Every now and then I run across a story that just really irks me. Such is the case with the New York Post story about the wealthy Manhattan moms that are using Dream Tours accessible guide services to cut to the front of the lines at Disney parks. And what irritates me the most, is that there’s seemingly nothing technically wrong with it. That said, it just shouldn’t be happening.
On the surface it seems pretty simple, but if you dig a little deeper it gets a bit complicated.
Dream Tours offers a number of accessible travel services including VIP tours of the Disney parks. According to their website, “Dream Tours guides will navigate you through the park in the smartest and fastest way possible. With a Dream Tours guide, you can expect that through navigation, know how, and park education; you will experience a significant reduction in attraction wait time with fast pass access.” And since they specialize in accessible travel, it follows that most of their clients would have at least one person in their party that has access needs.
But that’s not the way it’s working with some wealthy Manhattan moms. According to the New York Post, those privileged mothers and their pampered tots are using the Dream Tours service to legally cut the lines to their attractions.
And how do you legally cut a line at Disney? Well all you have to do is to have someone in your party who uses a wheelchair or a scooter. And Dream Tours guide Jacie Christiano just happens to use a scooter due to an auto immune disorder.
So there you have my quandary.
There’s nothing wrong with Dream Tours offering this special VIP service, as truly it looks like a good idea for many disabled visitors to the Magic Kingdom. And Christiano is just doing her job. She happens to have a disability and she needs a scooter, so we shouldn’t ding her for that either.
Then there are the Manhattan moms. They want the concierge service, but they’re using someone else’s disability to get it. But then they are paying for the service, and God knows unemployment and underemployment are rampant in the disabled community. Still it’s just very sleazy.
As far as I know it’s not against the law to fake a disability to get to the front of the line at Disney parks. Yes, it’s morally reprehensible, but not illegal. It might get you booted from the park, but I doubt you’d end up in the big house for it. But remember, Christiano has a legitimate need for a scooter — she has a disability.
Which leads me to the million dollar question. Should Christiano turn away able-bodied guests who want to use her service?
Since this hit the news she’s now probably very aware of how the Manhattan moms are using her, but is she legally obligated to only accept clients who are disabled? In my opinion, that’s the right thing to do. As a business owner you have the right to refuse service to anyone, so I certainly think she should turn away the able-bodied elite and focus her attention on the clients that really need (not just want) her services.
And hopefully, that’s exactly what she will do.
But this whole thing really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.