A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the reports of wealthy Manhattan families hiring disabled individuals to pose as family members so that the guests could cut in line at Walt Disney World. Among the many comments I received disagreeing with me was one dismissing the claim as an urban legend.
Thanks to NBC News — something you’ll probably never hear me say again — we have proof that such behavior takes place at Disneyland in California. Investigative reporter Jeff Rossen and his team went undercover to expose the black market tour guides:
The rides, the characters: Disneyland is “the happiest place on earth” — except if you’re waiting in those long lines, you and your kids, waiting hours in the heat.
So how did one family get to skip past everyone? They did it ride after ride after ride, escorted to the front every time.
It’s the outrageous business few even know about: families bypassing the lines by hiring disabled tour guides with special passes. At most theme parks like Disney, they have great policies: The disabled get speedy access to rides. But now healthy families are abusing the system, paying disabled guides to get them in with up to five guests.
On ads we found on Craigslist, tour guides brag about their disabled passes: “Let’s cut the Disney lines together,” “access to … special entrances.”
On the video — which you can view here — two guests who possess the special passes (and who both look quite able-bodied) took a producer and his family to bypass even the longest of lines at Disneyland.
First up was a guide named Mara, who said she got her pass after a car accident. “I’m here to make sure everyone has fun at Disneyland and we get on as many rides as possible,” she told us.
“And you have a secret weapon that’s going to help us?” our producer asked.
“I do. I have a special card that’s going to help us beat the lines,” Mara replied with a wink.
And she charged $50 an hour to do it.
Our second disabled guide, Ryan, charged our family $200 and got them right through another side door at Star Tours, an attraction inspired by “Star Wars.” “I cant believe we’re getting past everybody,” our producer exclaimed.