If you've ever been to Orlando to seek out family fun and entertainment, you have seen the side-of-the-road ticket hucksters selling discounted tickets for everything Disney, plus the myriad of other parks, including Sea World and Universal. And if you've seen them in years past, the trick was that the discount was tied to you taking a tour of a local time-share resort — you'd get a $60 or $70 ticket for $20 and would have to give up 90 minutes of your time taking a high-pressure sales tour of some piece of shit property you had no intention of ever visiting, let alone patronizing.
These ticket sales are on every corner — literally if you cruise 192 in Kissimmee just south an west of the Disney main gate. So here we are, spring break in warm and sunny FLA. And the thought of saving money to send my family back to the Magic Kingdom — for about the 5th time in the past 10 years — and the fact that most of them now advertise "no tours necessary." Okay, I'm paying attention.
Finally decided on one set up inside a gas station. Go inside expecting to see some thug peddling tickets from a corner booth and to my surprise, it's a well-lit office area of about 400 square feet. There is a line and a counter with 3 different gents (or thugs) selling tickets to all sorts of folks — you can hear 3 different languages being spoken. I was felling a little better about the transaction I was about to make.
Then Ralphie (that's how he introduced himself to me) says "look, if they ask, it isn't your first visit to the park — it's your second or third." WTF? He tells me that they buy unused portions of multi-day passes and re-sell them to visitors. "And if the finger print scan signals a red-light, grab the card and put it through again and just look confused." Okay, I'm looking pretty confused at him right then. He goes on that "99% of my customers have no problem getting in with my tickets." Quick, pass the hand sanitizer because I feel a little dirty.
So much is going through my mind: I am doing the math in my head — savings will total about $140 and weighing against any possible outcome. I am sending in my wife and two youngest along with our sister-in-law and her two youngest — worst thing that can happen is that THEY become part of Ralphie's 1%. Security comes, they confess (which would happen quickly) and maybe get an opportunity to buy real tickets. Who knows, maybe they get a day in the Disney holding cell — but how bad could that be? (Think of the memories the kids would have of that!) What a sinking feeling but in the end, I'm handing over $360 in cash to a guy who buttoned his shirt in the morning and didn't line up the right button with the correct hole! My instinct says walk away but my head is saying "don't be a wuss — take a chance and save a few bucks."
I dropped the crew off at the Magic Kingdom and waited in the guest drop-off area — told my wife to call me as soon as they were in. Sat staring at the phone from the moment they got out of the van, getting a horrible feeling in my belly with each passing minute. She called about 15 minutes later and said they got in fine. What a relief.
Not sure I'll do that again anytime soon but for now, my best to Ralphie and his family.