Autism Tips for Visiting Disneyland
Disability Access Pass at Disneyland
Not sure if you or your child with Autism can spend the day at Disneyland? Looking for an equally accessible way around the park? Wondering how the DAS system works? Here is the breakdown of the ever evolving DAS system, how you can get the most out of your time in the parks with minimal waiting and more importantly with less stress.
My daughter and I have been annual pass holders for 5 years now. We first started to visit as a reward for my daughter and our ability to stay at the park increased as time went on while learning the in's and out's of the park's disability system. When the old system was replaced with the current DAS I had many doubts that we could have a smooth time at the park. For us, the change was fairly easy to navigate and we have adapted well. Here is what you need to know and how to obtain a DAS.
Head to either City Hall in Disneyland or the City of Commerce in California Adventure or any Guest services kiosks located throughout the parks. If you are issued a DAS it will work in both parks.
You will be asked what concerns or limitations the guest in your party requesting the DAS has and there is where it will be determined if you are granted one. It is not a 100% guaranteed thing. You know your child's limitations best, always advocate.
A photo of the individual will be taken, park ticket or pass will be scanned.
You will be asked how many will be in your party, and all the tickets will be linked. (pass is good for up to 6 but exceptions are sometime made if there are more in your party)
If you are an Annual Passholder, the DAS will remain in effect for 60 days. If just visiting for a day or two, it is good for the duration of you stay.
You will be allowed to select your first attraction/ride return time at this point and be advised of the boarding/return time. Be sure to download the official Disneyland APP, you can track your return times there. Passholders link your tickets for reservations.
That's it. So now we get into how you get additional ride times, adding to your group and where to board the rides.
Boarding a ride: All passes/tickets must be presented upon or anytime after ride time given. Simply walk up to either the fastpass lane or the rides exit. There your tickets will be scanned checking you in and then directed where to board from there. Have a wheelchair or stroller tagged as a wheelchair, you will most always enter thru the exit except for DCA where all the rides are up to handicap access standards. There you will almost always enter at Fastpass entrance.
After completion of your ride you are free to add another ride time to your pass. You may only have one standby time at a time. You are free to utilize the Fastpass system in conjunction with the DAS or the MaxPass system. The MaxPass can be purchased upon arrival to the parks via the APP and is valuable in securing return times without visiting the ride fast pass distribution machines. All members of your party must purchase the MaxPass if riding/securing return times together, it is currently $10 per person, per day.
Return times are based off current standby times at each ride which can be found at the ride, at guest relations kiosks or on the Disneyland App. Ten (10) minutes is deducted from that time and this is how the return time is determined. If a ride is broke down, you cannot get a return time for that specific attraction. If a ride breaks down during your wait after getting a return time, the CM (cast member) at that ride can issue you a Re Ad to use on an alternate ride of your choice (FYI: some rides do not accept Re Ads during peak holidays)
How to get a return time: Find one of the several guest relations booths located around the park (map of locations available at City Hall/City Of Commerce Or find them on the APP). Present your tickets and specify ride desired. Now either make your way to the ride, grab a bite to eat, take a restroom break, whatever you like till it is time to board. Have a bit of time to wait, hop on a ride with a short line. You are free to join any ride line without a return time while waiting for your DAS return time to come up.
In theory, you can be in a virtual queue for 3 rides at a time with the DAS pass, fastpass return time, and normal ride line. If you can use all three, you will get the most out of the time you are at the park, no question about it.
Disneyland Guest Relations Kiosks Locations By Park:
Across from Haunted Mansion, New Orleans Square
Directly In front of Jolly Holiday Bakery Entrance, left of Main Street USA
Outside of Star Tours Exit in TomorrowLand
Next to Dumbo Ride in FantasyLand
Disney California Adventure:
At entrance of Cars Land
At Entrance of California Screaming Ride Paradise Pier
Buena Vista Street near Red Trolley Stop
City of Commerce
How we make the most of our time at the parks.
I always get a ride time at City Hall/ City of Commerce based off which park is busiest, check the APP before you decide which park to enter first. If DCA is less crowded, chances are the wait to get the first ride time will be shorter. I try to get on the bigger, more popular rides first as they get busier as the day progresses.
Try to do one park at a time and avoid going back and forth, it's tiring, wastes time and is just not practical.
Plan on stopping for lunch, get a return time first so once you are finished your time will surely be up and you can board right away with no down time.
If your child is more comfortable in a stroller/wheelchair by all means take one and use it. The stroller as a wheelchair option allows you to take the stroller right up to the point of boarding the ride, keeping your child and your belongings together. You can get the stroller as a wheelchair tag at City Hall in Disneyland or City Of Commerce at DCA. It is a red tag placed on the stroller that will be placed in clear view for CM's to see. I utilized this option until my daughter was 8. Tip: Stroller as wheelchair allows you and your party to watch parades from within the designated "handicap" areas along the route. If you are planning on watching one, find out where they are and plan ahead to get a spot.
Bring noise cancelling headphones if it is an issue.
Take lots of snacks and beverages as you are still allowed to bring them into the park. Please note, you will be screened at the main entrance of the parks after exiting trams so have bags readily available for security screening.
Wear comfortable clothing and shoes always and bring extra clothes if you are planning on any of the water rides.
Take a favorite toy
If you have more people in you party this is a great way to do the meet and greets by having someone "Stand in" while the line moves.
Get the Disneyland App to familiarize your child with the parks and their attractions before your visit. There you will find ride previews, a virtual map of the parks by "Lands" and fun games/videos. Youtube is also a great tool to prepare your child for rides as many have POV videos available to watch. Our kids are very visual, Youtube has helped my girl to get on several rides.
All done at one park and hopping to the other? Get a ride time before you leave, by the time you check into the other park and get to the ride you time might be up.
Do note that some wait times will be longer than the stated wait time, especially during peak days/hours. You will not be boarded immediately and if in a line where wheelchairs are ahead of you, expect even longer waits in some cases. It's just the nature of the park rides and their ability to have a set number of handicap accessible spots per ride, this is more the case at Disneyland.
Frozen – Live at the Hyperion offers a great option in addition to a "handicap" line. Request a "Snowflake Pass" of any cast member outside the theatre queue, show them your pass with the DAS info and that's it. This pass will place you in a separate holding area that is covered and has benches. You will receive proirity seating being let in just after the "handicap"line enters about 30 minute before the show starts. You are fear to get this pass and leave the holding area and return closer to the start time as well but just know if you leave and return after the priority seating has been sent in you will be merged in with the regular line. Snacks are allowed and sold within the theatre before the show. Show runs 1 hour.
What the DAS will NOT work for:
Character Meet and Greets. I suggest trying for the chance street run in's or have someone wait in line from your party if you have that option. This I find is the biggest issue with the DAS system as these lines can be very long and hard to wait in. I have in the past explained the situation and have been accommodated.
Have an exit plan, this is a must if your child has issues with transitioning. A new toy on the way out, a special treat and be sure to prime them above all. Have a count down of last three rides or first this than that. Always stay calm, if the system isn't working for you, ask for further accommodation. Advocate, always! Our kids sometimes can't endure they same amount of hours at a large amusement park as others, if you are only visiting for a short time, try to make the most of it with a plan.
Watch for fatigue. There will be a lot of walking around, sensory overload and stimulation that will wear your kid out. Here is where if you can, utilize a stroller. Know when to say when and if it's an off day, cut your losses. Remember as adults we can enjoy the parks longer and have superior coping abilities. It's an intense place even for those who visit on a monthly basis.
Above all, have a magical day! It can be the happiest place on earth with a little extra planning and some pixie dust.
Need more info before visiting, check out the link below.