In this post, we share what you need to know about Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure’s accessibility services before arriving at the parks.
One of the many things I love about Disneyland is how hard they work to make every guest’s visit magical. I also like that they don’t have a one size fits all solution for their disabled guests. There are several options depending upon the disability, chronic condition, or special needs of a guest.
By the way, anyone thinking they are going to fake a disability to get on rides faster will want to reconsider. Our wait time is just as long and in many cases longer.
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- DAS: Disneyland’s Disabled Access Service for Cognitive Issues
- Disabled Return Times for Mobility Issues and Service Animals
- Strollers as Wheelchairs
- Wheelchair Rental Information
- Rider Switch
- Assistive Listening System
- Sign Language Interpretation
- Handheld Captioning
- Reflective Captioning
- Video Captioning
- Braille Guidebooks
- First Aid
DAS: Disneyland’s Disabled Access Service
This service, otherwise known as DAS is provided for guests whose disabilities are not visible, such as Autism, Downs Syndrome, etc., or a physical issue that is not made visible by use of a walker, wheelchair, ECV (Electronic Conveyance Vehicle), or service animal.
This service is customized to the needs of each individual guest.
For example, a guest may not be able to walk up and downstairs, but is
able to walk throughout the park and stand in lines.
Guest Services may allow this guest to enter the attractions that have staircases in their queues through the wheelchair access points.
Generally, DAS guests are issued Disabled Return Times at a kiosk located in the land of the attraction they want to ride. When their time arrives, they then enter the attraction via the handicapped entrance in Disneyland or
check-in with the Cast Member at the entrance of the attractions in California Adventure.
Here is how it works:
- Visit Guest Services located in the front area of Disneyland or California Adventure. Here a Cast Member will hear the needs of the guest with special needs and come up with a plan suited to them.
- Make sure that this is your first stop on your first day in the park. You will only need to visit Guest Services once as they will issue your DAS to cover the duration of your visit. Your DAS is good for both parks. Annual Pass holders can be covered for several months at a time. Typically your DAS information is connected electronically to your park pass.
How DAS works. (Note that I am only covering the common plan, as I have stated, Disneyland works extremely hard to give every guest a magical visit. Depending upon your needs, your experience may vary.)
- A. While in the Disneyland Park, DAS guests will go directly to the wheelchair entrances. The exceptions to this are the rides that require a Disabled Return Time or in California Adventure where all the queues are wheelchair friendly. For these attractions, DAS guests will check into a Guest Relations Kiosk. There is one located in each “Land” of the parks. You must have the pass available for every member of your party that is planning to ride to be scanned by the cast member. Note that while not everyone in your party needs to be at the kiosk, they do need to be in the park. You can’t receive a return time for a pass that has not been scanned into the park at the front gate nor can anyone but the owner of that pass use it at the entrance gates.
- B. Once you have received your return time, you are free to use this time to grab a snack, shop, or hop on a ride that has a short wait time.
- C. When your return time arrives you will need to have all of your passes ready to be scanned in at the wheelchair entrances of Disneyland attractions and at the standard entrances of California Adventure attractions where the Cast Member will instruct you on where to enter.
- D. Once you have finished riding you are free to receive another return time. Note that there can only be one Disabled Return Time on your pass at a time. On the plus side, you can have both a Disabled Return Time and a Fast Pass for another attraction on your pass.
Like I said, DAS is not a one size fits all program and the outline above is only the basis of the program and may not be what you are given. How Disneyland will be able to accommodate your needs beyond wheelchair accessibility entrances can’t be predicted or known until you have met with Guest Relations in person. DAS guests should read the next section to be prepared if they are told to follow the wheelchair guidelines of the Disabled Return Times.
Disabled Return Times for Mobility Issues and Service Animals
Accessibility for Wheelchairs, walkers (mobility aids), ECVs (electronic conveyance vehicles), and Service Animals
The program is much easier to understand and follow. Note that the only people using mobility aids or service animals that qualify for the DAS program are those with severe cognitive issues, the rest of us
will follow the program as follows:
There is NO need to check into guest services. Your wheelchair, ECV, or Service Animal makes your disability visible to cast members. Guests with a Service Animal click here to find out which attractions your service animal is prohibited on and what your options are.
When visiting California Adventure, disabled guests will enter the standard queues as they are all wheelchair accessible. The only exceptions are if you have obtained a Fast Pass or plan on riding solo, then you would enter the Fast Pass or Single Rider queue.
In the Disneyland park, you will always enter through the handicapped entrance even if you are using a Fast Pass or Single Rider option.
Note that when wait times are less than 10 minutes, the Cast Member will most likely just have you enter the handicapped queue instead of issuing a return time. It just depends on the cast member. I have had a few issue me a 5 minute return time.
Here you will inform the Cast Member that you would like a return time. Be sure to have not only your pass ready to be scanned but also the passes of everyone in your party that wishes to ride with you.
Because the major attractions require return times in the Disneyland Park, I recommend getting a FastPass for another attraction next. Now you are basically waiting in two virtual lines. Use this time to grab a cup of coffee, have a snack, do some shopping, or just rest. If you are near Fantasyland you have the opportunity to hop on a handful of rides that don’t require return times.
When the Disabled Return Time or Fast Pass time has arrived; proceed to the handicapped entrance to be scanned in. Upon arriving you will inform the Cast Member that you are returning. Once again, have all passes out and ready to be scanned.
Your Cast Member should then give you instructions on how to enter and exit the attraction. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes they forget or they are new and don’t know the procedure and some just assume you know what to do. This is why reading about each attraction that you are interested in riding ahead of time is important.
After you have exited the attraction you are able to obtain another disabled return time for another attraction. Your Fast Pass will have a time-stamp at the bottom of it or on your app, showing when you are eligible to receive another.
Do not feel guilty about utilizing both the Disabled Return Times and Fast Passes.
First off, you do not have an option of not using the Disabled Return Time in the Disneyland Park. It is required for all using the handicapped entrances as there is no other option for us to enter.
Secondly, as you will discover, some of our wait times are much longer than the wait in the standard queues. Because there are so few major attractions within the Disneyland Park that don’t require Disabled Return Times, you may use a Fast Pass in lieu of it. Think of your Fast Pass as a second Disabled Return Time. Like I said this isn’t a way to get to do more than the average guest, in fact, it almost brings us up to being able to do as much as them.
Here is an example of why it is fair for the disabled to use both programs. A family enters the standard queue for the Haunted Mansion. They wait in line for 30 minutes; ride the attraction, exit, then head on over to another attraction of their choice. A family with a wheelchair first goes to the attraction to obtain a Disabled Return Time. Their return time is 30 minutes. Not long enough to ride another attraction that doesn’t require a return time in another land, but it is enough time to get a Fast Pass for
a nearby attraction.
They return to the handicapped entrance of the Haunted Mansion and are directed into the handicapped waiting area. Their wait could be as short as 5 minutes (this is rare) or in excess of 45 additional minutes. The reason for this additional wait is that they can only have X amount of wheelchairs inside the attraction at one time. Without a Fast Pass this family would have to obtain another Disabled Return Time before entering another handicapped queue. Using both the Disabled
Return Time and Fast Pass makes it possible to ride almost the same amount of attractions as we could if we were not disabled.
I know this sounds confusing and please if you have any questions join our Facebook group.
Strollers as Wheelchairs
Guests with disabilities—including those with a cognitive disability—who need to remain in a stroller while in an attraction queue should visit the Guest Relations Lobby at the theme parks in order to obtain the appropriate identifying tag.
Guests using a stroller as a wheelchair will follow the directions given to them by Guest Services. If told to follow wheelchair procedures, see Disabled Return Times.
Wheelchair Rental Information
ECV: Single-rider, 4-wheel electric conveyance vehicles for Guests with mobility challenges
Rental Price per Day
• $12.00 for manual wheelchair rentals plus a refundable deposit of $20
• $50.00 for ECVs—sales tax applies to ECV rental fee plus a refundable deposit of $20
Requirements and Additional Services
Wheelchairs and ECVs may not be reserved. Plan to arrive early; a limited number of wheelchairs and ECVs are available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis. They may only be used in the Esplanade, Disneyland Park, and California Adventure. They may not be used in Downtown Disney or at any of the resort hotels. Guests may also bring and use their own ECVs and wheelchairs throughout the Disneyland Resort. Guests must be 18 years of age to operate and a photo ID is required to rent vehicles. The maximum weight for an ECV is 450 pounds. The maximum weight for a manual wheelchair is 350 pounds. Wheelchairs and vehicles are not designed to hold more than one person.
This is how Rider Switch works: Parties with more than 2 Guests may be able to take advantage of the attraction Rider Switch program, which enables you to experience an attraction while another member of your party waits with the Guest who does not ride. You then “swap” to enable the other party
member to enjoy the attraction without having to wait in line again.
Assistive Listening System
Assistive listening devices which amplify sound through headphones or induction loop are recommended for Guests with mild to moderate hearing loss.
Receivers are available through Guest Relations and require a $25.00 refundable deposit. You must return the device on the same day for a refund. Visit the official Disneyland website to find out which attractions offer this service.
Sign Language Interpretation
Sign Language interpretation is available for Guests at specific live theme park shows on a rotating basis. Click here for details.
This portable captioning system uses a wireless handheld receiver to display text in locations where fixed captioning systems are impractical, such as moving attractions. Receivers are available through Guest Relations and require a $25.00 refundable deposit. You must return the device on the same day for a refund. Click here for more information.
Available at select theater-type attractions, this innovative technology utilizes a light-emitting diode (LED display) to project desired captions onto an acrylic panel in front of the user. To utilize the system, please contact a Cast Member at the location. Click here for more information.
Caption-ready monitors are available in the preshow area at select attractions. These monitors are designated by a “CC” and can only be activated by remote control. Please see a Cast Member at the attraction for assistance. Click here for more information.
Braille Guidebooks are available for each theme park and include attractions, restaurant, and store descriptions. A limited number of Braille Guidebooks are available to rent on a first-come, first-served basis at Guest Relations and require a $25.00 refundable deposit (refundable when returned on the same day).
Disneyland: The First Aid center is located at the end of Main Street. More accurately it is east of Main Street next to the Plaza Inn.
California Adventure: The First Aid center is located at the entrance of California Adventure next to the Guest Relations Lobby on Buena Vista Street.
Open during regular park hours. Nurses are available to offer over-the-counter medications, bandages, and other quick remedies. If unable to get to the First Aid location, contact the nearest Cast Member for assistance. A nurse may be able to come to you. Guests may also store medications that require refrigeration. For your safety, special containers can be provided for the disposal of hypodermic needles.