Despite having a serious childhood onset chronic, progressive disease resulting in significant physical disabilities and using a wheelchair for more than 30 years, I had never before used the Disability Access System at Walt Disney World until last year. I didn’t have trouble waiting in lines until I acquired a new condition that made it challenging and threatened my enjoyment of our WDW visits.
So last fall, for the first time, I visited the Guest Services desk on my arrival at Magic Kingdom, explained my issue and requested accommodation with the DAS. It was pretty straightforward and easy. They took a photo of me, attached it to my record, and my husband and I were able to use it for return times to various attractions. At that time, the process was to go to the attraction and sign up for a DAS return with a cast member. We’d then go inside a while to shop or eat before returning to enjoy the activity.
New DAS Online Registration Process
Since that trip, Disney has enabled a new system that allows for online DAS registration. This spring we planned a bonus trip (usually we’re annual visitors) as a fun getaway. With that in mind, I thought it would be a good idea to try the new online DAS registration and reservation system. Please note, you can still do the in-person version at the parks if that is your preference.
The earliest one can try to register online for DAS is 30 days in advance of your first day at one of the parks. Since our first day is arrival and relaxing at the resort, I needed to wait one extra day to reach that threshold before starting the process.
Attempting an Early Login
There’s been a lot of coverage about how the new system can entail a long wait because there is limited staff conducting the DAS interviews. I expected it may take awhile, but was hoping that logging in right at 7:00am ET (when they open) would help limit the wait time. Unfortunately, when I signed into my account and visited the DAS registration page to request an interview, I received a message looking like they were closed. It seemed the interviews had not yet opened for the day as it appeared the message was from the previous night.
For about 20 minutes, I refreshed the page, sent a message to the DAS email, and my husband called and was put into a hold queue. I never received a response and the “we are closed” message never changed despite refreshing the website. However, my husband finally spoke with someone who told me to type “start” in the chat screen, which finally put me in the queue around 7:25am for an eventual interview. I note this because when we asked “how were we to know,” the person didn’t have an answer and there was no such instruction on the website. It may have just been a glitch in my specific login, but this problem must be common enough for them to give the instruction.
I put my computer aside to do other things, but kept it near and every few minutes would check on it. The person on the telephone had told us that the website wouldn’t time out and require me to log back in, but this was also inaccurate. Every 15 minutes or so, the webpage for my wait would produce an error and I had to re-log into My Disney Experience. Thankfully, I didn’t lose my place at all after logging in and refreshing because it was over two hours before I received a chat asking if they had my permission for a video interview. I had reached the front of the queue at last—around 9:42am (or after nearly two and a half hours)!
Interview and Pre-Booking Process
I agreed to the permission for a video interview and a friendly cast member appeared. She took a moment to pull up my account, so likely saw information about my disability and previous use of DAS. She asked me why I needed to use DAS and after I explained, she took my photo over the computer camera, and asked if I had any questions about the new system. She outlined the basics: that after speaking with her I could pre-book two attractions per day in a park, that I would book other attractions while in the parks using the app, and that the pre-bookings were considered separate and would not interfere with the day-of bookings. She also noted that the DAS option (appearing as a tile in the app) would not appear until after I entered my first park, so not to worry because I wouldn’t see it until arrival and reaching about 20 feet into the park.
One question I hadn’t seen answered in my online research about DAS was: what happens to the pre-bookings if the park hours changed? In the weeks leading up to our trip, Disney had been extending the hours of the parks in both the mornings and the evenings. The cast member reassured me that nothing would change and that my two pre-bookings would remain the same. It was a really helpful interaction and I didn’t feel rushed in being able to ask my questions.
She then said my pre-bookings would be handled by another cast member via chat and wished me a magical day. On the chat, a new cast member brought up my account and trip (which was already linked to my husband’s so that I could book DAS for both of us). We went through each day and I asked about booking the two attractions I had selected for each park. She reminded me that some of the attractions are not available for pre-booking (basically the two attractions designated for Lightning Lane purchase). Thankfully, I was prepared and already had an idea of the attractions I wanted and general timeframes. I would send her the two attractions and possible times, and then she would respond with an option. Sometimes I would ask to change the times due to a meal reservation or other preference, and she was always able to provide another option for booking. It was pretty straightforward and didn’t take long to see the pre-bookings populate in my trip schedule.
Using the New DAS in the Parks
Upon arrival to my first park on the trip, everything occurred as the cast members with DAS online registration had explained. The tile appeared in my app in the menu section (hit the three lines on the bottom right in the app, then scroll down to see the DAS tile). Any attraction that was open, was available for booking. For example, that day we went to Animal Kingdom for the Early Morning Magic half hour available to guests staying at certain resorts and Kilimanjaro Safaris was not open yet, so it was not listed. However, other AK attractions were there and I was able to book Avatar Flight of Passage right away. Once Kilimanjaro Safaris opened, I was then able to book that as well.
The app calculates the DAS return time based on the current wait minus, generally, 10 minutes. So if Avatar Flight of Passage is an hour wait, it will give you a return of 50 minutes. The app will tell you precisely what time the return starts and will add it to “My Day” in the app so you can go back and check if you forget the time.
DAS Booking Details
There are two niggling things that complicate booking just a little. First, the DAS tile will list all of the available attractions and cannot be sorted by park. So, it can be a long list to look through when you’re trying to book quickly. Second, the attractions are listed alphabetically by their official name. This means sometimes I was looking for the wrong thing and had to go back to the beginning. Once I remembered the official names (sometimes with help from my husband!), it was faster for me to find the attraction we wanted.
The pre-booked attractions must be accessed within the hour timeframe of their booking (like the old FastPass) and are separate from the bookings you make on site. Conversely, the DAS bookings on site last all day or until you use them. However, they have to be booked one at a time. If you change your mind on a booking, it can be cancelled and you can then book something else. Once you scan into the attraction by entering the Lightning Lane, you can then book the next one. As the person with DAS, I needed to scan first and then they would ask my husband to follow. One thing to note, some attractions have two scans (such as Slinky Dog Dash or Avatar Flight of Passage), and so you must wait to book until after the second scan.
Other DAS Tips and Lessons Learned
We brought our MagicBands with us to use that we’ve had for a couple of years and I find this easy for scanning into the parks and the attractions. However, we learned that smartphones can also be used (and saw someone doing this) at the Lightning Lanes.
All attractions with Lightning Lanes can be booked on DAS. We even booked some character meet and greets, so that was a terrific bonus!
Occasionally I experienced a bug where the DAS tile would disappear from the app. But I was able to get it back with no problem by either clicking on the home button and back to the menu, or logging out and back in on the app. It was a little annoying, but wasn’t a big deal.
We did experience an unexpected problem when one of the DAS’s we had booked had an accessibility problem. In this case, we had booked the Jungle Cruise and when we returned discovered that the accessible boat with the wheelchair lift was broken and out of service. The cast member gave us a choice of coming back again or giving us an open Lightning Lane pass that could be used on most other attractions. At first, we opted to return and went to visit the Enchanted Tiki Room. When we came back, the boat was still offline, so we asked for an open LL pass and used it on Haunted Mansion.
A couple other times, an entire attraction was closed or had a delayed opening and so our DAS booking was automatically changed to an open LL pass. We could either return anytime to the attraction we had booked or use it on another one. When this happened, we received alerts both in the app and via email.
I appreciated these flexibilities and changes to ensure that we could keep moving on and enjoying our day without wasting time on attractions that were closed.
For me, the online registration and DAS in the My Disney Experience app really worked well. It made the parks more accessible for me and kept me from overdoing things and risking my health. I really appreciate this application of flexibility and technology for making Walt Disney World more accessible for people with disabilities.