In a new interview, Dr. Abigail Disney addressed criticisms of her loyalty to her family and the Disney legacy after speaking out about the economic crisis currently faced by Disney Parks Cast Members and CEO salaries.
At both the Disneyland Resort and the Walt Disney World Resort, Cast Members make the magic possible through their hard efforts each day but often face under-compensation for their exceptional Guest service. Since last August, unions within the STCU have held protests in Florida to petition Disney for a living wage, and renegotiate their contracts.
Moreover, production employees at the Walt Disney Studio are currently lobbying the Walt Disney Company for the right to unionize alongside the rest of the animation department, and costume department Cast Members spoke out about a gendered pay gap within entertainment. Of course, heir to the Disney name, Abigail, has been a vocal supporter of Cast Member wage rights for years, and is not above criticizing both the company, or its founder Walt.
However, with the release of a new documentary film, “The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales,” Disney has attempted to shed light on the situation, particularly the rate of change from how her grandfather Roy O. Disney, and great-uncle Walt Disney, treated their workers to how the multi-billion dollar conglomerate does today. In fact, on an episode of Florida’s Fourth Estate, Disney told hosts hosts Ginger Gadsden and Matt Austin that while she herself has an immense love for Disney, for her family, and for the Disney Parks, she feels the need to criticize the current situation because she has the privilege to change it.
Disney recalls a “great deal of affection” between Roy and his employees on visits to Disneyland as a child, and says she cannot imagine him being able to sleep at night knowing many of them struggled to put food on the table even working full-time, while Disney CEO Bob Iger and Bob Chapek rake in over $65 million yearly. For instance, a 2018 study found one in ten CMs have experienced homelessness, some even living in their cars in Disney parking lots, while almost 70% had experienced food insecurity, and 75% did not make enough to cover basic expenses, in what union leaders are calling an “economic crisis.”
Although many have dubbed Disney a “traitor” for her outspoken views, she maintains that the “insane” compensation Disney CEOs receive is not her issue, but rather that they continue to take it before making sure the employees responsible for their having it at all are properly compensated and taken care of in the same vein that her ancestors did. Furthermore, Abigail said that while the situation continues, she feels “a loyalty higher than Disney and that’s to my fellow human beings.”
According to Abigail, the Walt Disney Company can remain a profitable visionary while also supporting Cast Members’ wellbeing, and that management only tries to hire workers at the lowest price possible due to beliefs systems in the US which convince us these two ideals are mutually exclusive when they’re not.
Disney’s documentary will examine these myths, even at the expense of others criticizing her true loyalties:
I would say I probably love Disney more than any other super fan could possibly love Disney. It’s in my DNA, it’s down to my toes, and I remember every detail and every nuance of both of those parks. I will tell you, though, if you really, really, really love something, then you have to see it truthfully and you have to speak the truth about it and it’s not perfect. I wish it were.