• Understanding Autism from the Inside

    “Academics came easily to me. The rest of life—not so much.”

Terrified to Visit Disney with the Boys: Fear about the DAS Pass

The last time our family visited Walt Disney World was in May of 2012, before the little guy was born. We traveled with three boys on the spectrum, Adam then 13, Matt, 8, and Thomas 1 year and 3 months. During that trip, we went to the Magic Kingdom and to Universal Studios (Harry Potter World prior to Diagon Alley) and had a wonderful time.

I wrote about my experience with Universal Studio’s Guest Assistance Passes here, and explained why the accommodations at Universal were better than Disney’s for our family–and that was BEFORE Disneys 2013 changes to the DAS pass.

Recommendations for enjoying Disney BEFORE the change.  Parts of these recommendations are still valid, but note the GAC no longer exists and has been replaced with the DAS.

Disability passes/accommodations are extremely important to our family, not because we want “perks’ as some would suggest but because these trips would be IMPOSSIBLE without them. We simply would not be able to go. It really is that simple. IMPOSSIBLE.

I remembered what a fantastic experience we had, but with the changes that Disney made we avoided a return, instead heading back to Universal last year. I can confidently report that Universals accommodations (as of last April) were just as good as they were in 2013 and we had a wonderful vacation to their credit.

With little guy being so young, he was unable to enjoy many of the Universal rides because of height restrictions. However, we still had a wonderful time utilizing child swap when necessary, and riding the ET ride a gazillion times! That should have been the first clue that we had a “repeat rider” on our hands…that child got out of the ride, and ran around to the entrance trying to push past everyone including the universal staff to get back on!

LIttle guy is a tad older now; Thomas is 6 and repeatedly asking to go visit “the castle” because we did not the last time we went to Orlando. So…with our 20th wedding anniversary approaching, and no chance of getting away alone… the MOUSE it is! I hope, and I am terrified.

Honestly, the new DAS system that Disney is employing in conjunction with FastPass+ does seem awesome for SOME families…those families who go to Disney with one autistic child–but definitely do not make any sense for those of us with multiples, or with “repeat riders” or for those who cannot take their child to an attract to get a return time and come back 160 minutes later with said child because by that time a full-blown meltdown and likely return to hotel room with several hysterical child has ensued.

The planning that will go into using these passes in conjunction and the likelihood of still needing to leave the park is so high that I am very scared to even try. It is a long long way, and thousands of dollars for a “chance.” (We will be driving 22 hours over three days times in EACH DIRECTION.)

So what do I do?? I dont know. I didnt know… So I asked. I sent Disney an email….and waited for a response. What would you do?

Up Next:  My email, Disneys Response, and our Plan.

 

Jeannie Davide-Rivera

Jeannie is an award-winning author, the Answers.com Autism Category Expert , contributes to Autism Parenting Magazine, and the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism. She lives in New York with her husband and four sons, three of which are on the autism spectrum.

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