Only Misery for the Magic Makers: Workers’ Struggle at Disney

A former Disney employee writes that Disney cast members make the magic and they deserve more.
  • Vanessa Munoz | 
  • July 21, 2021

A few years ago, I posted a picture of an old friend and co-worker at Disney. Her name was Yeweinisht Mesfin. She had been missing for a few weeks and was found dead from heart complications. We then found out at the time that the reason why it took so long to find her was because she had died in her car. The car she lived in at 61 years old. A long time Disney employee, she couldn’t afford housing.

As I wrote in 2018:

“She didn’t have enough money to get her own place and my heart broke because all she did was give and give. Never once did she complain. But behind that smile and “good morning, darling” lived a whole different person. A woman struggling and working eight hours shifts for six days for a company that didn’t even bother helping with flower arrangements. For a company that took and took from her and terminated her on the spot after her third no call, no show. A company that asked for her costumes back as soon as possible so they can give them to the next rehire.

Someone out there on the third shift at Disney now wears my Weiny’s beanie, her sweater, shirts and pants. Someone out there is about to give as much as Weiny did for a company that refuses to pay the employees an affordable living wage.

The complaints finally got to me and I opened my eyes. I saw what everyone was saying since day one. I fell into this depression and had to leave the company. It was too much for me to work for a company that didn’t care for their employees as much as they say they do.”

The post I made was not to cause conflict or give “bad press” to Walt Disney, a company she worked for at the time, but to open the eyes to those who still continue to support and praise the Walt Disney company. 

Exactly two years ago, I was informed I could no longer work for this company due to the bad press I have given them. When all I did was speak on my personal outside experience about working there…my outside situation. When I wrote the post, I had not been working at Disney for over a year. I wrote it to mourn my friend, not to talk about my own situation at Disney. I never talked about my legs hurting from standing and pushing 8 bin liners across the theme park in hundred-degree weather. Or how I had to sweep water in the pouring rain  so guests could safely walk around the park and keep wasting money.

I never once shamed the company, but they took that one story and turned it into a threat for every employee. Anyone who spoke about their experience working for the mouse was cut loose. And since I don’t ever plan to work for that mouse again, I will speak up for those too scared to want to be heard.

I am here to make some noise for my friends. Because they got mouths to feed and can’t do it on the chump change Disney pays them.

They still refuse to admit CAST MEMBERS MAKE THE MAGIC AND THEY DESERVE MORE.

During the pandemic we saw new lands being made inside the theme parks, new parking structures, merchandise, movies and streaming services draining everyone’s pockets,  all while Dsney said goodbye to all the people who made them the money. So many people got fired. 

I saw friends cry and worry about being put on unemployment. I saw friends desperately wait for that call back because they needed to pay bills and rent. And yet, they come back and get stuck with little hours and shit pay.  And others never got the call back, but a “thank you for working so hard for us but we don’t need you” email.

During my last post, I saw a lot of people comment stuff like “They want 15 dollars an hour  when all they do is push a button and point”. All I have to say is that you should NEVER judge unless you have worked any of these jobs inside Disney. We all have options but when the opportunity comes to work for a big name company, you take it. They literally tell you when you start working for this company that having the name itself on a resume is a good thing. I mean, they literally convince you on your first week that this is going to be the best job you ever had.

You normally always start working for this company brainwashed after spending 3 days in a room with trained people convincing you that your life and soul now belong to this company, but it’s okay because you’re making magic. They bribe you with Mickey ears and The Mouse himself comes in and has you sign away your life in blood…I’m kidding. But there is a cult-like initiation for what is actually low wage work. They make you feel like you’re the only person that will help keep years of magic alive but in reality, that magic will drain you mentally or physically.

Whether it’s dancing in the sun to the same song for 45 minutes or cooking in a kitchen with a bunch of sweaty people yelling orders and making food, dealing with angry strangers because a churro costs 12 dollars, or simply cleaning vomit on one of the most popular rides inside the park, that shit drains you completely.

It’s not about Castmembers being greedy. It’s about them having a reason to come to work and feel like they really are valued. These people work hard and are only asking to be heard and seen. I can’t see how a few dollars will hurt Mr. Disney’s pockets when he has more than enough to spare. Walt Disney made $65.39 billion in 2020, after all. 

These people don’t just push a button. These people make parking easier for you. They make the park safer for you. They let you in and inform you of anything you want to see or do. They make you the food you eat. They make your kids smile and laugh. They bring back and make new memories for you . They make you feel as if you have entered a whole new world and you have escaped all the crazy that is going on outside.

These workers aren’t asking for much but they are asking to be heard and seen. To be paid enough to not live in a car. To not live with roommates. To be able to go on a vacation, not just work other people’s vacations. These people love what they do, but what they get paid for by this company can’t compare to the family holidays, birthdays and special occasions they miss on a daily basis to keep this magic alive. To fill Mr. Disney’s pockets as he keeps yelling for more.

Enough is enough. Disney, once again you keep being exposed as a company that claims family is first but you turn on those who put theirs in your palms.

So if you want to help and make some noise sign this petition and help Castmembers  voices BE HEARD!

OHANA MEANS FAMILY AND MY DISNEY FAMILY HAS BEEN PART OF MY FAMILY FOR YEARS. AND I AM NOT GOING TO SIT HERE AND WATCH THEIR VOICES BE SILENCED.

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