Disney’s Minimum Wage Increase Is Still Under “Livable Wages” For Cast Members

in Walt Disney World

Disney World Cast Members

Credit: Disney

When it comes to living in a place where most people come for vacation, things can tend to get a little pricey. In many areas, there are tourist price jumps, so residents in Orlando must always be on the lookout for a fair deal. Although many of us are lucky to be able to visit the theme parks whenever we would like if we purchased an Annual Pass for either Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando Resort, making sure you do not purchase a $10.000 cookie while you visit is also crucial as one must remember: this is not a vacation.

Cast members at Walt disney world resort
Credit: Jeff Vahle via Instagram

Now, both Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort are both paying their Cast Members and Team Members $15.00 an hour, which is dramatically higher than the state of Florida’s minimum wage, which is only $10.00 an hour. When the news broke that both theme parks would hike their minimum wage, it was great news to see that the companies cared about the quality of life that their employees would have outside of work. But, is $15.00 per hour enough to survive?

Disney World Cast Members
Credit: Disney

If we look at the living wage calculator, it states that for a single adult living in Orlando, the livable wage is $15.44. If you have a child, that number more than doubles. The number continues to flux depending on how many people you live with and if you have children, but the base remains to be $15.44. Of course, we can see that both Disney and Universal are close to this, but not quite there.

Disney World Cast Member Name Tags
Credit: Disney

During the pandemic, the Orlando rental and housing market became a hot one, as many have moved to the state of Florida. This dramatically increased the cost of living in the area, as prices continued to rise due to the massive demand. As an example, when looking at a two-bedroom apartment in Orlando, I personally was quoted a rent of $1850.00 per month, which was already relatively high. Then one month later was contacted by the complex again to offer an available apartment, with a rental cost jump to $2,100.00 per month.

I spoke with the management team about these price hikes, and they noted that many complexes are no longer operating at a fixed cost, as the price will change with demand. If the complex is full, then the rent will be high once a room is available; if they need to fill occupancy, they will drop the cost of rent.

Universal Team Members
Credit: Universal

Knowing this, then right away, we can look at the same living wage calculator and can see that it is wrong. The site quotes average rent costs between $11,000 – $14,000 annually in most cases. If we look at Rent Cafe, a more updated site, the average rent in Orlando is $1,600 a month (a 14% increase from last year), which bumps the annual cost to $19,000 approximately. After looking at the expense of over 20 apartment complexes in Orlando, I can say that this is accurate for the time and even tends to sway towards the price of a one-bedroom cost, as a two-bedroom tends to be more towards the $1,800.00 a month price point.

Universal Orlando team member prepares for reopening with new health and safety guidelines
Credit: Universal Orlando

On top of this, one must account for food, car payments, gas, bills, and necessitates to achieve a “livable” lifestyle. Unfortunately, with minimum wage not even reaching $15.44, and now, knowing that the livable wage numbers calculations are thousands of dollars off, the livable wage would likely need to be much higher. Of course, in each company, there are roles that can allow their employees to make more money, but it seems that at its base, many would have to make sacrifices, have external financial support, or ensure they have roommates in order to make their payments without worry.

What do you think of the $15.00 minimum wage? Let us know in the comments below! 

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