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.

rethinking disney

I went to Disney Land at 12. I ate my first tuna melt there. My point, the place was interesting and not merely about making money. Went back to the one in Florida a few years back. What a disapointment. Would not go back if you paid me. All the lines. Not fun at all unless you like to wait on lines. So as for those disabled tour guides- I guess it's their way to make a buck. Better than the 7.50 an hour at the super market. That's what one said she gets just today. People make all kinds of assumptions on the basis of their ignorance. As for Mr. West, that was all about him. Art for his' sake.


My 18 year old granddaughter and her friends went to Disneyland (Ca.) recently. They rented a wheelchair which one of the kids sat in and they all went to the front of the lines. None of them are wealthy.


Daniel, I will gladly rent you my toddler for any Southwest flight I happen to be on... no charge!
You haven't flown much with young children I gather.

Brian Gulino

There are people who, when they see a line, try to figure out a way to cut in. They scheme to get service animal status for their pets so they can take them places where animals are prohibited. Buy a dress at Nordstrom's to wear to a wedding then return the dress. Park in handicapped parking when their spouse is the one who got the handicapped sticker.

You can rent a handicapped person to get you through the lines at Disneyland. I understand that your time when you work is valuable (although I don't understand why that means your leisure time is any more valuable). You have to understand that I, and I suspect a great many of your peers who are not economists, would consider your behavior odious. You would not be welcome at my house.

I note that in 30 comments, I seem to be the only one not viewing this in purely economic terms. I don't think of myself as an overly moral or self-righteous person - actually I'm quite tolerant. What is wrong with you people?



Economics is a social science that is concerned with the allocation of scare goods in a world of unlimited wants; in this case riding attractions at theme parks. Positive economics involves observations or explanations of economic life as it is in fact. Normative economics involves explanations about how economic life SHOULD be.

There's nothing wrong with any of the readers, most of them are just posting positive statements about the article. Trying to think of the world in normative terms is, and this is a positive statement, a waste of time. No one cares about your opinions, harsh but true. You really want to get people thinking, use facts - not fiction.

If there are incentives in place people will take advantage of them. A few of my buddies picked up a wheelchair from a thrift store and ran around Six Flags to the front of lines. Is it socially inefficient? Yes. Is it privately rational? Yes. Will they continue doing this as long as it works? Yessir they will. There are many systems currently in place that operate this way, such as lobbying on capitol hill. It's really not that these are bad people, they are just behaving rationally in a system that adds incentives to dishonesty.

Strikes me as odd that one goes to a website about economics to discuss morality.


Brian Gulino

I think my objection stems from the original post:

"These are not, however, Pareto improvements: while the “concierge” and his/her customers gain, everybody else in line loses."

The original policy privileging the handicapped on lines at amusement parks is designed to let handicapped people enjoy amusement parks which otherwise would not be possible for them. If enough people game the system, then the policy will be changed or discontinued. This along with the attendant increase in mistrust and cynicism make this worse than merely Pareto inefficient. Not quite the same as shopping all over town for the lowest priced tomatoes.

Other methods of analysis accepted by economists exist. Check out game theory, and how optimal strategies change if you play a game repeatedly. Your line cutting strategy may change if you view yourself as "temporarily abled" as my disabled friends refer to me.

I leave it to you to speculate as to your friend's motives in telling you about getting a wheelchair to game the lines Six Flags.


two cents

Go in the off-season.


Next thing you know, there is going to be a waiting line for all these people who pay $130.00 an hour in the "tour concierge" waiting line. Disney World will become the #1 attraction place for people with "disabilities".