Disney Fan with Eye Disorder Says She No Longer Feels 'Welcomed' at Park After Disability Guidelines Change (Exclusive)

On April 9, Disney updated their policies for guests using their Disability Access Services, or DAS Pass, sparking mixed reactions from park-goers

<p>Natasha Caudill</p> Natasha Caudill at Walt Disney World® Resort.

Natasha Caudill

Natasha Caudill at Walt Disney World® Resort.

The first time Natasha Caudill visited Disney World in 2022, she didn't realize she could apply for Disability Access Services (DAS).

Caudill, a 26-year-old content creator and accessibility advocate, was born with a rare eye disorder called achromatopsia. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this condition limits people's ability to see color vision and also causes other vision issues, such as rapid eye movements.

"My eyes are extremely sensitive to all light, both inside and outside. This makes being outside in sunlight painful, even when I’m wearing sunglasses," Caudill, who resides in Chicago, tells PEOPLE exclusively in an interview.

During her first Disney trip, Caudill endured the discomfort. "I also attended extra magic hours at nighttime so that I was able to see without pain," she recalls.

Since that first visit, Caudill has returned to the park three more times. For each subsequent trip, she obtained a DAS pass. This pass allowed her to schedule rides in advance and then wait for them comfortably indoors, in the stores, or at restaurants in the parks.

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<p>Natasha Caudill</p> Natasha Caudill at Disney World.

Natasha Caudill

Natasha Caudill at Disney World.

Related: Disney Heiress Says She Regrets Solo Private Jet Flights as She Demands to Be Taxed Fair Share

On April 9, Disney updated their policies for guests with disabilities. These changes take effect on May 20 at Walt Disney World and June 18 at Disneyland.

According to Disney's website, DAS passes will now only be available to "guests who, due to a developmental disability like autism or similar, are unable to wait in a conventional queue for an extended period of time."

Along with these changes, Disney is also adding more options for guests needing support navigating attraction queues.

Disneyland officials told PEOPLE, "Disney is dedicated to providing a great experience for all Guests, including those with disabilities, which is why we are so committed to delivering a wide range of innovative support services aimed at helping our Guests with disabilities have a wonderful time when visiting our theme parks,"

The new guidelines mean people with other disabilities' eligibility for DAS will be determined on a case by case basis by Disney's accessibility team. Caudill says she has not yet taken this step.

"I feel like it’s still a little unclear why Disney changed the DAS pass," Caudill says. "People are speculating that too many people are lying to use the service," she adds.

"I wish Disney was more upfront about the change. Disney World offers such a welcoming atmosphere, but as a disabled person, I just don’t feel as welcome now," she continues.

Over the last couple of years, Caudill has used her social media platform to educate people who were unfamiliar with DAS—like she once was—about it. When she found out about the new guidelines, she knew she wanted to make a Tiktok about it.

Her video has since gone viral, garnering over half a million views.

"I’ve received hundreds of comments from people who are also no longer eligible for the DAS pass," she says. "I’ve also received hundreds of comments about how I ruined DAS by sharing it online, that I’m faking my disability, and that I don’t deserve to use DAS in the first place."

"The bullying on my video has gotten so bad that I stopped reading comments, but I am glad that I’ve been able to connect with some of the people who also used DAS in the past. Disney was an accessible option for so many people, and I really hope someone at Disney sees not just my video, but all the content that’s been going around about the DAS pass," she adds.

"I love Disney, but I care deeply about accessibility and the disability community, so if I have to call them out, I will. Hopefully, it can inspire positive change for the system," she concludes.

<p>Natasha Caudill</p> Natasha Caudill with her fiancé at Disney World.

Natasha Caudill

Natasha Caudill with her fiancé at Disney World.

Related: Disneyland Is Temporarily Shutting Down 3 Fan-Favorite Rides This Summer — Everything to Know

While Caudill says these changes won’t stop her from going to Disney, she says she will probably spend less time in the parks and go on fewer rides.

"I can endure the sun if I have to, since I’ve done it all my life, but there are a lot of people who planned their entire Disney trips around this accessibility, and now it’s gone," she says.

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