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Disney vows action after report of rich hiring disabled to skip lines -

I've been out of the action, so forgive me if this was already discussed. But I was appalled when I read this tonight, especially the 'Disney for the 1%' bit.

(CNN) -- Disney World is looking into reports that some wealthy visitors are hiring disabled people to pretend to be family members so that they can skip lines.

"It is unacceptable to abuse accommodations that were designed for guests with disabilities," spokesman Bryan Malenius told CNN Wednesday. "We are thoroughly reviewing the situation and will take appropriate steps to deter this type of activity."

Reports of the alleged practice sparked fury on social media, with some people calling the actions "crazy," "awful," and "despicable."

But others defended the idea, arguing it's a way to help some disabled people make good money.

The debate began with an article in the New York Post.

"The black-market Disney guides run $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day," the report said.

Social researcher Wednesday Martin "caught wind of the underground network" while working on a book about practices among New York City's Park Avenue elite, the Post reported.

"It really is happening," Martin told CNN's "Starting Point" Wednesday.

"I live among the privileged and powerful parents of New York City," she said, "and once in a while I come across a practice that's really surprising."

She added, "It's not my job to judge."

To Disney or not to Disney?

Disney for the '1%'

The Post anonymously quoted one mother as saying, "My daughter waited one minute to get on 'It's a Small World' -- the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours. You can't go to Disney without a tour concierge. This is how the 1% does Disney."

The woman said she hired a company called Dream Tours, the Post reported.

The Florida company did not respond immediately to CNN's requests for comment. But it posted a note on its website saying, "Due to inaccurate press and slander, Dream Tours is not offering VIP tours at this time. Our focus has primarily always been providing magical vacations for adults with special needs and helping their dreams to come true."

Ryan Clement runs Dream Tours, and Jacie Christiano is assistant director, according to the website. The Post reported that Christiano served as a tour guide for the mother whom the paper quoted anonymously. Clement told the Post that Christiano has an auto-immune disorder and uses a scooter on the job, the report said.

Disney offers official ways to avoid long lines

It's unclear how often the alleged practice may have actually taken place.

The theme park offers VIP tours and FastPass service allowing people to avoid long lines.

Martin said the wealthy people she spoke with found that hiring a disabled guide can cost less and allow people to skip straight to the front of lines.

Disney World has also been rolling out bracelets designed in part to inform visitors when it's their turn to come to a ride.

Downtown Disney to make way for Disney Springs

Anger erupts, but some defend the idea

People took to social media to express outrage at the idea of wealthy able-bodied people using money to take advantage of a benefit preserved for the disabled.

"This has blood shooting from my eyes this morning," Twitter user Kaneshow wrote.

"Wow, I can't even..." wrote Allison Cole.

And Twitter user Ruth summed up her take in two words: "Con artists!"

But others had a different view.

"At least they are sharing the wealth and providing the less fortunate with over $1000 a day to go to Disney World," one of the first comments on this story said, from user "blindliberal."

And jessied44 wrote, "$1040 for a day spent having fun -- not a bad job. Pretending they are part of the family isn't a good example for the children, but providing work for someone who is disabled isn't a bad thing to do."

Disney brings more oomph with New Fantasyland

CNN's Dan Bailey, Steve Forrest, Meredith Richards, Christine Romans, and John Berman contributed to this report.


Asked by Ballad at 10:48 PM on May. 18, 2013 in Politics & Current Events

Level 45 (193,996 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (11)
  • I don't like it, but what can I do about it? I don't support Disney, except to buy their products at the Thrift shops in town. And if these special people would take 5 minutes to check things out they would find out how Disney lets you legitimately skip the lines. The park nearest me charges some ginormous amount of money for a special bracelet that lets you go straight to the front of the line, thus making the wait even longer for those who can't afford that bracelet on top of the admission fee, plus the outrageous costs for a snack or meal, let alone a small trinket to take home!! It's ALL a scam as far as I can tell. Wait in line for 3 hours to ride a ride for 3 minutes........... won't be me!!

    Answer by 29again at 6:30 PM on May. 19, 2013

  • I read it. I guess I'm not surprised. You gotta know this stuff goes on. Hell, you can pay your way outta just about anything. Money talks, you know that. I remember waiting in line for those rides for an hour or two a long time ago. It didn't bother me. However, that's why I don't go these days. I hate lines.

    Answer by m-avi at 11:06 PM on May. 18, 2013

  • I am not outraged, nor am I surprised. You can buy just about anything these days. It isn't illegal, just immoral. I'd be doing that job if I could though. Dang that is a lot of money for one day of "work" and you get to ride the rides!

    Answer by kmath at 11:28 PM on May. 18, 2013

  • There have been stories about arrogant assholes who scream at families who get to line jump due to a disabled person in the group. I'm sure that's going to become much more common now that this is out. Being someone who is disabled and NOT getting paid to be there just got a lot more difficult.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 12:17 AM on May. 19, 2013

  • At least the Disabled people are making some money! LOL!

    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 8:59 AM on May. 19, 2013

  • Holy shit! You have to stand at least 2 hrs to get on a ride?? Damn, no wonder someone told me it takes at least 2 days to see the whole park. I can see why the rich did what they did,but can you still take advantage of them, even if the kid who was disabled got to ride on them also, and get paid to do it also. It sucks for the folks who can't do that, and that makes me wonder if someone is just miffed off enough to call on it. But hell, if I was the disabled one, and I get money, get to ride on all the rides for free really, and have a "family" at least for awhile, its a win-win. As long as they family treats them right. Whose to say on how the rich spends their money? At least they are using it for a "good cause". But I can see why others are pissed off, they ones that cannot do that, or the ones who haven't thought of that first.

    Answer by Michigan-Mom74 at 12:38 AM on May. 19, 2013

  • I think its DISGUSTING! I bet these people ALSO deducted this from their taxes for charity. I don't see any win in lying, cheating and taking advantage of a system that was set up for families with true disabled family members. I hope Disney cracks down on these individuals.

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:47 AM on May. 19, 2013

  • Poor women prostitute themselves to rich men also, make money, but that make it right!

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:28 PM on May. 19, 2013

  • How many of you think its ok to park in a handicap parking spot, if theres a sticker on your car and your NOT handicap? Wrong is wrong.

    Answer by Anonymous at 12:30 PM on May. 19, 2013

  • How many of you think its ok to park in a handicap parking spot, if theres a sticker on your car and your NOT handicap?

    LOL, you should see the reaction you get in a crowded lot when you take up a "normal" spot with a handicapped plate when there are open handicap spot. Friend of mine has them as she's the primary transportation for her mother, who is in a wheelchair. She only uses marked spots when her mom is with her. More than once she's been screamed at for taking the last spot when she could've parked in the handicapped spots.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 12:52 PM on May. 19, 2013