Hiring The Disabled: No Longer The Ultimate Fast Pass At Disney Parks

Waiting in line at Disney Parks can be avoided by a number of legitimate strategies. Get to the park early, stay late, legally use a free system in place that speeds things up and more. But nothing quite beats the instant access to rides granted to the disabled, a practice that had wealthy park visitors hiring savvy wheelchair-bound “guides” to bypass everyone else.

Paying over $100 per hour — $1,000 or more for the day — able-bodied park visitors posing as relatives of a handicapped went straight to an auxiliary entrance reserved for those with special needs. “My daughter waited one minute to get on ‘It’s a Small World’ — the other kids had to wait 2 1/2 hours,” said one mom in a New York Post article last May. Misuse of Disney’s Guest Assistance Card [GAC] program was so widespread that the theme park operator is discontinuing it in October.

In the new system, visitors with disabilities will be given an assigned return time equal to the estimated wait, one attraction at a time. Called the Disabled Assistance System [DAS], visitors with disabilities will still get “back door” access to attractions but will lose the time advantage they had under the old system vs. actually waiting in line.Does this sound a lot like Disney’s FastPass system? It’s not.

FastPass is a virtual queuing system that allows a limited number of guests per hour to go to the front of the line on certain attractions. Disability card users get a return time based on the actual wait time for the ride.

Clear Traveler: Register for a Fast Pass Through Airport Security

Willy wrote about the Clear Registered Traveler Program in February, but last week when I heard yet another story about someone who keeps getting pulled in for hours of questioning because of his name, I wondered if this pass might help fix that situation.

Let’s say you’re one of those people whose names (or looks) gets you stopped for hours of questioning each time you meet up with airport security. Maybe your name is on the No-Fly list. Or perhaps, airport security moves too darned slowly for your tastes–you’re a frequent traveler, and if you were paid for the hours you’ve waited in airport lines, you’d be a rich person.

As Willy wrote, the Clear Registered Traveler Program serves as an early security check-point that, once you’ve been approved and pay your membership fee, you get to breeze through the subscriber security line at the airport using your Clear pass. Here’s a recap of how it works. First, you go through a background check for TSA approval, and once you are found to be a-okay, you’re issued a card that has your encrypted fingerprint image or an iris scan. This is not a through the mail process, but involves an in-person visit.

At the airport, you insert your card into a kiosk that reads it and matches the card with your fingerprint when you put your finger on the scanner. Once cleared, you get a clearance stamp that shows TSA you are good to go. You and your baggage still have to go through TSA screening, but I assume this is faster? Otherwise, what’s the darned pass for? Still, it does sound very James Bondy or something. This is biometrics, baby.

Not all airports have this service, but the list is growing. Clear security lanes in La Guardia in New York are the lastest ones–they were to open this month.

The membership fee runs about $100 per year. Here’s the link for how to join. If your security status changes, your membership is revoked. By, the way, I’m not sure if this would work if your name is on the No Fly List even though you are not the person who is the security threat, but a person who has the same name.

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