Lateral Thinking and the Logic of Spock: Random Thoughts from the Blogisphere
Should Illegal Immigrants be Given Driver’s Licenses?

Abuse of Disabled Passes at Disney

The ‘Magical Kingdom’ not Magical for those on Long Lines

It's made headlines recently. We all know how frustrating it is, waiting in those long lines at Disney. But now some families are cheating the system. They're hiring disabled tour guides so they can cut right to the front. Two investigative reporters -- Jeff Rossen and Josh Davis -- went undercover and caught it all on tape.

Disneyland is "the happiest place on earth" -- except if you're waiting in those long lines, you and your kids, waiting hours in the heat. So how did one family get to skip past everyone? They did it ride after ride after ride, escorted to the front every time.

The reporters point out that the outrageous business few even know about: families bypassing the lines by hiring disabled tour guides with special passes. At most theme parks like Disney, they allow the disabled to get speedy access to rides. But now healthy families are abusing the system, paying disabled guides to get them in with up to five guests.

On ads the reporters found on Craigslist, tour guides brag about their disabled passes: "Let's cut the Disney lines together," "access to ... special entrances." So they had their producer and his family go undercover with home video cameras, hiring two of those disabled guides to show them around Disneyland.

One guide told them she got her pass after a car accident. "I'm here to make sure everyone has fun at Disneyland and we get on as many rides as possible. I have a special card that's going to help us beat the lines. She charged $50 an hour for her services.

A second disabled guide charged $200 and got them right through another side door at Star Tours, an attraction inspired by "Star Wars."

The list goes on including Splash Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Alice in Wonderland.

The reporters asked their guide about the fact they were profiting from what they were doing. The responses speaks volumes about the greed that has infected our society and a lack of personal responsibility, apathy toward the consequences of one’s actions, and total insensitivity to right and wrong. It has become endemic in our entitlement society today.

Here is the exchange with one guide:

"You're profiting from this," the reporters said.

"Well, Disneyland's profiting a lot from all the people that enter," she said.

"Will you continue to do this?"

"Yes, I will," she said. "We live in a capitalist country, and I don't feel like it's morally wrong."

The reporters interviewed the second guide whether he felt guilty about what he was doing. His response was scarier than the first guide from a moral point of view.

"Do you think you're abusing the system, the reporters asked?"

"No," he said.

"Why not?"

"I gave him a wonderful tour."

"With your disabled pass, where you went through side entrances and exits," the reporters pointed out. "And they're not disabled at all. They're complete strangers. And you charged them for it."

"And?" the guide said.

"Do you ever feel any pangs of guilt when you're cutting past all of those people who are waiting in line with people who are paying you, who aren't disabled at all?" they asked.

"It's a moral question."

"And that's the question, you don't feel morally --"

"I couldn't care less," the guide said.

"About those people waiting in line," we said.


Disney issued a statement: "We find it deplorable ... We have initiated a review of this abuse and will take appropriate steps to deter this type of unacceptable activity."

The reporters stated Disney is cracking down, sending out warning letters to anyone advertising these services online. And if they catch any of these "disabled tour guides" in the act, their disabled passes will be revoked, and they won't be allowed back into the park.

The essence of the ethical issues can be found in virtue theory. Virtues are the characteristics of excellence that lead a person to follow a moral path in life. Virtues such as honesty, trustworthiness, responsibility, and accountability speak to the personal characteristics that a virtuous person should have. Characteristics such as wealth, power, and fame are selfish virtues that sometimes lead to a lack of sensitivity about how one’s actions based on such behavioral traits might affect others.

I am not at all surprised by the fact some people choose to abuse the disabled pass policy of Disney for personal gain. There are all too many people in society who look for the easy way to make money rather than through hard work and dedication to the job at hand, two qualities that built this nation.

During the past twenty years or so we have raised a generation that is tone deaf to ethical issues. Their attitude is my ethics are my ethics and no one can tell me otherwise. They even think you impinge on their rights if you try to enforce a set of standards on them that they don’t buy into.

From corruption in business, corruption in government, cheating in sports, misuse of power and authority (i.e., the IRS), to cyber-bullying, cyber-hacking, identity theft, increasing violence in our schools, to a general lack of civility in society, we have morphed into a country built on the pursuit of self-interest without regard to the consequences of our actions on others. I fear that our moral blindness as a nation will soon lead to a marked and sustained decline in our economic power as a country because evil will outweigh good; greed will outweigh benevolence; and disdain will outweigh respect for others. It is a slippery slope and the slide has begun in earnest.

Blog posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on June 4, 2013