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Posted on 6. June 2013

Taking Advantage of our Disadvantages

By Jessica Johnson

Summer is finally here, and the summer vacation season has begun. My daughter’s best friend and her family just left for a weeklong trip to Disney World. They go every year. And, every year my daughter asks: “When can we go to Disney World?” My response: “Honestly? Never. We’ll just go to the county fair in August.”

Why am I so reluctant to take my family to the happiest place on earth? Besides the fact that it would cost a small fortune to fly my family of six to Florida and pay for a hotel and admission to the park, there is another deterrent: the long lines. The wait time in the line for what could easily be considered the most boring of all Disney World attractions, It’s a Small World, can be over two hours. I don’t even want to know how long we would have to wait to ride something that’s actually enjoyable, like Splash Mountain. And, I can only imagine how well my 4-year-old son would hold up standing in line in 90-degree weather for two hours. He can’t even stand in line at the grocery store for two minutes without getting into trouble!

So imagine my excitement when I learned that there is actually a way to avoid those long lines at Disney World. I could take my family and go to a special side entrance to each and every attraction in the park, and skip the line altogether. There’s only one problem. OK, maybe two. It’s extremely expensive … and I would have to check my conscience at the gate.

NBC News recently reported on the misuse and abuse of disabled passes — passes given to those for whom standing in line for a long period of time would be a detriment to their physical well-being. Usually these special passes are given to people in a wheelchair or motorized scooter. But, now, it has been discovered that some people with these passes have been selling their services as chaperones to families with money who want to ride the rides without waiting in line like everyone else. The cost of these chaperones can range from $50 to $130 an hour, or $1,040 for the entire day.

What about those of you who have a condition which causes debilitating pain — a condition for which one of those disabled passes would really come in handy? If the thought of standing in line for two hours just makes your joints ache, you could probably see the benefit of having a pass like that. But would you ever consider offering yourself, along with your pass, as a guide for exorbitant amounts of money just to make greedy people happy? 

What if the disabled person was your child? If your child suffers from chronic pain due to an autoimmune disease or any number of the conditions for which immune globulin therapy is used, how would you feel if you saw a completely healthy family waltz past you and skip to the front of the line simply because they paid for a disabled chaperone?

Maybe I’m just missing something here. Perhaps I’m not taking full advantage of my children’s health conditions and should be using them to my advantage instead. After all, they have to live with a rare disease, and it’s really not fair, so why shouldn’t I make the best of it? Hey, better yet, I could rent out my mother’s handicapped parking sticker when she’s not using it. It would help my friends get a better parking spot at Target, and I could make a little extra cash on the side. 

All joking aside, one thing is for certain: Disney theme parks will definitely be keeping a closer eye on the issuance and use of their disabled passes from now on. Is that a good thing, or is Disney just raining on everyone’s parade? I mean, these people aren’t really hurting anyone, right? What do you think? Has the country’s best-kept secret just been exposed, ruining the fun for both the disabled entrepreneur and the wealthy young family, or is something really wrong going on here? You tell me. You can check out the story for yourself by clicking here.

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Comments (6) -

Linda Thornrose
4:50 PM on Thursday, June 06, 2013

about 15 years ago, my son, his new bride and two step daughters, took my elderly mother who was very crippled at the time (had surgery a few months later to repair her back and replace her knee)and me to Disney World with them.  We found out she could have a wheelchair and disabled pass, thus we were all able to move to the front of the line for each ride.  Mom really appreciated it since it was in August and so very hot!  I didn't know about it until that experience.  It sickens me that there are those amoral people who would take advantage of this kindness by Disney to take advantage of legitimate people who need to use the service.  The kids were thrilled not to have to wait and be able to go on so many rides without such long waits.  Mom and I were exhausted due to heat and 'age'.  I think it is a great service, but there must be some way the deceit could be stopped.  Always the few who spoil it for the rest of the people.

Donna Campbell
8:51 PM on Thursday, June 06, 2013

I am the immune challenged person in my family, and between my body attacking itself, and my spinal arthritis, I have taken advantage of the service for several years. I rent a scooter, and my party of 3-4 moves along.
I stop at City Hall, present my handicap parking plaque and am issued the pass. This is not limited to handicap people but hundreds of families with small children as well. It used to be a bonus to not wait in hot lines, but with the magnitude of people using it, the lines are often just as long.
We don't do it for short lines, but more for more friendly access to the rides.

m Rubenstein
6:17 AM on Friday, June 07, 2013

the same thing happens everyday at the airport...at the doctors office...any place a 'person' wants to avoid a wait..it is not a 'disney' problem at all...it is cheating people that make it hard for all the truly ill people in this world that need a bit more help to just function in this 'normal' world....this country needs an education from all the disabled communities.....

Linda Thornrose
11:27 AM on Friday, June 07, 2013

It IS cheating!  It can also be embarrassing for those of us who have "invisible" diseases because people look daggers through you.  We just have to do the best we can with what we have and pray for those who cheat to have their eyes opened and their consciences pierced so they may one day learn to be fair.

Betty
5:05 AM on Saturday, June 08, 2013

I had to use a scooter my last two days of 7  at Disney in 2007 due to a back  condition. I did not know you could get a pass like that and so I parked and  got in line with the rest of the family. An alternative we used- as soon as my son in law found out- was the timed pass. You get a ticket with a time on it and come back at that time. In between we took breaks-food- rest- shorter lines etc.  etc. The disability pass is wonderful for those of us who need it,  but I agree it is not right for healthy people to use it.

Linda Thornrose
7:59 AM on Saturday, June 08, 2013

Having the disability placard is a big help to be able to take advantage of the many offers for those with disabilities, especially for those of us with disabilities that are not visible.  I have CVID, along with osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue that all are invisible to the public.  The placard is a big help.  You can get one by getting an RX from your physician and take it to the courthouse.  When I have 'good' days, I don't both using them know there are many others out there who have it worse, or are having 'not good' days.  In that way, I feel I can be fair, too.  When I was young (a long time ago) there were not all these disability offers out there, so I feel blessed.  Of course, the point of this blog is those who take advantage and cheat...that is very saddening.  I can only hope there are more honest folks out there than crooked.  The 'crooks' eventually get caught, I believe, and hope.  In the meantime, we just keep doing our best and praying for more 'good' days.  It can sure be frustrating to never be able to plan on anything due to our illnesses for sure.  My dream is to one day they find cures for us and we can then lead active, pain and fatigue free lives, and be able to participate in life to the full!  Until then, we do what we can and try to let go of those things we cannot do...not easy, but possible.  These blogs help to keep me encouraged and not to feel alone in the battle...I can never express how all of you help me, especially on the days I feel overwhelmed and discouraged about my health challenges.  My heartfelt thanks to each one of you.

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