Some Walt Disney World Cast Members Voice Displeasure with Conditions of Return to Work

Tom Corless

Some Walt Disney World Cast Members Voice Displeasure with Conditions of Return to Work

Tom Corless

Some Walt Disney World Cast Members Voice Displeasure with Conditions of Return to Work

The issue of the Walt Disney World theme parks reopening is a complex one, especially at a time where confirmed COVID-19 cases are rising exponentially post-lockdown. Walt Disney World made the difficult decision to furlough tens of thousands of its Cast Members during the unprecedented closure, and now the company is calling back its workers to return to their posts for the reopening. However, work conditions have vastly changed for Cast Members, and not all are at ease with the current environment.

cast members cleaning covid 19 march 17 closure
Featured Image: Cast Members pose for a video shoot at Disney’s Hollywood Studios the night the park closed. Above: Cast Members wipe down outdoor seating at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn just days before the closure.

This information comes to us from dozens of anonymous Cast Member reports. For the safety of their employment, we’re presenting concerns regarding the reopening on their behalf.

Cast Members are reportedly being informed that they are to report to work by June 30. A failure to report to work by then would be considered voluntary termination from employment. Those looking to seek alternative job positions or placement in backstage areas are not being accommodated, and are instead being told to accept the terms of their callbacks or be separated from the company. That means Cast Members have essentially three options: Be taken off furlough and return to work, go on unpaid medical leave, or leave the company completely.

Those who choose to return to work will find modified or limited accommodations throughout break rooms. Cast Members are being informed that they cannot purchase food from staff cafeterias. Refrigerators and microwaves will not be available for use at break rooms for employees who opt to bring their meals to work.

Seating within the break rooms has also been reduced, with couches removed and replaced with a limited number of tables and chairs, even at locations that share a communal break room with multiple Cast Member teams.

Schedules for most Cast Members returning to work will be populated on June 24.

In the meantime, Cast Members are attempting to reach Mayor Jerry Demings in an effort to appeal and further delay any possible reopenings due to increasing cases. Even within Cast Member groups, there is a divide, as union leaders believe there are far more Cast Members eager to get back to work, without considering the possible risks associated with the reopening.

40 thoughts on “Some Walt Disney World Cast Members Voice Displeasure with Conditions of Return to Work”

  1. Then quit, no one is forcing you to work. I’m sure it’s less about safety and more about how much you were making on unemployment for sitting home

    • I care for my elderly parents. They depend on me for alot I cannot afford to contact covid and take it to them. You get 1 life, one chance to take care of you! It’s not I’m getting but 95.00 a week is why im off.there is a huge spike in my zip code. Its scary

      • Then you will never go back to work. Covid will be in our environment for years to come and there will be flair ups until covid gets added to the yearly flu shots. This is why we get flu shots. Viruses never go away we just gain a herd immunity. You need to find a job you can do at home but to think one of the largest companies on the planet and 10s of millions of guests are going to bend for your or the petition creators special concerns, ridiculous.

      • Let me say this for all of us it’s not about the money. I have taken a huge pay cut during this. Not everyone in Disney makes 10 an hour. I am worried about my family and your families safety. That is my concern

      • exact same here. I cant afford to get sick, both my parents would die from this virus. Both of their health are at risk. 95.00 a week is not helping or hurting. Im not sitting home collecting, I am working at my house and my parents house daily to help them. They will not be here forever, and I choose my parents.

    • TBH, I have family who are CMs and while they filed for unemployment, they STILL haven’t gotten one dime of benefits. They pretty much got my stimulus check.

  2. There is no cafeteria for them? These cast members are a captive audience. It’s not like they are going to be able to waltz over to McDonald’s during their lunch break from being a June Cruise Skipper.

    I hate to say it but I’m becoming more and more convinced that Disney doesn’t want as many guests to visit nor do they want as many cast members to return. I wonder what’s truly being said in the hallowed halls of Team Disney.

  3. Oh this is so sad! How can a company like Disney do that to their employees?
    Shame on you Disney!

  4. The working conditions described are in line with what many companies are doing in their reopening. I agree the break room situation is terrible, but Disney is following the same recommendations for reopening as many companies.

  5. Just wondering…Are there ANY cast members that WANT to return or should they be encouraged to work else where? Or keep Disney closed until this virus magically vanishes…like the flu…So sad hearing about all the complaints and negativity, demands being made in the media by cast members. Makes me feel discouraged about ever returning. Who wants to go to a place that is supposed to bring happiness, knowing their employees dont want to be there. I understand fear. There is a risk, probably more going to a unregulated grocery store or any where public, but I feel like Disney is working hard to create a safer environment than most public places and limiting capacity as to not have large clumped up groups, and bent over backwards to make sure their employees were provided medical and some compensation, considering it wasn’t their fault they needed to close. They shouldn’t return if they dont want to or feel comfortable. That is their choice, but stop slamming a company that provided them a job.

  6. So, isn’t this what we’re ALL having to go through? I mean, if we’re going to wait until the cases are down to “0”, then I guess Disney’s just never going to open again are they? I’m not trying to call anyone ungrateful, but the company is attempting to make it as safe as possible while having these workers get back to normal. Yes, there WILL be some inconveniences for a while, but where is the gratitude in still having a job, and being able to get back to work? Many of us never got “lucky” enough to get furloughed with pay. I have been to work everyday since day one, and so have many others that didn’t have a choice.

  7. It’s the same in every field… a lot of folks scared to reenter the workplace…many friends in various fields say the same thing is happening in their break rooms also. Yes, the bottom line is you can stay home and lose your job or go. Consider that a vaccine is a ways off…

  8. Tough on either side of this. Go back to work under less than ideal conditions, or try and keep thousands of your coworkers unemployed until things improve (if they ever do) regardless of their own circumstances, needs, and preferences.

  9. Find another job if you are unhappy with the conditions. I am a teacher and had to completely and totally change my job/working conditions or I could quit. Life is different now. We are going to have to adapt or move on. No ill will, just the facts of current life.

    • Were you forced BACK into the classroom? NO. You taught from the safety of your own home. Stop trying to compare their struggle to YOURS, Karen.

      • WTF- no one has a gun to your head to make you work for disney. When some of us hate our job or the work environment, guess what? We move on. Boo freaking hoo

      • The upside of the limited opening of Disney World…management will have time to replace any who don’t come back but i am sure there will be many who will appreciate having a paycheck. At least they will have a list of at least 8,000 employees that will need to go.

  10. The changes are for safety. A virus isn’t magically going away and if they don’t open and the company bottoms out, thousands will be out of work and millions impacted. This is nonsense. We all accept some of the sacrifices for safety while we move forward.

  11. Just like any other job, if you don’t like the conditions, then quit. Maybe you’ll find a better job or maybe not. Disney’s already bending over backwards to make things “safe” enough for approval to open and have been hemorrhaging money since this all started. With so many businesses closing permanently because of this mess the cast members can be grateful to have a job to go back to at all or don’t go back and try to find something else when they’re good and ready and “safe” (when a vaccine may or may not come out?).

  12. What are they supposed to do for food? No refrigerators, no food in the cafeteria….do they expect everyone to bring PBJ’s??? I can’t believe some of the heartless comments already made. CM’s make very little money, Florida unemployment is the lowest in the country….and you really think that they do not care about safety? Most of their jobs are 90% about safety….for guests and CM’s.

    • It is about personal responsibility. If you don’t like it, you are free to work elsewhere. There are a lot of people who would love the job. Give others the chance for the job and they won’t feel so entitled. Lots of entitled people on here.

  13. The cast members that don’t want to come back bc why would they? They are making tons on unemployment. It’s causing people to be lazy!! Get back to work, it’s fine, life must go on!

  14. Hi, former DLR CM here. I comprehend the fear of those CMs that don’t want to return to work. This virus is so easily spreadable. I’ve already headed that Team Members at USO have been infected with COVID. A place like Disney isn’t the same as just going to the grocery store. At your grocery stores you’re shopping within your community. Some communities arent as infected but if you have a place like a park open you’re receiving guests from different counties and even states who may be more infected. This will change the spread and increase the virus.

  15. My factory opened under similar conditions. It sucks but we do what we can to protect purselves and others.

  16. Me personally I think disney should stay closed at least till the cases start going down disney will never go under they have way to much money and they have there hand in many different things to keep them going staying closed till the cases start dropping isnt gonna kill them.remember people disney is a multi-billion dollar company.If disney doesn’t want to listen then the cast members should either strike or protest.all you people telling them quit or go back to work are selfish your only concerns about yourselves and going back to disney.grow up people quit thinking about yourselves and think of the cast members.

  17. I loved the 10 yrs I spent as a Cast Member, but I am so happy that I retired and no longer have to be challenged with the new working conditions. My thoughts and prayers go out to former fellow Cast Members.

    • Hopefully management is listening and will do their best. There is no magic without the efforts of all of Disney’s wonderful Cast Members. Thank you for everything you do for us guests!

  18. Disney cast are soft. Complaining about lack of couches? Construction workers sit on concrete blocks out in the sun, or in the dirt. Have to use poorly sanitized port-a-johns with no wash stations. Loud machines and pumps and excessive noises continue during their breaks …..but oh no “cast members dont have refrigerators!” The horror!!
    The problem is they have it so easy at the kingdoms, that most of them dont realize what it is to work in the real world. Stop whining, and be more considerate of those who are begging to come back, waiting for their return calls because florida DEO still hasnt paid them and they may lose their house if not called soon.
    If you’re so afraid….how about you give up your spot for them?

  19. Also remember they are all on unemployment which at this time is paying equal too or more then what they were making when working. why would they want to go back to work. You can blame them but it is time to go back to life…

  20. Yet a bunch of the theme park CMs made an amazing video yesterday regarding their excitement to return. We all have had to return to work with a changed environment and some of us work with the public daily as well. Pull up your big girl britches and get back to work.

    • What work I’m a full time CM getting 23 hours a week. Bottom line its not fair to charge the guests full price for a 1/4 of the experience and bring us back making nothing.

  21. Now employees are back and being scheduled 24 hours to screw them out of their unemployment benefits. No one can live on that amount of money.

  22. For those of you so quick to complain about the Cast Members (CM) making outrageous demands, stop to consider the uniqueness of a Disney CM when compared to most other jobs. I am a former CM, so I speak from experience.

    1. Disney isn’t like any other regular job. As someone pointed out on here, you are completely isolated without options to take a break and eat like you would at most jobs. CM’s usually have one restaurant location they can eat at and it’s not outside. Since they have closed the CM restaurant, they will be forced to bring their own food that can’t be heated or refrigerated. Seating will be limited. To understand the gravity of this, think of how large the parks are. Now think about those CMs that work in locations that don’t really have a dedicated break area, esp one that doesn’t have access to the outside. This means, they will be a. lucky to find a place to eat b. subjected to packing foods that won’t spoil, c. foods that will be eaten at room temperature. While you claim, this is no big deal, just consider what options this leaves, esp when you sometimes eat 3 meals a day, when you work 10 to 16 hour shifts. yes, this is the norm, especially in the summer/peak months, up to 6 days a week.
    2. Crowds at Disney aren’t like working at a store, or fast food restaurant. Disney is jam packed with tens of thousands of people who are travelling from all over the world. The exposure factor is much greater and CMs regularly have direct, close contact with people ALL DAY LONG. This means, keeping people at least 6 feet away from you is very hard to do.
    3. Most CMs work outside at some point throughout the day, but when they rotate, they will be in areas of confined enclosed areas where people are breathing, sweating, and taking off their masks. This greatly increases their exposure.
    4. High touch areas are all over the place, and no matter how vigilant the custodial and management are (also to include regular CM’s, you can’t keep things sterile for any significant amount of time).
    5. They’ve been talking about how so many people are asymptomatic, displaying no symptoms. This means that they may pass on the virus to others who have breathing issues. No one knows how each person will be affected until they actually get it. So those people who say no big deal, it really is a big deal when you have CM’s working long hours, in heat, and their immune systems are compromised. Let’s face it, guests are going to “cheat” by having their mask “on” but not covering their mouth and nose because it’s too hot or two uncomfortable. Disney isn’t going to kick those people out because it will be a major lawsuit. And we know it’s all about the almighty dollar. So how is this fair to CM’s.
    6. Florida has been having huge spikes in COVID cases lately and it’s not going to slow down any time soon because of the amount of traffic to Central Florida. This includes all of the Disney traffic.
    7. For those who say, go get another job, hahaha, Disney is the life force and heart beat of Central Florida, so that’s not going to happen because no one is hiring around here. ANd you can’t tell tens of thousands of people to get another job when there are no other jobs to get. I’ve been applying for jobs for weeks, even while I didn’t have to because I was getting unemployment benefits. Not a single person has contacted me back. I have advanced degrees and I even applied for jobs that pay less than what I’m used to getting. The same goes for lots of CM’s that haven’t been getting any money from the broken Unemployment system here in Florida.
    8. While you are so quick to judge cast members, just think about this for a moment. They don’t get paid much to begin with. Many of them have room mates or live with other family members (who may or may not work for Disney). It’s not easy or free to break a lease/mortgage and move to another city to find other employment. While they will be exposing themselves to this disease at a much higher rate than the typical customer service type employee, they can actually be spreading this further and further to others.
    9. We keep getting conflicting info from our governor that says it’s no big deal, yet the numbers are rising. We don’t know what will happen long term, and there have been spikes and surges recently in hospitals and clinics. I live by one of the testing sites and it’s only getting worse.
    10. People here are stir crazy and they do want to get back to normalcy, but Disney is unique and doesn’t seem to consider how this is going to impact their support system, the CM’s. They deserve to be treated with respect, given proper break areas for decompression, because guests are really awful at times. No one works there in the parks for the money, they do it because they like working and creating smiles on the faces of the guests. But they shouldn’t have their basic needs diminished just so some cabin fever stir crazy entitled families who couldn’t give a s&%t about what CM’s go through or their safety (let alone their own safety as a guest) – so they can get their Disney fix.
    11. Please explain to me how you are going to clean hand rails, tables guests eat at, and rides/seats properly to stop the transmission of this virus effectively? You can’t, not if you want to run a profit and herd the people through the way Disney intends to.
    12. You are grossly underestimating the mindset of a lot of guests. I’m sure you all remember the pretzel mom who spazzed out over the childless couple standing in line. How many hours or minutes before you have these anti-maskers being so cavalier about their positive tests but still going to the parks because they have spent the money or they just want to go and don’t care about anyone else?
    13. Let’s not forget, these same asymptomatic people will be going to surrounding businesses and spreading their viruses all over the place let wildfire.

    Imagine going to work with these and more legitimate fears and supposedly smiling all day. I suspect you would be stressed out. But then again, it’s not you that is the CM so you wouldn’t care. It’s easier to be dismissive and say, go get another job or just report to work.

  23. A friend works for Disney. A full-time worker and the only income for the family (other than mother-in-law’s disability). This friend has been on furlough for a few months now, is losing unemployment as of the end of July (as in, now), has no idea when they’ll be recalled, and isn’t allowed to seek temporary employment elsewhere. I’m sure my friend isn’t the only one in this situation. The family needs food, medical care, money for rent and other expenses. They aren’t thinking about the conditions of a return to work… they’re just wanting to get back to work, period. Does Disney really care so little about their employees?!

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