Being banned from Walt Disney World is, to me, the worst fate imaginable. I spend a lot of time at theme parks and covering them is my job, so not being able to visit them would be a fate worse than death. The good news is that you usually have to do something pretty terrible to get banned. You must be pretty drunk, fighting in Fantasyland, or flat out refusing to follow the Cast Member’s instructions. But now it appears that Disney World is banning a number of people from the parks, all for doing a job that many have been doing for years.
Third-party tour guides have been available to customers for years, even decades in some cases. They hire guests who want help navigating the parks, especially those who are disabled and really need some extra help. But Insider reports that Disney World is cracking down on the practice, and several third-party tour guides have received trespassing notices barring them from the resort. This happens to guides while they are waiting to enter the park with clients.
This leaves the tour guide without a functioning business and several guests, who had already booked trips, without the assistance they expected to get. Disney World calls this practice an “unauthorized commercial activity.” Resort policies state that it is against the rules for those who do not work at the resort to make money on the property, and even if money changes hands elsewhere, the tour guide is part of the business transaction and occurs on the property.
While the practice of third-party tour guides may break the rules, the fact is that many guides have been operating inside the resort for years without issue. None of the guides kept what they were doing a secret, so many in the resort were aware of it, which makes one wonder why this is happening now.
A Disney spokesperson told Insider the crackdown was ongoing due to an increase in abuse of the disability access service. Disney World offers a service to help people with disabilities navigate the park. This includes allowing them to avoid having to queue, although they still have to wait an equivalent period of time before accessing the attractions.
Although none of the tour guides interviewed in the story admitted to violating the DAS, some said it was well known that some did, telling their clients what to say at Disney World in order to gain access from DAS to attractions when they do not. This is not really admissible. I can certainly personally testify that many people do this at Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
The tour guides all reportedly received a lifetime ban from Disney World, which could be appealed, but only after the first year. The fact that this is being done without warning certainly indicates that Disney World is not interested in making any sort of deal. These companies are effectively bankrupt.