Workers at Disneyland are going homeless

Protests draw attention to the fact that Disney's low pay isn't enough to afford decent housing in Orange County

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published July 17, 2017 5:38PM (EDT)

Minnie Mouse entertains visitors at Disneyland in Anaheim, California (AP/Jae C. Hong)
Minnie Mouse entertains visitors at Disneyland in Anaheim, California (AP/Jae C. Hong)

Disney no doubt wants people who focus on their various parks to pay attention to the Marvel-themed and Star Wars-themed exhibits that they're constructing. The last thing the House that Mickey built needs right now is for the mystique of the Magic Kingdom to be dragged back to earth by the grubbiness of, say, controversy over claims that they engage in exploitative labor practices.

Hence the big story from Friday: Protesters surrounded Disneyland to protest the park's allegedly unfair working conditions.

As protest organizer Jeanine Robbins told The Guardian, "Disney, we feel, is a contributor to the homeless problem here in Anaheim. There are Disney employees who live on the street. They live in their cars. They live in unstable housing."

Unfortunately, Robbin noted that many pedestrians are hostile to their cause, arguing that they claim "if they aren’t making enough money, ‘why don’t they go work somewhere else? Why don’t they go live somewhere else if they can’t afford to live here?’"

A Disneyland worker also told the site, "I see a lot of people living paycheck to paycheck. I see a lot of people living in long-term motels or living in their cars. I love my job. It’s not the job that’s the problem; it’s the pay."

Although a Disneyland spokeswoman told The Guardian that Disney has offered "support a number of nonprofits [in the community] and have donated millions of dollars to support their efforts," a policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union of southern California insists that "Disneyland is nowhere in the picture" when it comes to addressing the homelessness crisis.

It's a shocking reminder how little has been done to make wages meet the rising cost of living, even in the cases of highly profitable businesses who can afford to pay their workers well. Disneyland, incidentally, is listed as the number-one employer in Orange County

If you can find metaphor for — and example of — the slow death of the American dream that tops Cinderella living in her car, please let us know.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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