It has been two days since the New York Post published an article exposing the recent practice of New York haute monde hiring disabled “guides” to masquerade as family members during Walt Disney World vacations.
Why? So they can skip the lines at the parks.
Disney’s reaction has been brief but decisive. According to Disney spokesperson Bryan Malenius, Disney is investigating these and other, similar claims of guests abusing handicap considerations at the parks. As Malenius told CNN,
“It is unacceptable to abuse accommodations that were designed for guests with disabilities. […] We are thoroughly reviewing the situation and will take appropriate steps to deter this type of activity.”
Disney has been attempting to find ways that guests can avoid long lines (ethically) through the use of the FastPass program and pagers, like those being offered at the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride in Storybook Circus. Advances in ticket technology, such as the MagicBracelet, could help alleviate long lines even more with services like FastPass+ and the MyMagic app and website. And where those options aren’t practical or an’t doing quite enough on their own, interactive waiting queues are being added to help make the wait more entertaining for guests.
These “black market Disney guides” have caused much discussion via social media over the past few days, discussion which ranged from outrage – such as Twitter posts reading “Con artists!” (Twitter username Ruth) and “This has blood shooting from my eyes this morning” (username Kaneshow) – to posts on the Divamom website asking how moms can make their children appear handicapped to receive similar special treatment. Lyss Stern of Divamom told the NYPost “I never understood how parents could have a clear conscience doing this.”
The practice of hiring a handicapped guide at a cheaper rate than Disney offers private tours of the park was first uncovered by social anthropologist Dr. Wednesday Martin while she was doing research for her forthcoming book, Primates of Park Avenue. Her find was published in the NYPost on Tuesday.
Since then, the news has spread to international news sources, including the French website Gentside.
The original company that came under fire for ostensibly offering black market Disney guides, Dream Tours, has suspended their VIP tours. Their webpage for this service currently reads “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.”