An outrageous story in the NY Post has been making the rounds today. According to the story, some rich New York moms are taking advantage of an unofficial $130/hr Disney World VIP concierge tour service that utilizes Guess Assistance Cards (GAC) to shorten some of the waits for the party. If true, this is a horrible abuse of a system that really is needed by those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy Disney’s wonderful theme parks without some assistance.
If you ask me, something is a little off in the story including some factually challenged details. The mom in question claims to have skipped a 2.5 hour queue for “it’s a small world.” Let me assure you that even on the 4th of July, the queue for IASW does not get that long. (Ask me again after MyMagic Plus adds totally unnecessary fastpass access to IASW, that fact may change.)
Additionally, anyone can pretend they have one of the symptoms that gets you your own GAC card and skip the $130/hr guide. In fact, there are undoubtedly people at Disney World right now abusing the system this way. Three is little Disney can do to prevent this (I don’t even like mentioning it) as ADA (and good taste) prevents Disney from questioning your disability. They can only ask about your limitations and issue you a pass that best meets your needs.
It does seem true that while Dream Tours really does exist as a company, it’s not about providing VIP tours to rich moms and their brats. In fact, it offers planning and an in-park escort service to families who have a disabled person(s) traveling with them already. Securing reservations, knowing how to use MyMobile Magic to manage Fastpasses, and knowing which attractions are best for people with certain disabilities is a valuable service and I can see the need for it.
After reading the Dream Tours website, I’m going to be charitable and say that the VIP tours are meant for those who already have their own GAC pass and that having a tour guide that also has a GAC pass is incidental. If her story is true, it sounds like the rich mom quoted in the article was abusing both the GAC program and the Dream Tours service. There does seem to be a legitimate need for someone with intimate knowledge of Disney World, with an emphasis on the experience of guests who need accessibility assistance. Whether that’s worth $130 an hour is debatable, but it is cheaper than paying an official Disney guide.
Stories about the abuse of the GAC system pop-up from time to time. It’s an easy way to get headlines (as you can see by the ruckus raised by this story). In the scheme of things it’s a small problem, unless you’re legitimately in need of accessibility assistance and unable to get it because the system suffered from too much abuse. The best thing you can do is if you hear of a friend or acquaintance who wants to abuse the system, let them know you disapprove and that there are better ways to have an enjoyable time at the parks.
Of course, if Dream Tours really is offering this service to those who just want to skip lines, then they’re just as much to blame. Either way, they should probably expect a call from Disney shortly.