Economic Turmoil Leaves Thousands Homeless at Disney’s Front Door

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cinderella castle at Walt Disney World

Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is known as “The Most Magical Place on Earth”, offering the millions of Guests who visit it each year some truly incredible experiences and memories that will last a lifetime. For many families, a trip to Walt Disney World is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, as it can be quite expensive to visit.

Since COVID-19 took over the world in early 2020, this has only become more true.

disney world 50th castle
Credit: ITM Rebekah B.

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In the past few years, we have seen Disney ticket prices increase, food portion sizes shrink, and the overall experience of Disney change. While there are still many things for Guests to be excited about at the Resort, some are simply claiming that they have been “priced out” of their dream vacation.

Sadly, this is not just an issue within the Disney Resort in Florida but the entire state as a whole. A story from Daily Mail UK highlights the sad reality of many living within arms reach of this land of fairytales.

disney world cinderella castle wedding aisle evening
Credit: Disney

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Along the busy US Route 192, tented encampments have sprung up. In historic downtown, Kissimmee people have resulted to living in their cars. Unfortunately, a majority of the homeless population of them are newly homeless locals, hit by the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Others were reported to have moved to the Sunshine State hoping their lives would improve in an area dominated by Disney’s wealthy economy, only to find unapproachable rent prices.

Anyone who has visited Walt Disney World, at least by car, will have surely noticed the surrounding area has been completely dominated by the popularity of the Park. The motels all have their signs wrapped in purple and gold supports, while bus stops feature shelters with the exact same Disney coloring.

disney world american flag with cinderella castle
Credit: Disney

Most motels enforce a two-week maximum stay, keeping many potential Guests from turning the building into a permanent residency. These motels are no longer particularly cheap, charging between $1,200 and $1,400 a month.

Shockingly, these prices are still below median asking rents in the Orlando-metro area which have risen 57% to an average of around $2,300. Unfortunately, there is no single solution or answer to his issue.

Partners statue at Disneyland Resort
Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney World Resort has always found itself surrounded by poorer areas, though this is not too surprising considering how expensive a Disney trip actually is. Cast Members have even struggled to keep up with the cost of living. This issue is not exclusive to the Sunshine state either, with Disneyland Cast Members also speaking out about wages and how Disney treats its employees.

In addition to wage concerns, more than half (59%) of Disneyland Resort employees who are parents of young children say that their schedules at the Park make it difficult to care for their families and children. 64% of Cast Members report that “the scheduling of my work at the Disneyland Resort makes it difficult to find a second job.”

“I have been working for Disneyland for almost 28 years and I make less than $20 an hour. If I didn’t have my husband to help with the bills and other life expenses, I would be living out of my car, or worse, homeless. Disney has increased admission tickets, food & merchandise has increased too. Yet, the front of line ‘Cast Members’ are struggling to pay their mortgage/rent, groceries, transportation and other daily/monthly bills. I am not asking to get rich by working for Disney, but I am asking for fair pay for fair work. I expect to be able to not worry, to not stress, about having food to eat and a roof over my head,” a Disneyland Cast Member of 28 years said.

For more on this story as well as the stories of those personally affected, click here.

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