Thursday, June 6, 2013

Disney Cheaters

If you know me at all, you know I love Disneyland. I grew up in Southern California, five miles from the Happiest Place on Earth. Even though we now live in Northern California, I still try to get to Disneyland once ever year or so. 

Yep. That's The Hillbilly and I in the front seat.

Once my daughter, Alyssa, and I were walking through Disneyland when we overheard a little boy, about 4, talking to his mother. "Mommy," he asked, "is there a Disneyland in Heaven?" We never heard how his mommy answered, but we agreed that there probably is.

All dressed up for Christmas
As much as I love going to visit Mickey, I have reached the point where I refuse to go during the summer months. The number of visitors during the summer makes the entire trip unenjoyable for me. It's not just the lines, which are horrible, but the crowdedness in general. Just walking from place to place is unpleasant because of the sheer volume of people.
February: An "uncrowded" month

I have taken to visiting during the fall or winter, even though that means taking time off work. I have a limited number of "personal days," and I happily use them to visit Disneyland.

The Athlete is a big Minnie Mouse fan!

It seems that some people have found a new way around the crowds, however. I'm sure you've read about it lately. It's been all over the web. The Today Show aired a report, calling the new tactic, "deplorable."

 What is this "deplorable" practice? Well, to understand it, first you have to be aware of Disney's practice of making their rides accessible to everyone. Disney wants everyone to have a good time, so they go out of their way to accommodate the disabled. This means that many of the rides allow disabled folks and their parties, to cut through the lines and go right to the front, usually through a side entrance. This is a kind and helpful policy, and I've never heard any of the non-disabled guests complain about it. 
The Princess when she was 2 with Dumbo and me

What's new, however, is the way some people are taking advantage of this policy. Some people (people with  more money than I have) are hiring disabled people to go to Disneyland or Disney World with them so they can cut to the front of the line.These unofficial tour guides advertise on Craig's List. Until recently a particular travel agency also advertised these "tour guides," but removed the ads after getting negative publicity.

When I first heard about this, I wasn't sure what to think about it. It's certainly not something that would ever have occurred to me to do. I wasn't really sure who was most at fault here, if anyone. After all, you can't really blame the disabled person for finding a way to make a living. And for that person to make a living, someone has to take advantage of his/her services. 

On the other hand, I detest the attitude that if one has enough money, one is entitled to inconvenience others. And, after all, Disney's policy is there for a reason. It seems morally wrong to take advantage of that policy in a way to isn't consistent with the policy's intent.

Finally, imagine a (Disney) world where everyone could afford to hire a disabled "tour guide." Everyone would be lined up at the side entrance, and everyone, including the disabled who really want to enjoy the theme park, would be waiting in a long line. 

Okay, that will never happen, but what might happen is that Disney will be forced to discontinue the practice completely. The legitimate tourist who happens to be disabled won't get that extra assistance that helps make the park enjoyable. I can see this as a real possibility.

So what do you think? Who is most at fault here, if anyone? The well-to-do tourist? The disabled "tour guide"? And what should Disney do about it? Sound off in the comments. I'm very interested in hearing your opinions.