Sarah worked for Disney for four years, from 2017 to 2021, in various roles.
In a previous article, I wrote about all the best perks of being a Disney cast member. However, even with all these perks, people are still leaving the company and I am one of those people. As of January 2021, I was no longer employed by the Walt Disney Company and before you ask, I wasn't fired.
Health and Safety
The biggest reason I decided to leave my job at the Walt Disney Company was for my own health and safety. I was already a little bored of my role as a park greeter in 2019 but like most people in the world, I just kept thinking well it's a job, it pays the bills and I can make my own schedule so it's fine. I didn't have any thoughts about leaving at that time but then the coronavirus hit in 2020. As I'm sure everyone remembers, the whole world shut down for almost the entirety of 2020, and everywhere you went, the only news that was being shown on tv was the number of people dying in the hospital daily from the coronavirus.
Walt Disney World in Florida shut down for about three months then reopened to the public in July 2020. Many of my coworkers and I were very concerned about its reopening because the coronavirus was very transmissible at the time and there was no vaccine yet to protect us. The Walt Disney Company required us and all the guests to wear a mask at all times unless eating or drinking. However, many guests coming into the parks weren't agreeing with these rules and would often come without a mask on. This put us in a lot of danger because of the number of people coming, this increased our chances by 100% of coming into contact with someone who has contracted the coronavirus.
Even with a mask on, I felt very unsafe working at Walt Disney World and all management would do to ease my worries was say to wear my mask and wash my hands. I live with my husband and due to being fired when the coronavirus hit, he was unemployed and mostly just stayed at home. I worried about myself contracting the coronavirus but I worried he could catch it from me too. Many people were dying daily from the coronavirus so I was worried we could be next. Thankfully, I never did contract the coronavirus while still working at Walt Disney World but I felt proud of myself for putting my health and safety first.
Best Benefits Were Cut
In my previous article, I talked about how schedules were so flexible, taking time off was so easy and as a Disney cast member, you were able to visit the parks for free. In 2020, these benefits disappeared due to a shortage of employees and less capacity for guests in the parks. Before the coronavirus, it was very easy to make your own schedule and get a lot of time off but after Walt Disney World reopened this became very difficult. After reopening, I could no longer just trade shifts and give away shifts without a manager's approval. To do this process and make my own schedule, I had to write a note to a manager, place it on their desk and just wait for him or her to fix the schedule for me. If the manager was kind, this would be done the same day or the next day. However, some managers can take days to do this very simple process and by the time, he or she does it, it's already the day before the shift or the day of and it's already too late. This was very frustrating because this process takes less than a minute but management made it seem like it was too difficult for them to do.
Also, taking time off became very difficult too. Previously, I was able to see the whole calendar year and was able to get time off if someone else wasn't taking the same. However, when returning from the furlough in July 2020, management just blocked out the rest of the calendar year so we were unable to take time off. When management finally reopened the calendar, I noticed every day had a wait list but the wait list most of the time said zero people were on the wait list. Therefore, if I was the first person on the waitlist, my chances of getting the day off should've been very high right? However, I wasn't getting any of the days off that I requested, and when I talked to management about this, the only answer they could give me was that there was a shortage and if I really wanted the day off, I could try to give it away to someone else.
Like I said previously, one of the best benefits of working for the Walt Disney Company is being able to go to the parks for free. However, when the parks reopened, all cast members were blocked out for many months. Therefore, we had to work under unsafe conditions during coronavirus making the guests feel happy but couldn't enjoy any of it for ourselves. Then, on the rare occasion that the parks were unblocked for cast members, it was almost impossible for cast members to get reservations to enter the parks. Walt Disney World prioritized all their available reservation slots to single-day ticket guests and their pass holders while cast members received nothing and even now, I've heard from others that getting reservations for cast member tickets is nearly impossible.
Therefore, all the benefits that I loved from my job at Walt Disney World were magically gone which just left the feeling of hating my job and just going to work because I had to.
Rude Guests and Rude Management
This was the last straw for me with the Walt Disney Company and what led me to finally quit my job at Walt Disney World. Working at a theme park there was always that occasional rude guest that was unhappy with something but with the coronavirus, the number of rude guests increased by 1000%. Most people were upset over having to make reservations, wearing masks, attractions being closed etc., and would often take their anger out on the cast members working at the parks. Personally, I understood why they felt upset and I wasn't feeling happy about the changes either. However, I was working risking my life for them to have fun even though a theme park is not a necessity to live so theme parks could've stayed closed for everyone's safety. Therefore, I was not very sympathetic and I really didn't have the patience to take any more from them.
Even worse though was management. During the closure, my department received changes in management and this new management really didn't care about us. Our previous managers at least put an effort to talk to us and help us but the new managers could care less about the people working under them. The last straw was in December 2020 when I needed time off to pull out my wisdom tooth. I knew I would need about three days off, if not four because one to do the actual procedure and the other three to be able to recover and talk. My role involved a lot of talking and I couldn't speak if my cheeks were swollen or if talking would cause the space in my mouth to start bleeding again. However, when asking for these days off, management refused to give me the days off and instead told me to call out of the shifts. When working for any company, even Disney, calling out should only be done in an emergency, or else you risk being fired. Management knew this and instead of trying to help me, preferred me to accumulate points against me to get me closer to being fired. Thankfully, I was able to give away two of my days and only had to call out twice but this experience made me realize that it was time to leave.
© 2022 Sarah Wong