We just returned from an eventful trip to Walt Disney World using all sorts of new technology/systems and lucky for you I’m here to report on it. My husband and I traveled with my mother-in-law and multiple disabilities special needs brother-in-law to Animal Kingdom Lodge- Kidani Village. Honestly, we were not thrilled to find out that they were changing the Guest Assistance Program, AND that we were to be testing the Fastpass + system on our trip, but it actually worked out for us!
With the Disability Access Service (DAS), we took my brother-in-law in his wheelchair to guest services at Hollywood Studios (and later at Epcot due to an incident with Kali River Rapids) where he would have his picture taken and his card issued. The cast member was very professional and asked, “What kind of assistance do we need?” Not once did they ask what his disability was, even though it is visible that he has special needs. The CM then asked a few simple questions about the number in our party and our length of stay. The CM clearly went over the rules and regulations of the DAS with us, required a signature, preferably of the DAS recipient (but anyone in our party could sign for it), and off we went to enjoy the park.
When we encountered a ride that we wanted to get on, we handed the CM at the standby queue line the card. He/she checked the current wait time, subtracted 10 minutes, asked for the number in our party, and then gave us a time to return. You can return anytime after that time, but you can not get a time for another ride until the first one is used. We had one problem when our selected ride was not working for the majority of the day, but when we explained the situation to a CM at another ride late in the day they were very accommodating. The CM offered to cross off our first selection and give us a return time for their ride. For some other rides that are not wheelchair accessible, we basically repeated the same procedure and they directed us to an alternative entrance when we returned.
Now keep in mind that the DAS is completely separate from the Fastpass+ system. We did not start using the FP+ until the end of trip (some of us couldn’t get our park passes, etc to be fully linked to our MagicBands). We found that we could make our FP+ selections the night before or the morning of the day for our desired park the My Disney Experience app for our phone. Now granted, some of our times may have been limited, but if you are willing to be flexible, it works. FP+ allows you to choose 3 attractions per day where you can return within the 1 hour window similar to regular FP. You then return to a specially marked FP+ line during your time window.
However, we did notice that running the app seems to drain our phone batteries, and it is slow loading when we tried to make changes during this day. We noticed kiosks around the park for FP+ but the locations were not easily marked so we never tried to use them to make adjustments or check our passes. The CMs seemed to be aware of the flukes and “glitches” of the DAS and FP+ system and were willing to help us use the systems to have a magical time. We even managed to find a handicapped seating area for Illuminations thanks to a kind CM. 😀
Hope this helps all of you! My biggest piece of advice- Don’t hesitate to ask questions, but don’t become upset with the CMs who are still learning these systems. Have a Magical Day!!
Adrienne is originally from the Chicago area but lives outside of Indianapolis with her husband, 2 dogs, and 2 cats. She went to Disneyland when she was 7, which started her love of Disney. She even named one of her dogs after her favorite princess, Aurora. She and her husband celebrated their honeymoon at Walt Disney World in 2007 and have returned for every anniversary. They have stayed at variety of resorts on property and traveled with friends and family. Adrienne and her husband bought into DVC in May 2011 and rewarded themselves with their first fall trip for some of the special events. Adrienne and her husband consider WDW their “second home” and have become the go-to people for any Disney related questions and advice from friends, families, and acquaintances.