain the DAS pass in the parks in under 5 minutes, and that includes the technical difficulties we temporarily experienced at Disneyland, and our first return time. I don’t know that we will ever go through with the pre-registry, simply because it is so simple to just do it in the parks, and we have become big fans of waiting until we’re there to start choosing our attractions. I’ve heard tales that if you do want to pre-register, early Sunday morning has been the most successful.

They have added the option to obtain Return Times for Disability Access Service on the My Disney Experience App, rather than running all over the park at each attraction. This was a GAME CHANGER. As soon as you tap into your return time, you can obtain the next one. It is exactly like Genie+ except that you cannot stack return times. Like I said previously, if the wait times are low, you will not likely need both. We were able to do everything at Disneyland and California Adventure, including Radiator Springs (twice), Rise of the Resistance, Web Slingers (twice), Guardians (three times), and more!

The Disability Access Service process is incredibly simple and it’s great that Disney Parks offer this option to people who cannot physically wait in line. I can’t wait to get back to Walt Disney World and use the updated service, just to see how the two locations compare! Are you ready to book your Disney Parks vacation? Contact me today!

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Cruising with Autism

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Read Time:5 Minute, 16 Second

What to know about Cruising with Autism aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Disney Cruise Line

Cruising with Autism
Royal Caribbean – Wonder of the Seas

Families traveling with Autistic family members and friends can encounter scenarios and environments that are not common in their everyday lives. And these can be incredibly stressful for individuals that thrive on the known and the routine. Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Disney Cruise Line both offer opportunities for groups cruising with Autism to cruise safely and securely, eliminating stress and worry. Well, to a certain extent! Let’s talk about what each cruise line can do for those guests cruising with Autism!

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line

Cruising with Autism

Royal Caribbean offers an autism friendly initiative for families living with autism, Down Syndrome and other developmental disabilities. This includes sensory friendly films and toys, dietary menu options, and overall autism friendly training for Adventure Ocean staff and more.

Autism Friendly Features

families living with autism
Cruising with Autism - Coco Cay Family Cabana

Royal Caribbean provides priority check-in, boarding and departure for families with Autism, and special dietary accommodations when necessary. These are brilliant accommodations for families with autism, as waiting is oftentimes one of the most difficult tasks for Autistic individuals.

Children ages 3-11 years old can receive flexible grouping by ability and exception to the toilet-training policy in Adventure Ocean. Pagers and/or phones may be available for parents while autistic children are in the care of the Adventure Ocean Club.

Autism friendly films
Cruising with Autism pexels-photo-7991506.jpeg

Autism Friendly Films are movie theater experiences presented in a low-lit and low volume environment. Guests are encouraged to freely talk and walk around during the film. In order for a sailing to qualify for an autism friendly film, there must be at least five autistic children onboard. They are also offered on all autism group cruises.

Autism Friendly toy lending
Cruising with Autism - Autism Friendly Toy Lending

Available on all ships as part of the Adventure Ocean Youth Program, Autism Friendly Toy Lending is a newer program. You may request the program, and Royal Caribbean will provide a tote bag of Autism friendly toys that are appropriate for your child.

autism friendly activities
Cruising with Autism - Youth Activities

Royal Caribbean offers activities for children with all abilities. Families are encouraged to communicate their child’s needs and abilities to the well-trained staff so that the staff can make the appropriate modifications to make sure the children are all able to be included! So great!

Autism Social Story

A social story is a useful tool for a lot of children. It is a written or visual guide that describes various social interactions, situations, behaviors, skills, or concepts. These social stories can be useful to help prepare autistic children for what’s to come. You can visit Royal Caribbean’s Cruising Social Story here:

Royal Caribbean Social Story
autism offerings for teens and adults

In addition to everything above, Royal Caribbean also offers Teen and Adult programs. Unlike the children’s programs, though, the adult and teen programs do not provide supervision or one on one attention.

Disney Cruise Line

Cruising With Autism Disney Cruise Line

Much like Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line also offers accommodations for Autistic guests. First off, check-in. You can actually complete the online check-in at least 72 hours prior to sailing. When you do this, you can choose your terminal arrival time. This will cut down on your wait time for security screening. You can also identify your needs for the Cast Members and they will provide assistance.

disney cruise line social story

Disney Cruise Line’s Social Story comes in a downloadable 30-page activity booklet. This booklet is great for all kids, and highlights the arrival/boarding process, muster drill, as well as fun activities for kids. You can access this booklet here:

Cruising with Autism DCL Social Story
Disney Cruise Line
theaters, movies, and restaurants

Some restaurants and shows have audio/visual experiences, like strobe lights and fog, for example, that may be frightening. You can contact Disney Cruise Line Special Services at least 60 days in advance of sailing to discuss seating options.

In addition, Cast Members will be available beginning 30 minutes before shows at the Walt Disney Theater. You may request to hold seats if someone in your party cannot wait and must arrive as close to show time as possible. Seats in the back of the theater are usually recommended for guests that may need to come and go during the performance.

Finally, the Buena Vista Theater offers Family Movie Fun Time, which is an opportunity to enjoy a family feature film in a relaxed environment. Unlike a traditional movie theater experience, some lights will be left on, the volume will be turned down, and audience members are welcome to talk, leave their seats, walk around, and have fun.

characters, water slides, and debarkation
Disney Cruise Line Characters
Mickey and Minnie enjoying Alaska

Disney Cruise Line provides the opportunity for just one person to wait in line for characters if there is a member of your family with a disability that impacts their ability to wait in line. Single parents or guardians are also given the opportunity to speak to Character Greeters for assistance. For guests who want to ride the Aquaduck/Aquadunk/Mickey Slide/Twist n Spout, etc, but cannot wait in lines, it is advised to arrive just prior to opening or near closing. Unfortunately there are no alternate entrances for these experiences.

Your family can choose Express Walk Off, Mid-Point Debarkation, or Delayed Debarkation. These options are available to decrease the stress of the debarkation process. You may contact Disney Cruise Line Special Services at (407) 566-3602 or via email at specialservices@disneycruise.com.

youth activities – disney cruise line

Unlike Royal Caribbean, Disney Cruise Line is unable to provide one-on-one counselor care, a counselor with specialty training, or counselor-assisted medical attention. There is also no exception for older children without the capacity for toilet training. Children who attend the Kids Clubs must be toilet trained and able to participate within counselor-to-child ratio groups.

Guests with Cognitive Disabilities are encouraged to attend Open House programs to take part in Kids Club activities.

So there you have it! Cruising with Autism! Cruising is a great way to see the world and it’s so wonderful to see travel companies embracing opportunities to include all families. Have you gone cruising? Let’s hear your experiences in the comments!

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Navigating Universal Studios with Special Needs

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It’s time to look at Universal Studios and how to enjoy your vacation with special needs and disabilities. Universal Studios is quite inclusive and truly is a vacation spot for everyone!

UNIVERSAL WITH MOBILITY ISSUES

Universal Studios incorporates the line queue into most of their attractions storylines, so all line queues, except for Pteranodon Flyers at Islands of Adventure, can accommodate manual wheelchairs. For the full list of requirements and accommodations for Universal’s attractions, visit the Universal Orlando Resort Guide for Rider Safety and Accessibility. It is important to note that no attractions can fit ECVs or motorized wheelchairs EXCEPT the Hogwarts Express.

All shopping and dining locations are wheelchair accessible, and parades and shows all have designated viewing areas. Guest room accessible features include 36″ doors, accessible peepholes, closets with rods at 48″, toilets with grab bars, accessible showers, including roll in showers, adjustable or combination shower head, and/or tub with with seat and hand bar.

UNIVERSAL WITH HEARING DISABILITY

Universal Studios offers American Sign Language Interpreters by request at least 14 days in advance by emailing  SignLanguageServices@universalorlando.com. There is also Open Captioning on many attractions.

UNIVERSAL WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

Large print and braille scripts are available upon request.

UNIVERSAL WITH COGNITIVE DISABILITIES

Visit Guest Services when you arrive, and explain accommodation needs if required. Universal’s goal is to ensure that everyone is able to make well-informed decisions about their ability to safely, comfortably, and conveniently experience each of their
attractions. If you have any questions, please stop by Guest Services inside the main entrance for assistance. Guest Services Coordinators are also available by email and phone seven days a week from 8:30 a.m. until park closing, and make every effort to respond to messages within 24 to 48 hours. If you require an immediate response,
please call 407-224-4233, option 4.

If Guest Services determines you are eligible, you will be issued an Attraction Assistance Pass (AAP). This card contains a barcode for scanning at rides. It folds to fit into the pocket of a lanyard, but be sure to secure your lanyard on wild rides, like the Velocicoaster! Just like at Disney, the return time is not necessarily IMMEDIATE. So if you are looking for immediate access, I recommend staying at a Premier Resort, which includes the Express Pass Unlimited, or just purchase the Express Pass Unlimited.

Ready to book your Universal Studios vacation? Contact me today!!

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Navigating Disney with Special Needs

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Read Time:4 Minute, 51 Second

As a special needs parent myself, I know how overwhelming the thought of traveling can be. I also know that special needs children grow up to be special needs adults. I ALSO know that these people are amazing. So what does Disney do for special needs?

DISNEY WITH MOBILITY ISSUES

Walt Disney World and Disneyland are both able to accommodate guests with mobility issues, whether you use a wheelchair, ECV, scooter, etc or not. The first stop for all guests at all theme parks should be Guest Relations. Here, you can speak with a cast member to determine what you qualify to use. In most cases, you will receive a wheelchair pass to access most attractions, where you will then be able to take your wheelchair into the line queue, where possible. Disneyland, which opened in 1955, was certainly not built to accommodate wheelchairs, but they have done their best to make it possible for all people to enjoy Disneyland. Likewise, Walt Disney World has been updated as much as possible for those with ambulatory limitations. To access the full list of accommodations for each park:

DISNEYLAND
WALT DISNEY WORLD

DISNEY FOR HEARING DISABILITIES

For guests with partial or total hearing loss, both Walt Disney World and Disneyland have accommodations available! These include assistive listening devices, handheld captioning, video captioning, sign language, and, for resort hotel guests, hotel room amenities. For guests that require room accommodations, contact both locations at least 14 days in advance. (407) 560-2547 or disability.services@disneyparks.com

Portable captioning systems that use the Disney Handheld Device—which amplify sound through headphones or induction loop—are recommended for Guests with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Disney Handheld Devices are available through Guest Relations and require a $25.00 refundable deposit. You must return the device on the same day for a refund.

Sign Language interpretation are provided on a rotating basis, as follows:
-Disney’s Magic Kingdom: Mondays and Thursdays
-EPCOT: Fridays
-Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Sundays and Wednesdays
-Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Tuesdays and Saturdays

-Disneyland Park: Mondays and Saturdays
-Disney’s California Adventure: Sundays and Fridays

For more information:
DISNEYLAND
WALT DISNEY WORLD

DISNEY WITH VISUAL IMPAIRMENTS

Again, both Disneyland and Walt Disney World offer accommodations for people with vision loss, and has even been recommended by the American Federation for the Blind. All theme parks have the following services available:
-Audio Description
-Braille Guidebooks
-Stationary Braille Maps
-Portable Tactile Maps

DISNEYLAND
WALT DISNEY WORLD

DISNEY WITH COGNITIVE DISABILITIES/AUTISM

Disney is a magical place for everyone, INCLUDING guests with cognitive disabilities, including cerebral palsy, Down Syndrome, Autism, sensory processing disorder, ADHD, and more. There are several ways that Disney has made it possible to plan a majority of your trip in advance, to minimize any extra stress, allowing the entire family the opportunity to relax and enjoy themselves. Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance. No one enjoys standing in long lines just to get a ticket, and for individuals with cognitive disabilities, this can be akin to torture! There are plenty of ways to secure your tickets before you arrive on site! The best way is to use a travel agent, aka ME!

Know where the best locations are for breaks, no matter where you’re going!

Disneyland
Walt Disney World

There are lots of quiet places to regroup and collect yourselves. When in doubt, ask a cast member where there is a quiet place close by. Along with quiet places, know where the companion bathrooms are! And make sure to have a stroller and/or wheelchair ready BEFORE arriving at the parks. There are several rental locations all over Orlando and Anaheim.

DISABILITY ACCESS SERVICE

The most important thing to know is how to get the DAS Pass. This pass allows you to get a return time for an attraction in place of standing in line. Most mobility issues do not need the DAS Pass, because the line queues can accommodate you with a wheelchair pass. The DAS Pass is for people that physically cannot wait in line, whether because of fear of crowds or anxiety or the inability to understand waiting. You will simply approach a cast member at the attraction that you wish to go on, ask for a return time, and then do something else, be it a snack or another attraction with no wait (the carousel is a good one!), until it is time to return.

So how do you get the DAS Pass? It is incredibly simple, and there are now TWO ways to get the pass. The traditional route is to go to Guest Services as soon as you arrive at the park for the day. City Hall (at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland Parks), Chamber of Commerce (Disney’s California Adventure), Guest Relations (EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom). Your whole party should be there, you will explain why you, or your child, needs the DAS Pass, and the Cast Member will determine whether or not you qualify. Again, the DAS Pass is for guests who cannot wait in a traditional line queue because of their disability. A wheelchair pass will be given to guests that have a mobility issue.

The second option is to preregister through the Disneyland (beginning December 20) and Walt Disney World websites. The person registering for the pass does need to be present for the video call, and the cast members will determine eligibility. Once you preregister, between 2 and 30 days before your trip, you will then be allowed to pre-book 2 experiences per day.

The rules for DAS are simple: anyone in your party can request a return time, but the person the DAS pass was actually issued for MUST be present to ride.

In my experience, Disney Parks are fantastic with all disabilities. Ready to book your trip? Contact me today!!

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