Want to know how the 1% does Disney?
Anyone who’s been to Disney World can tell you that the size and crowds mean that it can take several days to fully explore the theme park. That’s why some wealthy families are hiring black-market Disney guides, handicapped individuals who pose as members of the family, so they can skip the lines.
Disney theme-park policy allocates separate, wheelchair-accessible entrances for guests in wheelchairs or motorized scooters. In addition to being considerate, this policy also allows Disney assistants to help the individuals into specialized loading areas, cutting time in the regular line and ensuring a smoother ride for everyone.
Many rich families, however, are abusing the policy because it also allows guests in wheelchairs to take members of their group with them into the special loading zone, which has virtually no line and requires a fraction of the waiting time (as little as one minute for an otherwise two-and-a-half-hour line).
Certain Manhattan private-school parents have been using one particular agency, Dream Tours Florida, to hire a black-market guide in a wheelchair. The number for the agency is passed only by word-of-mouth and upon calling, the dialer must identify both themselves and their referral, ensuring it stays within limited circles. The cost for this illicit service is around $130 an hour, still prohibitive to the vast majority of families, but less than Disney’s $310 an hour for VIP Fast Passes, which also allow you to skip lines.
The difference between the two, obviously, is that the latter simply highlights one’s socioeconomic class, however obnoxiously, while the former is actively abusing a policy made to help a certain disadvantaged group. This is absolutely outrageous.
This abuse of the policy hurts those who really need it. There have been days when Disney has run out of scooters, most likely because some people didn’t feel like walking, leaving truly physically disabled people without a mode of transportation. Not to mention that it’s outrageous for the over-privileged to use their money to temporarily access privileges that are in place precisely for underserved populations. And to what end? To ride Space Mountain a little faster?
Something needs to change. Currently, Disney considers the statement of the guest enough proof to provide special services, which makes the system incredibly easy to misuse. Requiring documentation of disability would be the first step. However, that doesn’t address those who hire individuals with handicaps to pose as their family members, and frankly, I can’t think of a realistic policy Disney can implement to prevent that from happening.
The only thing I can possibly think to do is appeal to the idea of Disney as the happiest place on Earth. And it certainly won’t be any more if the 1% keep abusing their power to (literally) ride the backs of the disabled.