This is a good question. Let’s start with what you do when you enter the park on your first day. Go directly to the Guest Assistance. There are two at each park. One is outside the gate and the other is inside the gate. We usually start at Animal Kingdom because it is our family’s favorite park.
Go to the Guest assistance office. Have everyone in your party’s Magic Bands with you and the child or person needing the DAS. There is usually a short line. When you get to the front you tell them you need a DAS. They will ask you what you or your child needs. They are NOT asking for a diagnosis, and they do NOT want a note from your doctor. They are asking what services your child NEEDS. So, this is where you need to know what types of things your child needs in order to experience Disney. For some, it may be a place to wait for rides and attractions out of the direct sunlight. For others, it may be seated on the aisles of shows, or sitting in the back, or having a quiet place to wait. Some need assistance in hearing the show, or need it to be sign language interpreted
Only you can really know what those needs are. If you are told that you or your child doesn’t qualify, ask why. It may be that you did not express clearly what the needs were. I can tell you that mobility issues are rarely enough to qualify for a DAS. Nearly every entrance to every ride or attraction are now ADA compliant, and a wheel chair or scooter can be taken through the line. However, if your child has mobility issues and is in a stroller, please ask for a tag that allows your stroller to be used as a wheelchair. This way the child can stay in the stroller until you reach the ride.
Now that the Cast Member understands exactly what you need, they will take a picture of the child. You will need to give everyone’s Magic Band to the CM and they will scan them all, linking them to the DAS. It is not necessary for the whole family to be present, you just need the child and everyone’s bands. The DAS is for up to 6 people. However, if your party is one or two more, they will usually make an allowance.
Now, you have your DAS in hand (so to speak). How do you use it? Simple. Let’s say that you are in Animal Kingdom and want to ride Expedition Everest and the wait time is 60 minutes. (OK, I know it is rarely that long, but I refuse to use the really long wait times for anything in Pandora until I visit there in October!). One brave soul will become the Fast Pass runner. Yes, those days are long gone, but I’m feeling nostalgic here so I decided to use an old term! That person will head over to Expedition Everest while the rest of the family heads over to a different attraction or maybe to get a snack. The person at Expedition Everest will walk up to the CM manning the Fast Pass line. You tell this person you would like to get a DAS pass. They will ask you to scan your band and they will tell you your return time. Just that easy. Your DAS Fast Pass has been recorded. It will even show up in your My Disney Experience.
Once that time comes, you can mosey on over to the ride Fast Pass entrance. The child who is on the DAS, simply shows their band first. It will not immediately clear them, but alerts the CM with a blue light. They will glance at the screen (that no other riders can see) and press the appropriate button that turns the light green, then everyone in his party that has previously been linked may also enter by scanning their band. It is best to keep your party together. If another person not on your party scans their band it may create issues for the remaining members of your party.
Now, let’s talk about what happens if your child is not ‘ready’ to return to Expedition Everest when its time. No problem. The DAS Fast Pass does not have an expiration time as regular Fast Passes do. As family members of our Special Needs kids, we know that their schedule is not always ours. One word of caution. You can only have one DAS Fast Pass at a time. So, if your child does not want to ride Expedition Everest, you can change it to The Safari, but you lose the Expedition Everest one.
So, how is the best way to use this pass? We don’t use it for every day or every park. In fact, Animal Kingdom is one park we rarely use it for. We chose Fast Passes for the most important ones and then fill in with other attractions that are less crowded. However, at Epcot we use it the most. I know, fewer attractions but we use it more! We always grab a fast pass for Soarin’ and enjoy lunch at Sunshine Seasons, knowing that Mr. D will love Soarin’ after lunch. (it is also a good bribe for him!) We do similar with grabbing a Test Trak before dinner. We also grab one for Figment as well as a regular Fast Pass for it. In fact, we may grab several for Figment. It is Mr. D’s favorite ride. We ride it multiple time each Epcot day! And while it is rarely necessary to have a Fast Pass or DAS Fast Pass for this ride, there have been a few times we thought this could be done with a 5 minute wait time, but for whatever reason it has had a crazy wait time of 45 minutes. That is one mistake we won’t make again!
While it does take a bit more planning to make a good touring plan with the DAS, it is much saner with it! My one piece of advice is that touring Disney with the DAS is different for every child. And, even then they might decide to not cooperate with the plan. We try to have a good touring plan that hits most of the major things everyone in the family want (taking advantage of Fast Passes), and use the DAS when a line is too long to make sense for you.
I hope this has made sense for you, and that you have learned a bit by following along. When you are ready to start your Family Fun Planning Session, please don't hesitate to contact me at JMorris Travel to start the process.
Most of the content is written by people at JMorris Travel. Every once in a while we will have a guest blogger, usually it is part of our 'family'.Always with a nod to Family Travel!