Keeping the Magic Using the Disability Access Service (DAS) Pass at Disney World
Updated: Jun 29
My family just returned from Spring Break at Walt Disney World. A friend clued us into the Disability Access Service (DAS), which enabled us to manage long lines with our neurodivergent son in a way that worked well for all of us.
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Disney Disability Access Service (DAS) Basics
Why does the Disability Access Service (DAS) even exist? Because Disney World is a super popular vacation destination, to participate in the various attractions usually requires, on average, an hour wait or sometimes more, particularly at peak times of the year like Spring Break. The Disability Access Service (DAS) is designed for guests who have a difficult time waiting in long lines for various reasons. I’ve heard of people using this service for a physical disability like severe plantar fasciitis to psychological disabilities like anxiety or being on the autism spectrum. Disney gets asked this a lot, so I'll make it clear here -- the DAS is not for wheelchair users because most wheelchair users can easily wait in the queues and then transfer out of their chair if the ride requires it.
Most Disney World attractions, shows, and rides alike have two lines. One is a Standby line and the other is a Lightning Lane. And just as the phrase Lightning Lane implies, it moves much more quickly because Disney limits the number of guests using this lane at any given time. You can only get access to the Lightning Lane if you purchase Genie + (the "pay to skip lines" service) or if you are a DAS pass user.
Both Genie + and DAS passes use the My Disney Experience app. So if you thought your vacation was going to be phone-free, it most definitely will not if you plan to use either one of these services. I’m going to explain how Genie + works first in order to compare it to how the DAS pass works. You can download the My Disney Experience App well ahead of your trip, and I recommend doing so. Getting familiar with the app, making sure all the settings are correct and all your guests are connected is a big step in making sure your days at the parks run smoothly.
Once you have it downloaded, you will notice that there are two main features -- the Tip Board and My Day. The Tip Board shows you all the attractions available for a particular park on a particular day, including the current Standby Line wait time and, if you have purchased Genie + for the day, an option to book a particular experience for a particular return time. For example, in the screenshot below, you can see that the wait time for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Standby Line is 65 minutes and that you can also book a Lightning Lane with a return time of 2:40pm, the time you can show up to redeem your Lightning Lane. I made this screen shot at 10:26am, but the return time for the Genie + Lightning Lane is well after the 65 minute standby wait. There are ways to modify to get a different, more convenient time, but that is out of the scope of this post. I'll refer you to this excellent video for further explanation about Genie + and all the best ways to use the service. But in order to compare Genie + to the DAS pass all you need to know is that you can book Lightning Lane times -- these could be a few minutes from now or several hours depending on the availability of Lightning Lane space for a particular attraction at a specific time. Once you hit your return time, you can then show up, enter the Lightning Lane and end up waiting less time than those in the Standby line. You have one hour (and a 15 minute grace period) to redeem this Lightning Lane pass.
DAS works differently. It will always give you a return time that matches the Standby Line wait time minus 10 minutes. Once the clock strikes your return time, you can show up to the Lightning Lane at that time or ANY TIME after the return time. Disney is smart enough to realize that those who need the DAS pass might also need a bit more flexibility in their day.
Let's look at an example. Say I want to go on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and the posted wait time is 40 minutes. We would then automatically be given a Lightning Lane time to redeem at the attraction in 30 minutes. DAS guests still wait near the posted amount of time — they are just not being required to wait that time in the actual line. They can walk around or enjoy other attractions. This is different from Genie + because it gives you the option to select a Lightning Lane time that may be sooner or later than the posted stand-by wait time. Another important difference to remember is that you are not bound by the hour of redeemable time that Genie + guests are given. You can go to the attraction any time after the return time. You will likely want to use your DAS return time as soon as you can, but if you are going to be late, there is nothing to sweat.
Up to 5 other guests can use the DAS Lightning Lane passes, but only if the person who is registered with the DAS is present. In other words, if the person registered for DAS does not want to ride a particular ride, you cannot use the DAS pass to get a Lightning Lane time.
Have I gotten into the weeds enough for you? I know it is a lot of information at one time, but Disney is not the king of simplicity, especially when it comes to navigating all the tools available to you at the parks.
Do I Qualify for DAS?
Basically, you won’t know until you have your interview with Disney personnel, but I think most kids and adults with anxiety, ADHD, and autism will likely qualify. If you have another unseen disability like IBD or something like it, you might have a more difficult time getting access to DAS, but I have heard of people qualifying for disabilities like these as well.
Since my son is more on the Asperger’s end of the autism spectrum, I wasn’t sure that we would qualify or, honestly, even need it, but my friend whose family went to Disney a few years ago and used the DAS pass for their children with ADHD encouraged me to apply. And I am so glad we did.
I still forget that my expectations for what I think a typical 11-year-old should be able to do and what my neurodivergent child is actually capable of do not always align. My neurotypical brain said that we should be able to wait in the lines, play some games and be fine. But the first few hours of our first day confirmed to me that we had made the right decision in applying for DAS. My son, H, was already nervous about going to a place where he didn’t know exactly what to expect. He is also prone to anxiety when he doesn’t have a set task or activity, so waiting in line is pretty much his nightmare scenario. Our first day was at Animal Kingdom where we ran into a few technology issues and attractions not opening when we expected, causing the adults to be unsure of our next steps. H picked up on those vibes so fast he was already asking to go back home — not just to the hotel, but home to Dallas. I was a bit afraid that his level of anxiety would lead to a meltdown and we would be done with our Disney trip before it had really begun.
But DAS came to the rescue. After the adults had made a better plan for the day, and we starting using our DAS return times, H’s anxiety eased and we only had to wait in lines about 15-20 minutes long from there on out.
I also could see that I made the right decision in signing up for DAS when I saw how different my children reacted to waiting in line. H’s seven-year-old little brother, O, who is not on the autism spectrum, easily waited in each line with nothing more than his imagination and a few silly hand games to entertain him. Later in the day he even waited over an hour in line without complaint to ride Expedition Everest, a thrilling roller coaster H chose not to ride. Basically, if you are in doubt that you or your child with special needs isn’t “qualified” enough to need these services, I implore you to make your life easier and at least try to apply. It made the entire Disney experience so much more manageable for H and fun for the rest of the family.
Have a goal to see all Disney Parks in the World one day? Check out my Super Bucket List Goals Article.
What can I use the DAS pass for?
Once you are in the parks, you can use the DAS pass on nearly any ride, even some that do not have a Lightning Lane, and also several of the more popular shows. If you arrive at a place without a Lightning Lane, show your DAS time to a cast member (all Disney employees are called cast members) and they will basically let you cut in line. We did this exact thing to ride the Tomorrowland People Mover in Magic Kingdom.
DAS also allows you to use this service on the premium rides (typically there is one in each of the four parks). These premium rides are the most popular, so popular that you cannot even use the “pay to skip lines” pass that is Genie +. You must purchase a separate Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) for those attractions in order to use the Lightning Lane. On the first day of our trip, I didn’t realize that I could have used DAS on one of these premium rides, so we actually paid for an ILL for Flight of Passage in Animal Kingdom, but at Hollywood Studios we used DAS to get a Lightning Lane for Rise of the Resistance — the hardest ride to get into at any of the parks. The wait in the Lightning Lane for this ride was a bit longer — around 30 minutes, but that is much better than the typical standby line that often gets as long as two or three hours. The Individual Lightning Lane for this one is also the most expensive at $25 a person. So for our party of six, we avoided paying $150 dollars just to ride this one ride. And it was a really cool ride.
How to apply for a Disney DAS Pass
You can apply at Guest Relations on your first day in the parks, but Disney recommends that you do the process online, between 30 and 2 days before your visit. The steps to complete this process are relatively easy, but the actual experience was a bit of a pain.
First, you go to the Disney website to register. You agree to the Terms and Conditions and then you will be placed in a Chat where you are essentially waiting for a Disney cast member to connect you to a live video. You are basically tied to whatever device you have opened the chat on because you have to respond pretty quickly once they contact you.
The person who you are registering has to be with you, so about 28 days out from my trip I started the process on a Sunday when my son was home (they are open from 7am to 10pm EST). I switched back and forth between using my computer and my phone, and kept getting logged out about every 20 minutes, but a refresh was enough to keep my place in line. I waited about 2 hours before someone responded on the chat, but since my dad had purchased the park tickets, we realized that I was not authorized to apply to DAS for my son. So I had to get out of the chat, call my dad, and he made a call to the tech department and fixed it so that I would now be the one authorized to apply.
Moral of the story — make sure whoever is signing up for DAS is actually authorized to do so. I got back in line, but I never was able to get to a real person again that evening. I then tried Monday after school where I waited about 2 hours again and was finally connected to the live chat.
This Disney cast member cannot legally ask me directly what disability my son has, but I went ahead and offered that he is on the autism spectrum. She asked what would happen if he were to wait in a long line. I told her that he would have a lot of anxiety and we could potentially veer into a meltdown if he had to be in lines all day. After a bit more discussion, she decided that my son did qualify, took a picture of him, said the pass lasted for 60 days, and then directed me to a different chat to set up our Advanced Selections.
This is the real perk of signing up for DAS online. You are allowed to sign up for two attractions for each park day, but these came with specific return times that could be early or later in the day, much like a Genie + Lightning Lane. For this, you fill out a form telling the cast member which attractions you are interested in from the provided list. The rest is all done through chat and is not a live video. The cast member gives you time options for the attractions you selected, and then you book them. You will immediately be able to see these attractions listed in the My Day section of the My Disney Experience app.
Here is what we were able to book:
Kilimanjaro Safaris for 2:30pm - 3:30pm
Na’vi River Journey for 3:30pm - 4:30pm
Peter Pan’s Flight for 8:00am - 9:00am
Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger for 10:00am - 11:00am
Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run for 11:30am - 12:30am
Slinky Dog Dash for 4pm-5pm
Soarin’ Around the World for 9am-10am
Test Track for 9:30am-10:30am
I think that these act just like other DAS passes where you don't have to redeem them within the hour, just anytime after the return time, but I didn't test that theory on our trip. Being able to schedule Lightning Lanes ahead of time was extremely helpful in planning our day, which is vital for a child who thrives on a schedule.
If you would rather watch a video about what the DAS application process is like, I would recommend this one as it was helpful to me.
How Do I Use DAS in the Parks?
First of all, you need to set up Disney Genie in the My Disney Experience App. What? Another service? Yes, but this one is free. It isn’t the same as the similarly named Genie +, the paid “skip the line” service. This is the Disney planning tool in the My Disney Experience App that suggests what attractions you should visit next during your day. I didn't think it was all that helpful and mostly ignored it, but what is helpful is that it has you select which attractions you are most interested in. It only allows you to choose seven attractions, but it puts those at the top of your Tip Board, so you aren’t constantly scrolling to find what you are looking for.
The DAS pass will only show up on your My Disney Experience app for the day you have a park ticket and reservation and when you are actually in the park. If you go to the hamburger menu and scroll all the way down, you will see your DAS access pass.
But you don’t actually want to schedule your DAS return times through this button. It will show you all the attractions at all the parks all at once, so the best way to schedule DAS return times is to go to the Tip Board and then click on View Details in the Standby Line.
You will then see this screen where you click on Request DAS return time.
It will then always ask you to confirm your party — the people you want to go with you on the attraction. I usually chose to select all, even when not everyone was coming because when we tried to select only a few guests, the app glitched and seemed to get confused when we booked another Lightning Lane using DAS. Once you confirm your party, your return time will show up in the My Day section of the My Disney Experience app.
The other important thing to note is that you can only schedule one DAS pass at a time, and you must use your current DAS Lightning Lane pass before you can book another one. Your Advanced Selections don’t factor into this. They are totally separate from booking DAS Lightning Lanes in the parks.
As a reminder, your DAS return times will always say Use Anytime after the posted return time. This is different from Genie + where you are given a one hour window of time to use your Lightning Lane pass.
At every Lightning Lane there will be a place for you to scan your ticket that connects to your DAS pass (or to Genie +). Your ticket can be scanned in several ways — Magic Bands, the actual physical card that is your ticket, or by using Disney MagicMobile Passes, that if you are an iPhone user, can be transferred to the Wallet for easy access. We chose to have one person (me) scan everyone in using the Wallet app for each attraction. The trick to making this process simple is to make sure each pass uses Express Mode, and because the registered DAS user must scan in first, make sure that that person’s card is on top.
Handling Tech Issues with the Disney DAS Pass
If you do run into any technology issues with the app, there are blue Guest Experience umbrellas around the park with people who can help you solve any problem. Our first day, the DAS kept getting knocked off my app for some reason, and they were able to help us understand why and what settings I needed to change on my phone to in order for the app to work properly. There were also a few times that for whatever reason a pass was not properly scanned at a Lightning Lane, so it wouldn’t allow us to book another Lightning Lane using the DAS pass. In that instance, I could just go into the app and cancel that return time since we had already used it, thus allowing us to book a new attraction.
Combining Disney Genie + and DAS
Again, Genie + is a service where you pay PER person to gain access to Lightning Lanes. It uses surge pricing, so on less crowded days it might only be $15 per person, but since we went at Spring Break it was $29 per person. DAS is free, but you can also choose to add on Genie + if you think it will be helpful during your trip. Luckily, I was privileged to have parents who wanted to spoil their grandchildren and they purchased Genie + on our days at Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, which tend to be more crowded and have the most attractions. We used only DAS at Epcot and Animal Kingdom and we were able to do everything we wanted.
For the parks that tend to be more crowded and have more attractions like Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, this strategy worked very well. We were basically able to alternate booking Lightning Lanes using DAS and Genie + to ensure that we got to do everything each member of our group wanted to do and not have to wait in long lines or deal with melting children.
Did I feel a little funny about spending so much (of my parents’) money to basically skip the line, thus perpetuating the inequality between the haves and have-nots, even at the happiest place on Earth? Yes, I did. But I also enjoyed happy children who didn’t even have time to realize how tired they were because we were always off to the the next fun thing. Time is money at Disney World and we decided that since this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, we were willing to throw money at the situation to make it as fun and easy for everyone as possible.
Other Disney Tips & Thoughts
Bring an external battery to charge your smartphone since you will be using it often.
You will still be waiting in lines, especially at a crowded time of year. I recommend bringing something for your kid to do with his or her hands like a Rubik's cube.
Using DAS really did make our Disney World experience so much more enjoyable. I am thankful that Disney tries to make the happiest place on earth also the most accommodating as well.
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Have a goal to see all Disney Parks in the World one day? Check out my Super Bucket List Goals Article.