Disneyland is the happiest place on Earth…when you plan ahead. In case you are new, I do have posts where I discuss how to do Disney with kids and also general tips for success. Now today I would like to discuss another challenge. From personal experience, having a member of my family use these services, I can say Disneyland provides a variety of options to make everything as comfortable as possible, no matter your abilities. I can imagine as a new visitor it could be a challenge knowing what to do and best ways of getting around. This guide will introduce you to the services at your disposal and help you make the most of your trip.
Also as a disclaimer, these tips apply to Disneyland in Anaheim. Although they may apply to other parks, they may also vary.
Disability Access Card
Before you begin your day, you will want to obtain a DAS (Disability Access Service) card at guest relations. You will only need to do this once during your trip and the card functions much like Fast Pass. As I will explain a little later, there are kiosks and cast members throughout the park who will scan your tickets, which gives you a return time for the ride of your choice. They will write the tide/return time on your card for reference.
To get your card, you will need to go to guest relations, which is located in both CA Adventure and Disneyland. My recommendation: go to guest relations in CA Adventure! The line will be much shorter, if there even is a line. In Disneyland, the guest relations line is always pretty long. Either way, these buildings are located near the park entrance.
When you get to the counter, they will ask for your reason for needing the card. This process however, is very brief. They take your picture, give you your pass, and you’re on your way.
Last time we visited the park, an employee at the guest relations line let us go to a kiosk in the park to renew the pass (instead of waiting in the guest relations line) so this may be a possibility to try.
Another alternative to the card for physical disabilities/ailments is to bring your stroller into the lines for support. A cast member had suggested this; normally strollers must be parked outside but they had suggested letting cast members at the rides know and so we can bring our stroller in the queue. In any case, check with a cast member to see what options are available to make lines more comfortable.
To get your return time for the ride of your choice, you will either need to go to the appropriate ride representative or to a kiosk. These check-in points are located throughout the park. Be sure to pick up a map for visitors with disabilities, as these points will be included on there. Generally, the kiosks are the shaded desks, usually manned by a couple of cast members. Ride representatives are usually near the ride entrance, with a device for scanning your tickets. You may only have one ride on queue at a time. Also, you must come back on or after your return time. Whoever the DAS card belongs to must be present when your party is boarding the ride.
DAS Return Times
When you return to the ride, again, consult your map on where to go. Most likely, they will have you go through the Fast Pass line or the exit. For dark rides, it’s usually the exit. Cast members may also ask if you can get in/out of the ride vehicle within a certain amount of time, usually 30 seconds. This is important, because if you do need more time, they need to know so that they can take a ride vehicle out of circulation, pause the ride vehicles, etc.
For example, in Space Mountain they have a special area for individuals who need more time to board their vehicle. It is separate from the main ride track. For Haunted Mansion, they will need to slow or stop the ride vehicles to give the time you need. Then for dark rides (Fantasyland), they control each individual vehicle so there are no special requirements necessary. Either way, it varies ride to ride. Just be honest with cast members so they can help you board the vehicles safely.
Sensory Disability Services
Disneyland also offers other services to help individuals with hearing, sight, and other sensory disabilities, which include assistive listening, captioning, and audio description. Again, you would head to guest relations to take advantage of these services.
Cognitive Disability Services
If you are planning a trip and a member of your family has a cognitive disability, I would take a look at Disneyland’s guide. This guide has tons of information, such as what to do/pack before your trip, break areas throughout the parks, tips for when you are at the park, services available, and more. I also recommend taking a look at the page here, as it includes even more information to help you prepare. Last, this guide goes over what to expect for each ride, such as loud noises, periods of darkness, and length of ride. For your family’s comfort and safety, I would definitely recommend these guides so you know what to expect.
I would also say to know when peak times are at Disneyland. I personally love Fall/Winter for the holiday festivities, but for less crowds and mayhem I would say Springtime is the best. As long as you don’t mind the occasional shower, Spring tends to be Disneyland’s off-season. Fall/Winter would be the next best time to go, so long as you plan your trip far from the holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. Late Spring/Early Summer…know when grad nights are and avoid them like the plague! Summer is of course the most crowded/least enjoyable time to go.
Wheelchair rentals are available near the outside entrance of Disneyland. You have the option of either a standard model or a motorized one, or you can choose to bring your own. I have also seen a lot of visitors with wheelchair/stroller rentals from places outside of Disneyland. One rule of thumb, never leave anything with these vehicles when you park them (this includes drinks).
Thank you for reading! What are some of your tips for getting around Disneyland? Let us know in the comments below!