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.
I’ve heard about it and we have this”rich moms” from Brazil also doing the same thing. I hope the company do something to end this. I’ve heard of a lot of rich families that are paying for a vip service to skip the lines! Let’s all be aware!
I have no doubt that this is true. People who can, take advantage of services available to people with disabilities all the time. I know there are people out there who get handicapped placards for their cars when they don’t have a disability that can keep them from walking an extra 30 feet into the store. Yes that sounds ignorant, but it’s true. My state finally started cracking down on such things this past year.
I hope Disney in some way can crack down on this with out being the “bad guys”. The phrase “It only takes one person to ruin it for everyone” is very true.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all. Rich doesn’t always equal smart. Just far too often it does mean an undeserved sense of entitlement and privilege.
Doesn’t Disney officially have a system for this? Where you get a plaid tour guide for the day hired by the hour? Isn’t that just an officially sanctioned version of this? I’m not saying this is right, but Disney does offer a similar service.
I think the major news outlets missed this part of the story. Their website truly caters to people with disabilities who would use the card anyway. I suspect the mother saw this as an opportunity to take advantage of the benefits the guide has… but their boasting on their homepage that they can skip the lines does muddy the story.
I had heard from a cast member that Disney was indeed aware that this was happening and that they were “taking steps” to curb this particular abuse.
I read the following section on their website and are of the opinion that they are using handicapped from “Nathanial’s Hope” in Orlando as their Trojan Horse!
FOR FAMILIES TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
This section provides information about our collaboration with Nathanial’s Hope, a local resource organization for families who have children with special needs. These vacations are all-expense paid day tours at any Disney theme park, Sea World or Universal Studios. We typically raffle these special trips for children, often locally, whom have dreamed of a day at Disney. Tour guides may also be available, for a nominal fee or free of charge, if you are already planning on being in the park and submit a request.
Abuse of this system is happening whether people are paying for someone or not. I’ve seen families with a person in it with a disability abuse the system and in a way exploit the disabled person in their own family. A person with a disability can take up to 6 or 7 people with them to the front of the line to get on. Except for rides that can accommodate such a number of people like Pirates or a Small World, I think there should be a limit – your group can separate and meet up later. My own Mother-in-law will do this with her husband who can’t physically walk the park all day so he needs a wheelchair. The one time we went with her she kept egging us to go with her to the fronts of lines. She didn’t see the harm – we would all be on the ride at the same time and move on at the same time whether we were sitting together or not. My husband and I refused to go with her to the fronts of the lines on the majority of the rides, even when there were some fairly long lines that day and we had a squiggly 18-month old in tow. We just didn’t feel it was fair to all those that are able-bodied and patiently waiting their turn for us to cut in front of them just because my father-in-law couldn’t stand in line himself. We finally got so frustrated with my mother-in-law’s pestering that we told her she could wait at the front of the line for us while we stood in line and then we could all get on together, or we could split up for the day. Because here was the kicker – my father-in-law really didn’t want to be on the rides at all, though he couldn’t be left unattended for other health reasons, but my mother-in-law was truly just using him to get on the rides herself with my nephew without standing in line. And we could see in a lot of the other families using the system just as she was where the disabled person was even treated as an afterthought in some ways. It was disgusting. So much so, we spent the next couple days of our trip separate from the family.
So I have been hearing about this whole Rich people pay for handicapped guide to let them cut in line at disneyland/ disneyworld— this is my experience.
I don’t really buy that this is happening and cutting to the front of every line….. we have a 2 year old who qualifies for a Guest Assistance Card “the Golden Ticket” that these people are supposedly using and you do not get to cut to the front of the line. There are some attractions that you do enter the “Exit” door, but most rides you are waiting in line as long as or sometimes even longer than people in the other “non-handicapped” line. Disneyland and Disneyworld have been working very hard to make the Disney experience the same for everyone handicapped or not — some rides you just can’t use the queuing lines with a wheelchair/ stroller, but they are becoming fewer every year (the big one I can think of are Splash mountain, lots of stairs.)
When we went to Disneyland last in November, there were a lot of people that didn’t necessarily have a visible handicap, but according to ADA laws disneyland can’t even ask why you’re requesting one. When you ask for one they ask what accomidations you need or are asking for and they ask the person’s name who it is for , how many people in party (max of 6), how many days are you there for (or show year pass). That is all— they can’t and don’t ask for details and they really can’t even say no if they suspect you are lying. Once they get this information, they apply stamps and put user’s name and # in party– this card DOES NOT guarantee front of the line access— that is only give to Make-A-Wish patients who are having a wish granted and they are the ONLY ones who have immediate front of the line access. Even “Handicapped” users must wait in line– yes it might be shorter, but it is still a line.