Disney World is Facing a Workers Shortage, And Now We Know Why

in Disney, Disney Parks, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

a Cast Member talking to a young child at Disneyland

Credit: Disney

Everyone knows that when you take a trip to Walt Disney World, it’s the cast members that help to make the experience magical. They go above and beyond to ensure that every guest has the best possible experience and wants to return to Disney World every year.

However, finding these cast members has become increasingly difficult for The Walt Disney Company as some of Florida’s laws have made it more challenging to hire the kind of people Disney has in the past.

Cast member leads tour at Disneyland
Credit: Disney

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One year ago, the Florida Legislature passed SB 1718, which punishes employers for using undocumented immigrants as employees and forbids undocumented people from obtaining driver’s licenses in the state.

The law has had a particularly drastic effect on Florida’s farming industry, but it’s also impacted the tourism and construction industries, which impacts Disney World.

To comply with the law, the Walt Disney World Resort could not hire undocumented people to work in its theme parks or hotels. Thus, Disney, like other Florida theme parks, has had to rely more on international workers.

Last August, Disney World restarted its international program, which brings workers worldwide to parks. However, those workers are mainly within EPCOT.

Cast Member representative with headpiece, seated at a computer
Credit: Inside the Magic

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The Florida Policy Institute estimates this law has cost the state’s economy $12.6 billion in its first year, not including tax revenue.

Beyond the work in the parks, restaurants, and hotels, Disney World has big expansion plans that laborers need to complete. Disney plans to expand the Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom simultaneously, requiring twice as many workers.

Local roofing contractor David Crowther told NPR:

Years ago, you’d put an ad in a newspaper, [you’d have] a bunch of applications filled out. You’d have people lined up outside your door. If I knew I could get an unlimited supply of labor, I then would start hiring estimators and salesmen over to start promoting more work. It’s a domino effect.

So, with a limited workforce, Florida decided to fix the problem by expanding the hours teenagers could work during the school year and allowing them to work in dangerous jobs like roofing.

An aerial view of a cityscape with a Disney Imagineer holding blueprints, wearing a hard hat, suggesting they are planning or overseeing construction or development at Disney World.
Credit: Inside The Magic

Florida Gov Ron DeSantis has said that this “anti-illegal immigration law” was meant to protect Floridians. However, with an aging population, Florida needs these migrants to fill the open positions across the state.

For now, with the law preventing Disney from hiring any undocumented person, Disney World may have no choice but to allow 16 and 17-year-old high school students to work in their parks and on their building projects.

So, next time you’re at any Disney parks, it may be harder to find any Disney employees as the state runs out of people to fill those open positions.

What do you think of Florida’s crackdown on undocumented migrants and its effect on Disney World? 

in Disney, Disney Parks, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

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