Did rich moms use disabled tour guides to bypass Disney lines? Have you used a disabled relative similarly?

The New York Post is reporting that some rich families in New York City have been using disabled tour guides to bypass lines. One of the tour groups named in the story writes on its website that the story is inaccurate. Here’s a summary.

From the AJC:

“The New York Post is reporting some wealthy families are now hiring disabled people to pose as family members so they can jump ahead of the Disney masses.

“My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” the Post quoted one mom, who hired a disabled guide through Dream Tours Florida.

“The Post reports the “black-market” Disney guides can be rented for $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day.  The guide will escort a family through the park in a motorized scooter with a “handicapped” sign on it. At each ride, the group was sent to an auxiliary entrance at the front of the attraction.

“You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge,” said an unidentified mom in the Post story, “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.”

“Dr. Wednesday Martin, a social anthropologist who is writing a book,”Primates of Park Avenue,” discovered the tactic while doing research.

“Who wants a speed pass when you can use your black-market handicapped guide to circumvent the lines all together?” she told the Post. “So when you’re doing it, you’re affirming that you are one of the privileged insiders who has and shares this information.”

“According to the Post, Disney offers a VIP guide and fast passes for $310 to $380 per hour, far more expensive than the black-market guides.

“The Post says passing around the Dream Tours guide service’s phone number recently became popular among Manhattan’s private-school scene during spring break.

“The service apparently asks who referred you before they even take your call.

“Disney has not returned The Post’s requests for comment.”

The Dream Tours website says its purpose is to provide a quality, affordable supervised vacation experience for people with special needs and says that the press coverage has been inaccurate.

The Dream Tours VIP Tours section said this as of Tuesday afternoon:

“Due to inaccurate press and slander, Dream Tours is not offering VIP tours at this time. Our focus has primarily always been providing magical vacations for adults with special needs and helping their dreams to come true.”

I love the idea of a tour company dedicated to helping families with special needs children or adults enjoy a vacation that might otherwise be difficult. I think it’s a great idea. But the idea of families or tour group operators taking advantage of disability status to bypass lines is just disgusting.

I do remember last year one “friend” posting on Facebook that she was glad her disabled mother was going with them to Disneyland because it meant they got to go to the front of the lines.  Her mom was in a wheelchair. I think she was partially kidding but I also think she was happy to reap that benefit.

What do you think if it’s true that rich families used disabled tour guides to allow them to bypass lines? Have you ever used someone in your family who had a disability to bypass lines? Do you think it’s a comparable concept? How can Disney or other amusement parks regulate this type of accommodation to really help those who need it but now allow it to be abused?

63 comments Add your comment

marv

May 14th, 2013
5:28 pm

$1,000 / day for a rich person to skip all the lines–that’s pocket change—they spend more than that partying at the hotel after getting back from the parks—the rich and famous == they are different than you and I

Dan

May 14th, 2013
5:30 pm

“While money doesn’t talk, it swears” – Bob Dylan

Lamont

May 14th, 2013
5:35 pm

This is the new America my friend, or maybe not so new!

KDee

May 14th, 2013
5:37 pm

I would totally ante up $1040 for the service.

cb

May 14th, 2013
5:57 pm

I remember when a sense of fairness meant something in this country. When the extremely wealthy understood that they owed something back to this country for providing them with so many opportunities the least of us could ever afford. This country has sold its soul to the 1% and they will be this nation’s downfall.

BehindEnemyLines

May 14th, 2013
6:02 pm

As long as these “guides” don’t run me over with their @#$%@# scooter, we’ll call it even.

DB

May 14th, 2013
6:10 pm

The rich have always been different — I don’t know why this is even newsworthy, much less New York Times front-page worthy. Horrors, someone cut in line. *shrug* If that’s what they want to spend their money on, more power to them. Money will always buy privilege and a certain amount of power — why do you think people want it so much? IHow many people have used an elderly relative’s handicapped plate to get a good spot when the relative isn’t with you?

Part of me is a little charmed with the disabled people who thought this up. I can’t imagine that it’s going to be such an overwhelming service that everyone will be clamoring for a wheelchair buddy to escort through Disney.

People should go and enjoy Disney and stop worrying about what other people are doing. They aren’t the ones that are making the lines 2 hours long. As we often tell our kids, life isn’t “fair” — you can only be responsible for your own actions.

Kat

May 14th, 2013
6:12 pm

If you have someone who is physically disabled, it is excruciatingly difficult to make it through the park. Pushing the chair, collecting it, the cost, and so on becomes MUCH worse than the lines. Been there both ways, and it bites. I think that if someone earns a lot of money and wishes to use it in that way, more power to them.

I use my extra money in the way that I choose to do. I wouldn’t do this, but I don’t have an extra grand a day lying around.

teddy turn her

May 14th, 2013
6:13 pm

I have no problem with this at all, if someone wants to drop $1000 per day on a service, OR $1000 per day gambling, OR $1000 per day on charity, it just says to me that they have it to spend . . . and its their choice . . .and chances are, if they have that kind of money, then they provide jobs and livelihoods to several hundred or several thousand other citizens, AND their entire families . . . its the way the world works . ..work hard, be smart, be frugal, OR just get lucky . . . some people just have more money than others . . . but 99 times out of a hundred , I bet its due to hard work and risk

beth

May 14th, 2013
6:25 pm

My comment didn’t show up…. why???

Psully

May 14th, 2013
6:28 pm

Teddy, your exactly right. Well said.

Angie Hill

May 14th, 2013
6:42 pm

This is not something new. I’ve seen family members just put one of their own in a wheelchair when they are not really disabled. They are not paying someone.

Chris

May 14th, 2013
6:46 pm

I am amazed at the people who think this is okay as long as they can afford it. It is unfair and should not be condoned. Just because some people do it does not make it right. I have no problem with handicapped people going ahead of me but nobody whose only handicap is a too heavy pocketbook deserves to go ahead of me or anyone else. They may have more money but that are not worth one cent more than anyone else.

gladys

May 14th, 2013
6:55 pm

OF COURSE NO! I never went again!!

BravesFan4Life

May 14th, 2013
6:56 pm

If you’re not absolutely repulsed by the sheer nature of using disabled people for the sake of expediting your own wait time in line, you’re not a human being in my book.

Money may buy a lot of things, but ethics and integrity aren’t on that list.

JennyL

May 14th, 2013
7:01 pm

That is truly sad. We have taken my elderly grandparents with us (who are both in their late 80s) to enjoy a family vacation to Disney. Both are in wheelchairs, and my grandmother is totally dependent. We did not pay for a guide or special services. I can only say good things about the way we were treated by the Disney staff. Sometimes there was a long wait anyway, such as the Jungle Cruise which only had one wheelchair-accessible boat. Neither of them would have been able to take a long wait in the sun, so the handicapped entrances were a blessing. They truly enjoyed their 2 days in the parks. Shame on those who take advantage of this. I just pray Disney doesn’t stop this extremely valuable service to those who really could not enjoy the experience otherwise!

MickeyM

May 14th, 2013
7:11 pm

My boss has a handicapped sign on his car – not sure why; but he does park in style.

AWG

May 14th, 2013
7:19 pm

First, the Post is the equivalent of the Enquirer when it comes to accurate reporting. This is the paper that reported “21 confirmed dead” within an hour of the Boston bombing, hoping that would be a close guess.

Next, the “99 percent” are just upset that they didn’t think of this first. As part of the demographic that doesn’t get government subsidies, have special lobbies or gets a special boost from artificial opportunity laws, I think it’s great that capitalism and innovation thrive even during the off hours! The handful of people that do this don’t really affect the rest willing to wait in line for the same ride. If you want to get up front you just pay more. Airlines figured that out a long time ago. The same people complaining about this are standing in line with souvenir t-shirts and ears made by the same sweatshops in Bangladesh paying out $34 per month. Who is the 1% now?

jlslks

May 14th, 2013
7:38 pm

Although I would not do this myself, I am not sure I disagree with the ones who offered the service. The people who sought it out and used it, sorry, think they are kind of low on the food chain. I mean if you really want to be a parent, you should be willing to stand in line with your child(ren) for the amount of hours it takes to ride an amusement park ride. Heck, we tell our kids, we are riding the line ride! The reason I do not disagree with the ones who offered the service is they made some money, and more than they probably could anywhere else, and they did so using their disability. Good for them! Shame on the stick-moms who cannot endure a line with the masses. You would look good in hoop skirts with slaves, as that is how you treat people!

Jessica

May 14th, 2013
7:49 pm

I probably wouldn’t do this (even if I could afford it) because it doesn’t fit with my idea of fairness, but it doesn’t seem like THAT big of a deal. So what if rich people want to to pay a disabled guide to tour the park with them? The disabled person makes a little money, the rich people don’t have to wait in line, and there is minimal impact on the Disney experience for the rest of us — there aren’t enough people who can afford it to significantly increase the wait time for the rides.

The way I see it, I have better things to do than spend my time and energy on resenting people because of their houses, clothes, cars, vacation perks, et cetera. Hating rich people and coveting their stuff won’t do anything to actually improve my life.

Mitch Cumstein

May 14th, 2013
7:52 pm

Why pay a dime?!? Sometimes I let a little drool run down my face and do the curled up arm in front of my chest…..works 99% of the time!! When that doesn’t work, I pick my nose and eat the booger. People get out of my way then, and I get to keep my thousand bucks!!!!

myother

May 14th, 2013
8:01 pm

The thing Disney does best is queue management. They’ve perfected it to a art. Just because it’s a off season day you still stand in line just as long. It was just a matter of time before someone figured out a way to beat the Disney system.

myother

May 14th, 2013
8:02 pm

But, what sick handicap person would sell out?

Psully

May 14th, 2013
8:04 pm

Are everyone’s panties in a wad because these “rich” people are hiring, yes, hiring handicapped people? What’s the big deal here? One party is paying for another parties services. Willing services at that. Man, everyone is so stinking politically correct.

myother

May 14th, 2013
8:04 pm

At the end of the day, all everyone of us have, is our name. Rich, poor, or handicap.

Bill B

May 14th, 2013
8:10 pm

My son was in a wheel chair after breaking his leg. He was allowed to go to the front of the line at Disney….but the rest of the family had to wait on a long line. So, I do not know how accurate this NYPOST article might be

FCM

May 14th, 2013
8:19 pm

Mom has been known to park with Dad’s handicap decal even when he is not with her. She has high blood pressure & asthma. She is not young snd spry. Taking care of Dad after multiple back to back surgery has not been easy on her.

If that means she is “taking advantage” of it, I am ok with it.

Mitch Cumstein

May 14th, 2013
8:29 pm

I had a hanycapped sticker after I got kicked in the head by a mule. The cops gave me a ticket any way because they said the fire lane wasn’t a handycap parking space. I don’t like handycap stickers.

Why y’all spell it wrong?

Bgb

May 14th, 2013
8:37 pm

Conjunctions
Commas

HB

May 14th, 2013
8:42 pm

So basically what we have here is a tour company that is making a point of hiring wheelchair/scooter-dependent people, a group that consistently has a higher unemployment rate than the general population. While there’s a certain tackiness to wanting to buy your way into the faster wheelchair access entry, I’m having trouble finding fault with the company, assuming they pay the guides they hire well and the guides actually do have disabilities.

SmittyATL

May 14th, 2013
9:12 pm

cb: Your warm memories of an America where fairness ruled and the rich felt a debt of gratitude sound wonderful, but I’m afraid they are but a pipe dream. While many of us find this distasteful and exploitative, I’m afraid that others do and always have found a way to pretend to themselves that it is just fine.

Lyons

May 14th, 2013
9:18 pm

Why are the disabled allowed to advance to the head of the line at public attractions? I can understand advance boarding on airlines (logistics), but amusement parks? Excuse me… the disabled deserve no special dispensation or privileged to advance to the head of the line. Wait your bloody turn.

jarvis

May 14th, 2013
9:59 pm

Small World hasn’t had a two hour line since 1978. Total bullschlitz.

Observer

May 14th, 2013
10:32 pm

Bottom line question, socioeconomics aside, do you lie to get your way? No.

HB

May 14th, 2013
11:08 pm

What’s the lie?

Shannon B

May 14th, 2013
11:24 pm

This is absolutely disturbing on so many levels. For those of you who find humanity in these snobby fools employing the handicapped guides: you’re either out of touch with humanity or you’re a snob yourself. If these Park Avenue Princesses really cared about giving money to the handicapped, they can do so by graciously donating. They’re not concerned with these individuals livelihood. Their only concern is beating the crowd, so they can hurry through the park. Did you ever think about how insulting this practice is to those who are truly disabled? Can you imagine how they must feel to see 5 perfectly healthy people standing in the handicap line with them? I’ve been on the other side as a nanny to a little girl with severe disabilities who was non-verbal and both physically and mentally handicapped. The handicap pass made it possible for her to enjoy simple pleasures like riding a ride. The handicap pass is a small token for those families with true disabilities, most of whom would pay $1000 a day to be physically able like the Manhattan monsters who are stealing them!

Courtney

May 14th, 2013
11:35 pm

I was at Disney World 2 weeks ago; and I swear 1/3 of the park was in those motorized scooters. They run you over or go really slow. None of them was carrying a passenger over 45 though. Interesting!

jose benzaca

May 15th, 2013
12:13 am

JennyL is mad at people who take advantage of this as she herself takes advantage of bringing the 80 year old grandparents in wheelchairs. How about this JennyL, have the grandparents wait in a nice cool waiting area in their wheelchairs as you stand in line with the rest of us. Once you have waited and get to the front of the line, your grandparents can join you for nice ride at Disney.
Shannon B..they are paying the handicapped for providing a service and you think they are “not concerned about their livelihood”? So in your opinion tossing a few bucks to handicapped person on a street corner is showing more concern than hiring a handicapped person to perform a service for a $1000 dollars a day..which translates to $5000 a week for a 5 day work week and $130,000 for half a years work..money that is probably tax free. I have a feeling the handicapped that are not worried about the attitude of the ones paying the money.

real life

May 15th, 2013
4:27 am

If I had the money I would book a VIP service through Disney itself. Hiring the handicapped to do this smacks of a lack ethics. A handicapped family member lives with me and I will not even park in a handicap slot if she is not with me. Simply ethical. And I wonder how much of that 1040.00 per day the handicapped person actually received. Probably not much.

asv

May 15th, 2013
6:49 am

Agree with chris and real life above. Some of the responses in this section remind me of me of peoples response when I tell them I live in Atlanta..typically it is something like:”why, I visited there once and people are obnoxious or isn’t that where that crap housewifes started or something similar.Some of you are pathetic..rent your house drive a lexus and send your kid to a south Atlanta public school and cheat at the magic kingdom, typical Atl garbage…

catlady

May 15th, 2013
7:09 am

Very trashy of all involved.

HB

May 15th, 2013
7:24 am

I really do understand why people find this offensive (if it’s even true), but I think it’s tricky because while their reasons for choosing these tours is icky, the alternative is not hiring someone with disabilities. Can people in wheelchairs/scooters not be guides unless someone in the tour group is in one as well? That feels discriminatory.

Alberta

May 15th, 2013
7:33 am

@AWG, who is “part of the demographic who doesn’t get government subsidies”. If you itemize your income taxes and take advantage of deducts for medical expenses, mortgage interest, ad valorem taxes, real estate taxes, or job expenses, then guess what? You’re getting government subsidies!

Poor, hungry people aren’t the only ones getting government subsidies, my friend.

xxx

May 15th, 2013
7:52 am

Truly disgusting. These a holes would be the first ones to cry foul if they were the ones being exploited. Simple way to cure, only allow the handicapped person +1 escort to be moved to the front. .

Metro Coach

May 15th, 2013
8:14 am

If they’re paying them then by definition they are not “taking advantage” of anyone. The disabled people are providing a service to those who can afford it. Its just another niche service industry. Welcome to the free market folks.

thekimmer

May 15th, 2013
8:15 am

Doesn’t make sense to me. If one is willing to be deceitful then why not just buy an ace bandage and rent a rascal. A lie is a lie and its much cheaper. That way the family members can take turns being the handicapper. For these rent-a-cripples it would seem that disney employees would start to recognize them and would know what is going on.

Me

May 15th, 2013
8:37 am

I’ve never before heard of the “black market” guides but we have always hired the Disney guides for, usually, a four day span. Is it expensive? Yes, very but also very well worth it.
And what is the issue if someone can afford this? I have earned every penny I have and, trust me, I pay more in taxes each year that some people earn/make/receive. No, I don’t at all feel the need to apologize.

asv

May 15th, 2013
9:07 am

@me. your moniker says it all, you could have stopped there…….

Catherine

May 15th, 2013
9:08 am

I don’t see anything wrong with helping to provide handicapped people the money they need. I would have done so if I had the money, knowing that by doing so the benefit goes both ways. I pay the money to save time for my family, and help their family pay for rent and food. I think that many of us, constantly exhausted from juggling among work, family and endless household chores, secretly wish to be one of those 1% moms that could afford to pay for anything to make lives easier.

Dunwoody Granny

May 15th, 2013
9:43 am

I used to have to take my elderly father through the airport in a wheelchair because airports were just too big for him to shuffle through with his walker. We would arrange a wheelchair escort through the airlines, and it helped immensely. We couldn’t have traveled if we hadn’t done that.Going to the head of the line at security and for boarding helped make up for the inconvenience of my having to handle his suitcase and travel documents as well as my own, and for our having to wait till everyone else got off the plane before we tried to. Now that he’s gone, I have to wait in lines again, but it’s much easier since I don’t have to look after him. It sort of evens out.

I used a scooter to go through Epcot once because I had injured my knee. My daughter-in-law and two small grandchildren were with me. At some rides they sent us all to the front of the line. At other lines they sent me to the front and had me sit on the scooter and wait until the others made their way through the line. It looked to me as though the staff decided on the spot which policy to use, based partly on how much room there was for scooters and how long the line was. It looks to me like a poor strategy to depend on having someone handicapped with you in order to skip lines.