'Happiest Place on Earth:' Disneyland Workers Cannot Afford Food and Shelter

Joanna Estrada
March 4, 2018

One-tenth of Disneyland employees are paid so little that they recently experienced homelessness, while two-thirds of them are unable to afford three meals a day, according to a union-funded report released Tuesday.

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.

With Disney owning some of the biggest franchises in cinema, it was inevitable that the company would want to incorporate them into its theme park business. Two massive Star Wars parks have been under construction in the United States for several years, and it has now been announced that Disneyland Paris will undergo a $2.5 billion expansion to incorporate areas based on Star Wars, Marvel, and the animated hit Frozen.

Despite its popularity, Disneyland Paris is burdened by heavy debts that surpassed a billion euros in the financial year to September 2016, and has made a loss nearly every year. The report found that "Almost three-quarters (73 percent) say that they do not earn enough money for basic expenses every month".

"I have a full-time job that does not allow me to live like a human being".

Disney officials, however, slammed the report as a politically motivated document with results skewed to reflect the position of the unions that paid for it, with results based on a survey of a small percentage of park workers.

"While we recognize that socio-economic challenges exist for many people living in Southern California, we take pride in our employment experience", she said.

In a recent CNBC survey, California was ranked as the third most expensive state in the U.S. in terms of the cost of living, behind Hawaii and NY.

The work will start in 2021 and significantly expand the park, which is Europe's most popular private tourism destination with 320 million visits since it opened in 1992.

It managed to reduce its losses in the second half of 2016 thanks to a boost in visitor numbers, which had dropped after a string of terrorist attacks in France. The Walt Disney Company was named as the number six "World's Most Admired Companies" by Fortune Magazine in 2018.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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