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Disney World’s Not-So-Magic Kingdom

Disney is the happiest place on earth—if you don't work there.

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Diego Henry: Disney, in essence, is the happiest place on Earth, if you do not work there.

You have castmembers crying in the breakroom because they can’t afford food and they’re eating ramen noodles and they don’t know what to do. That’s painful. And that’s what we’re seeing now. We’re seeing castmembers struggle so hard, and it shouldn’t be that way.

We bring the magic to the guests. Why won’t Disney bring the magic to the cast? 

Many Disney World workers skipped meals and worried about being homeless last year. Disney made $2.1 billion in profits from theme parks last quarter.

Annie Sierra: When I go to change my costume, I see my fellow cast members coming out of their car to go take a shower because that’s their home. I see my cast members not eating during their break because they don’t have food. I personally have bought food. I’ve tried to help as much as I can, but I’m struggling as it is. There’s only so much I can do.

Diego Henry: If I have to come to work after thinking about my rent, thinking about my daughter’s education and finances, you know, expenses, and I have to come to work and smile. That’s not magical. That’s painful.

Mel Paradiso: Living in the Orlando area has definitely posed its challenges. I think that since I, me and my husband first moved here in 2016, that everything from again, the price of rent to food, everything has really gone up, but it hasn’t reflected in our paychecks. Our rent alone has gone up over 30% and we live in the same apartment that has the same amenities.

Annie Sierra: I’m going to end up homeless like a lot of other cast members. I’m going to end up living in my car or living in a homeless shelter because I still have underage children.

Diego Henry: I’ve noticed that food pantries are coming back in the locations because some of our cast can’t afford to bring food. You hear people eating at the vending machine more.

People are leaving their apartments and moving in with other people. This is sad because we work for a multibillion dollar company, and we should really be able to sustain ourselves.

But you can’t do nothing with $15 an hour in central Florida.

I’m looking at less than $500 in my savings, which means one big thing can take my whole family financially out of the game and put us back in a cycle that we have fought so hard to get out of.

Annie Sierra: I have to make choices. Either I’m going to get my medications or I’m going to pay the light bill, or I got to buy food and put food on the table. And I have to tell my children, you know, hey, we have to make this stretch. You know, you’re not at liberty to go ahead and just eat until you feel full. You’re only able to  eat enough to feel sustained because I can’t afford to buy more food.

Mel Paradiso: We’re looking to file for bankruptcy because we have when I was pregnant, I we couldn’t pay all of our bills. So some of our credit cards have lapsed and have been sold off to debt collectors. And we need $600 to $700 to pay the lawyer to file for bankruptcy that we just, again, don’t have. 

I don’t want Bruno to grow up remembering that Matt and I were always stressed about money. I want him to know that he was loved and he was cared for and that he was taken care of. 

Disney workers are asking for a $3/hour raise now, and $1/hour for each year after. Last year, Disney gave fired CEO Bob Chapek a $20 million severance package.

Diego Henry: Bob Chapek, who in many words from other people have, almost run the company into the ground, gets $20 million. Now, if I misbehaved at work, I wouldn’t get $20 million.

I would get. Thank you for coming. Have a magical day. Yeah. And that would be the end of my career at Disney. The cast see this. And they understand and they disapprove, hence the vote no.

Mel Paradiso: Disney listens to numbers. I think our 96% vote of saying no, that $1 is not good enough should, I would hope, scream volumes because they’re all like percentages and stats and data. And here is your stats and data that your cast are not happy. Do something about it.

Diego Henry: Getting that $5 in three years will definitely inject some financial stability in the cast and in the community so that we can stay afloat.

Annie Sierra: A $5 raise for me, me personally, would actually give me the ability to be able to do two things at once, be able to buy medicine and actually provide food.

Mel Paradiso: Thank you’s are not enough anymore. And saying that you know we’re the magic does not pay my bills. If we are the magic, we deserve to be paid.

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