disney

Are rich people hiring disabled guides to cut lines at Disney World?

May 14, 2013

As if rich people weren’t already rubbing conspicuous consumption in your face with their fish-tank-full-of-money giveaways and ridiculous tax cuts, a story has been circulating today that wealthy Manhattan moms are hiring handicapped guides to cut lines for their children at Disney World.

While a trip to Disney World sounds like a private hell to some, many families around the world wait all year to make the pilgrimage to the happiest place on earth, making it one of the most popular family vacation destinations in the world. Now supposedly, according to the New York Post, some one-percenters have allegedly found a way around waiting to ride Dumbo in one of the most awful ways imaginable: exploiting the handicapped.

The story has been repeated ad nauseam around the web today, though we find it a little less than convincing: First of all, every source leads back to the New York Post—the same paper that reported 12 dead in the Boston Marathon bombing and a Saudi national in custody and under arrest the same day the bombing happened, all before the police had even made a statement. Their proclivity for just plain making stuff up is high. Second, their information is coming from research for an as-yet unpublished book by social anthropologist Dr. Wednesday Martin, called “Primates of Park Avenue.” She exposes this trend of the rich using a “black market” connection to hire disabled tour guides to walk them through Disney so they can take advantage of the line-skipping rules in place for handicapped patrons. But of course all her sources are anonymous, and the one company she cites as providing this service—Dream Tours, which specializes in giving tours for the disabled—denies it outright.

What’s more, Disney already offers line-skipping VIP packages for $310-$380 an hour. The “black-market Disney guides” supposedly run $130 an hour. But if this is truly for the elite rich (“This is how the 1 percent does Disney,” one anonymous woman is quoted as saying), what difference does a few hundred bucks make?

Dr. Martin explains it by saying, “This service also functions as a status symbol amongst certain circles. You must be referred by someone in-the-know in order to use the wheelchair tour service as an able-bodied client.” I guess, but it sure makes a shittier status symbol than, say, a Bentley or a Rolex.

According to the Post, a phone number for “the rogue guide service” has been “ritualistically” passed around “Manhattan’s private-school set” over spring break. Is it possible? Sure. But even on the Upper East Side it seems unlikely to find a douche population this dense. Who knows, though…


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