Abigail Disney urges exploited guests to help cast members by boycotting theme parks
Disney heiress, daughter of Roy E. Disney and granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, Abigail Disney is a strong supporter and advocate for workers’ rights. Last night, January 24, 2022, Abigail Disney expanded on her thoughts on Disney’s legacy and the current era of Bob Chapek, following a screening of her documentary The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales (2022) at the Sundance Film Festival.
Synonymous with joy, love and happiness, The Walt Disney Company aims to deliver its magic over the past century. From Star Wars to Splash Mountain, Avengers Campus to Animal Kingdom, Disney is one of the biggest entertainment companies in the world.
As Disney races toward its centennial, the past few years have seen multiple calls to the Mouse House, stemming from working conditions for cast members, profits over guest experience, and the division and development Disney brands, including the provision of the company’s theme parks.
Related: Guests Are Fed Up With Disney Genie, Claim It’s ‘Failure, Money’
Disney has never been free from criticism, but since Bob Chapek took over as CEO of Disney following Bob Iger’s departure, guests and, it seems, cast members have also criticized the society. From a Disney Parks perspective, fans have seen the arrival of controversial Disney Genie+ and Individual Lightning Lane selections after the free FastPass+ system ended, while calls have been made for general park maintenance – such as Walt Disney World in Central Florida Resort – and anger over Cast Member pay.
Abigail Disney’s Documentary, The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales examines workers at US National Parks, Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World. The documentary filmmaker and philanthropist recently spoke with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of her film debut at Sundance. She said, in part:
“Bob Chapek was the guy who presided over all the changes at Disneyland and Disney World that we talk about in this movie – aggressive planning, a euphemism for shaking them down so they can’t get second jobs and they don’t do ever 40 hours a week and they are not eligible for health care.
Take a department of 250, reduce it to 200, and expect them all to do the same job in the same amount of time. There are a thousand ways to cut costs, and a lot of it comes from Bob Chapek and under his command. So I don’t really have very optimistic expectations. If anything, it’s probably going to get worse.
Related: U.S. Disney Parks Set to See Soaring Profits Over Coming Years
Now, following the premiere of her Disney documentary, the heiress has expanded on her remarks in a live Q&A. Abigail Disney expressed her sentiments, focusing on a consumer-based push to take charge of companies that don’t treat their workers well. She said (via Bloomberg):
“It’s an Amazon problem, and a Walmart problem, and a McDonald’s problem. […] You have the ultimate power, more power than any CEO, as a consumer, to withhold your money from companies that do it badly and spend it on companies that do it well.
Roy O. Disney co-produced the documentary which follows the lives of theme park workers and his own journey into activism. Abigail Disney also said the company was “just as abusive and exploitative of its customers” as it was of Cast Members. Adding that Disney “raised prices to ridiculous levels and charged unbelievable amounts for burgers and so on and cut services.”
Recently, on the Disney Earnings call, CFO Christine McCarthy said portion sizes would be reduced. The news was later supplemented by multiple sources confirming that with the reduction in portions, the price of food and drink has increased. Just last week, it was reported that Bob Chapek pulled off an incredible salary during, what can only be described as, one of the most troubling times in Disney parks history, the pandemic and everything. Not long ago, The Walt Disney Company laid off hundreds of workers to deal with the results of a COVID world.
The report goes on to add:
“Withhold your money from companies that exploit people,” she said. “You don’t really need to take a trip if you feel it doesn’t reflect your values.”
“I think there’s a natural affinity between customers and workers and they need to come together to change businesses,” she said.
Related: Disneyland Cast Member Union Votes on New Park Deal
Abigail Disney isn’t the only one commenting on recent Disney practices. Currently, a petition has gone viral online calling for the firing of Bob Chapek as CEO of Disney. The petition is said to be co-signed by many Disney Park cast members as well as fans.
What do you think of Abigail Disney’s comments? Let us know below!