Getting banned from Walt Disney World is, for me, just about 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 would be a fate worse than death. The good news is that you usually have to do something fairly terrible to get banned. You have to get pretty drunk, get in a fight in Fantasyland, or outright refuse to follow Cast Member instructions. But now it appears that Disney World is banning quite a few people from the parks, all for doing a job many have been doing for years.
Third-party tour guides have been available to guests for years, even decades in some cases. They hire themselves out to guests who want help navigating the parks, especially those who are disabled and really need the extra help. But Insider reports that Disney World is cracking down on the practice and that several of the third-party tour guides have received trespass notices banning them from the resort. This is happening to the guides while they are waiting to enter the park with clients.
This leaves the tour guide without a functional business, and several guests, who had already booked trips, without the assistance they were expecting to get. Disney World is calling the practice “unauthorized commercial activity." The resort’s policies state that is against the rules for those who don’t work at the resort to make money on property, and while the money changes hands elsewhere, the tour guiding is part of the commercial transaction and is happening on property.
While the practice of third-party tour guides may violate the rules, the fact is many of the guides have been operating inside the resort for years without issue. None of the guides were keeping what they were doing a secret, so many within the resort were aware, leading to the question of why this is happening now.
A Disney spokesperson told Insider that the crackdown is happening now due to an uptick in abuse of the Disability Access Service. Disney World offers the service to help disabled people navigate the park. It Includes allowing them to avoid having to wait in line, though they still have to wait an equivalent period of time before accessing attractions.
While none of the tour guides interviewed in the story admit to violating the DAS, some did say that it's well known that there are those who do, telling their clients what to say to Disney World in order to get DAS access to attractions when they don’t actually qualify. I can certainly testify personally that there are plenty of individuals who do this at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
The tour guides are reportedly all receiving lifetime bans from Disney World, which can be appealed, but only after the first year. The fact that this is being done without warning certainly indicates Disney World isn't interested in working out any sort of deal. These companies are effectively out of business.