Follow Up Posted Here
As of this past weekend we heard reports that the added accommodations to the newly released DAS (Disability Access Service) Card were being phased out.
“Not happy, was just told by GR CM at the MK that additional DAS accommodations are being ‘weaned away’, so we were only given one set of re-ads today.” -Mark Vitek, blogger at WDWFanZone.com
I had hoped initially this was Cast Member misinformation, as we have found at times some Cast Members are more open to giving of the Re-Ads (Readmission Passes which allowed a guest to ride an attraction several times in a row if they chose and was used in conjunction with the DAS Card) than others. However this morning, Monday, we heard confirmation that many locals were being told the exact same thing, the RE-ADS were being phased out immediately. According to Kathleen Kelly with the Special Mouse Podcast, this was confirmed by calling the Disney Guest Relations phone:
“Edited to Add, as there was some confusion on what exactly was going away: Just the The Re-Admission passes are being taken away. When you approached Guest Relations at the start of your trip and requested the DAS, Guests also would ask for a couple of sets of Re-Ads (readmission passes) which would let their children or families ride an attraction a set number of times. These were given at the start a bit begrudgingly but were still given, usually about 3 sets for each member of the family.
We received confirmation that those added accommodations (the RE-Ads) are now gone effective immediately. The rest of the DAS accommodations, obtaining a return time in addition to your Fast Pass times or stand by times, still remain. Just this added slight perk is going away for these families so nesting or cocooning behaviors will be more difficult to assuage.”
So we go back to letter writing as it were. And I encourage those effected, namely anyone with a child with Autism, to write and POLITELY voice your concerns. Here are mine:
Children and Adults with Autism are noted for their nesting behaviors. This can extend to attractions in the theme parks in that many, like my son have the need to ride certain attractions 3 times in a row or at least that (there is usually a predisposition for 3s). These attractions can range from non popular rides like say Muppet Vision 3-D to your more thrill seeking attractions like Expedition Everest or Tower of Terror. The person with Autism seeks the sensation the ride offers in order to calm and be able to tour in a more socially calm manner.
For us this means straight away we head to Haunted Mansion and we ride 3 times. That could be just me and our son, all four or five of us, or my husband and son, some variation until this is completed. There are those who would say that’s something we need to make our son get over, we shouldn’t tie up any lines with this need, etc. And it is something we work on considerably while there and at home, waiting our turn and moving on. But our son has this one request, and if that is met, he is better able to cope with the Park environments as we tour.
There are others who state “If your child can’t handle it, then stay home.” To which I say, “Why should I? Why should anyone be forced to stay home if reasonable accommodations can be made to help them enjoy their time out in society?” Just because someone has a disability in no way should they have to be sequestered away. In fact, the more they are out in the “mainstream” the more they learn how to adapt and the more neurotypical or able bodied people are able to learn about how to interact in more healthy ways with them. See what I mean? Our son is able to grow a great deal while we vacation because it makes him come out of his routines in some ways, he is made to adapt to different foods, schedules and abilities. If all it takes for him to be able to do that is admittance to an attraction a few times in a row, fine. The only way people with disabilities have been able to make these accommodations available is by being present in the mainstream society and asking for reasonable accommodations, not by hiding at home because they may not be able to take it or someone else might be slightly inconvenienced.
Nesting or Cocooning Behaviors are quite common amongst individuals with a myriad of Cognitive or Developmental Disorders, and not just Autism. There is a fair amount of overlap amongst the individuals and to wit this effects more than just a few Guests and their families. I understand the wide spread abuse, and why necessary changes must be made. I don’t want to see anyone abusing a system that was put in place to help families like mine and so many others who truly can benefit from it. The Readmission passes in a big way made the changes from GAC to DAS more bearable for these families. And while others may see it as these families abusing the policy, what I see is a parent or caregiver strapped to 1-3 rides all day long. So while another family may move on and see a fair bit of the park, these families are usually seeing 1/3rd of the same park in the same amount of time. It really doesn’t compare.
Here are some initial reactions from other parents and families:
“I just don’t understand. I’m so disappointed in Disney. I think many of us are trying to be heard but they don’t care. There are several fb pages that have been talking about the changes to Guest Assistance since before it rolled out, many letters, calls and complaints to Disney and four months into it, they are making it harder, not easier. I Love Disney but the reason we loved it was because it made a vacation possible. I don’t get the direction they are going in…” – Stephanie Grimm Sharon, parent and page admin at Autism Warrior Mom
“This will greatly reduce our son’s ability to fully enjoy a day at the Disney Parks. With the existing limits on in-park FastPass+ availability, the DAS card simply isn’t enough to accommodate his needs and I can see where other families will be impacted even more so than ours. We find it saddening that Disney, especially given their excellent history of autistic accommodations, would now suddenly appear to be pushing away a segment of their guest audience who truly do find Magic at Disney.” -Mark Vitek, parent and blogger at WDWFanZone.com and Wishes and Pixie Dust
Some solutions I initially thought of include using the DAS, Standby, then FP+ time or some variance of that combination. So if you have a DAS Card, get a time to return, while waiting for that time to come available get a FP+ time on your Magic Band, while awaiting both of these times try standing in the Standby line if it is at a slower time. For us, with our son’s love of the Haunted Mansion, this would probably work for our touring strategy. We also will have to split up more often and tour with earbuds, our iPad mini and or a Nintendo DS in order to provide him the ability to wait in more standby lines. We will also have to re-evaluate when we go and take more time off from school if at all possible so that we go to the parks only in the slowest of times, which are fewer and farther between now.
Another idea, though it’s rather pie in the sky, is to roll the DAS into the MyDisneyExperience app, this way there would be no kiosks to seek out, no Cast Member to find at the front of the Attraction. You schedule your DAS return times just like you would your FastPass+ times. If you show up without a DAS pass you cannot access the attraction at that time you will have to use one of your FastPass+ times to ride that attraction. This would minimize the amount of work parents and families would have to do when obtaining these passes for their loved ones while touring and simplify the process immensely.
For more ideas on “Making It Work”, check out our post on touring with the DAS with no re-ads here: Keep Calm and Make It Work
What is your reaction to these newly implemented changes? Let us know in the comments.