Saturday, June 1, 2013

Disabled Disney

My father, whose penchant for unique news stories far exceeds my own, recently sent me a link to a New York post article about a trend sweeping the upper echelons of Manhattan society. It involves a very specialized Florida travel agency that rents disabled people to wealthy families visiting Walt Disney World. The idea is that the disabled person will pose as a family member thus allowing the rest of the family to bypass lines at attractions and enjoy special privileges. The price of a “handicapped concierge” is a little over $1,000 per day.

The agency operated like a high-end escort service and they will not even return your call if you cannot provide a referring name that checks out. One woman bragged that other children waited 2 ½ hours to ride It’s A Small World while “my daughter waited one minute.” Quite pleased with the agencies service, she was quoted as saying, “this is how the 1% does Disney.” The agency was identified as Dream Tours and is reportedly run by Ryan Clement and his wheelchair –bound girlfriend Jacie. When asked for comment, Clement denied that they ever used wheelchairs to bypass lines.

Not since Dennis Hope began selling lunar real estate have I seen a more potent example of American entrepreneurship. Like and Bravo’s primetime lineup, this appears to fall under the umbrella of legal-but-morally-reprehensible. What Disney needs is a better screening policy, like when my wife and I passed through customs and they quizzed us about each other’s middle names and eye color; because if you are narcissistic enough to utilize a paraplegic as a human fast-pass I doubt it would take long for the facade of familiarity to crumble. You could probably weed out 50% with the question “What is the woman in the wheelchair’s last name?”

I do hope that the agency at least gives their “concierges” a descent cut of the proceeds because it would take at least $100 an hour for me to restrain myself when trust-fund Terry remarks that some of the other kids on Splash Mountain “smelled poor.” Also, does the “token cripple” get veto power if little Suzie insists on riding Dumbo until the next scheduled maintenance? If they are posing as family members do they assign employees based on ethnicity and physical attributes? Disney may not be the Gestapo, but it might be wise to make the caper somewhat plausible.

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with monetary wealth but is this what we have come to? Hiring a wheelchair with a social security number to cut down on our wait time in Epcot? Just buy a fast pass and save us the sympathetic perjury. Also, if this place only utilizes consenting adults as guides that is one thing, but if they start leasing disabled children to cut line in the ladies’ room it might be time for these people to go to the front of a different line.

On a side note, I would like to offer my services as a marketing director for Dream Tours because the ad copy practically writes itself. I am wood-shopping the following taglines:

  • Paralyzed Americans: We can do anything you can do, except wait in line!
  • A.D.A = Americans with Disney Advantages
  • Who Knew That The Best View of the Magic Kingdom Was From a Wheelchair Ramp?
  • See Tommorrowland With Lietenant Dan!

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