5/14/2013 5:23 PM ET|
Are the rich cutting in line at Disney World?
One report says wealthy Manhattanites hire disabled guides to speed through the park. Really? More evidence would help.
Maybe a little more evidence.
The New York Post uncorked such a story Tuesday when it declared that wealthy Manhattan mothers were hiring a disabled tour guide for $130 an hour, or $1,040 per eight-hour day, to help their kids cut to the front of ride lines. The lead source on the matter is social anthropologist Wednesday Martin, who's writing a book called "Primates of Park Avenue" that she says goes into all of the sordid details of the Manhattanites' exploits.
None of the mothers are named. And the black-market tour group that's supposedly behind the whole thing -- Dream Tours Florida -- denies it uses a tour guide's disability to bypass lines. But the man who runs it notes that its guide has an autoimmune disorder and has to use a scooter on the job.
That basically makes it the word of an author quoting anonymous sources against that of a tour guide who fits a profile and offers the service and a ride pass that undercuts Disney's price of $310 to $380 per hour for its own VIP service.
Unfortunately for Disney, park policy favors Martin's story. The park allows each visitor using a wheelchair or motorized scooter to take up to six guests to a "more convenient entrance."
One of the sources Martin quoted claims she hired a Dream Tours guide to escort her, her husband and their 1-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter through the park in a motorized scooter with a "handicapped" sign on it. Their group was then waved past the line at each ride to an auxiliary entrance at the front of each attraction.
Believable? Absolutely. All the elements are in place to allow such a scheme to unfold. Does it get increasingly believable, given one's disposition to think little of the Manhattan elite? Absolutely.
The problem is that the folks who grease co-op boards for residences with a view of the park, convert SoHo and TriBeCa lofts into family-friendly dream homes and shell out for prep schools that beat paths to Ivy League institutions aren't exactly bargain hunters. Even at roughly 66% off, taking the low road through Disney has too many downsides for the reputations of folks who have to face their peers over brunch at Bubby's every weekend.
Again, that's not saying they couldn't take advantage of a scheme like the one described above. Without hard evidence, however, it all just seems a little bit too tailored to an audience that's not only critical of the rich but thinks wealthy mothers speak in the made-for-TV dialogue excerpted from Martin's book:
"You can't go to Disney without a tour concierge," she sniffed. "This is how the 1 percent does Disney."
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