Jump To The Head Of The Line, Disney Disabled Style

by admin on May 15, 2013

Some wealthy Manhattan moms have figured out a way to cut the long lines at Disney World — by hiring disabled people to pose as family members so they and their kids can jump to the front. By hiring non-Disney disabled tour guides, otherwise able bodied families benefit by jumping to the head of lines because handicapped guests in scooters or wheelchairs and up to six family members are often sent straight to an auxiliary entrance at the front of each attraction.

Read more about it HERE.

I use a scooter when I go to theme parks because my hip would never survive an entire day of walking.   I last visited EPCOT in 2011, rented a three wheeled scooter but I don’t recall being shuttled to the head of the line.  There were special gates for easier access by wheelchairs and scooters to the attraction and some rides require a cast member to move the scooter/wheelchair from the entrance area to a totally different exit area.  However I recall waiting in line just like everyone else until we reached the head of the line.   Particularly at Living Seas where I wound my way through the long lines with the rest of the waiting guests.  Ditto for Test Track, the water ride in the Mexican pavilion and Norway’s Maelstrom.   It may be different at the Magic Kingdom but 2 years ago at EPCOT I did not experience any benefit of being in a scooter other than the obvious one of sitting through most of my visit as opposed to standing.   Considering that the article contains an obvious rant against the “1%”, I question whether this story is even accurate based on the bias being demonstrated instead of straight, factual reporting.

 

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

E. May 15, 2013 at 6:38 am

I think that the disability might not always need to by physical. I have gone to Magic Kingdom and other Disney parks with a friend who is autistic. Because his disability makes waiting in lines difficult, on the rides that he chose to go on we were allowed to go through the fastpass line, even if we didn’t have a fastpass.

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Mary May 15, 2013 at 6:41 am

Over twenty years ago my parents drove us from the Midwest to Disneyworld, my only time there. My mom started having knee problems before the trip and a week before we left, her doctor informed her that she required surgery. She protested saying we were going to Disney the next week and he informed her she would be seeing the park from a wheelchair.
We did end up being allowed to skip some of the lines, but not completely. For Space Mountain I remember skipping the outside line but waiting the full time on the inside line.

We are headed to Disneyland with my mom later this year and the Disney curse has struck her other knee this time. She has heard about the issues mentioned in the article and we plan to get a note from her doctor to make sure getting a wheelchair won’t be an issue.

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Zookeeper May 15, 2013 at 6:47 am

We went to Disney two years ago and my dad was awaiting knee replacement surgery so he used a scooter. At Magic Kingdom we were absolutely moved to the head of the line via a separate entrance. At EPCOT, the lines could accommodate a scooter so we waited in line with everyone else. Depends on the park. Either way, hiring disabled to move to avoid a wait is disgusting.

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Lo May 15, 2013 at 6:52 am

I don’t know if it says more about my cynicism or society’s shamelessness that I completely believe this could be a thing.

I have no issue with people paying more money for “fast pass” programs. But I can’t imagine how someone using another human being with a disability this way can sleep at night. Or why the guide themselves would be okay with being exploited this way. The fact that there’s a mutual agreement to do so doesn’t make me feel any better about it. Yeah, it’s money but there are things we don’t do for money.

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The Elf May 15, 2013 at 8:17 am

I heard about this, and yes I have questions about the reporting too. But let’s assume it’s true. This isn’t against Disney policy. But it does abuse the system and really spoils the child in Verunca Salt style. Besides, with the fast pass and a little planning, you can avoid a lot of lines anyway. When I went (granted – off-season), I only had one long line to wait in and everything else was bypassed with fast-pass.

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Miss-E May 15, 2013 at 8:18 am

It’s not the presence of a scooter; they say in the article that the “guide” they used had some kind of handicapped sign. I imagine it’s similar to using a handicapped tag to park in a handicapped space. Anyone can use those scooters for personal comfort but those alone won’t qualify you to jump the line.

In any case, it’s disgusting and despicable and shame on everyone involved.

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admin May 15, 2013 at 8:30 am

Actually the article makes reference to a “motorized scooter with a handicapped sign” so it is the presence of the scooter that allegedly prompts different treatment.

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Anonymous May 15, 2013 at 8:19 am

That’s rude AND unnecessary. Why not just sign up for a FastPass instead? The last I checked, they were included in the price of admission, and they don’t require jumping the line–instead, you just make a “reservation” for each attraction you want to visit. So, for example, you could set up your FastPass for your family to ride the spinning teacups at nine o’clock, Pirates of the Caribbean at 9:30, the carousel at ten, Space Mountain at 10:30, and so on, and so forth. That way, you can enjoy the park without too much lag time, but not at the expense of anyone else.

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LonelyHound May 15, 2013 at 8:19 am

This is outrageous, entitled behavior, but I really see little difference between it and “normal” people sticking a family member in line who then calls the rest of the group to them when they have reached the front. Same behavior, different tactic. Still gross and entitled no matter who does it.

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Virg May 15, 2013 at 8:20 am

When we recently went to WDW, my wife required a scooter because of her knee, and in some places there was a benefit to access. It wasn’t universal at all but there were some lines that took less time due to her getting handicap access. I can’t imagine that the benefit is worth having to hire someone as a stand-in, though, so I suspect the article “takes liberties” as to the differences.

Virg

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Vandalia May 15, 2013 at 8:33 am

Thank you for calling out the bias. I am tired of reading others’ opinions masquerading as factual news reporting. It’s insulting and reveals a lack of integrity on the part of the reporter and the news organization. I don’t mind reading the opinions of others (I actually come here for that purpose), but I want to seek that out instead of being force-fed the reporter’s opinion as I read what is supposed to simply be the factual news.

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Goldie May 15, 2013 at 8:37 am

If you’re interested in wading through a comment section, here’s a post on Gawker discussing this article: http://gawker.com/rich-families-cutting-lines-at-disney-world-by-hiring-d-505640665 A few people have commented that they’ve had the experience of being first in line for rides due to having a disabled family member with them. From what I understand, this is something you have to work out with the Disney employees, on a case-by-case basis, and people only tend to do it when their family member’s disability is so severe that it wouldn’t make it possible for anyone in their group to do anything in the park otherwise.

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NostalgicGal May 15, 2013 at 8:52 am

Still, there may be a crumb of truth; and it’s appalling to ‘rent a disabled person’ for the express purpose of bucking a system.

Those that truly have a disability issue in their group (whether it’s a knee scheduled for imminent surgery or permanent), it is nice that some accommodation is done. However someone always has to try to play the system and ruin it…..

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manybellsdown May 15, 2013 at 8:54 am

I’m wondering if there might be a difference between Disneyland and WDW/Epcot. I’ve never been to the second one, but at Disneyland a wheelchair usually does jump to the front of the line, being brought in through the ride exit. It might be a space consideration. Some of the lines would be difficult if not impossible to get a scooter through. Also some lines have stairs – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Indiana Jones spring to mind – so they have to bring wheelchairs in another way.

You can also frequently skip the line by going to the cast member at the front and telling them you’re a “single rider”. Since most people go on a ride as a group, if you’re willing to ride one alone they often whisk you up to the front to fill in seating gaps. I rode Indiana Jones a few times this way back when it first opened.

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Chefnutmeg May 15, 2013 at 9:02 am

I was on chemo and a make a wish trip. While in a wheelchair, I was allowed to cut most lines, but still had to wait a little bit either way. My siblings could not cut lines for the rides that my issues would not allow me on. I.e. Space mountain, Splash mountain.

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Jill May 15, 2013 at 9:03 am

I have had to have a wheelchair at Disneyland (not Disneyworld) twice because of knee surgery. It is their policy to let those in wheelchairs (or scooters, I assume) go to the front of the line on most rides, usually via a separate entrance, or sometimes the exit. A couple of the major rides do not have wheelchair access, however, so you can’t skip to the front of those lines.

To the anonymous poster above who suggested that they plan their day by scheduling FastPasses for all the attractions – the FastPass system doesn’t work that way. Only the most major rides have FastPass options, and you can only get one at a time (i.e., if you have a FastPass for later in the day for Splash Mountain, you can’t then also get a pass for Indiana Jones). At least this is how it works at Disneyland. This is NOT to suggest that the inconvenience excuses this gross practice of hiring disabled people to skip lines, if it is in fact happening.

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Cami May 15, 2013 at 9:11 am

I have a relative who works at WDW in Orlando. It’s a policy that a guest with a GAC — guest assistance card — can specify a disability that does not permit them to wait in line and thereby get front of the line access on every ride. Disney is not allowed to question the guest or demand proof of the disability. So theoretically, every guest at Disney could demand a GAC.

The reason why people do this instead of using the Fast Pass system is threefold — Fast Passes are not available for every ride, FP are now good only for the time specified on the print out requiring one to be at a certain place at a certain time, and you can only have one FP at at time (which means that if, for example as happened to us two weeks ago, you arrive at Hollywood Studios at 9am and your FP for Toy Story Mania prints out for 1pm, you cannot get another FP for any ride until after 1pm, at which point your next FP is probably going to be for 6pm or later). The GAC on the other hand allows the guest to roam the park at will and go up to any ride at any time (or however many times they want) and be admitted. It’s like a superduper all-day no-limits FP.

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Saucygirl May 15, 2013 at 9:14 am

Sadly, this is just a new, more expensive way to show lack of morals. I used to volunteer for make a wish and the top wish was Disney. Families would get make a wish buttons which often led to being escorted to front of line and freebies. After trips were done, some families would actually sell their buttons on eBay to get money and “hook up” others. In time Disney became aware and put systems in place that made the button not enough to get special treatment. If this story is true, I’m sure the same will happen.

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Arrynne May 15, 2013 at 9:18 am

15+ years ago, you were definitely sent near the front of the line at Disneyland and many other parks if you were traveling with a disabled person. When I went with my grandmother as a child we would come in a back entrance for some of the rides. The staff would have us wait 10 minutes and then let us on. Typical waits were 45 minutes or more for non-disabled.

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Eric May 15, 2013 at 9:44 am

It doesn’t just happen at Disney; it’s apparently a problem at Universal Studios, too. A year or two ago, I was at a family reunion trip to Universal with my large extended family, including one uncle and his girlfriend both in wheelchairs. My mother would follow them around to rides to make sure someone’s watching the wheelchairs and belongings and such. As they were handicapped, they were allowed through a separate entrance for most of the rides, and most employees allowed my younger cousins to go through with them. We never intended to directly take advantage of neither the park nor the uncle’s disability.

At any rate, we did have issues with one ride employee, who said my mother could not go through with my uncle because she “couldn’t prove they were related” and that “only the people with disabilities” could go through. After a day in the park with no indication this was the case, we called over a manager who said it was most certainly not the park’s policy to prevent family members from going through the handicapped line with the handicapped persons. I feel this is why the “Manhattan Moms” can do this sort of thing so easily — the parks don’t want to cause conflict about proving relationships and whatnot.

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Not of the 1% May 15, 2013 at 9:47 am

I can believe this happens. Hiring a disabled person so you can skip lines is despicable.

I live in GA and have seen fights break out at Six Flags from people who have to wait for hours to get to ride an attraction and then 50 people with a “flash pass” get escorted pass them to get on the ride.

I think the “fast/flash pass” thing is a little elitist. Some families save for months or even longer to be able to visit theme parks and then when they get there, people who have more money get to jump the line? The “Flash Pass” at Six Flags has 3 levels: Platinum level is $305 for a family of 4, and if you purchase this level, you get to ride twice in a row without ever exiting the attraction. Next level is the Gold level, $185 for a family of 4 and you get to rides with “50% less” wait time. Lowest level is the Regular , $110 for a family of 4 and with that you can make reservation times.

I am not knocking people who have money. If you do, that is great, really. But the sad fact is so many have been hurt by the economy and if you manage to save a little so your kids can have one special day a year and then people continually get to pass you in the line because they have been more fortunate, that kind of ruins it.

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Tia May 15, 2013 at 9:50 am

I went to Disney last year (Epcot and Magic Kingdon). My daughters are both very obviously profoundly physically disabled. We had special access to nearly all the rides as a result – only very occasionally did we need to show the assistance pass we were given at the start of our stay. Based on that, and on the experience we had of some parents pushing their children towards us to try to include them in our group and avoid the line, I can believe this story to be true.

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Library Diva May 15, 2013 at 9:56 am

I saw this article, too, and as a Disney veteran, it didn’t pass the “sniff test” for me. The most obvious detail was the 2.5 hour wait for It’s A Small World. I’ve been to the parks at the height of the summer season, during Easter week, and have never experienced anything close to that for It’s a Small World. In fact, despite its status as a must-visit attraction, its wait is usually quite short due to the continuous load set up. Having a disabled person with you may help people cut some lines, but not all, and the fact that no one would go on record for this story makes me scratch my head. That quote about “how the 1% does Disneyworld” sounded fabricated to me, actually.

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Ergala May 15, 2013 at 10:08 am

We’re eligible for this because of my oldest (Autism). HOWEVER…..we play it by ear. If he is perfectly fine waiting and watching the ride go as we are in line we don’t go ahead. If he is having a rough time then we opt to move ahead. But if he is full blown “I WANNA GO NOOOOOOW!” we call it a day and head back home or to the hotel…whichever we are using.

I will say I was allowed to jump the line at an IMAX for Avatar because I was on crutches. However I was in line from the beginning with my husband and not at the back, but inside I was able to get our tickets. Some people still felt it necessary to try and push me after they paid when we were entering the theater. I was not impressed.

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Nannerdoman May 15, 2013 at 10:23 am

It’s from the Washington Post, which raises big red flags for me.

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Erin May 15, 2013 at 10:34 am

I’d take the article with a grain of salt – it’s the NY Post, after all. After the Boston Marathon bombing I don’t believe a word they print.

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djk26 May 15, 2013 at 10:48 am

Anonymous, I believe that you can only have one FastPass at any given time. Still, it’s a great and perfectly legitimate way to skip the lines, unlike what these moms are accused of doing.

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chocobo May 15, 2013 at 10:58 am

When we last visited, my grandmother was in a scooter or wheelchair and we were moved to the front of the line as well. Ditto for my husband when he last visited with his grandmother as well. Regardless, if some people are hiring disabled tour guides in the hopes of passing the lines in a similar fashion, that’s shameful.

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lakey May 15, 2013 at 10:59 am

Entitled people who game the system cut across all lines of income, age, race, class, etc. During road construction season you see creeps like this using every trick they can come up with to cut to the front of the line of cars. They’re all over the place, and it has nothing to do with “1 percenters”. The title “Primates of Park Avenue” tells you that the author has an ax to grind and anything he says should be taken with a grain of salt.

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silverpixiefly May 15, 2013 at 11:01 am

when my grandmother was alive, she would rent a wheelchair at the park. I was just too much walking for her. And yes, we got to the front of every ride line in every park because of her.

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Kovitlac May 15, 2013 at 11:26 am

Anonymous: Unless the system has changed dramatically from when I visited Disneyworld (admittedly, several years ago), you can only have one pass in action at a time. So once you make a reservation to ride Test Track at 12:30, you can’t make any other reservations until after that time. It was done like that, no doubt, to keep Fast track holders from having that big of an advantage over other visitors.

This doesn’t take away from how beneficial the Pass is, of course. My family used it as much as possible – I recall putting down a reservation to ride Space Mountain, and then waiting in line to ride Toy Story until then.

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MGirl May 15, 2013 at 11:29 am

Considering the source is the NY Post, I’m taking this with a huge grain of salt. The Post is more entertainment and manufactured outrage than actual news.

That being said, there’s something about Disney theme parks that seems to bring out the worst, or at least highly bizarre, behavior in some people.

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Ginkiguy May 15, 2013 at 11:44 am

Anonymous – that’s not how fast pass works at all. You have to go to the park and physically walk up to the ride. There is a sign stating what the fastpass return time is. If you would rather return at that time than wait in line, you use your entry ticket to get a fastpass with that return time on it. You do NOT make a “reservation”, and you cannot get a fastpass without entering the park (the ticket has to be used for entry to work in Fastpass) and when you get one fastpass you cannot get another for 2 hours or until the first fastpass time arrives, whichever is first.

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MichelleP May 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

I don’t want to open up a can of worms here, but I fail to see why anyone with only a physical disability would need to skip lines. If the person is in a wheelchair or scooter, the difficulty of standing in line is not an issue. I certainly don’t approve of family members with them being able to skip the line.

My grandfather had problems with his legs for years. He was handicapped, not us. My grandmother abused his handicapped placard every chance she had, and we called her on it. I refused to go anywhere with her if she parked in the handicapped space if my grandfather wasn’t with her. If you can make a trip to go to parks, you can stand in line. I don’t understand anyone going to a theme park if they’re on crutches or just had surgery either.

I am a single mom and saved for years to take my daughter to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. We stood in line for hours at just about every park. It’s life. I witnessed one family calling friends up to join them at the head of the line, and yes, I called them on it.

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The Elf May 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

Jill, my comment regarding Fast Pass was only to note that they could accomplish much of the same goal (skipping a lot of time wasted in lines) by using Fast Pass. Yes, it’s only one at a time and it’s only major rides, but with some planning it’s entirely possible to reduce your line time that way. I made extensive use of Fast Pass and as such only had to wait in a long line once.

Of course, by hiring a disabled person to escort them around the park like they were family, and assuming that disabled person knows the little tricks, then they could skip more lines. Plus it makes those who are of that mindset feel like special snowflakes. Which is really the point, of course.

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Lesley B May 15, 2013 at 11:54 am

Ergala,
I agree with you 100%!! My son has autism as well, and we do the exact same thing as you (with our local amusement park, have not braved Disney yet). We go first thing in the morning, the lines are much shorter at 10 am than 2 pm. For him, waiting in line is not a huge issue, and it is an important life skill. However, I have friends with kids on the spectrum or have other special needs, who physically or emotionally cannot wait in line. They are not being brats, or selfish, they experience the world much differently than typical people do, and not letting them go to theme parks and activities is cruel, letting them experience it at a level that they can enjoy it is a wonderfully kind option in many places. Also giving us advice telling us to spank or beat our child having a meltdown as a way to improve his/her behaviour is not helpful, and is completely ignorant (and it happens ALL the time)!
If anyone thinks we are doing this due to a sense of entitlement, or are selfishly trying to get our children to the front of the line, I suggest that you spend a day at a theme park (or anywhere else) with our children, and you will likely have a different perspecitive.
BTW not all autistic kids “look autistic”, which makes this more painful. The adults who hurl abuse at families of kids with disabilities (visible or not), with the kids hearing every word, are a heartbreaking part of what should be a fun day out. We are not using access passes to screw you and your kids over, we are doing it because there is a need.

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MollyMonster May 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm

Someone said that the Disney FastPass was only good for the time stated on it (Cami #17), but the last time I went there, that wasn’t true. If your pass was from 1215-115, you could show up any time after 1215 but before closing and use it. You weren’t allowed to get another FastPass until 1215ish, but you just planned that into your day. Get that Toy Story Mania FastPass upon entering the park, check out the backstage lot, watch the Muppet show, eat some lunch, grab a FastPass for the next big ride, and then go ride Toy Story Mania. With planning and cell phone apps these days, you can really minimize your wait times. That said, if I were hired to be a Disney Imagineer, the first thing I would do is redesign the line queues to make them more interesting and fun. I would at least have classic Disney cartoons playing in all of them.

My friend and I found the best way to really reduce wait times was a combo of FastPass and Single Rider where available. It usually even worked out that we’d end up in the same car together anyway–but since we weren’t buying souvenir photos, it hardly mattered that we shared the bench with people we didn’t know. Obviously families can’t take advantage of that as easily, but it is there for the adults and older kids who just want to ride the ride and don’t care about having to do it in a group. At least Disney does a good job of sending each coaster out fully loaded–nothing irks me more than being in a mile long line and seeing the carts go half empty because a big group needed/wanted to all get on the ride together and no operator stuffed back-up riders into the empty slots.

I don’t know if this particular story is true, but I have heard people talk about going to the park with Grandma in the wheelchair, getting the whole family ahead in the line, and then Grandma not even riding the attraction. Shady? Yeah, probably. But you are always going to have someone trying to game the system and until there is a way to completely eliminate lines (which you know darn well Disney is researching because it benefits them to have you in their stores buying stuff rather than spending the whole day trying to get onto Space Mountain), there will always be people trying to jump ahead. Public shaming seems to be a good route to curtail the practice.

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Jaxsue May 15, 2013 at 1:13 pm

I took my 2 sons to WDW once. The oldest has autism. At the time, we didn’t take advantage of the disability passes. When I’d gone online to see what their policies covered, at the time only physical disabilities were mentioned.
I’d probably qualify if I went in my present condition. I’d have to use a wheelchair as that walking would be too much (2 ankle surgeries, use a cane). Sadly, I can’t afford it anyway. :-(

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Ashley May 15, 2013 at 1:29 pm

When I went to Disney, there were roving monitors watching the lines, looking for people in wheel chairs or on crutches, etc, and actively trying to move them to the front of the line. I would estimate that it happened on nine out of every ten rides we stood in line for. I also remember countless signs posted saying things to the effect of “If you are in a wheel chair and need special help getting onto the ride, please let the cast member at the gate know”. And, when the folks in wheelchairs and stuff found out that they could skip to the front of the line, the overwhelming majority of them took advantage of it and got out of line with their group, and got on before any of us in the line. So based on my own experiences, I do believe that it is something people could abuse if they were the kind of people to think of abusing such things. I even remember while we were standing in line for Splash Mountain or some such, there was a guy in front of us joking that if only he had broken his leg a few weeks later, he’d be at the front of the line right now.

The story MIGHT embellish some points, I don’t know. But there is at least a grain of truth in the situation.

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Anonymous May 15, 2013 at 2:10 pm

Oh, I didn’t know that FastPasses were a “one at a time” deal. Okay then, I guess the best way to do it would be to book the first FastPass online before you arrive at the park, or call ahead, or something, so you’d have a chance at having more than one on the first day, which would make it possible to maybe even have more than one EVERY day–morning and afternoon, or morning and evening, or afternoon and evening, or something. Failing that, I see this as an opportunity to teach kids about prioritizing, and taking turns. For example, let’s say there are five people in the family, and they’re going to Disney for five days. Each person gets to pick a “must visit” attraction, and the parents then sign up for the corresponding FastPasses. Of course, I’m thinking about this like a polite person, so I understand how my perspective is flawed. Also, on a somewhat related note, does anyone else here see a parallel between this story, and the thread about the kids at the park hogging the zipline?

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Library Diva May 15, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Since others are sharing Disney tips, I can’t resist sharing my two favorites, if admin will allow the straying off-topic. First, if everyone in your group is old enough to be up for a later night, go to Fantasyland after 8 PM. The families with children are all grabbing their parade spots or are back to the hotel for the night. The last time I was there, it was spring break madness and for much of the day, the park was so crowded it was difficult to even walk around. I employed this trick and walked right on everything in Fantasyland.

A similar trick: if you’re going to do the Jungle Cruise, do it after dark. Not only will the lines be significantly shorter (a big time saver since this is a really slow loader — it’s not at all like Haunted Mansion or Pirates where you may see a huge line but move through it in 15 minutes), but it’s a better experience, tinged with a cool creepiness that offset the world’s corniest spiel and the slightly dated look of the attraction.

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yokozbornak May 15, 2013 at 2:52 pm

Disney does issue GAC (guest assistance card), and abuse is pretty rampant. I believe this story was embellished for drama, but if you go to any Disney message board, you will read about people abusing the GAC system. Disney cannot ask (or will not) ask the nature of a disability so anyone can ask for a GAC, and in many places at WDW, it basically serves as a fastpass.

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The Elf May 15, 2013 at 3:14 pm

MichelleP, from what I understand it’s not so much an inability to wait but because the corral for the line is not accessible. Stairs, narrow passages, sharp turns, etc.

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Cami May 15, 2013 at 3:31 pm

MollyMonster: Disney has recently changed their FP policy. They started implemeting the FP time window about a year ago and it is now enforced. We were there two weeks ago and they were indeed enforcing the times at all four parks. We saw many many guests turned away from the FP line for showing up before or after their time window and watched many CMs pointing to the wording of the FP which states that you must return during the time window. There were many upset people who did not realize this change. In fact, we witnessed one older couple having a total meltdown over having to wait until their FP time window. You may occasionally enounter a CM who breaks the rules, but they are choosing to make an exception. I am also quite sure of this policy as I witnessed it many times and my relative works in attractions and has had to deal with unhappy guests unaware of this policy change.

Anonymous: As of right now, you can not book the FP online ahead of time. Disney is testing a system to do just that, but it is not operational for all guests at this time.

Also note that the Disney FP is different from the Universal or Six Flags system. The Disney FP is free to all guests.

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Barbarian May 15, 2013 at 3:40 pm

If a guest is truly disabled, it makes sense to let the family accompanying the guest go on the ride with them. It would not help the family to get separated if they have to ride in 2 separate groups(disabled-head of the line, able-bodied-wait in the line with everyone else)

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Carol May 15, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Last time we went to Disney my son was 7 years old. He is Autistic, and crowds were a big problem for him – noise and over stimulation, etc. I got a note from his neurologist, and got a special pass so we, and our party, could avoid the long lines. The people at Disney couldn’t have been more awesome, I have to say. We didn’t ‘jump to the front’ but we did get to go through special doors they have in the back for this sort of thing. And for the rides where the lines weren’t quite so bad, we didn’t bother, because sometimes the lines themselves can be sort of fun.

If this is at all true, it makes me sad. I said at the time that my son has so many problems because of his Autism, it was nice that it could work to his advantage sometimes. But I would never exploit him, just because I’m impatient!

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FerrisW May 15, 2013 at 5:06 pm

The one and only time I went to Disneyland I was 7, and it was a huge treat for me. I’d always wanted to go, so when we were standing in a long queue for a ride, and I saw a boy on crutches bypassing the line with his family and getting to go first, I was quite upset. Until my mother reminded me that for him, standing in a long queue wouldn’t be as easy as it was for me. A few commentors above have remarked that for people in wheelchairs, standing for a long time isn’t the problem, but I suspect that by bypassing the line it allows the employees to make accommodations for getting those people to the location the ride is boarded/helping them onto the ride etc. From what I remember, some of those rides would be incredibly tricky to get onto even for the able bodied.

Strangely, my strongest memory of that trip is when I was waiting in line to meet Mickey Mouse, and get his signature. A man barged to the front of the queue and when people protested snapped ‘My son has cancer and is dying!’. He got his kid the autograph and then moved away, but his son announced loudly that he didn’t have cancer and that his dad had been told not to tell lies. More than 20 years ago and that memory sticks around- I guess if people are hiring disabled people to get onto rides quicker, nothing has changed!

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ladycrim May 15, 2013 at 5:58 pm

CNN has a follow-up report:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/15/us/disney-skipping-lines/index.html?iref=allsearch

I have a nerve condition in my feet. I don’t use a wheelchair, but standing/walking for a long time is excruciating. The last couple times I’ve gone to Disneyland, I’ve gotten an Alternate Entrance pass, which allowed me and my party (up to 6 people including me) to go up the ride’s exit or FastPass line if the regular line was too long. It saves my feet and keeps me from having to sit for an hour or more while the pain ebbs. They are prohibited by law (at least in California) from asking for proof of the disability, so I’m sure abuse is rampant. Sad, really.

A wheelchair-bound friend of mine often joked that she was the “handicapped express card” and that she should rent herself out to people who wanted to jump amusement park lines. I don’t know if she’d ever actually do it, but I can see how “We’ll pay you $1,000 to spend the day at Disney” can be a great temptation.

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Michelle C Young May 15, 2013 at 6:47 pm

When I went to Disney World, in 2011, my mother and I were there, and she had a scooter. We had to wait in line, too. Granted, we did get sent to the wheelchair/scooter entrance, which was designed to accommodate them, with wider gates and the like. However, unless we were using our FastPasses, we really did not get in immediately. The employees running the lines are careful to take a certain number of people from the regular line, then slip in people from the other one, and try very hard to keep things even.

Sometimes, I had the desire to go through the regular line, because they have made the lines so interesting, with interactive displays and activities that you do not get in the wheelchair line.

I suppose, though, that sometimes it does seem like you are getting in faster. The wheelchair line is shorter, with fewer bends in it.

Meanwhile, I heard several disgruntled people waiting in the standing-only line, complaining about the people in the wheelchairs and scooters. They didn’t seem to complain about faster entry to the ride, though. Mostly, what I heard was more along the lines of “If they would just get up off their asses and walk, like the rest of us, they wouldn’t be so fat that they need a scooter.”

I wanted to tell them that there were actual injuries and nerve damage involved, but restrained myself. Although I might have felt some temporary relief by letting off steam, and telling the people that sometimes injury predates fat, and sometimes even fat people are injured, and losing weight is not going to magically turn back time and keep a person from being hit by a truck, or suffering nerve damage, or undo a debilitating disease, or anything else of that nature, and they didn’t know our story, and how dare they judge us, might have made me feel better in the moment, it would not have improved my enjoyment of the vacation and it certainly would have made the other people around me uncomfortable.

I don’t know if this story is about a real scam or not. But I do know that people who are able-bodies are frequently willing to look down on and pre-judge those people who are not able bodied, and if the non-able are given some sort of compensation, in the form of shorter lines or kinder smiles from the staff, the able bodied should not be jealous. The price paid for that is really very expensive, you know.

I’d much rather that both my mother and I were physically able to walk all day long, like we used to.

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Michelle C Young May 15, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Incidentally, anyone can enjoy shorter waits at Disney parks, if they are willing to do the research and planning. You see, each ride has “peak” times, and “non-peak” times, and you can find that information on line. There are several websites that I found invaluable in planning my last trip.

I set up a schedule to take advantage of the best times to go on each attraction, and enjoyed shorter lines because of it.

For example – EPCOT – if you don’t want to wait for hours for the Soarin’ ride, then go to that ride the VERY FIRST THING. You can get right in, as well as get a Fast Pass for a later ride. Spaceship Earth is the first ride people see when they come in, so it gets filled up pretty quickly, but you can usually walk right on later in the afternoon, when people have moved further back in the park.

For Magic Kingdom – do Fantasy Land first. It gets reeeeaaalllllyyyyy crowded later, but first thing int he morning, you can usually zip right through it, as the rides are short, and they are also quite close together.

Another trick – If you want to watch a parade, but not miss out on too many attractions, find out from a staff member where the parade actually starts. The route is marked on your map, but you want to find out where it begins. Save a place there, and watch the parade go by, as soon as it begins. Once it is past, you can zip off to an attraction, while everyone else is still standing around watching the parade.

If you don’t care about watching the parade, that is an excellent time to enjoy multiple attractions with short lines, or even hit the restaurants, which will be less crowded at that time.

In short, I’m wondering if maybe these people who hired the guide in a scooter were able to go through the lines quickly more because the guide was so experienced, and knew all the tricks to get to the attractions when the lines were just shorter, anyway. A good guide will make it seem like magic, but really, there’s a lot more to it.

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rosie May 15, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I work with disabled people. Under the ADA, you cannot ask the nature of the person’s disability, even if it is not readily apparent. Shame on the people who are able-bodied and “hire” a disabled person to circumvent waiting in line. Popular attractions go hand-in-hand with sometimes long waits. Put on the Big-Person underwear and learn to wait your turn, just as you were taught as a child! If you are so impatient that you have to have your turn RIGHT NOW, find somewhere else to go; WDW or GA is not for you.

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