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Posts Tagged 'DAS'

October Chit-Chat – 086

Henry

 

I’m introducing a new, monthly show format today. It’s called, “Chit-Chat, Yick-Yack and Flim-Flam” (A Country Bear Jamboree reference!)


Howdy folks. Welcome to the one and only original Country Bear Jamboree, featuring a bit of Americana, our musical heritage of the past. But enough of this chit chat, yick yack, and flim flam. Just refrain from hibernating, and we’ll all enjoy the show…because we got a lot to give. – Henry

 

 

Melvin

 

I discuss a mixed bag of topics and some listener emails regarding Disney DAS Anxiety, Gender-Neutral Disney Halloween Costumes, A Petition to provide mechanical lifts in the Disney Parks, Autism-Friendly Theater, The Gingerbread Fun Run 5K to benefit Give Kids The World Village, Vegan Soft-Serve at Erin McKenna’s Bakery and More!

Come again.
Come again.
The welcome mat is always out,
‘Cause seeing you is fun.

 

Kathy

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Is Disney’s DAS “fair?” (Part Two) – 081

Fairimage

Special Mouse listeners weigh in with their opinions during Part Two of Disney’s DAS: Is it “fair?” With guest Maureen Deal from Autism at the Parks.

Thank you to all the listeners who submitted their insights to this important question. Regretfully, not all submissions were mentioned on the show due to time constraints. To continue this discussion about Disney’s DAS and others of interest to Disney travelers with special needs, consider joining the Special Mouse Listener Discussion Group on Facebook. Contact Kathy at specialmousepodcast@gmail.com for more information about this private discussion group.

Mentioned during this episode:

 

Ed Russell: There were many people that ‘gamed’ the system with the original GAC; even the paper DAS had its share (but not as many); the electronic DAS has reduced ‘gaming’ to a minimum, in my opinion. Is it fair? Those with mobility issues probably don’t think so, BUT the majority of mobility issue really are resolved with a wheelchair of ECV – and you don’t need any more accommodations if a mobility issue is your only problem. For other problems, the DAS IS fair – in general. However, there are a few times when NOTHING can really accommodate the problems, not even the DAS and extra accommodations. Occasionally you will run across the CM that doesn’t really understand your needs – ask to speak with a supervisor. Disney really does try to accommodate everyone, and is better at it than most companies.

Jen Ivey: I think on paper it sounds like fair and reasonable accommodation and would work great for someone who has a full understanding of the concept of waiting or interests in multiple things to fill that wait time. We will be using the DAS for the 1st time in Sep. My son doesn’t care about characters, window shopping or sitting to eat for any length of time so filling that 40min to an hour us going to be difficult either way. It seems the qualifications for DAS are different than the GAC so that results in less use and in theory they could’ve kept the old system and less people would be allowed “instant Access” as people called it and really doesn’t affect the other riders at all. The DAS is not fair in the fact it adds to our whole family’s anxiety on vacation at a place where we try to function as a typical family. Does that make sense?

Michelle Haffer: Is the DAS fair….? Good question. I can only answer from our perspective and that is from a parent of a 12 year old daughter who is on severe side of the autism spectrum and has moderate MR according to her diagnosis. I don’t like that word, but it is written in her diagnosis. When the DAS first replaced GAC I panicked. The GAC work so well for us and we were able to see and do so much before DD needed a break from the parks. Midday breaks are a MUST. How could we achieve that with the new DAS!? In April 2014 we made our first trip with the DAS and also carefully planned FP+ return times to coordinate with DAS return times. We tend to focus on attractions in one area of the park, especially at MK, and felt the DAS/FP+ combo worked excellently for our family, especially for rides she likes to do twice. However, please know that she doesn’t usually need to repeat rides like some of the spectrum do. My Maddy has autism and has needs that fall under the new DAS guidelines. Is the DAS fair to everyone? I am seeing more and more reports of guests being denied a DAS. The Disney FAQ page states the DAS is for those that cannot wait in the conventional queue. I know that there are MANY valid reasons why guests cannot wait in the conventional queue, not just our reasons. [autism-related] Does that seem fair, NO.”

Diane Myers From my view the DAS is an attempt to throw a blanket access accommodation over a significant portion of the guest population where the blanket doesn’t cover everyone. Is it fair? I’m not sure how to answer that. I applaud Disney for making queues more accessible, more interesting, more interactive, for making changes to try to make things more “equal” in the general guest’s eyes, while serving the needs of the disabled population. Where they fail in my eyes is: in lack of consistent training and implementation for all cast; the anxiety in the process of trying to “prove your case” as to why the DAS is necessary to provide access/accommodation or more specifically why the DAS,as it is currently, is not sufficient to provide access to your family member; and the return time issue. In my experience, there is a significant portion of the general population that doesnt understand why autistic folks have such a difficult time with time, which standing in lines and waiting while being bombarded by sensory stimuli is a huge factor.

When the changeover from GAC to DAS was occurring, I remember being shocked and saddened by posts from Disney lovers who were all aha! so your “special snowflake” doesnt get to go to the front of the line anymore (as if we ever got to go to the front of the line – those same folks never seemed to understand THAT) or “if your kid can’t stand and wait like everyone else, then why to you even bring your kid to a theme park”. I tried to explain the disconnect with the concept of time and sensory issues, over and over and over. Some people were enlightened, many were not.

I think Disney could make things more “fair” by lessening the anxiety in obtaining the DAS; consistent cast member training; allowing more than 1 DAS reservation at a time; hiring more “dis”abled employees so that their cast presence could promote more awareness and understanding amongst the general guest population.

Lori Hope Fries: That is a tricky one. In California it is fair because guests are able to get a comeback time for an attraction at any GS location. However, in WDW you need to go all the way to the attraction for a return time. That is too hard. I am happy that they offer something. I do not like to hear when guests abuse a system. Invisible issues make it impossible to judge but cast member training needs to be increased. As a whole, I am happy that Disney helps and gives guests who truly need a DAS an option.

Debi Rieser Dame:  Using the DAS w the FP+ works at some parks and not at others. We no longer are able to Park Hop, which seems like a waste of our money because we buy APs that include park hopping. But because the FP+ times are so stretched out over the day (we don’t have the option to get our reservations earlier) because the rides we want are already full. It’s been easy to get accommodations in some parks but not in others.

Nicole Thibault Our family alternates the DAS and the FP times to create flow through the day, so that there is minimal waiting. It works for us. The only way they could make it better for our family is if they let is schedule the DAS return times online, like a FP. The whole “walking up to an attraction and coming back later” is difficult for my kid who doesn’t always understand why we can’t ride NOW.

Laura Hunt: I have to say, I have mixed feelings about it being fair. Like so many others, my 14 year old daughter does not have a visible disability. However she has epilepsy, adhd, anxiety, sensory issues, processing issues and cognitive communication problems. This was my first trip back to WDW in three years, so it was a first time to experience using the DAS. Before getting to Disney I thought that getting the DAS was going to be a challenge. I had my only paper pass from three years ago as well as a doctor’s note ready. I did though, have all my FP+ choices set up in advance. This really helped. (We did not rush to get the DAS, probably because of my own anxiety about getting it and my unfamiliarity with the ease of getting one at Hollywood Studios since we have only asked for it in MK.)

Instead, we went on our FP+ choices and decided that we had had enough for the early part of our day. That evening we decided to go to MK. The gentleman who helped me at Guest Relations was wonderful. I made my request to him with an explanation and had my doctor’s note out to show him. He did not even glance at it. He was so courteous and polite to my daughter explaining what she needed to do to use the DAS and why he was taking her picture. He set up our first DAS fast pass. He made this usually stressful event of getting the pass stress free. So as far as getting the pass I feel it is fair.

Next, I do like how there is no more “show the red pass” which inevitably led to the line of dirty looks from people on standby lines when entering the fast pass line. For my daughter, this new DAS made her feel more comfortable because all she had to do was go to a cast member at the attraction and “get a DAS return time.” Upon returning we just used the band like everyone else. She did not have to show a pass that others could see. So doing things this way I feel is fair. For us, the return time led to more “down time” to snack, people watch, or shop, which in turn was better for us at times. So for this part it was fair.

Next, with the FP+ system, many more people are using it, so more so than ever before fast pass lines are much longer. So is it fair??? I suppose, if fair means equal to all, but for visitors who have difficulties waiting in long lines, like my DD, the DAS is not serving its purpose. Also, scheduled FP+ times for the attractions are set up so that you are usually there for at least 4-5 hours. For us, this didn’t work very well. I skirted my way around some of these issues by changing the times of individual fast passes on my phone when at the park. I found it easier to get a time I wanted this way. However I am not sure if this is a FP problem or a DAS problem. It seems we are told to use the FP+ system in conjunction with the DAS but I feel this is what makes it more difficult. There is too much preplanning involved. Preplanning does not always work for my family, as I am sure is the same for many others. When my DD has had enough, it’s time to go, FP+ used or not. Unfortunately this happened many times for us. We missed out on our FP because we needed to take a break. So in this sense, is it fair for all people with disabilities?? No.

All in all, I feel they are trying to make it fair for all people, but just like in the school system, you can not have a blanket system for all people with disabilities, individual disabilities or limitations vary from one person to another, and It will not work. (perhaps this is a little bit of the teacher in me talking, as well).

Sue Mickelson: I do think DAS is fair. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires reasonable accommodation and also has a clause that says people with disabilities should have their needs accommodated in the mainstream as much as possible, which DAS does do. It’s not everything some people might want or need, but the standard for ADA is ‘reasonable accommodation’, which is not the same as schools, which have IEPs (individual Education Plans) and requirement for “least restrictive environment.”

* * * * * * * * * *

Please visit Maureen’s site, Autism at the Parks and listen for her autism travel insights on that OTHER theme park (Universal) on the Unofficial Universal Orlando Podcast.

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

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Is Disney’s DAS “fair?” (Part One) – 080

 

The Magic is for Everyone!

Guest Maureen Deal from AutismAtTheParks.com joins Kathy to discuss whether or not Disney’s Disability Access Service (DAS) accommodation is “fair” and, if so, to whom?

We have discussed the change in Disney’s system of accommodation for guests with disabilities from the GAC to the DAS at length in previous episodes. Today we begin a dialogue, not about the effectiveness of the current system, but rather whether or not the current system is fair. This is in response to recent posts on social media from travel agents specializing in Disney vacation-planning who expressed frustration regarding some of their clients’ response to the current system. Unlike the previous system of accommodation, the DAS does not provide accellerated access to attractions for guests with disabilities.

It should be noted that Maureen and I are speaking as parents of children on the severe end of the Autism Spectrum. Naturally, this has affected our own experiences and our personal opinions. Opinions of Special Mouse listeners regarding this question were requested and permission to share was granted.

Some points covered in this episode are:

Accommodations for Disney Park guests with special needs are now provided based upon specific criteria and many people “fall through the cracks.” Guests with challenges related to mobility/endurance are advised to rent a wheelchair or scooter if they do not already have one and the alternate entrance accommodation is provided if a queue is not wheelchair-accessible. Guests who find it difficult to wait in a standard queue environment due to cognitive/sensory issues are offered the DAS, which provides not accellerated access, but a “virtual wait” (Details regarding services for guests with disabilities can be found on Disney’s official website.)

 

What is “fair?” Is “fair” the same as “equal?”

Equal vs Fair

 

Was the DAS created to be fair for Disney park guests with disabilities or fair for “all of our guests?” (Meaning, the guests who do not require accommodations for disabilities.)

We discuss society’s attitudes toward people with disabilities, particularly intellectual disabilities. Has the GAC/DAS issue fostered an “us against them” mentality between typical guests and guests with disabilities and their families? Do guests with disabilities feel “entitlement?” Are guests without disabilities insensitive to the needs of others? Is accommodating the needs of the disabled fine and dandy UNTIL it is perceived to impact the non-disabled guest experience?

Does one size fit all when it comes to accommodations for special needs? (DAS or Mobility Device.) After all, that one glass slipper didn’t fit every foot!

Special Accommodations for Specific Circumstances

DAS, with its virtual wait, will accommodate many of our Guests with disabilities. We recognize, however, that our Guests with disabilities have varying needs, and we will continue to work individually with our Guests to provide assistance. In unique situations, our Guest Relations staff will discuss special accommodations for persons who are concerned DAS doesn’t meet their needs (e.g., those whose disability limits the duration of their visit to the park or limits their choice of attractions).

Are guests’ individual needs taken into account when additional accommodations are requested as promised by Disney in October of 2013? Or is additional accommodation “one-size-fits-all” as well? (Individual attraction re-admission pass (essentially one additional FastPass) that must be requested daily and on an individual basis.)

Oliver

Does anxiety and stress related to the DAS system (huge change for a population that finds change extremely difficult, anxiety related to fear of not being granted the DAS or that the DAS will not meet a family member’s needs, inconsistency among Disney Cast Members in provision of DAS accommodation, etc.) have a negative effect on the special-needs family’s vacation experience?

We reference Special Mouse Episode 50: Disney DAS Card Survey Results to note that about half of respondents said the DAS accommodation met their family’s needs while the other half said it did not. Again, does one size fit all in this situation?

Listener comments included in this episode:

Bruce Sherman: Those with mobility issues like myself, the answer to our issue is not a wheelchair. Too many queues can only handle a wheelchair, especially in the Magic Kingdom. So to say, hey you dont need DAS, use a wheelchair, is telling us, no, you cant ride this attraction.

Helen Thomas: Now we have used DAS I can see how to some it will work well and to others it may not solve the issues they have. Last time we were here we had the Guest Assistance Card. We used it like the DAS anyway as we had no issue with coming back after the standby time. We did see some people abusing the system and this did rankle with us as the pass was an assistance tool, not so you can jump queues. The DAS is working well for us and making our trip easier and less stressful and it fits in with our reasons we need it, but I can imagine that it will not work for some people with sensory issues or who have a particular ride that they will only go on, and struggle with having to wait. I don’t think you can please all the people all of the time plus sadly, there are people out there who will abuse things and ruin them for the rest.

* * * * * * * * * *

This is all food for thought; we will continue with part two of our discussion next week.

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

 

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DVC Rental: Pros & Cons for Special Needs Families 077

DVC Logo

 

Our family has been Disney Vacation Club (DVC) owners for ten years and as a special-needs family, we love it for so many reasons. Not everyone has the desire or the means to purchase a DVC contract, but there ARE ways for non-owners to experience the DVC resorts without paying exorbitant rack rates — by renting DVC points. In today’s feature I’m chatting with my good friend John Saccheri, also known as The Big Fat Panda, about the pros and cons of DVC rental for special needs families.

Some points we discuss are:

PROS:

  1. Amenities: More space, Full Kitchen (special diets, longer getting ready in morning, larger groups), laundry in-room (need I say more?), separate BR for parents, often a second bathroom in 1 Bedroom, (always in 2 or 3 BR.) Whirlpool tub for sensory-seeking (pressure) or for stressed-out moms and dads!
  2. Price. Expect to pay 1/2 to 1/3 less for a DVC rental, depending on the price per point.
  3. Availability. Renters may have ability to access hard-to-get DVC villas months before they’re available to anyone else.

CONS:

  1. (Private DVC Owner) Most private owners rent for $10 to $12 per point, depending on the resort and time of year. They’ll make the reservation for you and deal directly with DVC, so your entire reservation is in their hands. (Arranging Magical Express, Dining Plan, etc.) You have to give the owner your credit card info. Check Disney Message Boards for recommended owners, get references.
  1. (Points broker) Use a reputable broker. The points broker will be dealing with the owner and the owner will contact DVC for your requests. Disney will not talk to the points broker, so he is essentially a go-between.

You’ll want to make sure that there are alternatives available to you in the event you need to cancel your reservation. Some owners and brokers will work with you, but make sure you verify this in writing before you rent.

Good idea to Purchase Travel Insurance.

For official information about Disney Vacation Club (DVC) visit the Disney Vacation Club website.

If you’d like to explore the DVC resorts from the comfort of your laptop or phone, John is compiling some amazing videos of the resorts for his Youtube sponsor, David’s Vacation Club Rentals! Check them out HERE.

 

DVC youtube-videos

 

Tip of the Week:

This week I’m answering a question about the DAS or Disability Access Service.

Diane asks: “What do you do regarding the electronic DAS if you don’t have a smart phone? Is a smart phone or tablet absolutely necessary now?”

Good news, Diane! The My Disney Experience app is not required when using the DAS. When issuing your return time, the attraction CM will scan your Magic Band, entering the time into the system. Without the app you will simply need an alternate way to keep track of your return times throughout the day. You can take a digital picture of the CMs handheld device that shows your DAS return time or go “old school” by writing yourself a note with good old pen and paper.

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

 

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Disneyland Resort and Cruising to Alaska on the DCL with a Power Wheelchair – 075

KellyD

 

Feature conversation with Kelly DeBardelaben from Colorado Springs, Colorado. She’s here to chat with me about her Disney travels with her husband. He gets around using a power wheelchair because his mobility is affected by Cerebral Palsy. The couple has cruised to Alaska with the Disney Cruise Line AND vacationed at the Disneyland Resort in California and Kelly gives us the scoop on the wheelchair accessibility of both these Disney destinations.

Some of the things we discuss are:

Airport considerations for her husband’s power wheelchair

Accessibility and space requirements for resort rooms/cabins

Reasons she and her husband love using a Disney Travel Agent to help plan vacations

No grab rails in the accessible cabins on the Disney Wonder!

Kelly’s tip to avoid sticking to a toilet seat during bathroom transfers

Ability of adults to enjoy a kid-free Disney cruise

Off-ship excursions with a power wheelchair

Disneyland attractions that accommodate a power wheelchair

Disneyland attraction queues that accommodate a power wheelchair

Using a Service Dog in Disneyland

Teaching your child how to approach people in a power wheelchair or with a service dog

 

Tip of the Week:

This week we have a question about use of the Disability Access Service accommodation, or DAS, during the after-hours hard ticket events at Walt Disney World, namely, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

MNSSHP

 

(By the way, in case you are planning to do either of these parties in 2015, tickets are on sale now!)

A few Special Mouse Community Members who have attended these parties in the past 2 years have said that the DAS is NOT implemented during the hard ticket events.

First of all, DAS Return Times are generally procured when waits in the standby queue are 20 minutes or greater. The wait times rarely reach 20 minutes during the parties. In fact, FastPass queues aren’t even open.

After the day guests leave and the parties are in full swing (7pm), most of the partygoers are there for the special party offerings – the holiday parades, the special meet-and-greets, the unique stage shows, etc., and so if you are interested in doing rides, it is a fabulous time to visit the more popular attractions as the wait times are low, low, low (particularly during parades and fireworks.)

So, the short answer is no. The DAS is not used during the parties because, like FastPass+ reservations, it simply isn’t needed!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

 

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Kathy’s Trip Report: Walt Disney World with a Teenager who has Autism

The tables are turned as guest co-host Kim Slusher from the DIStracted Life podcast interviews Kathy about her family’s latest Walt Disney World vacation with a teenager who has Autism!

P1020254

We talked about many things, including:

How I prepared for visiting Walt Disney World with the challenges of my son’s autism.

Our l-o-n-g two-day drive from New Jersey to Florida (and why we chose to drive instead of fly.)

My impression of the one-bedroom villa at Disney’s Bay Lake Tower.

My son’s first experience using Magic Bands, the DAS (Disney’s accommodation for guests with cognitive and behavioral disabilities), and how we managed when attractions broke down.

Our VIP backstage meet ‘n greet with the cast of Finding Nemo: The Musical!

P1020251

Our experience with the Frozen Summer Kickoff, a 24-hour event at the Magic Kingdom, and how that and the Memorial Day holiday affected crowds.

The first-ever Special Mouse Podcast listener  Walt Disney World meet-up!

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It was fun meeting some of you “in real life.”

The importance of taking breaks, both during your day and during your vacation.

…and much more!

Kim’s two children also have “invisible” special needs. Our respective experiences with the DAS were discussed at length, including our overall impression of the new system of accommodation and how it may not truly accommodate all people on the autism spectrum.

 

Image 1350

Here’s Kim with her lovely family!

I’ll return with the usual show format next week.

Thanks for listening!

Kathy

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Teen with Cerebral Palsy is Rolling with the Disney Magic! 071

DOW Logo

Today’s feature guest is Andrew Prince from Ohio.  Andrew is a contributing writer of Disney on Wheels for the WDWRadio blog.  He was born with cerebral palsy and gets around in a wheelchair. (Cerebral palsy affects body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance. It can also impact fine motor skills, gross motor skills and oral motor functioning.)

Andrew is an experienced wheelchair traveler and has been to both US Disney parks, several D23 events and is a DCL gold castaway member!

A.Prince

Andrew’s Disney travels began with a trip to Walt Disney World in 2003, where he met his first “crush,” Mary Poppins! Since then, he and his Disney-loving family have traveled and cruised extensively with Disney. He hopes that his blog will encourage others with cerebral palsy or other mobility challenges to pursue Disney travel on wheels!

First trip to WDW Oct 2003 Mary Poppins!

If you would like to contact him feel free to e-mail him at arprince@bex.net or look him up on Facebook and on Twitter.  Disney on Wheels itself can be accessed on Facebook here,  or you can join the Disney on Wheels Facebook Group.  The archives on WDWRadio can be accessed here.

First trip to WDW family with Mickey!

 

Tip of the Week:

This week’s tip concerns the use of Disney’s DAS (Disability Access Service) system. The DAS is used in conjunction with the FastPass system to reserve ride times for certain popular attractions. Unfortunately, theme park attractions do break down from time to time and it is particularly frustrating when they do so during your ride reservation window! What do you do when you are given a DAS return time only to discover that the attraction has broken down? This happened to our family twice on our recent WDW vacation, once at Epcot’s Test Track and once on Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.

Because Cast Members are unable to determine how long an attraction will be out of service, they are unable to provide DAS return times while the attraction is out of service. (This is because DAS return times are based upon current standby wait times.) We discovered that CMs were unable to delete or edit our DAS return times using their handheld devices. Instead, we were directed to choose another attraction and visit the FastPass return kiosk at the new attraction to make a brand-new DAS reservation. (FastPass holders would need to do the same thing; visit a FP kiosk and make changes.)

This is one more reason why it is important to prepare the person with cognitive, psychological or developmental disabilities for the possibility of ride breakdown and a change of plans!

Mousekeeping:

Thanks and shout-outs on-air for supporters of Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide on Kickstarter!

I will be a guest on the Big Fat Panda Show later this month! Check out this fantastic youtube channel by my friend, John Saccheri. (I’ll share the link when the show goes “live!”)

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

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Magic Kingdom TR: First Visit for Child with Multiple Special Needs 069

Emmalee Disney 2

 

Today’s feature is a magical one-day mini trip report from Wayne Cordova, father of a 4-yr-old Emmalee, who has multiple special needs: cerebral palsy, epilepsy, hypotonia (muscle weakness) and developmental delay. Wayne enthusiastically shares his trip-planning strategy and how he and his wife, Tina, structured their one-day visit to the Magic Kingdom so as to ensure a successful experience for their daughter. Emmalee was able to access her must-do experiences (meeting Mickey Mouse and Anna & Elsa and riding it’s a small world) with help of the DAS and the stroller-as-a-wheelchair tag.

 

Emmalee Disney 5

 

 

Wayne believes that parents of children with multiple special needs have access to numerous planning resources that can help them ensure successful Walt Disney World trips for their families. He shares some of his resources here:

“Easy WDW was the first Crowd Calendar I looked at” –  http://www.easywdw.com/category/calendar/01-january-2015-crowd-calendar/

“The first blog I read about the DAS card” – http://temporarytourist.com/wdw-disability-assistance-serviccard-das-walt-disney-world/

“I then turned to podcasts for some info… and found WDW Radio episode 384” – http://www.wdwradio.com/2014/11/show-384-10-things-need-know-traveling-walt-disney-world-special-needs/

“Which led me to your podcast!”

Special Mouse #045 – http://specialmouse.com/5-kids-2-das-cards-1-magical-walt-disney-world-vacation-045/

Special Mouse #050 – http://specialmouse.com/disney-das-card-survey-results-050/

(I’m thrilled that our podcast was able to help the Cordova family!) You can connect with Wayne and Tina here:

Tina’s Blog  http://tinacordova.com/

Wayne’s Blog  http://www.waynecordova.com/

Wayne’s Podcast  http://www.geekpastor.com/

Social:

http://Twitter.com/WayneCordova

http://Facebook.com/GeekPastor

* * * * * * * * * *

Tip of the Week:

The DAS system is expected to go digital this week at the WDW resort and there will be a slight change in procedure. Our tip is to assist you during the transition period.

Here is how it will work:

1.) Visit Guest Relations in any park and request the DAS – The person in need of accommodation will need to have the entire party present.

2.) The Guest in need of the DAS accommodation will have a picture taken and his or her name will be entered into the system. (Up to now, the procedure is the same as before.)  Now the information will also be placed on the guest’s MagicBand.

3.) To use the DAS, the Guest will go to an attraction and have their MagicBand read via the Cast Member’s scanner. The photo and information of the Guest needing the DAS will come up and the CM will verify that it matches the guest wearing the MagicBand.

The scanner will then provide a return time.

4.) Upon return to the attraction, the Guest who had the DAS assigned to them MUST scan his MagicBand first, followed by the rest of the party. If not done in that order, it won’t register.

The picture and name of the Guest needing the DAS will then be verified by the CM before the group will be allowed to enter the attraction.

 

Naturally, there may be a few bugs in the system during the first week or two, so today’s tip of the week to help you through the transition comes to us from two Special Mouse listeners.  Maureen says,

“As a precaution so we don’t lose them, I’m going to take a screen shot of my FP+ times before I load any DAS return times into the MDE app. I know they are supposed to be in two different parts of the system, but they still have issues with FP+ messing up and I don’t want to take the risk.”

And this is echoed by Sue, who says,

“We’ve used the MDE for Fastpasses on 4 trips now and we always take screenshots.

You can go back to view them in the MDE app whenever you want, but sometimes the wifi in the parks is better than others.

So, rather than use up phone power trying to connect to wifi or use phone data time, we just do screenshots at the beginning of the day and each time we make a change.”

* * * * * * * * * *

MY sincere thanks to all of you who have pledged to support the publication of Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide and for tolerating the many, many messages about it that I’ve been sharing this month on social media. I promise that they will stop on May 7th when the campaign ends!

If you or someone you know will be traveling to WDW with a teenager or a child on the autism spectrum in the near future, pledging to the Kickstarter is a way for you to pre-order the book so that you have it on DAY ONE of its release.

There are lots of additional rewards for pledging and so I urge you to visit the page before the campaign ends on May 7th and thank you again for your friendship and your support!

Kick-Image-B

 

~ Kathy

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Diabetic Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World, New DCL Service Dog Gangway Pass and more! 066

Service Animal Gangway Pass

Guest: Robyn Adams. We discuss DAS Rumors, Diabetic Mouseketeers at Walt Disney World, the new DCL Service Dog Gangway Pass and more. It’s a Round Robin with Robyn!

We’re calling out a blog-disguised-as-a-news site that is posting rumors about changes coming to the DAS Card at Walt Disney World that are emotionally manipulative.

We discuss the upcoming Special Mouse Listener Meet  Friday, May 22, at the Contempo Cafe inside Disney’s Contemporary Resort. (4 PM to 6 PM)

This coincides with Robyn’s Diabetic Mouseketeers Weekend, an opportunity “for Diabetic families to go to Walt Disney World and make their own memories while getting a chance to meet other Diabetic families.

Another item we talk about is something shared by listener, Mark Sumonka. Mark has cruised multiple times with the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) and today he posted a picture of something new for guests with service animals: a “Gangway Pass.” (We believe this is an internal method of notifying Cast Members on the ship that guests have already notified Disney that they would be traveling with the service animal when booking the cruise.)

For more information about Diabetic Mouseketeers’ and Walt Disney World, contact Robyn Adams at
Robyn@travelwiththemagic.com
www.travelwiththemagic.com

Tip of the Week:

As part of Autism Awareness Month, I’d like to spotlight Beth Blancher at Mouse-Aid. Beth has created social stories for people with Autism and related challenges to use at Walt Disney World. Social stories are short descriptions of a particular situation, event or activity, which include specific information about what to expect in that situation and why. Social Stories can help a person with autism to understand how others might behave or respond in a particular situation, and therefore how they might be expected to behave.

Check them out at  mouse-aid.org. 

* * * * * * * * *

Please visit my page on Kickstarter to learn more about the book I am writing,

Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide

Thank you!

~ Kathy

 

 

 

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Accessible Travel and the Special Needs Family: A Discussion with the Founders of Special Globe – 065

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Today I’m chatting with Jonathan Yardley and Meghann Harris, founders of an innovative special-needs travel site called Special Globe.

They have created a site “that will allow parents the ability to book custom trips, book hotels and share their experiences and learn from other parents and experts through forums and written articles about everything from tips and tricks, top ten things to do and basic travel advice.”  They plan to develop their own itinerary guides for Special Globe members that would include comprehensive information about special needs travel. Where to stay, where to eat, what wonderful activities would be available to you that your whole family could enjoy, where are the hospitals, where are the pharmacies, where can I get a beach scooter, where can I get a certified aid that could help my family while on vacation in each of these locales and much more. All of it completely free of charge.

Meghann has two children; her daughter was diagnosed with atypical Rett Syndrome when she was one year old. Meghann’s love of family travel and her strong desire to provide that same experience to her family was the driving force behind the creation of Special Globe.

AtlantisPhoto_17

You can visit the Special Globe website HERE and connect with them on social media on Twitter , Facebook , and YouTube.

Mousekeeping:

Well, the feedback keep pouring in on the Facebook Group for the cover image for my upcoming book, Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide. I posted the top three images, asked you all to vote, and you’ve been no help at all because there’s a hundred comments and the votes are all over the place!

So, it’s back to the drawing board for the illustrator who will be tweaking the design based upon your suggestions. (I should probably run some kind of a contest or something, I’ll have to think about that a bit.)

Naturally, I’m really excited about bringing this book to you. Our family’s been enjoying WDW pretty much every year for the past 12 years and so we’ve learned a lot about navigating the parks with our son, Billy, who has Autism. We’ll be into the April in a couple of days and, if you are not aware, April is Autism Awareness Month in the United States, and World Autism Awareness Day will be celebrated on April 2nd.

Unfortunately, I will be celebrating World Autism Awareness Day by increasing my awareness of our state’s judicial system, as I was called to State Grand Jury selection on that very day. Yuckk!

The real celebration for me will come sometime early in April – I don’t have the exact date, yet, but I promise I will let you know – when I launch the Kickstarter campaign to help me publish the book!

If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, it’s a crowdfunding platform for creative projects like books, films, music albums, etc.

Essentially, it’s a way for you to pre-order the book AND support the project in general.

I’ve set up a page here on the website and also a Facebook page for Walt Disney World with Autism: A Special Needs Guide; please visit either of those if you’d like more information.

Opinion: DAS Rumors!

My take on this week’s rumor; please see this blog post. Let’s not begin yelling “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater.

Tip of the Week:

This week’s tip addresses concerns about TSA Security and air travel with pre-filled medication syringes.

TSA

If you’re worried that your medication syringes will be opened and the liquid tested by Transportation Security Administration agents, you may rest at ease. The only reason that agents may screen your liquid-filled syringes is if they appear to be tampered with. The TSA suggests that you keep all pre-filled syringes sealed and transport them in their original box that has the prescription label attached.

Have your syringes in an easily accessible place in your carry on. Put them in the bin when you are going through the screening process. The more upfront you are about medically-necessary liquids, the fewer problems you will have.

It is also recommended that you bring a copy of the original prescription from your doctor.

If you have any questions about pre-filled medication syringes or any other medically-necessary liquid, you may call the TSA Cares FREE hotline at 1-855-787-2227 prior to your flight, or, visit the website and click on the tab for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions.

Thanks for listening,

Kathy

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Disney DAS Card Changes: DAS only a RUMOR, Folks!

rumorsI checked into Facebook this morning and was dismayed to find talk swirling over a proposed change to the DAS (Disability Access Service) Card at Walt Disney World. It wasn’t the vague details of said change that bothered me, so much as the effect it was having on people. Apprehension, anxiety and speculation do not sit well on an empty stomach.

Better put the kettle on!

Ah, rumors. Or as one member stated, “Drama, drama!” with a wink. That’s not to say that we shouldn’t keep our ears to the ground when the rumor mill begins to rumble and the wheel begins to turn. Many of us, myself included, recall when the original story about the end of the GAC (Guest Assistance Card) “broke” ahead of the official announcement in September, 2013. I didn’t believe it at the time, but that one turned out to be 100% true.

What bothers me most about rumors is that people who are already under a lot of stress can become quite anxious and worried as speculations build and spread; while for others, each rumor serves to open up old wounds, resulting in postings full of resentment and bitterness. I don’t like to see people getting angry and upset, especially if what they are getting upset about has not yet been confirmed!

Okay, let’s back it up a bit. What started all this, anyway?

Someone shared a screen shot of  a friend’s Facebook post. A Florida resident who is a Walt Disney World AP (Annual Pass) holder, this woman went to Guest Services this morning to renew her DAS Card. Afterwards she posted:

Don’t know what is happening but the DAS Program after 4/30 is changing and CM [Cast Member] said it’s either going to a band program or going away completely but AP FL residents normally get a 2 month card and we’ve been informed that it’s changing so they can’t write them longer than 4/30. Guessing the recent lawsuits and rulings are either causing changes or cancellation of the DAS for everyone. We shall see how it changes and how it effects our ability to do the parks but may be last year we have APs if we find it too hard to manage the parks and the stress and the pain to our bodies.

Okay, can you spot the problem here? There is one piece of “truth” in this post but it is sandwiched between subjectivity and speculation on the part of this guest. Here is what I see to be “truth”:

She went to Guest Services to renew her Florida Resident Annual Passholder DAS Card and was told that it could not be extended past 4/30. That was her experience. The rest is ALL speculation and hearsay!

Don’t know what is happening but the DAS Program after 4/30 is changing and CM said it’s either going to a band program or going away completely.

No, you don’t know what is happening and apparently, neither does the Cast Member. (Which is it, going to a band program or going away??)

Guessing the recent lawsuits and rulings are either causing changes or cancellation of the DAS for everyone.

Yes, my dear, this is only your guess. But thank you for scaring everyone by projecting your own anxieties onto what’s happening!

Sharing is caring, however, I’m not so sure it was very prudent to share  “as is” without editing the more inflammatory statements. But let’s not yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theater! And please, friends, take everything you read/hear with a grain of salt. There’s enough DAS Card anxiety going around already — I’m pretty sure it’s getting it’s own ICD-9  diagnosis code soon!

What do I think is happening? I have an idea, but don’t take my word for it.

What I do know is that my family will be vacationing at Walt Disney World in May and that we plan to request the DAS Card. If there has been any change to the system, I will let you know.

Until then, I’m not going to get my undies in a bundle!

~ Kathy

Just-The-Facts-Maam

 

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WDW Attraction Vehicle & Seating Guide, Part Three: Disney’s Hollywood Studios – 063

BillandTracy

 

Keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times; we’re taking a practical look at the accessibility of vehicles and seating found at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including

– Seating capacity per row
– Seating capacity per vehicle
– ECV and wheelchair accessibility
– Seating surface
– Safety restraints
– Boarding procedure
– Height requirement
– Sensory issues

Tip of the Week: Information and a bit of etiquette advice regarding posting questions about Disney’s DAS Card in groups and discussion forums.  How to navigate Disney’s website to find information for Guests with Disabilities.

 

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A Disney DAS Social Story for Young Children with Autism

Photo courtesy of Autism at the Parks

Photo courtesy of Autism at the Parks

 

When Disney’s Guest Assistance Card was replaced with the Disability Access Service Card in October, 2013, it was done rather abruptly. This didn’t give families traveling with young children on the Autism Spectrum much time to prepare. I quickly wrote out this social story and posted it on my personal blog.

I happened to be at the Magic Kingdom with friends the day that the DAS went into effect. My friend John Saccheri , aka, Big Fat Panda, agreed to help me create a video version of the social story.  He makes amazing point-of-view attraction videos that my son, Billy, cannot get enough of! I didn’t have Billy with me, so fellow Disney blogger Aunesty Janssen graciously allowed us to “borrow” the experience she had with her son and use it for the social story. Thank you, both. I hope that you find this video to be useful as you plan for your Disney vacation!

A DAS Social Story Video

Script:

There is something new at Disney that will help me to have fun. It is called the DAS card.

To get the DAS card we visit Guest Relations. The Cast Members at Guest Relations are there to help us.

My Mom or Dad or _________ will ask a Cast Member for the DAS card. The Cast Member will ask my Mom or Dad some questions about me.

I will try to stay quiet while they are talking. If I am quiet my Mom or Dad will be so proud of me.

The Disney Cast Member will take my picture. I will try to stay still when my picture is taken.

Now I have a special card with my picture on it.

Sometimes, there is a long line of people waiting for a ride that I want to do.

I must wait for my turn. Waiting can be hard.

My Mom or Dad will give the Cast Member my DAS card. He or she will write something on the back of the card. It is the time that we can come back to ride.

When that time is up we will come back to ride.

I will try to be patient while I wait for my turn to ride. This is a good idea.

There are many things that I can do while waiting for my turn.

I can have a snack. I can play a game. I can use the restroom. I can listen to music.

I can _____________________________________.

Mom or Dad will be happy if I wait quietly for my turn to ride.

When it is time for my turn, we will come back to the ride and get in the shorter line. It is good to be in the shorter line.

 

Soon I will ride and I will feel happy.

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Kathy

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Disney Theme Park Accommodations for Guests with Disabilities: An Overview

 “To all who come to this happy place — welcome! Disneyland is your land.”

Walt Disney, Disneyland Opening Day Speech, 1955

waltopening

 

Disneyland and the Walt Disney World Resort have long been recognized as among the most inclusive and accessible vacation destinations in the world, largely because of the high standards of hospitality and customer service set by their namesake in the 1950’s.

Tradition notwithstanding, times do change and in many ways for the better. Improvements in health care and pharmacology are enabling adults to live longer. Advances in technology allow those with mobility challenges to maintain active lives within the community. Increased social awareness and acceptance of people with differing levels of functional ability provide greater opportunities for everyone to access and participate in travel and recreational activity, such as a theme-park vacation!

Given all this, it would be difficult to imagine a travel party that does not have at least one member with some sort of special need or health challenge.

On October 9, 2013, Disney completely overhauled its system for accommodating Guests with disabilities to coincide with the new FastPass+ System of reservations for high-volume attractions. If you’ve visited either the Disneyland or the Walt Disney World Resorts prior to this date and have utilized these accommodations, you’ll see that although Guests’ needs continue to be accommodated, the system has become more complex.

So, what does this mean for you as you plan your Disney vacation with extra challenges? Let’s look at what the parks offer for differently-abled Guests with special needs:

 

Before you arrive

Disney has information for Guests with Disabilities available for review on the official website. This should be your first stop when seeking information because it comes “straight from the Mouse’s mouth!”

Walt Disney World

Disneyland

 

At the Theme Parks

The Guide for Guests with Disabilities is a brochure that provides a detailed overview of services and facilities available for Guests with disabilities. It is available at Guest Relations locations within all 4 Disney Theme Parks, 2 Disney Water Parks, vacation planners, front desk and concierge areas, and wheelchair rental locations.

This guide provides a detailed overview of the services and facilities available for Guests with disabilities, including information about:

  • Parking
  • Companion restroom locations
  • Accessible drinking fountain locations
  • Auxiliary aids
  • Telephone assistance
  • Transportation facilities
  • Specific attraction entrance and boarding procedures, as some attractions allow Guests to remain in a wheelchair and some are transfer-accessible.

 

Additionally, Guests with specific disability concerns can visit Guest Relations at any of the Disney Theme Parks or Disney Water Parks for additional information and assistance.

Note the locations of the First Aid Station in each of the theme parks. First Aid Stations provide a place to store medications and spare oxygen tanks, or to receive assistance.

Disney offers several accommodations for Guests with visual and hearing challenges and for Guests who utilize trained service animals – for the most part, these have not changed.

Some examples of accommodations include:

  • Assistive Listening systems
  • Reflective Captioning
  • Sign Language interpretation
  • Text Typewriter telephones
  • Handheld Captioning
  • Video Captioning
  • Audio Description devices
  • Braille guidebooks
  • Digital audio tour

 

Handheld Accessibility Device

Image: Disney

 

The Disney Theme Parks welcome Trained Service Animals

It is important for you to know that Cast Members are not permitted to take control of service animals. Guests with service animals should follow the same attraction entrance guidelines as Guests who use wheelchairs.

Each Theme Park and allows Guests to use (backstage) locations for service animal relief areas. Please consult the Guidebook for Guests with Disabilities, for specific information.

 

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Photo: Edward Crane, personal collection

 

Accelerated Access to Attractions

The accommodation that previously provided accelerated access to certain attractions based upon the ability of the guest to tolerate an extended wait in the queue is no longer being provided. Disney’s Guest Assistance Card (GAC) has been replaced with the Disability Access Service Card (DAS), which has been designed to work together with the FastPass+ system of attraction reservation. With the DAS, guests now receive a return time for attractions based on their current posted wait time.

 

Image: wdwdreamin

 

The official guide to the Disability Access Service Card   is available for download in PDF format. If you plan to request this accommodation, I highly recommend that you review the file thoroughly.  As with the GAC, requests for the DAS accommodation are made in person at Guest Relations located at the front of each of the four theme parks. Unlike FastPass+ reservations, procurement of the DAS is not available prior to your arrival at the theme park.

One noticeable change with this new system appears to be the way in which the Cast Members at Guest Relations are granting a particular accommodation based upon the Guest’s stated need, NOT their diagnosis or disability.

Needs based upon cognitive or sensory disabilities that make it difficult for the Guest to wait in the traditional queue are offered the DAS, which will provide the Guest with an alternate waiting environment. Guests who state that they their need is based upon mobility or endurance issues are offered the accommodation of wheelchair or ECV (scooter) rental if they do not already have their own assistive device and are offered the alternate entrance accommodation.

Guests are encouraged to utilize either of these accommodations in addition to the Fast Pass and FastPass+ reservation systems. Again, I urge you to review the official Disney Parks information prior to your arrival at the theme parks. There you will find a detailed description of how the accommodations are utilized.

 

Accommodation for Guests with Cognitive, Sensory and Mental Health Challenges

Disney has created a Resource for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities Including Autism Spectrum Disorder for both Walt Disney World and Disneyland, also available as pdf files. Some of the information is applicable to Guests with Anxiety Disorders and PTSD, so even if the need is unrelated to Autism, it is worth a review.

 

Image: Disney

 

It is important for you to know that the American’s With Disabilities Act prohibits Disney from requesting “proof” of disability or even a specific diagnosis. You are, of course, free to divulge your diagnosis if you so choose.  However, Cast Members are being discouraged from accepting “doctor’s notes” that in past years could support the Guest’s request for accommodation.  This is to avoid the perception that Disney is requiring proof, which would be against Federal Law.

In addition, please be aware that Cast Members are not health care providers and most likely will not have a clear understanding of your needs if you simply provide them with a medical diagnosis. Therefore, it is important that the Guest or the Guest’s representative be able to clearly articulate the need.

While the DAS card is most commonly requested for use by Guests with cognitive, sensory, or mental health challenges, there are other invisible medical challenges for which a Guest may find the card useful. Again, it all depends upon the individual need. Some possible examples are:

  • Medical conditions that may result in a rapid change in blood sugar, necessitating immediate treatment
  • Medical conditions that may result in seizures, necessitating immediate treatment
  • Medical conditions that make it difficult for a Guest to wait in a traditional queue, yet preclude the Guest from utilizing a wheelchair or ECV

If there is more than one Guest in a travel party with the need for accommodation with a Disability Access Service Card, it is highly recommended that each Guest obtain his or her own card. This allows the guests to “split up” if needed and still make use of the accommodations.

The process sounds overwhelming, but it is easier than you may think to obtain the accommodations you need. To assist you, I have created an easy-to-read Guide to Requesting Disney’s DAS Card. To receive your guide directly to your inbox, please see the sidebar, above right.

 

Accommodations for Guests with Mobility and Endurance Challenges

Wheelchairs and Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECVs or “scooters”) are available for rent in all the theme parks.  Quantities are limited and they are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Guests are permitted to bring their own mobility assistive devices.

 

 

Boarding an Accessible Vehicle on the Jungle Cruise

Image: Disney

Guests using wheelchairs or ECVs are provided the accommodation of alternate entrance. It should be noted that, due to safety regulations concerning the number of mobility-impaired guests that may utilize an attraction at one time, the wait for a particular attraction may actually be longer when using this accommodation.  Options for boarding procedures are posted at the entrance to each attraction and may vary.

 

Multiple Disabilities

If the Guest has both a cognitive and a mobility disability, the Guest should request both accommodations.

 

Physical Access

Most attractions, restaurants, shops and shows are accessible to all Guests. In some cases, however, Guests may need the assistance of a member of their party to fully utilize these areas. Also, at some attractions Guests using wheelchairs may need to transfer from their wheelchairs onto an attraction vehicle. Disney Cast Members are not permitted to physically lift Guests from wheelchairs. Disney recommends that Guests who need assistance plan to visit with someone who can physically assist them, when necessary.

 

Prosthetic Devices

Although there are no written guidelines for Guests with prosthetic limbs, Disney Cast Members operating the attractions, particularly the “thrill” rides, may determine Guest safety on an individual basis. The deciding factor appears to be whether or not the Guest is able to brace him- or herself on the ride, with or without the prosthesis.

 

Prosthetic_Info_Sheet

 Image: Rae Augenstein, Personal Collection

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The above information has been presented as a basic guide to the accommodations provided at the Disney Theme Parks. If you have additional questions regarding your individual needs that cannot be answered using the resources mentioned, you may contact the Resorts directly:

Walt Disney World Guest Communications

PO Box 10040
Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830-0040

You can also send an email to WDW.Guest.Communications@disneyworld.com; address it to Disability Relations in the subject line. Give them a phone number so that they can call. It sometimes takes 2-3 weeks, but someone from Disability Relations will call you to discuss your concerns.

DISNEYLAND Guest Communications

 P.O. Box 3232
Anaheim, CA 92803-6161

Email DISNEYLAND.Guest.Communications@disneyland.com. Use Disability Relations in the subject line as above.

It's

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