Having special needs children, I have had occasion to use not only the old, no longer available GAC (Guest Assistance Card) as well as the new DAS (Disability Service Access) card. Personaly, I enjoy the DAS card much more than I ever did the GAC card.
First and foremost, the DAS is simply not a "Golden Fast Pass." Instead, it is a card that alerts Cast Members that you have difficulty waiting in a conventional queue environment due to a disability (including non-apparent disabilities). Because of your disability, you will be directed to the Fast Pass line or an alternate entrance, or be directed to seating within a show or attraction that allows you an easier way not only into the theater, but a quick exit should the need arise. Keep in mind that only YOU, the holder of the card, knows what that disability is. Nowhere on the card is it mentioned that you have a disability or what your disability is.
Unlike a Fast Pass, the return time for your next ride or attraction doesn't expire within an hour. A good thing, if you are dealing with a meltdown or other issues that might prevent you from returning within your one hour window. Your return time simply states that anytime after the written time, you may return to this ride or attraction. Also unlike the older paper Fast Pass system, the DAS Cardholder can not have more than one return time for an attraction at any given time. As soon as the Guest finishes one attraction, they can receive a return time for another.
Another member of the DAS Cardholder’s travel party may obtain a return time, but the DAS Cardholder must board the attraction with his or her party. This is an attempt to keep misuse of the DAS card.
So, how does one get a DAS card? Keep in mind that the DAS is not for those in a wheelchair. A cast member can readily see that you have a disability and will automagically direct you to the entrance that will accommodate you. A DAS card is used for those invisible or not readily noticeable issues that a guest has. Knowing just what you need and why you need a different “service access” for a ride or attraction because of your “disability” helps the Cast Member know how best to assist you and whether or not a DAS card will work for you.
Per Disney's Disability Acces Services site, “Disney Parks offer a variety of services to guests with disabilities, such as Disney’s Handheld Device that offers assistive listening, captioning and audio description. Additionally, Disney Parks has developed a “Guide for Guests with Cognitive Disabilities.” This serves as a tool on how best to experience its theme parks and is expected to be available online by mid-October. You can fully access this Guide here:
Upon entering a Disney Park, head on over to Guest Relations. Explain your need(s) to the Cast Member. He or she will listen to you, and determine if you are a good candidate for the DAS card. The process is really simple, and you are normally on your way within about 15 minutes of speaking with a Cast Member.
Cast Members are simply not allowed to read over a doctor's note. There are legal reasons why this is so. You can present one, but the Cast Member will simply hand it back to you. You, the parent or one requesting the DAS card must be precise and concise in what you need. You alone know what your special needs are. Being able to articulate precisely and concisely is key.
Because of the misuse of GAC cards in the past, Disney is truly attempting to hand out DAS cards to those who really need one. Because the person using the DAS card will have his or her picture on the front. The DAS Cardholder must board the attraction with his or her party. Additionally, the DAS card is good for up to 6 people, meaning the DAS Cardholder and 5 additional members of his or her traveling party. If your family is larger, you have the option of speaking with a Cast Member and getting a special dispensation or consider how you will split up.
The DAS does not allow "front of the line" for anyone. Guests are still expected to wait for their turn for the ride or attraction the same as anyone else. The return time just allows the DAS Cardholder to know they have a guaranteed time to further enjoy this ride or attraction.