Disneyland may be deemed the "Happiest Place on Earth," but that joy apparently dissipates for the majority of employees when they leave the park and have to come up with rent in the real world. The Los Angeles Times points out that even though the Walt Disney Co. recently reported "better-than-expected profit," an online survey funded by labor groups of employees at Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Calif., as well as at California Adventure Park located on the same Disneyland Resort property, found that nearly three-quarters of the workers said they don't make enough money to pay for basic expenses like rent, gas, and groceries. The "Working for the Mouse" poll also reports that 11% of Disneyland Resort employees have said they were homeless or without a place to sleep at some point over the past two years. For workers with young kids, that number rises to 13%.
The survey, conducted by Occidental College's Urban & Environmental Policy Institute and the nonprofit Economic Roundtable, was paid for by nine labor groups pushing for higher wages. In addition to citing a 15% drop in the average wage from 2000 to 2017, from $15.80 an hour to $13.36, the survey notes "erratic work schedules," long commutes—the New York Times says many employees live further inland, where it's more affordable—and an "extraordinary pay gap" between top management and the rank and file. What keeps some employees on board: the lack of other jobs, perks like free park tickets, and even Disney nostalgia from their own childhoods. Disney officials say, by their own numbers, workers make, on average, $17.80 an hour; a company rep calls the survey "inaccurate," "unscientific," and "paid for by politically motivated labor unions." (Read more Disney stories.)