Disney World Cast Member Forced to Sleep In Car to Attend Work

A Cast Member forced to sleep in her car most nights in order to arrive on time at the Walt Disney World Resort reveals a dark side of Disney employment.

For many Disney fans, it seems like there could be no better job than to work as a Magic Maker at the Happiest Place on Earth or the Magic Kingdom. Indeed, for many intrepid Disney lovers, a summer job at Disney Parks and Resorts, a stint in the Disney College Program, or a retail position at the late Disney Store brought them unparalleled memories and wonderful experiences.

Cast Member Appreciation

Credit: Disney

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However, unfortunately, this is not the case for many current Disney Cast Members, especially those for whom this job has become their long-term career rather than a temporary experience. In fact, in Sunbelt Blues: The Failure of American Housing, author Andrew Ross interviews many Walt Disney World Cast Members on their current working conditions, financial hardships, and low wages.

Although Cast Members right now make above Florida’s state minimum wage of $11 an hour, their higher salary still does not constitute a living wage. While Disney pays each Magic Maker about $15 per hour on average, many struggle economically, with some experiencing homelessness or food insecurity.

Credit: Disney

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For instance, 31-year-old interviewee Gabby Alcantara-Anderson has worked for Disney for almost a decade. Now a mother running a household of her own, she often doesn’t even make it home after her Disney World shifts.

Alcantara-Anderson tells Ross that because she lives an hour-and-a-half away from the Parks, many nights she’s forced to sleep in her car inside a Disney parking lot to avoid the expensive round trip gas mileage fees and faces too much exhaustion to even care for her children on the nights she does arrive home.

Credit: WDW Cast & Community Facebook

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What’s more, she adds that other co-workers also live in poverty while working for the Mouse, such as a group of adult Cast Members she knows who sleep on the floor of a two-bedroom apartment. The nine men pack inside the small space just like the Seven Dwarves, taking turns sharing the single bed while the rest of them lump it on the couch, air mattresses, or for those poor unfortunate souls, sleeping bags on the ground.

Plus, Gabby adds, “They only have one bathroom, so they must ration shower time, and their clothes are all in trash bags.” Ross notes nearly every Cast Member interviewed faces similar circumstances in inescapable squalor due to their meager Disney wages. For a multi-billion dollar company, it’s certainly surprising to hear they don’t take care of the employees who matter most in terms of providing their coveted Guest experiences.

Credit: Disney

It’s truly disheartening to know the Cast Members who give Guests their all suffer so much behind the scenes. For more information about how to help Disney Cast Members, consider supporting the Cast Member Unions or donating to the Cast Member Food Pantry.


About Spencer Beck

Spencer is a lifelong lover of theme parks, princesses, and Disney history that recently relocated to Northern California. She completed her undergraduate studies at UCLA, where she was the founder and first president of the campus Disney Club. A former Cast Member still mourning the loss of the Disney Store, she now haunts the halls of the Walt Disney Family Museum, and shares her opinions with anyone who will listen @pinknpurble everywhere.