Why Good Cast Members Are Leaving Shanghai Disney Resort

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Although the Shanghai Disney Resort received a China Best Employer Award back in 2017, things are not as steady as they seem to be. In a recent blog post on his blog ThanksShanghai, an ex-Shanghai Disneyland manager explains why talented Cast Members leave the newest Disney resort for other opportunities. You might expect that working in a theme park is not the most challenging job there is and that employees are looking for a job with more to it, but that does not exactly explain the problem Shanghai Disneyland is having. Working at a Disney theme park is perhaps one of the most challenging jobs in the sector, because of the aim for the highest quality in service. Ex-Cast Members of Shanghai had various reasons to leave, and the main problem seems to be a lack of good and understanding leadership.

The first reason to leave is retainment and a lack of replacement. A parking Cast Member with the skills for a guest service role was not replaced, although the resort needed new Cast Members at guest services. The transfer did not happen because the resort did not make any changes between departments during the year, so eventually the Cast Member left. This connects to the second reason: passion is more important than experience. Disney should attach more value to Cast Members that enjoy working in the resort instead of employees with a nine to five attitude.

To learn Shanghainese Cast Members had to do things “the Disney way”, being some of them were sent to Walt Disney World and took part in an international training program. Disney wanted the knowledge gained in the United States to transfer to the Shanghai resort. However, most of the Cast Members who were in the program left the resort in less than a year, because they would go for higher standards of service. The local leadership did not support these ideas, which led to lower standards. This is the third reason highly talented people are leaving the company.

In the end these complaints all lead back to leadership, and especially the leadership in the middle management that is not as passionate as it needs to be to stick with the well-known Disney standards. Talented and compassionate Cast Members are ridiculed or dismissed instead of encouraged and leave Shanghai Disneyland, while they could be such a wonderful addition to the resort.

I am going to Shanghai Disneyland this summer and I am very curious about how the only Disney resort in mainland China is doing things in ‘their’ Disney way. Let us know in the comments how you feel about this topic, and if you think Disney should act. You can read the full article on Thanks-Shanghai.com.

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About the author

Henk

Henk is a former Overseas Park Writer at WDWNT. He said goodbye to the website in August 2018, after new career opportunities. If you have any questions regarding his articles, you can still contact Henk at [email protected]

10 Comments

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  • These job are not professional, mere low skilled labor jobs with low pay and evil sadistic management. I’ve been there while in my college years. The jobs are a dime a dozen. Easy to find replacements or find a new job. That’s why they leave. They found something better that may pay slightly more. Or they made the leap to professional job. Never looked back. And I was once a parade performer CM for one summer. Less than a year of Disney employment. Oh well.

  • The Shanghai Disney human-interest tragedy, has been up in an overwhelming flood of newspaper articles, newsposts (on TV and on www) and blogs, ever since before the official opening day.
    It seems that it mainly boils down to “general Chinese mentality”.
    Progressive individuals may always think and act differently, but there seems to be a much to powerfull mainstream culture in China, that “rudes down” everything in social life, and considered “standard accepted” by almost everybody.
    A cultural problem we cannot solve….

    • “tragedy” ?? …no. The treatment of women in Islamic ideology , or the systematic and celebrated murder of millions of babies, or the government-sponsored euthanasia for the mentally-ill in Europe, or the ever-growing victim narrative/mentality here in the US…..these are true human interest tragedies. Anything involving working for Disney is NOT.

  • I’ve been to Shanghai Disney and must say it’s VASTLY better than the Orlando Walt Disney World. The Orlando parks are trying their best to give the customers the very least for the most, where Shanghai is at least trying to create a positive experience. WDW needs a huge revamp. Shanghai while having staffing issues, doesn’t make it transparent to the guests. Guests are not a priority at WDW. They are unavoidable by-products of making money.

    • You are so spot on! I’m shocked to find out the Shanghai cast members learned guest relations skills at WDW. WDW is the pits now, it is at a level of any average amusement park in the country. Having been to the Shanghai Disney Resort I was impressed with service and the friendly happy cast members. WDW could care less about guest experience, it’s all about the money now. Less for more money there.

      • I took my first trip to Disneyland and THEIR cast members are way more helpful & friendly compared to WDW. I think it’s lack of options. WDW is the employer for the area. With that many cast members and a lack of pool to draw from, it’s drying up. That’s been my observation for the past 10 years or so. WDWCP doesn’t help either.

  • I worked for WDW for almost a decade both in parks and in the corporate area and they claim to have these upward mobility options, but I discovered the same development or advancement opportunities are available to all Cast Members. Essentially, someone above you has to “unlock” things that they decide you should pursue versus what your own goals are. For example a HR manager has more options for advanced training and development options than someone who is in a merchandise hostess role. The problem I had with that is that they preach about equal opportunity employment, but it really isn’t if they block certain people from access to roles that they are better suited for. In my case I took a job there to get my “foot in the door” and then went to work in an office and tech role even thought i had 10 years of professional experience and had more education and expertise than my management. I found that by accessing jobs anonymously from a computer I was not logged in to there were more opportunities than my role was “aligned or tracked” to. But not many people high up were aware that other people couldn’t access the same things that they could. I had a problem with this and went around my management to get to work for 6 months in another department I was more than qualified for and it was the best job ever but then when I returned back to my other department when they offered to hire me at that position my dept made it even harder for me to move anywhere and treated me with resentment and was even asked the question why do I think I deserved that job over the one I had and I said I don’t understand why anyone “deserves” a job. I was qualified for that job and I applied to it. Other people in my department could have applied but they didn’t. I tried transferring to other debts but they essentially blocked me out of everything. After a while I just quit after being bullied for a while and set up to fail. I got to clear my name in the dept but I was told things won’t change. So yeah. Its not just overseas. Its depressing.

  • I would bet that WDW has the worst cast members out of any park. Most of them seem angry that guests show up everyday. I hope they all get raises and bonuses but things won’t change until Corporate starts caring about guest experience and those days are over.

  • In the last week I have visited WDW and Shanghai Disneyland – I can’t say enough things about the cast of Shanghai. Orlando is a different story – poor service and clear unhappiness in their job.

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