Amusement parks can be a great vacation, especially if you like rides that test your ability to hold your lunch.
The more popular amusement parks, like the Disney family of parks, are busy much of the year. And busy can mean long wait times on the rides.
Since time is far more valuable than money, it would make sense that there would be a way to buy less time in line for those who value their time with their family highly enough. And indeed there is: the Disney VIP Tour Services. For between $300 and $400 per hour, a Disney VIP Tour Guide will give your family five-star treatment, which includes “[t]he ability to experience some of your favorite attractions efficiently, even repeatedly.”
Translation: With a Disney VIP Tour Guide, you and your kids will wait less to get onto the rides.
However, some people have found a cheaper way to cut in line, without strong-arming everyone in their path. Some very enterprising people apparently hire their own tour guides for less than half the price, and get some of the same line-cutting benefit as if they had hired a Disney VIP Tour Guide.
These tour guides are bound to a motorized scooter. Because of the nature of their disability, they and up to five members of their party can enter through an auxiliary entrance. From the linked Disneyland Park Guide for Guests with Disabilities:
Auxiliary Entrance Limitations Some attractions have auxiliary entrances for Guests with mobility disabilities or with service animals. These entrances are not intended to bypass waiting lines. Guests with disabilities and up to five members of their party may enter through these entrances. The rest of the party should use the standard queue.
The company that once arranged the tours in question has stopped offering them for the time being. One article from the New York Post’s web site is not complimentary of this practice at all. (Perhaps some of the “inaccurate press” that Dream Tours Florida alleges can be seen in the second paragraph of the NY Post article; the Post alleges that the tour guides “pose[d] as family members” when it’s clear from the Disney text above that they didn’t need to.)
Perhaps the issue is the sentence from the Disneyland Park Guide: “These entrances are not intended to bypass waiting lines.” Indeed they aren’t; their primary purpose is to make it easier for people with disabilities to enter the rides. That these entrances almost always have very few people on them is just a fortunate coincidence. Anyone offering tours can state the rules from the brochure, and promise nothing else, thereby deflecting the notion that they intended to bypass the waiting lines. “They didn’t promise shorter wait times, but, well, it just worked out really well for us anyway.”
At present, this appears to be a loophole which regularly results in shorter wait times. Tour guides do not have to lie that they are family members. It is legal to hire pretty much whoever you want as a tour guide. It’s certainly illegal to say that you cannot hire a disabled tour guide. And $130/hour — or even half of that — isn’t chump change for anybody, so it’s hard to justify even that the disabled tour guides are being exploited.
People with money can buy luxury. Smart people with money can buy luxury for less. I don’t see anything wrong with people spending money pretty much how they choose for what they want, and if they’ve found a way to do it for less, good on them. They’re still paying far more than someone with a standard park pass, who instead pays with more time spent in line. That seems like a fair trade to me, but some people don’t like this, can’t have this, and will work to make sure that no one will have it. This is envy, and there’s no satisfying it until the luxury is eliminated.
UPDATE: Disney is already looking into this matter, and is promising action that will end the practice. Looks like it will be back to paying for a Disney VIP Tour Guide for the shorter lines.