Want to cut the line at the Disney park? Call my disabled friend

by Walter Olson on May 14, 2013

It got started with the handicapped parking placards that in California and elsewhere made their way into the possession of not-so-disabled drivers. Then there were the reports of abuse of airport wheelchair attendant service, which can get you past security fast and which (to avoid litigation, embarrassment, or both) airlines often dispense on request without inquiring into need. Now comes the rentable disabled person to help your kids cut lines at Disney World. Disney allows parties of up to seven to enter attractions separately when one of the party is disabled. According to the New York Post, some affluent Manhattan mothers are happy to pay for the convenience: “The ‘black-market Disney guides’ run $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day.” [Tara Palmeri, "Rich Manhattan moms hire handicapped tour guides so kids can cut lines at Disney World," New York Post]

P.S. Too good to check? Commenter Marco and Christopher Robbins at Gothamist both have their doubts on whether the hazily sourced accounts might be embellished or worse.

P.P.S. And quite a lot more skepticism about the story from Lesley at XOJane. But (update) an NBC News investigation finds there does seem to be something to the story.

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Disabled tour guides at Disney, cont’d - Overlawyered
06.05.13 at 1:30 pm

{ 6 comments }

1 marco73 05.14.13 at 3:37 pm

This story sure sounds too good to check. You can hire a Disney employee to personally escort your group anywhere in any of the DisneyWorld parks, jumping to the front of every line, and providing entertaining knowledge to boot. We’ve taken a couple escorted tours, and the experience is worth every penny.
Why would you bother with having to drag around some stranger for $1000 per day, when you can have a real tour guide for a lot less?
Do reporters ever do any diligence? Oh, yes, the reporter called Disney a couple times and Disney never called back.
Maybe they should have just checked the Disney website:

https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/events-tours/

2 Doug 05.14.13 at 5:51 pm

Years ago, we took my wife’s grandmother. Went to Disney and Universal Studios. Took her right into The Terminator at Universal Studios. Her reaction was, “it was a bit loud”.

3 Kurt 05.14.13 at 8:07 pm

My experience with grandparents in a scooter was that the time saved wasn’t that much. It was about the same as the extra time getting around the park with the scooter.

Wasn’t there a story on this site about a woman who believed that the Tower of Terror ride helped her adhesions? She was upset because Disney would not let her bypass the line numerous times based on her special needs.

4 marco73 05.15.13 at 7:43 am

Mr. Robbins covers this story from the New York angle, calling the hiring of a disabled person to skip Disney lines a “playground” story.
I certainly agree with him. Oh yes, the only person actually quoted in the story has a book coming out soon.

I wanted to update local news on this story. The Tuesday 10pm local FOX Tampa newcast ran with this story, without attribution. Even though Disney is a pretty good local corporate citizen, bashing Disney is sort of a cottage industry amongst local news types. So when you can combine bashing Disney for a practice that they have zero control over, bashing the rich, and bashing everyone for exploiting the disabled, well, who wouldn’t run the story?

One of the reasons this story started to smell for me, was the anonymous anecdote about taking only 1 minute to get into Small World, skipping a 2.5 hour line. I’ve been going to Disney for close to 40 years, and have probably been on Small World hundreds of times. Never, unless the ride has broken down, have I ever seen more than a 60 minute wait.

5 kimsch 05.15.13 at 8:40 pm

I am disabled, and I was planning to use this on my trip to Disney World next month for myself, Hubby, and The Little Guy (12). I hope this doesn’t ruin it for me.

6 KateC 05.19.13 at 1:43 pm

This story is all about Dr. Wednesday Martin’s book. She’s the only source for it, and she’s got a PhD in Comparative Lit, not anthropology. I called BS when I first read it, and am stunned by the number of people who believe it. The REALLY RICH, like Trump rich, just rent the place. Disney has done that in the past, and will again. If you’re just sort of hedge-fund rich, you’ll take the kids to French Disneyland, not Orlando.

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