MickeyBlog News – Disney Cast Members Update
The Walt Disney Company’s just about settled its labor disputes for the next few years. We’ll discuss this and a lot of other Disney updates in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
Disney Cast Members Get Raises!
I’m a devout believer that Disney cast members are among the greatest employees in the world. Part of it is the high-quality Disney training, but another key contributing factor is that Disney fanatics want to work at their theme parks. With a motivated work force dedicated to fostering the utopian environment at the Happiest Place on Earth, that title is a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy. And now these workers are about to become even happier!
You may recall that Disney recently settled its labor dispute with a bunch of Disneyland union members. Over the past few days, Disney’s extended a similar offer to their workers at Walt Disney World. They unveiled a plan that increases the minimum wage for Disney cast members in Orlando over the next few years. By 2021, Disney workers will earn a minimum of $15 per hour, bringing them in line with the 2019 rates at Disneyland.
The chief difference is that Anaheim salaries will continue to grow up to $18 per hour by 2022. There’s no such growth mechanism in the Orlando agreement. Walt Disney World employees will finally receive the $1,000 bonuses that were held up in the midst of this labor dispute, though.
Plus, Disney will pay workers either 50 cents per hour or a 3 percent hourly bonus, whichever amount is higher, for all work performed during the dispute, which started in September of 2017. For full-time employees, that bit of compensation will effectively double the bonus by adding another $1,040.
You’ll see a lot of smiling Disney cast members in Orlando once the deal is ratified by the unions on September 5th.
Speaking of Negotiations…
Last week, MickeyBlog News reported that Disney had stopped construction on their proposed hotel at Downtown Disney. We then added more detail in a standalone report about the complex nature of the company’s relationship with Anaheim.
Earlier this week, Disney tried to reboot that relationship. Corporate officials proposed the negation of current tax deals with the city of Anaheim. Yes, Disney prefers to ditch all projected tax incentives they receive from the local government. In exchange, Disney wouldn’t be subject to various wage increases that apply only to companies receiving tax benefits from Anaheim.
In particular, Disney wouldn’t have to follow the edict of the $18 an hour minimum wage law that goes into effect by 2022. The corporation’s clearly decided that they will earn more money by skipping $267 million in future tax incentives in favor of more immediate payroll savings. As for Anaheim, city officials are playing a dangerous game by angering their largest tax payer.
Plastic Is Bad
MickeyBlog recently reported on Disney’s green-friendly decision to reduce their reliance on plastic. The belief was that the company would gradually roll out their new program in phases. What nobody expected was that phase one would start so quickly or have such sweeping changes.
At Walt Disney World, the parks have already changed their plastic consumption strategy! From this point forward, your meals don’t automatically come with straws. If you want one, you must request it from your server.
This new rule applies to most Table Service restaurants on the Orlando campus. The lone exception is a milkshake order, as Disney’s defaulted toward providing straws with them for now. The company has mirrored these decisions at Disneyland this week, meaning that they’re aggressively altering their plastic policies at their North American theme parks.
Quick Service/counter service restaurants have changed their tactics, too. Plastic cups no longer include lids. You must explicitly ask for one from a cast member. Early reports suggest that Disneyland is even more stringent on this topic. They’re simply not offering lids now. The lone exception is for guests with disabilities who need a lid. And yes, a quick glance at social media indicates that drink spills are way up at the moment as guests adjust to the new policy of lid-less drinks. Disney’s going to need a lot of new mops.
Your Phone Is Your Key!
Most people use Magic Bands at Walt Disney World, but let’s be honest here. Everyone uses their phone. Most people are like my wife. They pull out their phones so fast that they’re like western gunfighters, whipping their cells out of the holster like their lives depend on it.
Disney’s decided to lean into this behavior. They recently tested a new Digital Key feature at certain resorts. Your phone’s Bluetooth unlocks the door to your room. The trial phase proved so successful that Disney has expanded the feature everywhere. From now on, all you need is your hotel reservation and your cell to open your door!
Guests will even notice a Disney flourish when unlocking a hotel room door. Thanks to a clever bit of programming, the sound of pixie dust plays as you magically signal “open sesame!” to your room. As an aside, this passcode system also provides entry to pool gates, elevators, and concierge floors, making it your true room key from now on. Welcome to Tomorrowland, my friends!
Guardians of the Galaxy on Hold
Despite the events of Avengers: Infinity War, Disney had ramped up production of the third film in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. They’d intended to film in a few months. After the firing of James Gunn, the writer and director of the first two movies, Disney finds itself at a crossroads with the project.
One of the cast members, Dave Bautista, has remained steadfast in his support of Gunn. Despite a contract that requires his participation, Bautista has stated that he will not return without Gunn. Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy 3’s only existing script is the one written by Gunn. Without him in the fold, Disney’s unsure that any other director can film it correctly.
For all of these reasons, the film division has delayed production from the start of 2019. All employees under contract on the project have been freed to work on other movies. The first two Guardians of the Galaxy releases have earned $1.6 billion in global box office plus billions more in merchandise sales. Disney must secure the short-term future of this franchise. Otherwise, they’ll lose out on a lot of potential earnings.
Breakfast with Woody and Buzz!
Since the opening of Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests have clamored for more opportunities to ride the new attractions in a timely manner. With such a huge influx of park guests at Hollywood Studios the line queues for Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers have remained long. FastPasses are such hot commodities for these attractions that they’re usually sold out before the start of the park day.
To avoid getting shut out of these two great new rides, Disney’s offered a new option for guests. Yes, it’s an upsell. Called Early Morning Magic, this $79 event lets park visitors into Toy Story Land 90 minutes early. Starting at 7:30 a.m., you may ride the two attractions as much as you want until 8:45 a.m. You can even ride Toy Story Mania! if so inclined.
With an extra 75 minutes, you should have your fill of Toy Story Land before the park officially opens at 9 a.m. Plus, Disney throws in a continental breakfast as part of the experience! Early Morning Magic is available on most Mondays and Wednesdays from now until December 19th.