Disney Expands New Disability Access Policies For Theme Parks
Disney is continuing to roll out major changes to accommodations for visitors with disabilities at its theme parks.
Visitors to Disneyland Resort can now start making arrangements for disability accommodations and schedule return times for some experiences in advance of their trip to the parks, the company said.
The new advance planning option is available at the California parks for visits occurring Dec. 20 or later.
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Until now, Disneyland visitors with disabilities had to wait until they arrived at a theme park in order to request accommodations. But earlier this year, Disney said that it was “making some enhancements” to its disability policies as part of a broader set of changes that included ending the FastPass system — a free offering that allowed visitors to skip the line for a limited number of attractions.
The new system, which launched earlier this fall at Disney World, allows visitors with disabilities to request accommodations through the Disability Access Service, or DAS, program between two and 30 days before arriving at a park via a live video chat with a cast member. At the time of the video chat, individuals can also pick two experiences per day from a select group of options and they will get a one-hour return window for those activities on the day of their visit, Disney said.
Once at the park, visitors with disabilities will still be able to request return times for one attraction at a time in order to avoid physically waiting in line. But, instead of having to arrange a return time with a cast member, visitors who are part of the DAS program can use the Disneyland app to schedule return times.
Disney said the DAS program is intended for “guests who have difficulty tolerating extended waits in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities).”
The new policies come eight years after Disney overhauled its disability access procedures in response to what the company called widespread abuse of a system that often let people with disabilities skip to the front of lines. Since 2013, the DAS program has allowed those with disabilities to obtain a return time for one ride at a time so that they do not have to physically remain in line to wait.
Dozens of families of children with autism and other disabilities sued over the 2013 changes claiming that the return-time offering was insufficient and violated their rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Last year, a judge ruled in favor of Disney in the first of the lawsuits to go to trial. The case is now being appealed.
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