An Open Letter from a Cast Member About the Reopening of Disney World
A letter was recently discovered on Reddit explaining one Disney World’s Cast Member disapproval and fear about returning to work at the theme parks so soon, given the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Read below.
An open letter from a CM that was posted in a Facebook group
I am copying this from a Post in one the WDW Facebook groups.
An Open Letter From A Disney Cast Member (Copy & Pasted):
Greetings to you, the reader of this letter. I don’t know who you are, but I know you are either a Disney Cast Member or not, and this letter is addressed to those who are not. I am writing this letter to let non-CM’s, i.e. potential future guests, know about our concerns going forward as Disney World begins to re-open its doors.
There is a whirlwind of feelings swirling around the collective Cast Member morale right now. Personally, I love my job at Disney World, and I miss being there almost every day to make magic, and I know I’m not alone. I know there are many people who love their job, miss it, and are eager to return as soon as we can. However, as eager as we may be to come back, we are also afraid. Cases of COVID-19 in Florida have continued to spike, setting records day after day, and despite this, the state continues to push forward with reopening. The curve was obviously not properly flattened and the disease is still strong and abundant, but more and more people are starting to go out again as if nothing is wrong, and more and more people are becoming frustrated with the efforts to slow the disease such as social distancing and mask requirements. This is our struggle. We want to go back to work because we miss doing what we love, but we don’t want to go back to work because we’re scared of contracting a deadly disease that people are ignoring.
Now, Disney World is making informed and intelligent decisions when it comes to park layout for reopening. Blocked off areas and seats on ride vehicles, limited capacity, increased hand-sanitizer options, mask requirements, etc. They realize that this disease has not gone away and are preparing accordingly. However, the spike in cases is showing that it’s not as safe to reopen as we had previously hoped, and us Cast Members are still incredibly concerned.
Now, this is where this letter is going to turn because it might push some buttons of people reading, but it needs to be said. The main reason we are concerned is not because of getting too close to guests or touching something that’s infected; we are concerned because of how guests can behave when there is not a pandemic, and how potential guests have been behaving now. Cast Members face disgruntled guests on a daily basis. We are yelled at because the weather is too hot; we are yelled at because someone showed up too early or late for their FastPass; we are yelled at because someone didn’t properly time a character meet-and-greet; we are yelled at because one guest was supposedly rude to another; we are yelled at because someone feels something costs too much; we are yelled at because we tell a child they can’t go to a certain place or climb a certain thing because it compromises their safety; we are yelled at because someone’s child is too short to ride a ride and they evidently don’t care about the fact that height requirements are safety measures; we are yelled at because someone can’t cross the street due to a parade taking place and we don’t want to risk them being hit by a float or injuring a performer and themselves as the choreography continues; we are yelled at because someone’s food doesn’t match the expectations they set in their head; some of us are even yelled at because we work in guest relations and someone is telling us instances of these previous examples and are trying to earn some sort of incentive from it. Do you see what I mean? We are berated on a daily basis for enforcing rules, for things beyond our control, and for simply doing our jobs.
These are examples of challenges and issues we face on a daily basis doing our job, and all of these examples are caused by guests who are angry, guests who are ignorant, guests who careless, or sometimes guests who feel some sort of sense of entitlement. And during this time of shutdown, we’ve seen so many people refuse to follow social distance guidelines in place around the country and people who have refused to wear masks for asinine reasons, and these are regulations that will be enforced upon reopening. In fact, Disney will have CM’s who will be specifically assigned to help make sure these rules are followed. And we see non-CM’s voicing their opinions about reopening on the internet, as well.
Some people are excited to get back and have every intent to follow the rules, but there are plenty of people who have been vocal about refusing to wear masks (which you must do to enter the park) or just the extra precautions being implemented, in general. We have also seen people’s feelings towards CM’s who are concerned, or CM’s who have signed or shared petitions to continue the shutdown of the parks until COVID-19 cases actually taper off to form an actually flattened curve. We see people call us lazy freeloaders who just want to live off of the extra unemployment money (Florida’s unemployment system has actually put many CM’s in dire straights due to delays and ever-present issues); we see people tell us to quit our job that we love if we’re so afraid of reopening; we see people generally consider us expendable, viewing our health as potential casualties they wouldn’t mind risking in the name of their vacation; we see people treating us without humanity.
We are not afraid of coming back to work because we’d lose unemployment bonuses (if you have a problem with those, take it up with the federal minimum wage that hasn’t been raised to accommodate inflation and companies that pay their workers less than they should); we are not afraid of coming back to work because we’re lazy and we like doing nothing (as I said, so many of us love this job and miss it so much); we are afraid of coming back because we’re afraid of rude guests who will not follow rules meant to keep everyone safe and therefore endanger us. We have already seen such examples, including someone working in Disney Springs who was spat on by a guest. That’s right, we are afraid of you, the potential guest. If we face guests when there’s not a pandemic who do not regard our safety and do not regard our humanity, adding a potentially deadly disease with no vaccine and the resulting increase in regulations makes things much more frightening for us.
So to the potential guest, this is what I ask of you: if this timeline of reopening continues and you are going to visit the parks during this new and unprecedented period of Disney history, please have some humanity. Please listen to every cast member who does their job and encourages you to follow the guidelines put into place for the safety and health of both you and us. Please understand the concerns we have with reopening and try to empathize instead of criticize. For us, it’s either we return to work when we’re called back or risk losing our jobs, and we don’t want the choice to be contract a deadly disease or lose a job we love in a terrible economic period. You can help make sure this doesn’t happen, and you can do that by following the new guidelines and respecting the safety and emotions of our frontline cast members. If you don’t want to wear a mask or you’re frustrated with the temporary changes being implemented, please wait to visit until the disease is properly controlled and the guidelines have been lifted. And once that happens, once everything is back to normal, I implore you to remember this letter, and to remember the time that CM’s were putting their lives on the line to make sure guests like yourselves were happy. I implore you to remember the examples of everyday challenges listed earlier and to do your best to not add yourself to this growing list. I implore you to be understanding and kind to us Cast Members during this scary time and beyond, which will help make your vacation magical for you and for us. We want to see you again, and I know you want to see us again, but if you’re not going to help us all be safe, then all of us can wait.
Sincerely, A Disney Cast Member.
The Cast Member isn’t so much concerned about catching or not catching the virus, but more so with the behavior of guests with these new safety protocols and some experiences not being the same. They face these challenges on a daily basis, but this type of pandemic may heighten it.
There are petitions gaining momentum on both coasts by Disney World cast members who have concerns about reopening the parks amidst a dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases.
A Walt Disney World petition that had 4,000 signatures at the beginning of the week now has over 10,000 signatures.
The MoveOn.org petition states that the recent spikes in COVID-19 cases in Florida show that “it is clear that theme parks – a non-essential business – should not be planning to operate until the cases have gone down again.”
However, it should be noted that there are a large number of cast members that are excited about returning to work after months of being furloughed. According to a recent piece in the Orlando Sentinel, Unite Here Local 362 told the Orlando Sentinel, ““Disney Springs has been open for over a month, and I haven’t heard of one news report or one cast member or one guest saying, ‘I got COVID 19.”
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