Disney threatens lifetime ban if people misuse disability program amid crackdown

The Disney resorts in California and Florida are cracking down on widespread misuse of its disability program, even going as far as to threaten lifetime bans from their parks.

Disney unveiled new changes to its Disability Access Services program this week, which helps guests and visitors who have neurodivergent disorders such as autism. An increase in the use of the program has now led to longer attraction queues and backed-up Genie+ lanes.

Use of Disney’s Disability Access Services has tripled in the past five years, with some clearly abusing the system. Videos of a “Disneyland line hack” have gone viral, which show viewers how to avoid long wait times by using the Disability Access Service program.

In response to the surge, and allegations that people are using the program fraudulently, Disney said those who lie about needing the program would be permanently barred from the parks.

“If it is determined that any of the statements a guest made in the process of obtaining DAS are not true, the guest will be permanently barred from entering the Walt Disney World Resort and the Disneyland Resort, and any previously purchased Annual Passes, Magic Key passes, tickets and other park products and services will be forfeited and not refunded,” the parks said under its Frequently Asked Questions.

FILE – Visitors pass through Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., April 30, 2021. Disney is seeking approval from local officials to expand its California theme park offerings over the next four decades. The proposal wouldn’t increase the company’s geographic footprint in Anaheim, Calif., but would allow for new attractions, for example, on what is currently a large parking lot. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

It is not clear how Disney would catch someone using the program fraudulently, but there are security cameras covering every corner of the park, along with security guards monitoring suspicious activity. 

In order to use the updated program, guests need to register for the program before their visit to the park. During their enrollment, the users will meet with a specially trained cast member, who can determine if DAS is the right fit for their respective disability. Not all disabled guests will need the DAS program. 

Guests currently enrolled in the DAS program may use it for 60 days, or until their visit to the park is complete, but those who visit the parks after May 18 for Disney World, and after June 20 for Disneyland, will have 120 days to use the program. 

“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,” a spokesperson for Walt Disney World Resort said in a statement to USA Today. 

The program is good for up to four guests, including with the DAS user, unless the party are family members, in which case the whole party can ride together. 

The changes are intended to ensure that the program is only used by those who actually need accommodations. The recent increase in users has resulted in the DAS program becoming the most used service, which negatively affects the wait time and experiences of people with disabilities. 

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Disney resorts have other accommodations for people with disabilities that do not fall under the DAS program. For example, people with mobility issues can use the Location Return Times program, which assigns a time for people in wheelchairs or with service animals to come back to the ride and meet a cast member at a handicap-accessible entrance.

Other accommodations include an American Sign Language interpreter for the deaf or hard of hearing, braille guidebooks and maps, and sensory guides for attractions.

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