Using the DAS pass at Disney World- Living with a Chronic Illness

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Up until May 2019, I never thought I would be a person who wanted or needed to know about the disabilities services offered at Walt Disney World. But after my inflammatory arthritis led to an auto immune (specifically lupus) diagnosis, it became necessary for me to make a new plan for our family trip to Disney World this summer.

What is the DAS pass? It stands for Disability Access Service, and I was extremely pleased with the service when I used it in the summer of 2019 for the first time.

If you have a condition that doesn’t allow you to stand in lines for long periods of time, you can go to guest services at the first park you visit on the first day of your trip. Make sure that you bring your magic bands and everyone in your party that wants to go on rides with you (with their bands), since they all need to be linked up with you.

At guest services they will listen to what your condition is, and what accommodations you might need during your vacation. This is an honor system that goes both ways. The helpful cast members don’t ask for a blood sample, a doctor’s note or, in fact, any proof, but they also hope that their service won’t be abused by people who don’t legitimately need it.

Once granted, you will have a DAS pass added to your magic band, and then every person in your group will be linked up to your band. Now, you can start using the service.

How do I get a return time? Basically it works a lot like the Fast Pass system. When you want to go on a ride, you, or someone in your group can request the DAS pass from the cast member at the front of the line that you want to ride. They will add the DAS Fast Pass to your magic band, with a return time indicated that matches the current wait in line. I do recommend having the Disney Experience App on your phone so you don’t have to memorize your return times all day long, but can do a quick check on your app for when each is ready.

For example, if you want to go on Everest, but there is currently a 90 minute wait, you can have someone request your DAS at 9:00am and you will get to return to the Fast Pass Line after 10:30am. The DAS doesn’t actually get you on the ride any faster than if you had walked over and waited in line. (Honestly, if you are healthy, you are highly likely to have shorter wait times by just taking your chances in the line, which is never an exact science, and could potentially be shorter than 90 minutes.)

But for those of us that literally cannot stand for extended hours of time, even if we don’t look like it, this is a life saver. Personally, I used the time to rest, typically in the shade or at a show, frequently with my feet up. This would allow me to recharge from the struggle that was simply getting around the parks, and still allow me to be with my family on the ride when our time arrived.

Time’s up, what do I do now? When you return, it is imperative that the DAS pass holder goes first, because they are the entire group’s ticket into the line. (If this person went back to the hotel, the DAS pass is essentially null and void.) Then you are directed to the Fast Pass Line, which typically was only a 20–30 minute wait, even with the rides with over two hour lines.

How do I get my next return time? Once you have used your pass, you can request another one. Again, this is not a cheat code to get to do all the rides at Disney World with no wait, no lines, entering through the exit kind of a deal. It is really a trade- you wait your hours just like everyone else, just not in the physical line. Our group was limited in how many of the best rides we could do in a day just like everyone else was at the park, because we had to get the return time, wait, and then return for every ride.

I do highly recommend nominating one or two of your healthiest in the group as the DAS return time point person, as this was a really helpful feature for our family. Simply walking across the park and back to get the return time for my magic band would have taken so much of my energy, I would have struggled significantly earlier in the day. But with my brother willing to trek across the park and back for me, I was free to park myself earlier and only walk all the way to the ride when it was time to go on it.

The other big thing that we learned during our week was to not waste it on lines with short waits, particularly in the beginning of the day. We always saved it for the third or fourth thing of the day, after getting through a few rides with the light crowds with opening before starting to use the features of the pass.

It also doesn’t affect your pre-made Fast Pass selections that you can make before the trip, but exists alongside them. So, our typical day would be the few rides right off the bat, followed by getting a DAS pass for a ride, and then alternating our premade Fast Passes with our DAS passes, and in that way maximize our both our rides for the day and our rest times.

At the end of the trip, our family was able to look back and see that although my chronic condition has made a lot of life harder, it didn’t negatively affect our Disney trip thanks to the DAS pass.

If you have any questions about how this pass works, I would love to try to help from my experiences on our vacation this year.

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