Black-Market Tour Guides at Disney World

The Week (and, earlier, the N.Y. Post) reports a new way for high-wage people to economize on time: when visiting Disney World, hire a “tour concierge” — a disabled person who uses his/her disability privileges to ignore waiting lines (and take the high-wage person and family with him/her ahead of the crowd).  At $130 per hour, the time saving is easily justified economically (just think of the lines at Space Mountain, or at my personal favorite, Small World).  It would be nice too if people would rent me their toddlers to board Southwest Airlines flights ahead of the mob.  Clearly, there is room for beneficial exchange like this in many areas.

These are not, however, Pareto improvements: while the “concierge” and his/her customers gain, everybody else in line loses. It doesn’t seem fair to me, and perhaps not efficient, since the externalities of extra waiting time for the whole line can be substantial.

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  1. Enter your name... says:

    I’m not sure that wheelchair users should get preferential line status. A person wit a cane might tire faster from standing in line, and a person with severe intellectual or psychiatric problems might not be able to tolerate either the wait or the overstimulation, but a person who is sitting in a wheelchair (assuming that paralysis/recent knee surgery/etc is the only problem) doesn’t actually have a medical issue that impairs their abilities to wait in line.

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    • bob says:

      It may not impair their ability to wait in line, but considering that a wheelchair-bound man sued Disney for being stuck on the It’s a Small World ride, I think they’ll give wheelchair-bound people preferential treatment just to be safe.

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    • James says:

      I really resent the idea that people who are unwilling to tolerate waiting in line (especially for trivial reasons, such as going on an amusement park ride) have some sort of psychiatric problem. IMHO, if there’s a problem, it’s you folks who do tolerate it who have it.

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      • Enter your name... says:


        If you are truly unwilling to wait in line, and yet you voluntarily pay a hundred bucks to spend the day standing in lines, then you probably do have some sort of problem.

        But you will notice that I didn’t speak of people who are “unwilling” to tolerate the wait, but those who are actually “unable”. This is not uncommon among children with severe autism.

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      • James says:

        I don’t know that there actually is such a thing as “unable” to tolerate, just that doing it invokes varying degrees of unpleasantness. So if the unpleasantness of waiting in line (which will vary from person to person) is less than the benefit to be gained, why do it? And if avoiding the unpleasantness is worth $X to you, that’s economic opportunity for someone.

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    • Matt says:

      It has nothing to do with comfort and everything to do with lawsuit liability.

      Start with the laws ensuring equal access for disabled persons to all public areas. Many of the areas traversed by the lines are not wheelchair compatible, often being too narrow or going up/down stairs, etc. I’m sure Disney did the math on redesigning the entire park around wheelchairs and decided on this form of preferential treatment.

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  2. bob says:

    Wow, $130/hour?? I bet a lot of people suddenly became “disabled” for that rate.

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  3. buah says:

    For this to pay off, I suppose that the concierge would need to be able-bodied enough (i.e. not “too” disabled) to move around the park in a reasonable amount of time. Otherwise, time saved by skipping the line would be negated by the time spent waiting for your concierge to walk from one ride to another?

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  4. Mike B says:

    This is what happens when you try to ration in any way that isn’t price. Just like with tickets trying to be egalitarian is simply a fools errand and makes everybody worse off. Well almost everybody. The real winner is Disney because they can hook people with a low price of admission and then bait and switch people into riding the Line Ride instead of providing higher cost amenities. What people who use various ways to skip the queue are doing is making it clear to the suckers in line that they’ve been scammed.

    The best thing for consumers is for Disney to raise the cost of rides so that fewer people ride them and no queues form.

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    • Enter your name... says:

      They’ve done research on it, and waiting in line improves the visitors’ experience. If there are no lines, visitors are less satisfied with the rides than if there are fairly long waits. Over an hour per ride was determined to be the ideal. That allows you to get the benefit of talking over the last ride and the benefit of anticipating the next one.

      If they’d extend their in-line entertainment, which can be quite extensive, to include water fountains, the occasional bench, and maybe even restrooms, then I think I’d have no objection to a two-hour wait.

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      • Mike B says:

        Are you being serious? Poe’s Law in action.

        Having been in situations with no line and an hour wait I can tell you that the no line situation is far better than cooling my heels for an hour for a 30 second ride. Even if repeated back to back rides gave me the shakes, I was able to call it a day early and go do something else. Oh wait, that doesn’t help the park’s bottom line.

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      • anonymous says:

        Gawd! What are you, a Disney shill? Standing in line in the hot Florida sun for an hour or more, with my bad back? And maybe with a bunch of whining kids, for over an hour to go on a 5 minute ride? Sounds like the entertainment offered in…HELL. Even if Disney plunked down a fragrant port-a-potty right in front of me, I’ve never seen any benches or water fountains available to the suffering masses standing in that line! Yeah, I’d be discussing the rides, all right, as I lit out for the parking lot, never to return.

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  5. Joel Upchurch says:

    I took my parents to Disney Land in the 1980’s and I got a Wheelchair for my mom and She and I had a great time cutting the lines, but my Father was exhausted from the walking.

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  6. Stephanie O says:

    They’re undercutting Disney’s offering of VIP Tour Guides that take groups to the front of the line for $315-$380 per hour (I think there’s a 6 hour minimum). I’m sure Disney will find a way to put them out of business.

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  7. Mark says:

    Get ready for the Disney crackdown on the perpetrators exploiting the system. Now, here’s how people handle the long lines at Tokyo Disneyland: People wait patiently. For hours and hours. They go to Disneyland and enjoy a couple of the attractions and go home. Long queues for popular ramen restaurants and bakeries are common here in Japan. TV shows often report on the popularity of, say, a confection from a certain shop and the long lines that form up to several days ahead. People camp out.

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    • anon says:

      Do they have nothing better to do with their time in Japan? Don’t they have to go to work? Or do they send their unemployed spouses or relatives to stand in line for days waiting for noodles or cake? That is a WHOLE different culture than the U.S. It’s like saying the Ubangi tribe will camp out for weeks in the jungle in front of some bushes waiting for the exact moment the juujuu flower blooms to be the first to pick it for religious purposes. (yeah, that was awkward, and I totally made it up. )

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      • Mark says:

        In Japan, waiting in line is dealt with the viewpoint of “shoganai” – it can’t be helped. So people don’t make a big deal out of queueing . Everyday life long lines, no problem. Disneyland lines, no problem. Ubangi outlet store queue in the jungle, ok!

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      • James says:

        Seems like very sloppy thinking to me, because very often it CAN be helped. Long lines at Disney? Don’t go to Disney. Long line at ramen shop? Buy ramen elsewhere.

        As far as I can see, the only times when it really can’t be helped is when government is involved. And even then… Well, when I first moved to this state, several decades ago, renewing an auto registration was a day-long nightmare of waiting in a line. Now it can be done on-line, in about 45 seconds, while physically on a different continent.

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