Disneyland has long been touted as being the happiest place on earth. But for some, it can be an overwhelming sensory experience. In that case, Disneyland DAS Pass may be able to help! We last went to Disneyland in November 2017. At that time, autism was still extremely new to us. Our son under registers sensory input and absolutely loved all there is to see. We didn’t feel the need to apply for the Disability Access Service pass at the time, and we felt good about that decision when the trip was done. Fast forward 5 years, and we knew this experience would be a completely different one. This time we knew we would need to apply for the DAS pass.
What is the Disneyland DAS Pass?
Disneyland DAS Pass helps those who have a difficult time tolerating the often excruciatingly long lines for Disney attractions. You’ll still need to wait a similar amount of time but without standing in line. In the meantime, you can roam the park, fuel up on eats, or hit some other attractions with shorter wait times.
How to Register for Disneyland DAS Pass
In the past, you needed to arrive at Disneyland and apply for your pass in person at Guest Relations. While this is still an option; if you’ve traveled far to get to Disney you probably don’t want to waste time in the park! Thankfully Disney has made this process easier by offering advance registration via video chat.
You can call between 2 and 30 days in advance of your park arrival. I’ve heard that the wait times can be very long, so they suggest calling first thing in the morning. Live chat is available from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm ET. We all know Disney, and if they say a queue is long, they mean it!
I called about 2 weeks before our late May vacation. It was early afternoon on a Thursday and I was lucky enough to be connected in about 45 minutes. I was shocked, but I’ve been known to be extremely lucky so I hope you’ll be lucky too!
Before You Call
If you haven’t downloaded the Disneyland app yet, do it now! If you’re a visual person like me, it will make following each step so easy. You must have created a Disney account before applying for DAS, and you’ll be using the app in the park. There is no reason not to get the app if you’re planning to use the DAS pass.
Currently, if you’re heading to Disney you need to have your tickets in advance and make a park reservation. Buying the tickets is step one, but you need to register your dates as step two. This is new to me and is very important to be aware of. At the time of writing this article, there are no available weekdays for 10 days! It’s best to register ASAP.
Once you’ve downloaded the app, created your profile, purchased your park tickets, and registered for your days in the park (!!!). You can then apply for the pass. Woohoo! The person initiating the call must be 18 years or older, and the guest who needs to pass must be present for the call.
Head to this part of the Disneyland website and make sure you are logged into your Disney account. Scroll to “Request Live Video Chat”. The call will begin as an online support chat text box and they will confirm why you’re calling. They’ll also ask you if you have everything you need to begin the video call. I prepared and had everything mentioned above, which may have helped with getting through so quickly.
During the Call
After the few initial questions via the text box, they told us they would connect us to a Cast Member via video chat. It was seamless and as easy as navigating a zoom call. Maybe even easier. The Cast Member was fantastic and asked us why we needed the pass. Because my son was present (as is required) it was quick for her to confirm that long wait times would be an issue for him. In our case, the approval did not take long.
They need a photo of the person who will be using the pass. This part was challenging as my son didn’t want the Cast Member taking his picture. I can appreciate why, but he loves Disneyland, and this was one of the steps we had to take to make the most of it. The Cast Member was extremely kind, understanding, and patient. She had the great idea of making her screen go dark so he could not see her on the computer. Her simple suggestion calmed him down completely.
She was able to get the image within a matter of seconds after “leaving” the call by making her screen go black. Then he was free to leave and I finished the call alone. This is an excellent opportunity to ask any questions you might have, so consider having some ready.
The Perks of Calling Ahead
As a thank you for registering in advance, you get to choose 2 additional attractions per day to use the pass for during your visit. Once we had approval for the pass and had gotten the photo, we returned to a text box. From there I was able to make the selections for our bonus attractions.
You’re given a list of attractions and times for each day to choose from. It was so easy and quick! Though this was definitely easier as we already had an idea of what attractions are our favorites. If you haven’t been before, consider finding out about the attractions, and look at a park map ahead of time. Choosing attractions close to one another might keep things simple.
These complimentary add-ons confused me initially, but they’re a huge help! You can only be registered for one DAS pass attraction at a time. These 2 additional pre-selected attractions don’t count towards that one at a time rule. So it gives you a little extra magic each day.
We chose to use them for our favorite popular attractions. Toy Story Midway Mania, Indiana Jones, Thunder Mountain Railway, and Soarin’ Over the World are some of our favorites. The new Star Wars attractions have definitely topped our list this time too!
Using DAS Pass While In Disneyland
You will need to have the app to use the DAS pass while you’re in Disneyland. It’s really user friendly, so you’ll be able to master it in no time! You must be physically in the park before you can register for your first attraction of the day. This means you can’t have a leisurely hotel breakfast and time your arrival at the park to skip that first line. You’ve got to be in the park before you can book anything on the app.
The only exception is the pre-booked attractions upon registering for the DAS pass. You’ll be given morning, afternoon, and evening time frames to book them. If your family are early risers, definitely book one or two for first thing in the morning! It’s a good way of avoiding any long lines right off the bat.
The DAS pass of the past used to require you to walk to an attraction, let the Cast Members know you’d like to use your DAS pass for it, and they would give you a piece of paper with a return time. Now with the app, you can book from anywhere within the park. It saves you so much walking time! Since they give all the attraction wait times in the app, you can be efficient by hitting some of the shorter wait times while you wait for your DAS pass return time. We were able to get so much more out of our time because of this!
Does the Pass Apply to the Whole Family?
No, it does not. The pass only applies to the person who needs it. You’ll use it for everyone in the group as long as the person who is approved for the pass is present. If they are not going to be with the group, you cannot use the pass. I appreciate this rule as it means there is less opportunity for people to abuse this privilege.
Can I Use DAS Pass with Genie+?
Yes, you can, and I recommend using Genie+ if you’re wanting to occasionally split up your group. It makes the day so much easier and quicker. If you’re only going to do Disneyland once or twice in your lifetime, make it easy on yourself with the add ons! You can purchase Genie+ each day at the park. So if you’re on the fence about it, you can decide when you get there.
If you’re going to stick with the person using the DAS pass the entire time, then Genie+ is most likely not necessary. You’ll likely only be able to fit in so much in a day before someone inevitably burns out.
Are There Any Attractions DAS Pass Can’t Be Used For?
Not that I am aware of. But be mindful of the height restrictions if you have a kiddo that can’t meet the required height for a certain attraction. We didn’t experience this as our son was tall enough for everything, but I believe you can take part in the rider switch program if that’s an issue. Don’t quote me on that though as I do not have any first hand experience with it!
Other Disney Tips
If you can swing it, try to go at a less busy time of year. No matter what, the park is very busy and can be overwhelming at times. There will always be crowds, unfamiliar smells and noises, and a lot of unpredictability for kids.
We have taken our children in November and May. Even May started getting busier because Anaheim school runs on a different schedule than ours. The last day of our trip was the last day of school for the kids there. The difference was extreme, and it affirmed to us that we would return again during low seasons.
Make sure you check what services are and are not available. So much has changed since the pandemic and many things that used to be a part of the Disney experience are no longer a given. From my perspective, it felt like they were under staffed in a way I haven’t experienced in the past. I wonder if they are having a difficult time keeping up with the top notch experiences they’ve always delivered.
Stay in the know in the app. If you want to see certain parades or fireworks shows, make sure you’re checking the schedule. My mom wanted to make sure she saw their famous fireworks show. It only runs on weekends, and we were there from Sunday to Wednesday. Thankfully we were able to catch it, but we would have been heartbroken had we missed it!
What to Wear
When you’re in the happiest place on earth, it’s hard to not get caught up in the Mickey & Friends merch. There are so many cute items to look at as you stroll through the park. All of it is so tempting because you’re on a high of emotion and core memory making!
Something I like to do in advance is purchase some shirts so I don’t splurge on clothing at the park. If I were a California resident who visited the park often, I might splurge on the real deal. But as a Canadian who is paying for flights, hotel full-price park passes, and all the other costs that come with a vacation, I can’t justify this extra cost.
However, it’s super fun to theme dress when you’re in the park. Getting in the Disneyland spirit is part of the fun! Shop ahead of time on sites like Etsy. You can customize shirts for the whole family, pick up some ears if that’s your thing, and not feel left out of the fun of theme dressing while you’re in the park. This is also great for kids who tend to take off when they get overstimulated or distracted. You can choose an uncommon color or a bright colored tee that will stand out amongst the crowds.
Check out my favorite Etsy tee here.
It probably goes without saying, but make sure you have comfortable shoes that fit. I made this mistake with my youngest daughter — not checking her shoes before we went on the trip. She kept complaining they were too tight by day two, and she actually got a big blister on her heel! Not the best case scenario. We ended up renting her a stroller for the rest of the trip. Even though it worked out well to have the stroller, it was a lofty expense that we could have avoided by either checking her shoes ahead of time or bringing a small stroller with us.
Is Staying at a Disney Hotel Worth It?
We also stayed in a Disneyland hotel, expecting to receive the Extra Magic Hour in the mornings. We had this last time and it made a big difference for us. But this time we realized a few days before we went that it wasn’t offered during our stay. In addition, the hotel pool was being renovated and was unavailable. This was a blessing in disguise because we got shuttle service to and from the Disneyland Hotel Pool! Our kids freaking loved swimming there, and it was stress free because the lifeguards are extremely attentive.
The other bonus to staying in a Disney hotel is the access to the park. If we were to go again, we would likely stay in The Grand Californian. It’s similar to a rustic Banff hotel but with primo access to Downtown Disney and California Adventure Park. It also has a lot of wonderful amenities if you’re wanting time away from the park, or to enjoy a nice meal at the hotel.
If you’re not worried about getting lost, you can access the park from The Grand Californian. Though we didn’t stay at that hotel, we had the room key from Paradise Pier which is just across the street. This allowed us to access The Grand Californian lobby which has access to both Downtown Disney and California Adventure Land. This was a big time (and feet!) saver for us.
Currently the Paradise Pier hotel is under much needed updating to become Pixar themed. It will also have its own private access into the California Adventure Land park. Another reason to consider splurging on a future stay.
Wait… Disneyland Is More Than One Park?
If you’re unfamiliar with Disneyland, you might be surprised to know there are actually two separate parks. One is the original Disneyland which is filled with all the classic Disney and Star Wars you’ve grown up on. California Adventure Land is filled with the things our children have grown up on. It’s home to Cars Land, Pixar Pier, Avengers Campus, and the giant Mickey ferris wheel from influencer IG posts. We always get Park Hopper Tickets, and we have never gone a day without visiting both parks.
Overall, Disney is always a hit for our family. Is it overwhelming at times with a few meltdowns each day? Absolutely. Can it feel like you are wasting your hard earned money on ingrates that are too cool to care about making family memories? It sure can. But when you return home and settle back in, the kids have nothing but positive memories. And isn’t that really what you’re paying for?
Ditch the Guilt
If you need the Disneyland DAS Pass, apply for it! I honestly felt a little guilty about applying for our son because I know he can often “power through” and do tough things. When we went in 2017 everything was new and there were no extremely long lines. He loved that experience and we had no need for the pass then.
When we were there this time I was SO happy we decided to get him a pass. It made his experience exponentially better. He was very overwhelmed at times, and there was even a day when he opted to have a quiet hotel and pool day with my mom. He really needed the extra support he received, and I am so grateful to Disney for offering the service.
That’s a simple run down of our time at Disney. This is a long post but I could make it twice as long I’m sure! If there is anything you’re wondering about at all, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below. And if you are a Disney fan like me, please tell me your insider secrets. Disney culture is so real and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface!