Bob Iger Praises Dolly Parton’s Theme Park Practices Amid Disney Backlash

The Walt Disney Company has been known in the past for providing magic not only to its Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort Guests, but also to its Cast Members.

However, that sentiment hasn’t necessarily been the case over the past couple of years, particularly as many Disney fans have accused the company of only looking at the bottom line and many have also complained about the alleged unfair treatment of Cast Members. The unveiling of Disney Genie and Lightning Lane was received with less than stellar feedback and many even said they felt the Disney parks had “lost their magic”.

There is currently a strong movement among Disney shareholders to remove current Disney CEO Bob Chapek from his position, and many Disney fans have expressed a desire for former CEO and current Chairman Bob Iger to return to the post instead of Chapek. Iger, however, dismissed rumors that he might be interested in taking over the job and replacing Bob Chapek.

Credit: Disney

Amid the backlash Disney is facing, Iger recently posted on Twitter praising the work of theme park best practices, but it wasn’t at Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort. It was at Dolly Parton’s Dollywood.

It’s a good step forward @DollyPartonis part! @Disney did it a few years ago and it was one of the best things we’ve ever done. Better education = better opportunities.

A Washington Post report found that Dollywood’s parent company, Herschend Enterprises, would pay tuition for its 11,000 employees, including full-time, part-time and seasonal staff.

The report reads:

Dollywood will pay 100% of tuition, fees, and books for employees pursuing higher education. Beginning Feb. 24, all 11,000 seasonal, part-time, and full-time employees at Herschend’s 25 U.S. attractions, including Dollywood, will be able to enroll in the GROW U pilot program.

The initiative allows employees to enroll from day one in diploma, degree and certificate programs offered by 30 learning partners. Subjects offered in the higher education curriculum include business administration and leadership, finance, marketing, technology, and culinary studies. The company has also pledged to provide partial funding, or up to $5,250 per year, for an additional 150 programs in areas such as engineering, human resources, hospitality and artistic design.

Dollywood
Credit: Dollywood website

In addition to Dollywood Park in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, the GROW U program also applies to attractions such as Pink Adventure Tours in Tennessee, Arizona and Nevada; Silver Dollar City in Missouri; and Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey.

Many social media users commented on Iger’s posting campaign to get Disney cast members to see raises. Currently, Disney’s minimum wage is set at $15.00 per hour.

Dollywood Park is currently closed for the winter and is scheduled to reopen on Friday March 11 with a preview day for pass holders.

What are your thoughts on Dollywood paying tuition for its employees and the current backlash Disney seems to be facing?

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