I just wanted to report in on our experience yesterday, October 12th at Disneyland. We did not get a DAS, but I wanted to report our experience as a WC party with no DAS.
The background on us for the proper context. We are a family of 3, myself, my husband and our son, Nathan. Nathan is 11yo and severely disabled. He doesn't walk, he doesn't talk, but boy does he love a Disney Park. As it relates to the parks, he primary accommodation would be ones based around mobility. He needs to be in his wheelchair at all times. For the most part, we typically do rides that have a WC car (a WAV). My husband and I sometimes do other rides, but in that case, we do rider swap. We used to get a GAC card for the last WC because it was based around a stroller kind of model, so we'd always get questions about it, so we would have a stroller =WC GAC. When we got his current WC a few years ago, it's clearly a WC, so we've never bothered to get a GAC. And at Disneyland, that seems to work fine. We typically did get one at WDW, but mostly because they asked for it a lot more.
It is my understanding that we do not qualify for a DAS as the system exists now since our needed park accommodations are mobility based. (Nathan is way more complicated than a WC, but we are talking the Parks here.) We got to Dland around 9:30 and City Hall looked mobbed, but when we got closer we realized it was just gathered people and realistically the line looked pretty standard for a Saturday. I should mention that the park was VERY busy yesterday. Busy enough that several times, we weren't able to get Nathan through a crowd until some space opened up. We had breakfast, saw a show and headed over to meet Merida. We got the line just right and/or they let us in as the last family (that was a little unclear) and we had a nice visit with Merida. Her helper Michael there is really something special. He talks to the kids, keeps things moving. He's a real gem. Afterwards, we went to Small World. This was the most interesting part of the day DAS wise. The regular line for SW was quite long, extending out into the esplanade, I didn't see the wait time, but it was a bit of a mess. We finally got over to the WC line and there was NOBODY in the WC line. Time will tell if this is a result of the switch or if this was just coincidence, but we've been there on dead days and had several parties ahead of us and had a much longer wait than the regular line. Yesterday, it was just us. The first WC boat didn't want to work, but the second one did and we went on a cruise around the world. After that, we were going to take the train to New Orleans Square, but the train that pulled up had another party in the WC section. The conductor called and all the trains had folks in the WC compartment getting off in non convenient spots so it looked like we would have to wait 3 or 4 trains. Again, I don't think this had to do with DAS, it was just a busy day. While Hubby and I were discussing our options, they started gathering the WC folks for Mickey and the Magical Map, so we decided to bag the train for a bit and see the show. When that great show was over, we went back to the train and were able to get on the first one. It was actually the first conductor who had helped us, and he welcomed us aboard.
We ended up in NO Square and it was a mob scene. Between being busy and the Haunted Mansion Holiday, we had a heck of a time getting through there. We headed down to Pooh. When we got there, there was a 25 minute wait for Pooh! Hubby and I were discussing whether we wanted to wait that long when the greeter CM asked us to hold on one minute so she could make a call. She got the okay, and we were escorted through the exit to board there and as luck would have it the WC car pulled in just as we got there. We've never done that, we always just use the regular line. I think it was mostly coincidence, but in this particular case, we had our shortest wait ever after the change.
After that, we did a few different things, but we ended up in the WC section near Small World for the 4PM parade. We got there around 3:40 and the section was maybe 40% full. We were able to park Nathan at the curb though, so we were fine. Most of the folks there didn't seem to need the WC section, but what do I know? Ten minutes later or so an older lady and her husband in an ECV showed up. About 15 minutes before parade time a CM showed up to inform everyone this was a WC section and they'd have to leave. Everyone but us and the older ECV couple left the area. Something similar happened the last time we were in this section, Disney doesn't seem to be policing this area prior to the parade much, so everyone comes in. I say this as a Disney problem and not a guest problem because the area is only slightly marked, so a lot of people are sitting there in good faith and then get kicked out 10 minutes before the parade when there are fewer spots to choose from. About 5 minutes before the parade my own personal pet peeve happened. A huge family showed up for the WC section, based on one Granny in a rented WC, we're talking 2 or 3 strollers line up on the curb (which IMO should be WC slots), 2 or three generation of family. Seriously this one party must have been 10-15 people large in the WC seating for one granny. Not exactly related to DAS, but this does seem like something that could be improved. After that we wrapped it up and headed to the monorail to go to DTD. I don't think this had anything to with GAC/DAS but there was no one in line. The last few times we've done the monorail it's been a 20-30 minute wait, this time we walked right up to the platform.
Just a few final thoughts comments:
--Overall, I think our waits were easier/shorter than typical, time will tell if those are permanent changes with the switch or if was just the luck of the draw yesterday.
--CM's seemed especially friendly/accommodating/warm yesterday. We've never had a conductor call and see what the status of the WC sections in the trains was. Typically, they just tell us to wait for the next one. We've never been sent through the exit at Pooh. I don't know if was directly related to being nice to disabled guests with everything going on, but everyone was super nice. (And for the record no one has ever been anything but great to Nathan, yesterday they just seemed super extra great.)
--We only saw a couple of DAS cards yesterday. Typically hanging out in the WC sections/lines, every single party was flashing around a GAC.
This got a bit long winded, but I wanted to give a small glimpse of what a non DAS WC user day was like. I'll report back on DCA when we get there next.