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Black-Market Disney Tour Guides: How the Uber-Rich Avoid Long Lines

They say money can't buy you happiness, but apparently it can buy you a place at the front of the line.

by
Chris Queen

Bio

May 19, 2013 - 7:00 am
How much would you pay to avoid lines like this?

How much would you pay to avoid lines like this?

I’ve vacationed at Walt Disney World literally all my life, and I can assure you of one thing: waiting in line is part of the experience. It’s often inevitable that you’ll have to wait in at least one long line during your trip. In my younger days, when there were fewer parks and attraction options, we waited in line for hours for nearly everything. The growth of the entire Walt Disney World property has led to shorter lines altogether.

Over the past few years, Disney has taken care to add interactive theming, games, and activities to many of the queues for the most popular attractions. They have also gone to great lengths to help guests avoid some of the longest lines. The FastPass system, introduced in 1999, allows guests to essentially make a reservation to ride certain attractions, bypassing the worst of the lines. This year, the company will introduce new RFID technology called MyMagic+ that promises to “take guests’ experiences to the next level.” Disney even offers specials during off-peak seasons to funnel some of the crowds to different times of the year.

Seasoned Disney travelers find their own ways to stay away from the crowds. Some families leave the parks during the most crowded times of the day and return to their resort to rest. Others ride the most popular attractions during parades and fireworks shows. My family goes in the fall rather than in spring or summer, and we meticulously research which days are more likely to be crowded than others.

And then certain people go to more nefarious measures to avoid long lines at attractions. The New York Post caught wind of a trend among Manhattan’s uber-wealthy: hiring handicapped adults to travel with them, giving the family access to the front of the line:

Some wealthy Manhattan moms have figured out a way to cut the long lines at Disney World — by hiring disabled people to pose as family members so they and their kids can jump to the front, The Post has learned.

The “black-market Disney guides” run $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day.

“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.”

The woman said she hired a Dream Tours guide to escort her, her husband and their 1-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter through the park in a motorized scooter with a “handicapped” sign on it. The group was sent straight to an auxiliary entrance at the front of each attraction.

Disney allows each guest who needs a wheelchair or motorized scooter to bring up to six guests to a “more convenient entrance.”

Crowds wait to enter the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 2011, the 40th Anniversary of Walt Disney World's opening.

Crowds wait to enter the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 2011, the 40th anniversary of Walt Disney World’s opening.

The Post even attempted to contact the couple who runs the racket — I mean, tour guide company:

Ryan Clement runs Dream Tours Florida with girlfriend Jacie Christiano, whom the rich Manhattan mom indicated was her family’s guide.

Clement denied that his gal pal uses her disability to bypass lines. He said she has an auto-immune disorder and acknowledged that she uses a scooter on the job.

Dr. Wednesday Martin, author and social anthropologist, shed light on the black-market tour guide phenomenon:

“It’s insider knowledge that very few have and share carefully,” said social anthropologist Dr. Wednesday Martin, who caught wind of the underground network while doing research for her upcoming book “Primates of Park Avenue.”

“Who wants a speed pass [sic] when you can use your black-market handicapped guide to circumvent the lines all together?” she said.

“So when you’re doing it, you’re affirming that you are one of the privileged insiders who has and shares this information.”

Don’t get me wrong: I love capitalism. You won’t see me in a Guy Fawkes mask with Mickey ears or leading a protest at Occupy Epcot. Bless these folks’ hearts for trying to make a living. What I have a problem with is taking advantage of run-of-the-mill tourists who just want to enjoy their Disney World vacation. And I don’t begrudge the clients for their wealth, either. It’s their snobbery and willingness to flaunt the queues at the parks that make me so angry.

Oh, and by the way: you can go to Disney World without a tour concierge. Millions of people do it every year. But, if you insist on having one, Disney can provide it for you. Disney’s VIP Tours cost up to $380 an hour, and celebrities, heads of state, and dignitaries who require more security take advantage of this program.

Crazy as it may sound, waiting in line is part of the experience at Walt Disney World. These kids are missing out on the fun, interactive elements at some attractions along with a chance at family conversation, but they’re also avoiding one crucial lesson: that things won’t always go your way.

All Chris Queen wanted to be growing up was a game show host, a weather man, or James Bond. But his writing talent won out. By day, Chris is a somewhat mild-mannered church communications director, but by night, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pop culture and writes about it. In addition to his Disney obsession (as evidenced by his posts on this website), Chris's interests include college sports -- especially his beloved Georgia Bulldogs -- and a wide variety of music. A native of Marietta, GA, Chris moved with his family as a child to nearby Covington, GA, where he still makes his home. He is an active charter member of Eastridge Community Church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition to his work at PJ Media, Chris spent nearly a year as a contributor to NewsReal Blog. He has also written for Celebrations Magazine and two newspapers in Metro Atlanta. Check out his website, www.chrisqueen.net.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
If we're supposed to be outraged then why am I rolling on the floor laughing my a$$ off? Let's hear it for Yankee Ingenuity! It may be expensive but hiring Tiny Tim as your escort is still less than half the price of the official VIP tour.

Don't tell me the ticket-takers and line-handlers don't recognize these people who they no doubt see on a daily basis. Now that I've recently read that many of them are exploited, unpaid interns (re: "Intern Nation") I only wish there was some way of bribing THEM directly.

Look at the bright side, gang. Now that the cat is out of the bag expect dozens more handi-capable people in the Greater Orlando area to get in on the game. Soon, healthy capitalist competition will drive the price down to where us common peasants can afford the service.

Get it while it's hot! No doubt this cottage industry will increase to where Disney is compelled to invent hand-held DNA analyzers to definitively prove whether or not said escort is really related.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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I won't get into the "ingenuity" vs "outrage" argument. I will buy into the "Child abuse" angle, though. And not just among the 1%. Over Christmas, I stopped by Academy Sports. A woman pulled up beside me on the right and into a handicapped parking space. JUmped out of the car with 3 little charges, walked around the car and pulled out a tot in a car seat.
Happens all the time, right? Maybe, but I wasn't going to let it go. I reminded her that it was, in fact, a handicapped parking space. She said, (With MYOFB disdain) I HAVE a handicapped tag.
I congratulated her on showing her children that it isn't the spirit of the law that counts but the letter. I thanked her for "straightening me out" and wished her well on how her children grew up!
She moved her car!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
“My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours”

This truly is outrageous, and the mother should be throughly investigated... by DCFS.

Surely subjecting your child to "It's a Small World" is a form of child abuse. Even when I was a little kid going to Disneyland I thought that song was incredibly annoying.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Uber-Rich is training their little tykes that rules don't apply to them. They can always buy their ways out, starting from buying a guide to skip the lines in Disney, to buying politicians to skip laws, regulations, and competitions, to buying politicians to skip disastrous results of bad investments...
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
People sometimes use this as a subterfuge in other areas such as airports. It's bad because it takes up resources for those who genuinely need assistance, including the very elderly.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If you follow Marco76's links through to the articles behind them, the whole story gets debunked pretty thoroughly. The NY Post interviewed *one* woman who supposedly did this. The owner of the tour guide company you supposedly use to hire these people admitted his wife uses a mobility scooter, because she has an auto-immune disorder, but denied any preferential treatment was accorded to her as a result. The author of one of the articles is a Disney acolyte who goes to the park regularly, and she insists that this wouldn't work, largely because being in a wheelchair or whatever won't get you preferential treatment for most of the lines. She also asserted that the woman quoted anonymously in the original NYP article (whose children reportedly avoided the 2.5 hour wait because they had their "concierge" with them) had overstated her case: according to the author, except at Christmas or some other holiday, no one waits that long for "It's a Small World" anyway.

Oh, and Disney provides the same service for $3800 a day, which to the 1% types the article is supposedly referring to is pocket change. Why would they bother to try and skirt the system, anyway?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Disney is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. It clearly states that the enjoyment of public accommodations must be "equal":

c. 12182. Prohibition of discrimination by public accommodations

(a) General rule

No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
If we're supposed to be outraged then why am I rolling on the floor laughing my a$$ off? Let's hear it for Yankee Ingenuity! It may be expensive but hiring Tiny Tim as your escort is still less than half the price of the official VIP tour.

Don't tell me the ticket-takers and line-handlers don't recognize these people who they no doubt see on a daily basis. Now that I've recently read that many of them are exploited, unpaid interns (re: "Intern Nation") I only wish there was some way of bribing THEM directly.

Look at the bright side, gang. Now that the cat is out of the bag expect dozens more handi-capable people in the Greater Orlando area to get in on the game. Soon, healthy capitalist competition will drive the price down to where us common peasants can afford the service.

Get it while it's hot! No doubt this cottage industry will increase to where Disney is compelled to invent hand-held DNA analyzers to definitively prove whether or not said escort is really related.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Remo, do you remember the lesson of the Great Ung when we were last in Disney World with Russian premier? By the way, your elbow was bent.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Have you ever been significantly delayed in traffic by the President. I have. It appears that we have royalty in this country. Some royalty may be Presidential others may be handicapped or otherwise 'special'. "What difference – at this point, what difference does it make?"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Me too. I resent having my life disrupted by these unending campaign tours, which is what they are.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
What is the fascination with Disneyworld? Somewhere, somewhen, somehow that programming got deleted in my persona. I was a huge Mousketeer as a five-year old, but by the time I hit high school, the whole high-end amusement park thing had become creepy to me. Even though I love the arcades at the Jersey Shore. Why have I no desire to vacation on a big cruise ship or Disney World? Why does the thought of such make feel a fear close to claustrophobia, a shiver at being trapped in some nether world?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nahh. Take it from me, Disney has cleaned up it's act ever since Disney's nephew led a stockholders revolt some years back to kick out that creep Eisner.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
so handicapped person is sitting in a wheel chair, so why does that deserve special attention, seems that they will be sitting in the wheel chair the whole day, whether or not they go to the front of the line.

And how about if the policy is the person can take family, ID's get checked, so that this person isn't making money on Disneyland's property, and how about does the person report this income, or does he still get tax payer benefits for the disability while making money that is unreported.?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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