Disney Helps Orlando Area To Be Dead Last In Worker’s Wages

Disney/Orland area dead last in worker's wages
Credit: Disney/ Canva

It’s hard to understate the importance of the Walt Disney World Resort to the Orlando area. Walt Disney turned a patch of orange groves into one of the world’s top tourist destinations, bringing millions of annual visitors to Central Florida. Until recent spats with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, it has been a win/win for Disney World and Florida. The state gets billions in property and tourism tax dollars, while Disney can take in billions through its tourism empire. Win/win.

disney cast members save child

Credit: Disney

With Disney also came massive growth for Central Florida. SeaWorld and Universal Orlando followed Disney World and built massive theme parks of their own. And now the Orlando area is reaping the benefits through enormous growth and the status as America’s tourism destination.

But that growth has come at a staggering cost to the workers in the Orlando area, including Disney cast members. The Orlando Sentinel reports that the Orlando metro area ranks dead last in living wages for workers based on a United States Bureau of Labor Statistics study. But rather than address that issue, local politicians are using a surplus of $500 million to expand the Orlando Convention Center rather than give service industry workers a much-needed raise.

Disney cast members are some of the highest-paid service industry workers in the area after having recently agreed to a pay increase to $18 an hour just this past year. However, that raise comes as housing costs in Central Florida have spiked in recent years. The Orlando Sentinel found that, on average, homes in the Orlando area cost about the same as in the metro Atlanta area. Still, workers in Central Florida make the same amount of money as someone living in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Disney World Cast Members

Walt Disney World Cast Members / Credit: Disney

Only after Disney workers protested in and around the Walt Disney World Resort area did the company agree to meet with the Service Trades Council Union, representing the Disney World service workers.

But despite winning the wage increase, a Disney employee still has to live in Orange County or Osceola County, which is getting more challenging by the day.

One potential idea floated for that $500 million in hotel taxes was to create affordable housing for service workers in the area or use it on road and school construction. But there is a problem with Florida law that prevents that from happening.

Eric Gray, who was a member of a task force set up by Orange County Mayor Val Demmings, said:

Florida is the only state that fully restricts the use of hotel taxes to the promotion and development of an industry as opposed to also addressing the impacts of the industry.

cast member ruins disney experience

Credit: Disney

The minimum wage in Florida went up to $12 and will increase by $1 a year until it reaches $15. But even with the increases, workers will still struggle to make ends meet. And despite the wage increase, some Disney cast members still sleep in their cars.

So, while Walt Disney World has made Orlando the tourist destination it has become, it has also helped foster an environment where the workers still aren’t getting what they need to survive.

We will continue to update this story at Disney Fanatic.

About Rick

Rick is an avid Disney fan. He first went to Disney World in 1986 with his parents and has been hooked ever since. Rick is married to another Disney fan and is in the process of turning his two children into fans as well. When he is not creating new Disney adventures, he loves to watch the New York Yankees and hang out with his dog, Buster. In the fall, you will catch him cheering for his beloved NY Giants.

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