A group representing the disability community is urging Disneyland and Disney World to reconsider recent “discriminatory” changes to the Disability Access Service program that exclude people with a wide array of disabilities.

A DAS Defenders letter addressed to Disney CEO Bob Iger, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro and Disneyland Resort President Ken Potrock and a Change.org petition with 9,000 supporters call on Disney to revise its Disability Access Service policy and reverse recent updates to the program.

“Historically, Disney has been a symbol of inclusion, acceptance and joy for disabled individuals who often face discrimination, lack of access and challenges in managing complex conditions,” according to the DAS Defenders letter. “However, with these recent changes, Disney has eroded that legacy by rolling back accommodations that have existed for years, leaving many disabled people feeling abandoned.”

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In early April, the Disneyland and Walt Disney World resorts updated the Disability Access Service programs to limit assistance to only theme park visitors with developmental disabilities like autism and other neurodivergent disorders.

“By limiting the DAS program to developmental disabilities only, Disney is effectively telling us that we are not welcome or recognized in their parks anymore,” according to the DAS Defenders letter. “The new policy fails to meet the genuine needs of all disabled guests. It is ableist and belittling.”

The changes go into effect May 20 at the Walt Disney World Resort and June 18 at the Disneyland Resort with the goal of limiting the Disability Access Service program to only guests who require the services, according to Disneyland officials.

“Disney is dedicated to providing a great experience for all guests, including those with disabilities, which is why we are so committed to delivering a wide range of innovative support services aimed at helping our guests with disabilities have a wonderful time when visiting our theme parks,” according to Disneyland officials.

According to DAS Defenders, recent revisions to Disneyland’s DAS program excludes people with disabilities including:

  • Cancer
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Long COVID
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • Narcolepsy
  • Postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)
  • Ehlers-Danlos
  • Mast Cell Activation Syndrome
  • Dysautonomia
  • Low vision and blindness
  • Brain, heart or lung conditions
  • Panic disorders
  • Immune disorders
  • Severe allergies
  • Heat and sun sensitivity
  • Rare diseases

The Disney parks are attempting to rein in the unwieldy Disability Access Service that have bogged down attraction queues and backed up Genie+ lanes as a result of a tripling in usage of the program ripe with misuse and abuse.

DAS use has exploded in recent years in part because more people have become aware of the service. Social media hacks have exploited DAS as a free way to avoid paying for the Genie+ line—cutting service and have led to abuses.

“Punishing disabled individuals for the actions of able-bodied individuals who abuse the system is not a solution,” according to the DAS Defenders letter. “These changes fail to adequately address abuse. People who abuse the system will still lie. This only punishes the disabled people who truly relied on DAS and will not be able to attend the parks at all without it.”

All of Disneyland’s accessibility options will not be available to all guests with disabilities, according to Disneyland officials. Disneyland hopes a wide suite of options will offer solutions for everyone.

Visitors who do not qualify for DAS will be directed to other options like Rider Switch passes, Stroller as a Wheelchair tags, Location Return Time passes for older non-ADA compliant queues, wheelchair transfer options, handheld devices for the visually impaired and sign language interpreters.

Changes to the DAS program put individuals with disabilities at risk and subject them to unnecessary challenges and humiliation, according to DAS Defenders.

DAS Defenders wants Disneyland and Disney World to open the revised Disability Access Service programs to a wider range of disabilities and provide free or low-cost wheelchairs, mobility scooters and Genie+ access.

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