laborland orlando sentinel

Orlando Sentinel to Launch “Laborland” Exposé of Living Conditions, Low Wages for Employees at Walt Disney World and Other Orlando Attractions

While tourists come from around the world to experience the magic of Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and other Orlando-area attractions, the way their employees live is far less magical. With Orlando being the one of top tourist areas in the nation, but ranking last in median incomes in the top 50 metropolitan areas in the United States, the Orlando Sentinel wants the world to know.

laborland orlando sentinel

Today, the newspaper announced “Laborland,” a four-part series premiering this week that will expose the challenges many in Orlando’s tourism community face. The Sentinel released a video trailer for the series on Monday, showing off some of the stories they’ll cover.

One cast member, seen wearing what looks like a Walt Disney World name tag, explains that she has had to sleep in her car on occasion because she couldn’t afford for the gas that would allow her to drive home and back to work again. The area also faces an affordable housing shortage, described by the Sentinel as “one of the worst in the country,” as well as a public transit system that’s described as “severely underfunded.”

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The Sentinel describes their project as follows:

Low-wage tourism workers power Orlando’s tourism machine. The city is the top vacation spot in the nation.

But they fade into a community that doesn’t have enough affordable housing, public transit or opportunities in higher-paying jobs.

This week, the Orlando Sentinel will begin publishing Laborland, a four-part series on the challenges facing workers 50 years after the opening of Walt Disney World.

If you’re a cast member at Walt Disney World or any Orlando-area tourist destination and you’d like to share your story with the Sentinel, you can fill out their form here or contact reporters Chabeli Herrera at [email protected] or reporter Gabrielle Russon at [email protected]


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  1. I’m sorry, but I fail to understand the argument of the low wages at Disney. Whether you work for Disney, Universal, Six Flags, Cedar Fair, etc, low wages are a theme park industry-wide standard. It’s unfortunate, but also not a secret. Front line team members usually make minimum wage (which is understandable considering the mass amount of employees these companies have to hire), and that’s something you have to consider if you’re making that your primary job. If that pay rate doesn’t accommodate you bills, expenses, lifestyle, etc, you need to consider something else and perhaps make Disney the “fun” job (if you still want to stay in it), or try to move up in the parks/business (I know some cast members who complain about low pay, but refuse seeking advancement).

  2. Isn’t everyone struggling with low wages and transportation issues? I know I am and I work far from Orlando and not for Disney. This is a problem that should be addressed by the city of Orlando, not Disney. Disney doesn’t build housing so why are these concerns being targeted at them? Maybe the low wages but like I said, everyone is dealing with low wages not just Disney employees.

    1. Not exactly the housing you are thinking of, but Disney Corp does build homes — Celebration & Golden Oaks come to mind. Not sure if they’ve built communities elsewhere.

  3. Wow! That was sad to watch …. I mean Team Disney Burbank can spend over 70 billion to obtain 20th Century Fox …. but not 1 penny to improve things for Cast Members (supply transportation, offer up housing) in Orlando …. and Universal, guilty as charged! Spending billions overseas on Theme Parks, with some additions to their Orlando location (but what about the welfare of their Cast Members?) … doesn’t make me want to visit Orlando watching this.

    1. It’s not the company’s job to support their employees. It’s to pay them a wage for work performed. If you don’t like what you’re being paid, find another job, improve yourself, move somewhere else.

      1. Well, you have to pay to get education for another job, which means you’ll sink deeper into poverty. And even with a degree, you’re not guaranteed a high-wage job. And not everyone can afford to just up and move. And not everyone wants to up and move away from their support system – friends and family.

      2. It is the company’s job to pay their employees a living wageand health insurance access especially when their profits sore. These companies are strangling the American workers by paying, low wages, insufficient hours for health care attainability. It’s easy now to say “get another job” until it’s your job at your “big business” that runs its operations that way.

  4. Former disney cast member here had to leave due to wages I would love to tell my story

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