A Disney World dream vacation turned into a financial nightmare for a group of 120 dance students from Tennessee.
Blue Sky Journeys, a travel agency which claims to be Disney-authorized, has been accused of scamming the group out of more than $60,000 by accepting payments and then failing to make the agreed-upon travel arrangements, according to a Fox 17 WZTV report. Earlier this month, agency owner Melanie Swoap and her husband John Swoap were indicted on the charge—of stealing between $60,000 and $250,000, according to Nashville Scene—by a Williamson County grand jury. If convicted, they face eight to 12 years in prison.
District Attorney Kim Helper told WZTV that John Swoap also faces charges related to trying to deposit a couple of the dancers' checks twice—first electronically and then in person. Reached by phone at the number for Blue Sky Journeys (whose website is currently disabled), Swoap would not talk about the incident, except to say, “My wife is the owner. But we have no comment.”
The school, according to WZTV, arranged the Disney World trip as a way to expose the dancers to the realities of performing for major outlets like Broadway and Disney. The trip had been booked since August 2012 through Blue Sky, but when the families arrived in Orlando, they found that the shuttle-pass numbers provided by the Swoaps didn’t work. Then they got to the hotel only to find they had no rooms reserved—and no passes for the theme park. Several parents presented credit cards to book rooms and passes on the spot, and the trip went on as planned.