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Spending part of my youth in relative close proximity to Disneyland was a wondrous thing, in part because I was still too ignorant to realize the depths of humankind's capacity for wanton, selfish prickery. After my emergence from tweenhood, it would be decades before I set foot in another Disney park, this time the one located directly in the center of the state that's rapidly becoming more known for flakka and the Zika virus than any vestiges of Southern hospitality. And by this point I had learned a little bit about human nature, yet I was still disappointed to learn that the "Happiest Place On Earth" is often where you can find the worst examples society has to offer, such as ...

Service Dog Frauds

Via pixabay.com

The above breed of vigilant pooch, along with Labradors and golden retrievers, are the ones we typically associate with the service dog industry. But the blind no longer have a monopoly on these fuzzy, working relationships. Now that conditions like diabetes, epilepsy, and even PTSD have also been shown to benefit from the company of a canine companion, so too has the range of breeds employed as service dogs expanded. And so it is we've come to this:

Via pinterest.com
"I know I missed a couple insurance payments, but there's no need for them
to get passive-aggressive about it."

I don't mean to disparage all the highly trained schnitzerdoodles and yorkiepoos who carry out their duty with honor and distinction. Heck, even miniature horses can be pressed into legitimate therapeutic service nowadays. However, along with the breed (and species) variation, another thing that's expanded is the number of people who are gaming the system -- by obtaining dubious online paperwork along with a brightly colored vest, fraudulently claiming their pet is a service animal, and then taking their filthy beast into restaurants, onto planes, and to piss and shit all over the grounds of eager-to-accommodate theme parks. And despite the fact that this sort of activity is a federal crime, the Americans With Disabilities Act has made it just as illegal to demand proof of whether an animal is bona fide or not. So some individuals, emboldened by this loophole, don't even bother to confine their chicanery to mammals.

Via dogingtonpost.com
"When the crosswalk light turns green, he lets me know by pissing down my shirt and giving me salmonella."

The fact that theme parks put a lot of people in close quarters with one another can make for some big problems when you add an unruly dog into the mix. And if you think paying some shady dude to print out a fake certificate (that says your purse Chihuahua is a vital part of your dyspepsia treatment or some shit) for the purposes of bringing your furry accomplice into one is a victimless crime, you might reassess your opinion after you've been assaulted by a min-pin while waiting in line for the Matterhorn. Or stared in horrified wonder as a pink poodle goes on a fecal rampage through the souvenir stores.

Via poodleforum.com
She had to listen to that "Let It Go" song one time too many; we all have our breaking point.

Until the Byzantine clusterfuck of rules and regulations regarding what is and what isn't a service animal is clarified, there's really no downside for those with an annoying mutt and a lack of scruples to lie their way onto It's A Small World and leave steaming mementos all over the dancing Eskimos. So for now you're just going to have to deal with the occasional snarling lap mongrel menacing you in line, while its Mickey-hat-wearing owner joins in on the snarling with, "He's my emotional support dog! He's mad at you!"

Via dogingtonpost.com
"Toddler mangling is the only thing that soothes my acid reflux."

People Who Hire Disabled "Guides"

Via pixabay.com

A lot of misbehavior in public settings can be chalked up to ignorance, impatience, or simple misunderstandings. But when you willfully hire a disabled person just to ride on a motherfucking teacup a little bit sooner, you've officially joined the ranks of the world's most magnificent turds.

Via pixabay.com
"Aw, shit. My hat fell off on the log ride. Here's 5 bucks to go get it."

Before Disney was forced to make changes in their policies regarding such matters, it used to be that people with disabilities were allowed to jump to the front of lines for rides. It's just a nice thing to do, right? Nobody, not even Cruella de Vil or that dickbag Pete The Cat would be so despicably loathsome as to take selfish advantage of something like that, right? Well, of course they would, and new rules had to be drawn up when it came to light that people were hiring the handicapped as "guides," allowing entire groups to cheat their way in front of everyone else.

Via youtube.com
"Any thoughts on sucking so hard Disney is thinking of hiring you as a black hole on Space Mountain?"

Don't be feeling too sorry for the "guides" -- imagining them like desperate little Tiny Tims just doing what they had to do for survival. Because some of them (like the woman in this video) somehow managed to obtain a handicapped pass for things like "knee and back problems," while gleefully and jauntily accompanying her customers throughout the park for 50 bucks an hour. All while completely unencumbered by something so troublesome as a wheelchair or a crutch. And I'm not suggesting that all disabilities have to be visible to be real, but I get the feeling from all the giggly gloating going on that she just might be bullshitting a wee bit.

Via pixabay.com
"Come to think of it, it did seem strange when she challenged Tigger to a twerk off."

So, sorry about that, cancer kids and wounded veterans, but thanks to that age old partnership of selfishness and greed, it looks like you'll have to wait in the hot sun for hours like everyone else to be bored stupid in The Hall Of Presidents. So what are those with more disposable income than patience and decency going to do now that this particular jig is up? Well, they could always just cut out the middleman entirely and join up with the ...

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Mobility Scooter Abusers

Via capturingmagicalmemories.com

There's another ridiculous reason Disney likely felt compelled to alter their handicapped policies. Because hiring a handicapped-pass-empowered "guide" can get rather pricey, some visitors presumably tried to save a few bucks by straight-up faking it with the help of a mobility scooter. That's right, these people couldn't even make the effort to actually manually operate a wheelchair like a proper grifter. They would just rent out a scooter for their nefarious purposes and further add to the number of dubious Rascal wranglers that were rapidly making the Happiest Place On Earth look like a sale on funnel cake at Walmart.

Again, there are of course those who require the use of a scooter to facilitate their enjoyment of the park. But unless the world suddenly experienced a rampant and sudden heretofore unpublicized cramping epidemic in the last 10 years or so, it very well might be that selfish cunning and audacious sloth are the actual conditions plaguing Main Street, USA. The sheer amount of scooters in one place is remarkable, even for Florida, and I'm not the only one who has a hard time believing they're all being utilized for purely medical reasons. To illustrate, here is a shattered husk of a man for whom a mobility scooter is clearly appropriate:

Via dailymail.co.uk

And here is a rather fitter-than-average person for whom one does not appear to be:

Via dailymail.co.uk
Whoops, My bad. Looks like she's wearing a boot there. Must have something to do with that lead foot

But hey, the country's getting fatter every year, so maybe there are just more people who actually need a little motorized assistance once they reach middle age, when self propulsion becomes an undue hardship due to cankle interference. But using such devices to barge in front of children en route to get a better seat for the Doc McStuffins live show? That's a little harder to rationalize. Here's a typical account from a poster named ptdreher on WDWMagic.com:

I found myself getting desensitized to people with disabilities because I don't know if everyone is legitimate or not. I think there should be a handicap certification for these vehicles so you we can provide proper assistance to those who need it. I saw too many folks riding the scooters up to a ride and using the benefits of handicap access and then walking just fine and allowing a family member to ride the vehicle later on.

But how do you even address a situation like this without potentially making life more complicated for those who really do need the scooters? What kind of restrictions could possibly be put into place without violating all sorts of rights and outraging the public at large? Disney's already been sued (unsuccessfully) because assholes made it impossible to continue providing preferential treatment to those with disabilities. So are we doomed to a dark future where vacations in Orlando will start to resemble a clown-car pile-up on the New Jersey Turnpike? I guess we'll just have to deal with it. For now, however, let's at least try to get a law passed that requires the removal of the horns.

Adults With Semi-Realistic, Child-Confusing Costumes

Via disneyboundgoeslive.tumblr.com

You can't travel 20 yards in a Disney park without running into a little girl in a princess costume or a boy in Jedi gear. (Or vice-versa. You do you, kids.) That's just plain adorable. You know what's not so much, though? Fully grown tourists who feel it necessary to put their half-assed cosplay sensibilities out on public display, in the process perplexing the crap out of those previously mentioned little kids. Because a 6-year-old is naturally going to wonder why their favorite movie characters are wearing such shitty homemade get-ups. And possibly if their appearance might be an indicator of an impending mental break, or perhaps some kind of drastic life change.

Via popsugar.com
"Mommy? When did Huey, Dewey, and Louie transition?"

There's actually a term (aside from "watchlist candidate") for the practice of adults cobbling together random closet bric-a-brac to transform themselves into low-rent doppelgangers of cartoon characters: Disneybounding. And before the powers that be wisely started prohibiting anyone 14 and older from playing dress-up at the expense of their copyrighted characters' dignity, making random passersby wince with a combination of thrift store purchases and poor method acting was all the rage among the sort of folks you'd be wise not to employ as public relations consultants.

Via orlandosentinel.com
"I'm sorry Jim, but we're going to have to let you go. If you had posted kidnapping fantasies
on your Facebook page, that would be one thing. But this is inexcusable."

Now far be it from me to ruin someone's well-intentioned good time, and during Halloween this sort of thing would be acceptable. But after a while I got pretty damn sick of explaining to my kids that the man in the striped shirt and glued-on mutton chops was not in fact Smee but was closer in age and demeanor to the guy behind the counter at the mall where I used to buy Doc Martens. And the confusion only increased once they placed themselves next to one of the real, presumably highly consternated "cast members" working the crowds.

Via disneyfanatic.com
"I'm, uh, late. For a very important date. Away from you people."

In addition to the disconcertingly large number of websites still in existence that are devoted solely to Disneybounding, there are also businesses that cater specifically to this aberrant behavior -- with questionable outfits ranging from an uncivilized Scotsman to the morbidly obese pachyderm. And while the new park rules may have significantly cut into these businesses' market share, they still might do decently well among those looking for last-minute gift ideas this coming holiday season. Because what better way is there to express your true feelings than the gift of an ensemble inspired by a cartoon elephant?

Via pinterest.com
Those feelings specifically being, "I want a divorce."

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People Who Dispose Of Their Dead Relatives' Remains

Via disney.wikia.com

For decades rumors have swirled of an alarming trend taking place at Disney theme parks -- that some people were dumping the cremated ashes of their dead relatives during some of the darker, indoor attractions. While there's no official confirmation that this phenomenon is actually taking place, plenty of former employees allege that it's a relatively common occurrence. And some of them have even pleaded online for the perpetrators to cut it out, since they're basically dooming their departed loved ones to a final destination of getting sucked up into a shop vac and unceremoniously tossed in a dumpster.

In 2007, a brief ruckus ensued when a woman was reported to be sprinkling an unidentified substance over the side of the Pirates Of The Caribbean boat she was riding in. Though panicked staff immediately shut the ride down, neither the substance (described as a powder that dissipated quickly in the water) nor the culprit were ever found. Disney disputed any possibility that whatever it was that got dispersed could be human remains, because of course they did. This was relatively easy to do, seeing as how the police declined to even investigate the incident due to lack of evidence. In fact, The House Of Mouse's official stance is that nobody has ever scattered ashes at the park, despite the fact that they get requests for it on a regular basis and allegedly have a specific protocol in place to deal with the aftermath.

Via disney.wikia.com
It's used as makeup to add to the realism of the lacquered, robotic hobo carcasses that are still in service today.

They can deny it all they want, but to think that nobody's ever flown their Aunt Gertrude's urn out to the Magic Kingdom to give her pulverized bones a hygienically questionable sendoff would be delusional. Because as the forums at WDWMagic.com plainly illustrate, the world is filled with people like this:

My mother recently told me she wanted to be creamated and that her ashes were to be spread near some flamingo pond in WDW(I forget where exactly). I just wondered... is there some sort of outdoor vaccum that they use around the park..lol..or is there anything in a dead persons ashes that would kill a flamingo? Cause I know things make chickens explode and stuff. Anybody have any advice on any of these topics? especially if you have a better place in mind.

Undertakers in the know call this activity wildcat scatterings, and whether it takes place on a public beach, a golf course, or over the side of a Haunted Mansion Doombuggy, it's a health code violation of the highest order. So if measles concerns aren't enough to strap a surgical face mask on your kids during certain portions of the Disney experience, maybe you'll wish you had when you have to explain to Child Protective Services how exactly they managed to come down with a case of bronchitis brought on by the inhalation of desiccated corpse particulate.

Via giphy.com
Word has it the Mansion was originally intended to be a Snow White exhibit,
until all the asbestos deaths gave them another idea.

Rich Guests Who Demand The Right To Feed The Gators

Via pixabay.com

Not long ago a family from Nebraska, while vacationing at a Disney World resort, lost their young son to the jaws of an alligator. It was about the most hideously unthinkable thing that could ever happen to a parent. But it shouldn't have been much of a surprise to the folks at Disney, and not just because those "Imagineers" they keep on the payroll should have been thinking outside the box. Because it turns out Disney knew about the problem for a while. Unless they somehow mistook this giant, carnivorous reptile, filmed climbing onto the raft that transports guests to Tom Sawyer Island, for an animatronic gone rogue from the Peter Pan ride.

Via youtube.com
You know, the ones that gain sentience and rampage through the local suburbs occasionally. Allegedly.

That troubling incident happened only weeks before the widely publicized attack, and it was hardly isolated. Here's another bloodthirsty crocodilian from 2009, this time actually doing (oddly casual) battle with an employee (with what may or may not be a gator 'rasslin stick kept immediately on hand for exactly this purpose) right at the base of motherfucking Splash Mountain.

These sorts of near-misses aren't even as recent as this millennium. Check out this account from exactly 30 years ago, and see if any of the details ring a bell:

Joseph and Roberta Santamaria sued last week in federal court in Orlando seeking an unspecified amount in damages for them and their son Paul, now 9, who was attacked at a pond at the Fort Wilderness campground in October 1986. The suit says the boy was pulled into the pond by the gator while he was kneeling and feeding ducks. He was rescued by a brother who knocked the reptile on the head and his sister, who pulled Paul out of the gator's mouth. The boy suffered knee and thigh injuries. The suit charges Disney failed to warn visitors about the alligator, which often sought out people to feed it after "losing its fear of humans."

Via conservativeoutfitters.com
An unfortunate plot development that could not be solved through true love's kiss.

That last part is important. But why were the gators in the vicinity becoming so bold, creeping up on humans like carnivorous pigeons to a senior citizen tossing bits of meatloaf from a park bench? Well, it turns out tourists have been feeding these cold-blooded deathbringers for years. And the reason that Disney didn't take the strict safety measures that one might expect was reportedly because they didn't want to upset the wealthy guests staying in their upscale resorts, who loved tossing the reptiles treats from the safety of their elevated bungalows. In fact, the presence of the alligators may have all been part of a grand scheme, as one "insider" told The Wrap: "With the opening of the bungalows, it brought the guests that much closer to wildlife. Or, the wildlife that much closer to the guests."

Via pixabay.com
To their credit, any live chickens had to be purchased off-site.

A lot of (horrible) people placed the blame squarely on the parents when their toddler was dragged to an untimely death. But I was on that same beach a year before, and I can tell you right now that an alligator attack was the last thing you would expect. Yes, we were in Florida, but this is a man-made lake in the Happiest Place On Earth we're talking about. And while there were "No Swimming" signs around, I didn't see a single one mentioning that a creature whose bite power could lift a truck might be nearby. When my wife asked why swimming wasn't allowed, she was told it had to do with "bacteria levels," and I will be happy to sign an affidavit affirming same. Combine that with the fact that every night there are fireworks and "electric water pageants" drawing visitors close to shore, and the tragedy seems inevitable in retrospect. As inevitable as a douchebag in a beach-adjacent bungalow taking selfies while dropping the remainder of a room-service Mickey burger into the jaws of a predator.

E. Reid Ross also pokes various creatures with a stick over at The Featured Creature. Feel free to follow him on Twitter here.

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