Attendance is down at Disney World this year. We don’t need to wait for official figures. The discounts tell the story. What’s more, on-property Disney hotels have started appearing on Hotwire. Those are not signs of a thriving attendance.
With a declining customer base, I was shocked to see Disney World increasing its signing bonuses to cast members. The company recently increased its signing bonus from $500 to $1,000 or $1,500 for new full-time and part-time employees in the culinary department. Disney is also paying $500 for new housekeepers and bus drivers who get part-time or full-time work with the company.
We talk about this in detail on the podcast this week.
Stopping a Strike Before It Starts
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Disney World released this announcement only a week after its union announced they were opening negotiations to increase wages. The minimum wage at Disney is currently $10 per hour and there is a schedule of raises that were previously negotiated. The union, which covers more than 30,000 Disney World workers, wants to accelerate this schedule.
The union was so public about this plan that some have speculated that if negotiations fail, there will be a strike from Union workers over the coming months. The increase in signing bonuses could be a move by Disney World to increase their leverage in negotiations and stop a potential strike.
In addition, a preemptive raise in signing bonuses can get the larger public on Disney World’s side before anything happens.
A Shifting Workforce
In addition, Disney could just be struggling to find workers. Recent political developments could hamper the entry of immigrants who often fill these positions. If these immigrants are no longer allowed to enter the country or scared that they will be deported, this could leave hundred – maybe thousands – of Disney World jobs unfilled.
Plus, Disney World may be suffering from the drop in college attendance. It’s no secret that a large part of Disney World’s workforce is people in the college program. The problem is that a college program requires college students, and colleges are losing students. The overall college population has declined as the expense of college has risen. In addition, the large college bill could mean that fewer students are willing to take a semester to work at Disney.
We’ll keep an eye on this story over the next few months and see what happens.