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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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.


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.


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


blackmarkets r a different story in my opinion.


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?

Mike B

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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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.

Joel Upchurch

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.

Stephanie O

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.


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.

Eric M. Jones

I have lived my life trying to avoid standing in lines. Period.


This is definitely a short-lived market. As Disney makes the rounds refurbishing older attractions and building new ones, they are almost without exception ADA accessible. Soon there will not be enough attractions to warrant hiring a disabled person to take someone through the parks.


A similar practice is common in Manila Philippines and Jakarta Indonesia, where unemployed from the poorer classes stand by the road side and hire themselves as "car jockey" so the driver can add the necessary number of people to enable him to drive in the relatively jam free Transit lanes. The cost is only about $1-2 and allows the driver to save 30-90min


This is the kind of thing that happens in Russia. You can hire someone to stand in line for you. You can hire a handicapped person to get handicapped benefits from you (like a reduction in tax on your brand new car, as long as the handicapped person owns it on paper but you have a power of attorney that allows you to drive it exclusively and sell it without his permission.

G Pendergast

Caryinga $12 Walmart cane will get you on early on most airlines if you are crippled or a tad dishonest.


this isnt even smart. any one at disney can rent the motor wheelchair for a day for $70 and u get in without wait. u can have a bad knee or.just not wanna walk. so instead of paying $1300 for ten hours these morons can pay $70 and alternate on the vehicle if oneof them gets tired....


My local theme park here in the UK sells (apparently limited numbers of) 'Queue Jump Passes' for various rides at a premium over the entry price, including a top-priced one for unlimited queue jumps on any ride in the park, so if you can afford it, you can just walk right to the front of the line without needing a disabled person or any subterfuge.

Not only does this inherently disturb the British fondness for queuing for anything and everything, but it also ruins the visitor experience if you don't pay the extra - it is no longer possible to predict how long it will take you to reach the front of the line.
There used to be signs up saying '90 minutes from this point' etc, and sometimes the line doesn't move for several cycles of the ride!

Of course, the frustration motivates me to buy a queue jump pass next time...