Disney World has reopened in the midst of the global health crisis, and they’ve gone to great lengths to keep everyone safe.
With limited capacity and added health measures, the Disney parks are certainly a controlled environment. Still, there are some folks that we worry about in the reopened Disney World — the Cast Members. This whole thing has been hard on the people who are MOST responsible for keeping the magic alive in Disney World.
The closures were challenging for many Cast Members.
When we say that the closures have been hard on the Cast Members, we’re thinking first of the months of uncertainty. Unfortunately, the closure of the Disney parks was so unprecedented that Cast Members were caught off guard and later left out of work and in the dark for weeks. Many went into this envisioning being home for a few DAYS, not MONTHS.
In March, Disney first suspended the Disney College Program, the Culinary Program, the Cultural Exchange Program, and the Academic Exchange Program. Cast Members from these programs were sent home as quickly as possible, and some of these programs are still suspended. Disney executives expressed support, but these Cast Members had suddenly lost their jobs — and that wasn’t the end of things.
Soon after, most other Cast Members were sent home. At first, Disney noted that they would continue paying their full-time employees for a couple of weeks, but on April 19th, Disney furloughed over half of its Cast Members through a series of union agreements. Full-time Cast Members were able to keep their health insurance, but they weren’t getting a paycheck during this time.
With no sign of the parks reopening, Cast Members then had the option to file for unemployment, but that wasn’t easy. At-home protests soon broke out in response to the difficulties of accessing the unemployment system in the state. If a Cast Member was unable to get through the unemployment system, their hardships faced during the closures could be even more challenging.
As the closure came to an end, folks were slowly called back to work — and there were mixed feelings from the Cast Members.
A limited number of Cast Members returned to work when Disney Springs reopened in late May. When it was announced that some resorts would begin to reopen in June and the parks would follow in July, Cast Members were slowly called back to work, accompanied by more union agreements.
Disney shared that some Cast Members were super excited to start getting back to work. We spoke with a lot of Cast Members in the early days of opening at Disney Springs who shared this sentiment.
On the other hand, some were not as excited. Per CNBC, some Cast Members petitioned for the parks to remain closed.
Upon returning, Cast Members were re-learning jobs that were updated to include new health and safety protocol. And this came with lots of questions. How does a Cast Member safely check a child’s height now? If a guest needs assistance buckling their seatbelt on a ride, can the Cast Member help?
More importantly, what if a guest isn’t complying with the new protocol? What if something goes wrong? These are new questions that Cast Members are expertly navigating. But your patience is always helpful.
Disney has put significant safety measures in place to protect Cast Members, but is it enough?
Amusement parks, when fully complying with all recommended guidelines, are considered a moderate risk setting by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Disney has gone to great lengths to install new health and safety measures to protect guests and Cast Members. Unfortunately, there’s no certainty that they 100% protect everyone.
Union Cast Members who do get sick and need to quarantine will be guaranteed time off. Disney is hoping to avoid this situation by helping to keep Cast Members distanced and safe with the use of Mobile Order, plexiglass shields, and providing face masks and face shields.
Overall, Disney has met and exceeded the guidelines set forth by government and health officials. But we all know that going anywhere besides one’s home is a risk these days.
We’re worried that some guests might mistreat Cast Members as they try to enforce the rules.
Today, Cast Members have some added responsibilities that weren’t part of their original job duties. Cast Members are in charge of making sure guests socially distance and wear a mask at all times.
As was the case with park regulations before the closures, Cast Members don’t make the rules and (whether they agree with the rules or not) may not have an easy time enforcing them; so we’re especially worried about those guests who may be resistant.
Unfortunately, we have spoken with some Cast Members who have already dealt with some mistreatment from guests. The social distancing squad (a new yellow-shirted team charged with enforcing the new rules) have dealt with namecalling from guests and some have shared with us that they have opted to walk in pairs so as to not be confronted by an angry guest alone.
Cast Members have been a huge positive part of the reopening of the theme parks. They are doing a lot to keep us safe and happy and we would hope guests would show them the same courtesy.
Remember, every single guest has a CHOICE as to whether they want to spend their time in Disney World. And while Cast Members also technically have a choice as to whether or not they want to work in Disney World right now, many have financial obligations that make keeping their job a necessity.
What can WE do to help?
Here’s what YOU can do to help Cast Members do their jobs during this somewhat challenging time. By going to Disney World right now, you’re assuming the responsibility of following ALL of the rules. Keep your mask on and socially distance, and DON’T get upset with a Cast Member for reminding you to do so — they’re really, truly just doing their jobs.
Cast Members have to follow these rules too. In fact, while you’re standing in the Florida heat in a face mask, many of them are required to do the same in a mask AND a face shield. You can head to a relaxation station or make an Advance Dining Reservation for a break from your face covering at will, but the Cast has to make use of their limited work breaks.
Plus, it’s now a (very new) part of their job to enforce these new rules. These folks are real people. Some of them may not agree with all of Disney’s rules and some of them may be anxious about being around so many people when health is such a concern. They will STILL be enforcing Disney’s requirements and helping guests navigate a reopened Disney World.
So again, follow the rules in the first place. Wear your mask and keep your distance. If a Cast Member DOES ask you to do something differently, listen, and be kind about it. Please don’t try to cheat the system or trick Cast Members into thinking you’re following the rules. Just follow them.
Disney has instituted the current measures for guest AND Cast Member safety. Regardless of politics or preference, you’re agreeing to Disney’s measures (wear a mask, physical distance, listen to Cast Members) by arriving on property. This is just like how you agree not to wear offensive clothing or smoke in the parks.
One great step forward is to learn what will be expected of you in a reopened Disney World. If you don’t feel comfortable agreeing to wear a mask all the time (or anything else now mandated), you might need to postpone your trip.
Of course, most guests are doing a great job following the rules. For all of the bad stories, we’ve heard quite a few good ones. This is a challenging time for all of us, Cast Members included, and it’s important that we are courteous to one another. Especially right now, remember to be KIND. A smile (with your eyes of course!) and a little bit of patience can go along way.
Want to show some appreciation for Cast Members? Let us know in the comments!