Disney Parks Guests are being warned about escalating tensions between Cast Members and Disney as demonstrations and protests in Guest areas have become a frequent occurrence in recent days, and some Cast Members’ behaviors have grown more aggressive.
In the past month, more than 1,000 Cast Members at Disneyland Paris have stopped feeling the magic and have begun airing their frustrations with the entertainment and theme park giant in a series of demonstrations, protests, and marches. Some of the demonstrations have taken place inside the Parisian parks while thousands upon thousands of Guests–many of whom have traveled thousands of miles for the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park, both located in Chessy, France, approximately 20 miles east of Paris.
A Very Un-Magical Experience for Guests
On numerous occasions, Guests at the European Disney Parks lined parade routes, excitedly waiting for the first float to come into view, but they were instead met with the visage of a band of angry Disney employees. Rather than seeing their favorite Disney characters in full costume interacting with Guests while lively Disney music is infused into the route, Guests instead witnessed furious Cast Members holding signs and waving placards to give emphasis to their efforts. Actions like these by Disneyland Paris workers doubling as protesters have led to the disruption of park operations and Guest experiences on several occasions in recent days.
The latest protests were pre-planned by union leaders and involved more than 1,000 people. And while that may not seem like a large number of people at a Disney Park that regularly welcomes between 9 and 12 million Guests through its gates annually, the sudden influx of so many people in a popular Guest area surely overwhelmed visitors to the parks.
The Issues at the Center of the Dispute
Disneyland Paris employees involved in the protests credit their growing hostilities toward the Disney Park with what they deem continued poor working conditions and subpar pay. Angry Cast Members are demanding a monthly salary increase of $215, increased pay for working on Sundays, and better length of service bonuses offered to employees.
What originally began as ad hoc gatherings here and there have grown into increasingly escalating and intense protests as Cast Members have begun blocking pathways and parade routes as part of their demonstrations, preventing some of the parks’ live entertainment from taking place and resulting in cancelations that have left many Guests angry and a bit disgruntled themselves.
A Warning for Visitors at Disneyland Paris
Cast Member protests and demonstrations at Disneyland Paris have become more frequent in recent days, and the behavior of many of those involved is not only unsettling for Guests who find themselves seemingly caught in the crossfire, but angering to Guests who’ve had their Disney trips ruined by striking Cast Members inside the parks.
One of the largest unions for Cast Members at the Parisian Disney Parks is now warning Guests that things “could become explosive” as employees respond to Disney’s refusal to renegotiate Cast Member pay until August 2023. Employee costs at Disneyland Paris have increased by more than 40% in the last decade, reaching a record high of $816 million last year. Since 2022, Cast Members at the European Disney Parks have received a further increase of 5.5%.
Following Disney’s decision to delay salary talks until late summer, the National Union of Autonomous Trade Unions (UNSA) released a statement condemning Disney’s refusal to negotiate sooner, saying “there is no question of moving on to something else” and vowing to “continue to fight for better working conditions, a considerable quality of life, and a significant increase for all DLP Cast Members.” The UNSA continued its statement by laying blame for the situation at the feet of Disneyland Paris President Natacha Rafalski.
“The response from [Disneyland Paris] president Natacha Rafalski represents a serious problem which raises a crisis for social dialogue [and] inevitably leads to a situation that could become explosive. Given the urgency of the moment, and the severity of its consequences, UNSA Disneyland Paris asks to meet with the president.”
The union got its wish when Rafalski participated in a Q&A session with Cast Members, but following the live online event, the UNSA released another statement, calling the session a “trainwreck.”
While Disney has remained mostly silent about protests and demonstrations in the French parks, reports from DLPReport, a reputable Disneyland Paris news and fan site, suggest that when it comes to the continuation of planned protests in the parks, there seems to be no sure end in sight.
Disneyland Paris Cast Members on strike have started to arrive at Disneyland Park for a fourth day of demonstrations.— DLP Report (@DLPReport) June 6, 2023
After Disney’s refusal to negotiate before August, it’s expected these actions will continue in various forms and at various times until then. pic.twitter.com/rd44kCSBGv
Guests who have plans to visit Disneyland Paris in the next days and weeks may want to consider their options as the demonstrations go on and become more aggressive.