So much for it being a small world after all.
Some entitled Manhattan moms are reportedly hiring disabled people to pose as family members so they can bypass lines for rides at Disney World. Welcome to life with the 1-per-centers.
According to The New York Post, the well-heeled moms are allegedly (and secretly) paying up to $130 (U.S.) an hour to hire a disabled guide through a service called Dream Tours Florida.
Sitting in motorized scooters, the black-market guides use their disability to help entitled families tour the sprawling Orlando, Fla., theme park and gain immediate access to popular rides such as Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain and, yes, It’s a Small World.
“My daughter waited one minute to get on It’s a Small World, the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” one unnamed mother boasted in the Post article. “You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge … This is how the 1 per cent does Disney.”
Disney World policy allows each park guest requiring a wheelchair or scooter to be accompanied by up to five family members on each ride. Disney also operates its own VIP program with prices ranging from $310 to $380 an hour.
But the black-market Disney guide program is not sanctioned by Disney and reportedly operates on members-only clandestine basis among the highest echelons of New York’s superrich elite.
The practice of wealthy folks hiring a disabled guide was initially brought to the attention of the Post by social anthropologist Wednesday Martin, who is currently working on a book titled Primates of Park Avenue, due for publication next year. “It’s insider knowledge that very few have and share carefully,” Martin told the Post.
Not surprisingly, Disney is taking the assertions seriously. Disney rep Bryan Malenius told the news service Yahoo Shine: “We are thoroughly reviewing the situation and will take appropriate steps to deter this type of activity.”
Sadly, this isn’t the first example of people using a disability, or facsimile thereof, for their personal advantage.
A recent story in The Wall Street Journal pointed to the rise in fully mobile air travellers using wheelchairs to get to the front of the security line at airports. Once the scammer is screened and cleared, they jump out of the chair and sprint to their flight.
But the Disney situation feels more reprehensible, if only because it involves rich people sharing a closely guarded secret, as they might share a hot stock tip, in order to gain advantage over the average working stiff.
At the same time, they aren’t technically breaking any rules, just bending the existing ones. And in this case, it means that a person who really is disabled has wrangled a lucrative job going through a theme park that prides in calling itself “the happiest place on earth.”