A recently published book, “Sunbelt Blues: The Failure of American Housing,” has uncovered how Walt Disney World Resort Cast Members can barely get by on the wages The Walt Disney Company pays them.
When living in a location where most people go for a vacation, things can get a little pricey. There are tourist price hikes in many areas, so the residents who live in Orlando must always be looking for a fair deal.
Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World Resort are paying their Cast Members and Team Members well above the state of Florida’s minimum wage, which is only $11.00 an hour. When the news broke that both theme parks would hike their minimum wage last year, it was great news to see that the companies cared about the quality of life their employees would have outside of work. But is an annual low five-figure salary enough to survive on?
According to a report recently released by New York Post, households that the Walt Disney World Resort employs are barely able to feed their children. If we are being honest, the story makes working at the “Happiest Place on Earth” sound like a nightmare.
“Sunbelt Blues: The Failure of American Housing” highlights the story of 31-year-old Gabby Alcantara-Anderson, who has been a Cast Member at Disney World for nearly ten years. She and her family are barely able to afford anything. In the book, she describes during her interview that she has no savings, no nest egg, and sometimes not enough gas money to make the hour-and-a-half one-way drive to the Magic Kingdom for work.
She sleeps in the parking lot on nights when she doesn’t have enough money to make the drive home. When she does make it home, it’s generally in the middle of the night, and she struggles to find enough energy to cook dinner for her family the next day.
Alcantara-Anderson goes on to tell author Andrew Ross that at least nine guys on her team live together in the same two-bedroom apartment, with air mattresses, sleeping bags, and a couch. “They rotate through who gets the bed on certain nights,” she says. “They only have one bathroom, so they must ration shower time, and their clothes are all in trash bags.”
These conditions tend to sound like those witnessed in a prisoner-of-war camp and not for employees who are supposed to provide a magical experience for Disney Park Guests.
Unfortunately, in “Sunbelt Blues: The Failure of American Housing,” author Andrew Ross seems to encounter these same trends with almost every Disney Cast Member he interviews throughout his book. It is sad to see that these are realities that Cast Members face. What is even more shocking is how they can provide Guests with a magical experience with a smile while dealing with the realities they face at home.
Do you think that Walt Disney World Cast Members should be paid more? Let us know what you think by leaving us a comment below.