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March 10, 2015

People Are Terrible, An Ongoing Series

Good morning, all. I thought I'd take it upon myself to pass along the truly revolting story to ruin your day. I tried to get it up earlier, but life got in the way. So, apologies if your morning was mostly pleasurable.

A number of years ago, Disney Parks instituted a policy that catered to handicapped (both mentally and physically) children and their families. It was a voluntary policy that sought to make it easier on families that had children with disabilities by allowing them to skip ahead of long lines, among other perks. Lord knows is tough enough trudging around with your own able-bodied family in a hot and sweaty theme park for 8 hours without incident.

I've been to Disney's parks a fair amount and can recall seeing this practice maybe a handful of times. Most park-goers recognized it for what it was, which was simply a nice and thoughtful gesture for families that almost certainly have a more difficult daily routine than you do.

You probably know where this is going.

In 2013, Disney discovered this policy was being badly abused in the most soul-crushing and miserable way possible: rich parents, mostly from New York City, were honest-to-God hiring disabled children to drag around the theme parks, all to skip attraction lines.

The comments by some of these people are almost comically evil.

The “black-market Disney guides” run $130 an hour, or $1,040 for an eight-hour day.

“My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” crowed one mom, who hired a disabled guide through Dream Tours Florida.

“You can’t go to Disney without a tour concierge,’’ she sniffed. “This is how the 1 percent does Disney.
The woman said she hired a Dream Tours guide to escort her, her husband and their 1-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter through the park in a motorized scooter with a “handicapped” sign on it. The group was sent straight to an auxiliary entrance at the front of each attraction.

Nice, right?

Finding it difficult to confirm which family actually had disabled children and which were abusing the system, Disney ultimately decided to discontinue the program. Again, the voluntary program.

Naturally, this brought on a lawsuit.

The new Disney program was a “blanket accommodation that did not take into account the nuances between various disabilities,” according to the commission findings, dated Feb. 13.

In 2013, Disney ended its previous program, the Guest Assistance Card, because the older program was abused by wealthy people who hired guests with disabilities to take them to the front of a line. The new program, called Disability Access Service, no longer allowed disabled people to skip waiting, but it allowed them to make a reservation in advance and avoid standing in line until that time.

An attorney for the families, Andy Dogali of Tampa, says he filed complaints on behalf of 27 families with the Florida commission. The commission ruled on five of those complaints recently, finding in favor of the families.


The moral of the story, of course, is people are awful and don't ever do anything nice for anyone, ever. I think that was the basic plot of Bambi, actually.


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posted by JohnE. at 12:11 PM

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