DISNEY is changing the rules that allow disabled people to skip the queues at its US theme parks, after it emerged that wealthy, able-bodied visitors had been abusing the system.
Under the current policy, those with special needs are given quick access to rides and other attractions, to avoid the typically long waiting times at Disneyland in California, and Walt Disney World in Florida.
However, the company now says the scheme has proven "problematic". From next month, it will instead offer disabled people reservation times for each ride, similar to restaurant bookings.
The move comes after a recent New York Post article claiming that wealthy New Yorkers had hired disabled "black market Disney guides" to accompany them to Disney World in Orlando. These guides, who offered their services for $130 an hour (€96), or just over $1,040 (€770) for a full day, would reportedly pose as family members, meaning their clients could skip the queues. Until now, Disney has permitted anyone with a wheelchair to bring as many as six guests with them to a ride's backdoor entrance.
A social researcher uncovered the practice during research for a book about Manhattan's moneyed elite. One woman claimed she used a disabled guide to get her family quick access to the park's attractions. A Disneyland spokeswoman said the company's new policy was designed to curb such abuse.