The world has turned into a chaotic and tumultuous place over the last few months in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Walt Disney World is no exception. From an unprecedented closure to a confusing lack of communication, Disney World guests and cast members have essentially been left stranded.
Just days before the original opening date of April 1st after a two-week shutdown, Disney cast members were frantically refreshing our schedules to see if anything had popped up, messaging co-workers and friends to see if they knew anything, and constantly checking Google or Facebook for news. Orange and Osceola counties (both of which include Disney) enacted a “stay at home” order and Disney still didn’t address whether or not they planned to reopen as scheduled. Finally, less than a week before we were supposed to reopen, they finally announced that we weren’t returning to work. The caveat to that is that they didn’t give any date that we would be returning, just that they were closed “until further notice”. Since then, Disney has made further announcements for various employees, guest reservations, and potential new safety regulations once the parks reopen. So, here’s what we know so far.
As a cast member, and a Disney fanatic, I’m proud of how the Walt Disney Company has been handling everything. They continue to put health and safety first and are doing what they can to make sure we’re taken care of. Of course, we’re all scared and nervous to hear about continued furloughs—for many of us, this is our only job and only means of income. However, it is unrealistic to hope and assume that we could be paid indefinitely while Disney is undergoing major financial losses and setbacks due to the park closures and delayed films. Although there’s no end in sight, Disney and all of its cast members remain optimistic and are taking this month by month. As the line in Carousel of Progress goes, "there's a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day." Once COVID-19 passes and most of life has returned to a sense of normalcy, Disney World (and the other Disney parks around the world) will be there to welcome everyone home. To offer magical memories and happiness, thanks and gratitude towards our medical personnel and other essential workers, and to allow everyone to forget reality, for just a little while.