What is it about travel with children that really brings out the vitriol in people, on both sides of any argument?
This time it’s not seating on planes, but line-jumping at Disney World. Here is the short version, for those who haven’t seen the story. The New York Post report that wealthy Manhattan moms have been quietly passing around the names of disabled people who will act as tour guides at Disney World.
No, it’s not for the warm-and-fuzzy reason of trying to hire the disabled. It’s because these guides can pretend to be friends or family members and take the moms and their children in motorized scooters to the front of the line on many rides. Disney allows disabled guests to bring up to six guests to a “more convenient entrance.”
Is this illegal? Technically, no. Although Walt Disney World certainly never intended for their policy to be used by wealthy able-bodied folks to avoid long wait times. It certainly is not cheap — reports noted that these disabled escorts cost around $130 an hour.
As some have pointed out, Disney themselves sells Premium VIP tours that give travelers unlimited Fast Passes, front-row seating to shows and parades and backstage visits with characters.
Disney also has a Fast Pass system, whereby any visitor to the park can choose a limited number of timed tickets for shorter lines.
So, is this simply a free enterprise way of beating the system? Are well-to-do moms putting money in private (and handicapped) hands instead of Disney’s pockets? Or, is this despicable?
For what it’s worth, this is different. It’s setting an example for children that money means you don’t follow the rules.
Perhaps, one could say it’s making a virtue of necessity, but I think there is something basically good about the generally egalitarian nature of Disney. We all stand in line. That is good for children.
(Just as an aside, Princess Diana used to insist that her sons, bodyguards and all, had to wait in line at restaurants like McDonalds and at amusement parks.)
Not to mention the factor of learning priorities. Long-time Disney visitors may remember the A-E ticket days, when parents and children had to choose which of the top E ticket attractions they wanted.
Even now, with Fast Pass, message boards and apps that tell visitors about wait-times, Disney visits for most people are generally about deciding. “OK, what do you REALLY want to ride, and what’s less important? (These kinds of decisions can also lead to interesting family negotiations.)
Now that the story has surfaced, it will be interesting to see if Disney changes their policies. For instance, in orderto pay Florida resident reduced prices, Walt Disney World requires local identification and limits tickets sold. Therefor it’s conceivable Disney could try to find out if a group moving through long lines together was really friends-and-family.
On the other hand, will this story inspire others to set up businesses for say, getting into stadiums or other events earlier with shorter lines or special entrances.
But what do you think, Consumer Traveler readers? Is hiring a disabled person to skip the lines a brilliant idea, or a completely sleazy one? Or both?