Disney has a policy in place for disabled patrons (along with up to six of their guests) to access rides from a “more convenient entrance” and avoid the long wait lines. Disney also offers a personal family tour guide and VIP passes for non-disabled (and presumably disabled) families for $310 to $380 per hour.

An article in the NY Post dated May 14 (link here) revealed that a group of wealthy, Manhattan moms have been hiring disabled people to pose as family members during trips to Disney so that their families can cut the lines.

Apparently a social anthropologist researching wealthy New York moms for a book discovered the practice. This “service” or “black-market Disney guides” as it is being referred to, is a bargain at $130/hour. The result of hiring one of these “guides” is that instead of waiting 2 1/2 hours for your kids to get on a ride the regular way, you wait two minutes and get on the ride via the disabled procedures.

Dream Tours Florida, the company allegedly involved, denied that their Disney guide (who suffers from an autoimmune disorder and requires a scooter to get around the park)  uses her disability to bypass lines.

In a CNN follow-up article (link here), a spokesperson for Disney called taking advantage of the disabled guest policy “unacceptable,” and noted that Disney is looking into the situation and “will take appropriate steps to deter this type of activity.”

One of the wealthy moms who utilized the “black-market” service is quoted as saying: “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.”

Well, this is how the 99% responds– “Yick.” At least that’s how I respond. According to the articles, some people are okay with this practice, figuring that at least the wealthy are sharing their wealth and that this is a great way for disabled people to make money.

I think it’s sad and pathetic and yick.

For one thing, what is this practice teaching the one-percenters’ kids? To me, it teaches them that they can exploit the disabled (as long as they pay them) to satisfy their every whim. That standing in line is for the poor people. That patience may be a virtue, but it’s also a drag when rides are involved. That spending a thousand dollars a day to impose upon a privilege reserved for disabled people is a worthy investment.

How about the fact that these families could probably afford the legitimate Disney guide for the $310 per hour?

Here’s an idea! If these families are such supporters of accommodating the disabled, why not give that grand they spent on the disabled tour guide to a charity that supports the disabled and their rights, and wait on line like the rest of society?

Just because people have a disability, or because companies like Disney try to accommodate them, doesn’t mean we should exploit them in the name of “hey, at least they’re getting paid!” For me it’s an issue of money vs. morality. Does payment make something right? Doesn’t the payment become the tree in the forest? By that I mean maybe it’s not hurting anyone directly, but looking at the big picture, doesn’t this practice drag us down as a society?

Disney is a big thing. For them to even care one inkling about special needs patrons is a big thing. It sets an example to other big corporations. It helps parents of kids with special needs. It helps kids with special needs experience someplace magical. Some people argue that the fact of being at Disney actually changes these kids.

I have a child with special needs and I hope to go to Disney with him someday. A major factor in that decision is that Disney had the foresight, thoughtfulness, business sense, or whatever motivation to accommodate him in a helpful manner.

If the people who don’t need the service end up being the cause of Disney terminating the service or making it more difficult for those who can actually benefit from the service, I’m going to be pissed off. And someday in the future when these one-percenters’ kids try to pay my disabled kid to do their dirty work, I’m going to be pissed off even more.

To these one-percenter families: keep your money to yourself and use it for good, not to promote laziness and impatience and to set a bad example for your own kids.

[As an aside, I feel the need to point out that the crappy one-percenter moms are taking the hit for this. Why aren’t the crappy dads mentioned? Dads aren’t required to have morals? But that’s another post for another day.]

I just needed to vent.  Thanks for reading and have a nice night.

20 thoughts on “The 1% and Disney

  1. It’s rent-a-privilege for the privileged.

    OK, the disabled person really have an accommodation not a privilege but it’s not as snappy. So 99% get inconvenienced by those not paying their full price (the guide)? That’ll sure help fuel some resentment and hurt the reputation of rule-following 1%.


  2. Well said. I saw there headlines yesterday and thought it couldn’t possibly be true. But I guess it is. It is appalling. Thanks for writing about this important topic Jess.


  3. Hmm.. I’m actually kind of speechless… I’m actually in a wheelchair myself and I think it’s great when I get to skip ahead in the line… but I really think that everyone should line up, disability or not (am I wrong?)…. but paying someone with a disability to jump ahead! Wow!


    1. I agree that maybe in theory everyone should line up. But as a parent, with an autistic son, being in Disney, I’d take the skip. Maybe at the grocery store that’s a different story. What do you think?


  4. I want to “dislike” this post only because the topic is deplorable. To quote Jerry Seinfeld (again), “People, they’re the worst.” Sadly, there will always be jerks in this world who take advantage of people.

    In college – I knew someone who was on acne medicine and couldn’t be in the sun, so she received a special pass to skip ahead of the line. Really? For acne? Ever heard of a baseball hat and sunscreen? So not cool.


  5. This practice is quite shameless, and an egregious example of bad behavior on part of the one-percenters.

    Exploiting the disabled for personal gain, especially one of convenience, is outright disgusting.


  6. I’m shocked anyone would game the system this way. I’m equally shocked by the reaction of the mom who said, “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.” You know, I’ve known people like this in my life (thankfully they are no longer part of my life) who had used a loved one’s disease as their ticket to free stuff, and they weren’t ashamed of reminding people of their relative’s plight. They felt a sense of entitlement to free trips, gifts, and an increase in social standing because their loved ones had a disease. It’s rather sad, really. No. It’s sickening.


    1. Hi Jack! I agree, I don’t mind the accommodation per se, as long as it’s used for its intended use, not by people just taking advantage.


  7. I recently (a few months) got injured and that injury has me disabled. (I have yet to get through the red tape to make a difference on parking and so forth. Which means that if I can’t find a good space, I simply leave and don’t do what I was going to.) The truth is, the way I am right now, the only way I could do something like Disney would be to go to the front of the lines. Doing anything for too long (standing, sitting, etc.) and there’s a price to pay in severe pain. (Example: I went to the movies a few days ago and had to get up and walk around 3 times.)

    For me, it would literally make the difference between being able to do it at all and not doing it at all.

    And you can’t tell by looking at me (unless I’ve sat too long and get up in front of you) that there’s anything wrong with me. It’s not obvious. It just hurts like hell.

    I’d rather wait in a line.

    Also, having worked with special needs kids, there are a great many children that wouldn’t be able to do Disney at all without cutting lines. I’m impressed that Disney offers this.

    I wish I were surprised by entitlement, but I’m not.


    1. Thank you for your comment and I’m sorry that you have to experience pain like you do. I agree, there are plenty of kids who wouldn’t be able to do Disney at all without this accommodation. Adults too. Hopefully the entitled don’t ruin it for the people who really need it.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s