Disneyland Resort in Anaheim is considered the “Happiest Place on Earth” for its Guests, with its magical experiences, themed attractions, and character sightings.
Some Disneyland Cast Members, however, filed a lawsuit this year claiming Disney is not paying them enough to make the magic happen.
Now, an Orange County Judge has ruled that Disneyland is not subject to an Anaheim ballot measure on minimum wage increases.
We recently reported on how Disney workers filed a lawsuit against the company, claiming that Disney does not pay its employees a living wage.
According to the lawsuit, the City of Anaheim is using tax dollars from Disney to pay off the construction of the Mickey and Friends parking structure at the Disneyland Resort. The Mickey and Friends parking structure has long been a point of contention for the City of Anaheim, which paid over $100 million for the lot to be built and Disney received a lease from the city for $1 per year.
Disney, in turn, now charges a minimum of $30 per car — extra for preferred parking and larger vehicles. Disney gets to keep all of the profit it makes from the parking garage.
The ballot measure, which was approved by voters in 2018, required businesses who receive subsidies from the City of Anaheim to raise their minimum wage to at least $15 an hour in 2019, and then by one dollar each year, leading to $18 by 2022.
Disney contended that the Mickey and Friends parking structure is not a subsidy. Amid public lobbying for higher pay and better benefits for employees, Disneyland resort-area workers and the unions representing them backed the minimum wage measure.
An Orange County Judge has now ruled that Disneyland and its contractors are not required to follow the guidelines of the 2018 ballot measure.
The Orange County Register reports
In an Oct. 29 decision, Orange County Superior Court Judge William D. Claster said while Disney benefited from 1996 agreements with Anaheim that use hotel taxes to pay debt on a parking structure for Disneyland visitors, those agreements don’t constitute a tax rebate or a subsidy as described in the ballot measure.
Shortly before the 2018 measure went up for a vote, Disney officials had pointedly canceled tax incentive agreements with the city that would have channeled several hundred million dollars in hotel room taxes toward helping the company build a high-end hotel.
Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster said in a statement:
“While we never want to see a dispute like this play out in court, we appreciate the judge’s determination. It validates what we already knew and have said – the city of Anaheim does not provide any rebate or subsidy to Disney.”
He added that the agreement at issue in the lawsuit, which built the Mickey & Friends parking structure, was:
“part of a $1.9 billion expansion of The Anaheim Resort from 1997 to 2001. The expansion was a public-private partnership reflecting shared interests in Anaheim’s visitor economy. It has been a great return on investment for our city, residents, and neighborhoods.”
It will be interesting to see how Disneyland Resort Cast Members react to the Judge’s ruling. According to the Coalition of Resort Labor Unions, more than 85% of union workers at Disneyland earned less than $15 an hour at the time of the 2018 report, which was released before the ballot measure was approved.
At this time, Disney has not made a public comment about the ruling.
Cast Members over at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida began making a minimum of $15 per hour beginning October 3, 2021. That wage hike has really made a huge difference to many Cast Members and some now feel a large weight lifted off of their shoulders.
Keep up to date with Inside the Magic to hear more updates on this story.
What do you think about the recent minimum wage ruling?