In, “I can’t believe I’m typing this” news, according to a New York Post article wealthy parents in Manhattan have been hiring the disabled in order to skip lines at Disney World. The disabled pose as family members so that they can all skip lines. At theme parks across the country, disabled guests are often permitted to bypass lines completely or enter rides through station exits.

The practice was uncovered by Dr. Wednesday Martin, a social anthropologist who was working on a book about the lives of the wealthy families of New York City’s Park Avenue.

“My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” crowed one mom, who hired a disabled guide through Dream Tours Florida. “You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge,’’ she sniffed. “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.” – New York Post

Lines at Disney MGM
Via a black market network of sorts, the wealthy were hiring the disabled tour guides for $130 an hour or $1,040 for an 8-hour day. Considerably less than the $310 to $380 per hour for Disney’s VIP guide and fast passes.

Disney is reportedly vowing to take action according to a CNN article. In response to the story, Disney had this to say:

“It is unacceptable to abuse accommodations that were designed for guests with disabilities,” spokesman Bryan Malenius told CNN Wednesday. “We are thoroughly reviewing the situation and will take appropriate steps to deter this type of activity.”- CNN

Bad, Bad, Bad

This is one of the worst stories (that didn’t involve an injury) that I’ve covered on the site. This is a pretty sick practice and I’m interested to see how Disney will combat it. I’d imagine that the ride operators would eventually start seeing the same disabled guides returning to ride with different family members.

You’d think that doing this would be universally panned, but some are actually okay with this stating that the disabled are at least earning some income. I say, wrong is wrong. The parents who are hiring the disabled are wrong as are those who are hired as their using their disability to take advantage of courtesy that the park is offering. A tour company was implicated in the story and they may be at fault too. In summation, this is bad on all three fronts from my point of view.

Lines stink. I get it. They’re a part of visiting a theme park. If you want to avoid or minimize wait times, either plan to visit during a time when lines will be the shortest or pay for a fast pass or some other line skipping pass. Otherwise, face the wrath of the lines. At least you have smart phones these days as a way to help pass the time.

What’s Your Take?
That’s my take on this crazy story. What’s yours? Leave a comment below. Image via CC – Flickr user themissy

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12 Responses

  1. Nick

    This is terrible and I hope Disney takes some serious action against this. But, what’s even crazier is that this probably happens at other resort parks like Universal.

  2. lilyruby

    I agree with you 100%. Pretty despicable all the way around.

  3. Mike

    Lines really stink at Disney lol. I actually heard about this a couple days before you posted. I was talking to a trainer who just got back from Disneyworld and he was telling me about how appalled he was that there were so many obese people (especially children) he saw at Disney. He stated there were a lot of people using scooters also. I guess that is more a comment on our country and the obesity problem but then someone mentioned that people were using disabled people to skip the lines. Bottom line is it is unethical.

  4. Piedude81

    This is really terrible. These people are part of the 1% of our population. Why can’t they afford to just stay on-site and get the fast-pass or just buy it?

    On another note, why are disabled guests allowed to skip the lines? I’d understand if they had a separate line for safety reasons, but how come they don’t have to wait like everyone else? I’m not trying to be selfish, but I just don’t understand.

    • Joel

      Piedude81, I know that some of the disabled are in wheel chairs. Think of someone in a wheel chair having to make all those turns in the queue. Not to mention some queues have stairs. It’s just a nice courtesy that some parks allow them to skip the lines all together. Make sense?

    • Angelbex

      As a parent of 2 disabled children – my son has learning and mental disabilities and my daughter (died age 10) was confined totally to a wheelchair, I’d like to comment @Piedude81…. Wheelchair accessibility in the Q line would be impossible on most rides and also there is as large a proportion of people disabled with mental & learning disabilities which render them unable to queue.
      In the UK, Merlin parks and some others impose time restrictions on the use of the “exit” lane so it is “fairer” on non-disabled people. This in itself is a double edged sword as it often takes disabled riders longer to get from one ride to another anyway, thus self-imposing another limit on the number of rides possible in a visit. My disabled son could never “hop” quickly between rides and potentially get more rides in than a non disabled guest anyway which I guess is what the gripe is here! So generally they do “wait like everyone else” as it takes them longer to get here! I know I’d rather wait in a Q line than be disabled!!!

  5. Quil

    Though I don’t like the idea of people using disabled people as a means of skipping lines, (especially since the people involved are more than capable of paying for the VIP passes) and personally would not take part in it, I have no moral obligations to the idea of disabled and handicapped people hiring themselves out as all-day fast passes. I do not see this as wrong from the view of the disabled people. It’s their choice to accompany this family and be that fast pass. They’re even getting paid for it. I am not a disabled person, so I don’t know for sure, but I imagine that for disabled people there isn’t as abundant an array of job opportunities as for non-disabled people. What’s so wrong with them getting a bit of money for themselves? You can say that they’re taking advantage of the park’s generosity, but it was intended to be taken advantage of. it wasn’t meant to be taken advantage of in quite this way, but in the long run, what’s the difference between them going with their families or with other families? It’s not as though they’re cutting the line more or something. They’re being brought straight to the front, regardless of how rich or closely related the accompanying family is. It’s not as though the park can really do anything about it either. What are they supposed to do, check their DNA or something? I’m sorry, but any way that the park attempts to combat this could only possibly end with harm to the people with disabled people in their families who are taking advantage of the park’s generosity in the way their generosity was intended the be taken advantage of.

    • CoDAce

      I have to disagree with you on that, while you do make a pretty good point about the disabled person’s prospective on it, and you’re right that they aren’t cutting in the actual queue line (‘blame’ RCT for that), which some people out there think should be a crime, and my NickU trip back in spring had odd things happen that I question (won’t go into any detail though), and I was confused. But in a distant sense this IS queue line jumping since it isn’t their kid or family member or someone that agreed to go with them (which being a big waterpark fan and more often then not a single rider is something that I have to do from time to time, which does suck), but they have things like fastpasses and VIP passes available, so why would they need to do something so ‘shady’ that costs more? I just don’t see a good reason for this to exist, it makes them look bad,

  6. Ryan

    Okay, when i heard about this at first, i thought it was a joke. I thought to myself why anyone would do this. Now, i see it is a real problem, ive also seen increasing ammounts of disabled people at cedar point with pople that look nothing like their “family”

  7. Buford Megapockets

    This article disgusts me. Those damn loud mouth Long Island moms. Disney may have something in place prior to the wife and I’s trip with our delightful Jaffrey. I hope not but I will look to see what the latest work around will be for those… well you know, like me.

  8. Angelbex

    Totally agree how bad this is. Bad for all as it could jeopardise the long fought for concession for the “official” queue jumping for the disabled riders!
    Just wanted to throw a perspective on Ryan’s comment though <> my son is disabled and has a Merlin Annual Pass he also has an “open” pass for his Carer. This can be for any of his carers – family member, friend or “official” carer- just someone who accompanies him to assist him……which would explain in his case why they look nothing like him!

  9. Rosie

    I think it’s a pretty rotten practice and one Disney will have a hard time combating if they can’t pinpoint the normal guests from the “paid jerks” if only cause they don’t wanna look like they’re discriminating. I mean granted, we’ve all probably saved a space in line for our friend/family member cuz they had to go to the bathroom or something, but to pay someone to deceive and screw everyone else in line over? forget that! if they can afford disney’s high prices then they afford a Flash Pass too!


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