A new report from The Washington Post confirms the rumor that several third-party tour guides have been trespassed from Walt Disney World property and includes a statement from The Walt Disney Company.
Disney Trespassing Third-Party Tour Guides
The Washington Post spoke to eight third-party tour operators and company owners who have recently been trespassed (i.e. banned) from Walt Disney World, including Melinda Hanks of Create a Dream.
Hanks would help families by setting up Genie+, recommending rides, and escorting them around theme parks. With no warning, she was issued a trespassing order on October 2 when attempting to enter a park to meet with clients.
“I’m not some criminal,” Hanks told security officers. She has been visiting Walt Disney World since she was a child and moved to Orlando from Wisconsin to be closer to the parks. “Disney is everything to me; it’s my entire life. I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Though third-party tours are not explicitly listed as prohibited, they are commercial services, which are against the rules of Walt Disney World. Until recently, Disney mostly ignored third-party tours. They said in an emailed statement to The Washington Post that they are taking additional steps to enforce rules against commercial activities because of a “significant increase in these rule violations.”
Disney noted that third-party tour guides have sold services like access to Genie+, Disability Access Service, dining reservations, hotel reservations, and other in-park offerings.
“When this activity happens,” a Disney spokesperson said, “it impacts the experience of other guests following the rules — including our guests with disabilities — and impedes our theme park operations. Just like Starbucks would not permit a third party to come into their stores to sell coffee to their customers, Disney does not permit unauthorized commercial activities in its theme parks.”
Another third-party tour guide, Alayna Crutchfield of Elevate Amusement, told the Post, “No one ever thought this would happen. We would like a seat at the table. They’ve really knocked out every bit of ability that we have to fight this.”
Crutchfield received a one-year trespass notice. She contacted Disney about lifting the ban and received a letter from Walt Disney World security VP Linda Reid that said, “We reviewed your request and the information concerning the conduct that resulted in the trespass being issued against you. Regrettably, we decline to lift the trespass at this time.”
A spokesperson for the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said that trespass orders are issued at the discretion of the property owner. “We don’t inquire about someone’s occupation,” the spokesperson wrote in an email, “reasons why the person is on the property or any ancillary information.”
The third-party guides that The Washington Post spoke to said they have not heard of similar bans happening to their California counterparts.
Trespassed guides have since had to find other jobs. Hanks said she has made peace with Disney’s decision but felt feels anxiety about suddenly having to reroute her family’s livelihood.
“It almost just feels like this was taken away from us,” Hanks said. “I love Disney — I want to work with Disney.”
Walt Disney World offers their own private VIP tour guide services. These can be costly, ranging from $450 to $900 per hour, depending on the season. Third-party guides offered similar services for prices closer to the $150 to $300 range.