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  1. #1

    • Former Churro Jockey
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    Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    I was lucky enough to work at Disneyland for three years and I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. However, I'm also not sorry that I quit and I wouldn't be able to work there now. The reason is the parking situation. I think most people on here know where the CM's have to park, but I'm not sure you know just how far in advance a CM has to be at work before the start of their shift. Here is my experience:

    When I was first hired into Disneyland cast members had better parking then the regular guests. There was an entrance off of Harbor Blvd and a parking lot that was right next to the main cast member entry way into Disneyland. There was a security guard shack that was called Harbor House (it's located on the far east side of resort and is part of the show building for the Grand Canyon diaroma -- you can see it from the monorail quite easily) that you would swipe your cast member I.D. to walk past, and then you would swipe you're I.D. again on a machine inside of a room behind the guard shack. I never totally understood this since we weren't clocked in yet, but supposedly it had something to do with insurance in case we got hurt in between entering the property and clocking in for work. We would walk over to costuming (large building behind Mr. Lincoln), check out our costume for the day, then walk over to the locker room (behind Star Trader and Space Mountain), change into our costume, and then walk over to our office and clock in. So all of that time that it took from parking to clocking in was unpaid. I was lucky when I first hired in. The outdoor vending office was part of the old America Sings building and so I was right next to the lockers. So I only had to be arriving at the park about half an hour or so before my shift starts in order to make sure I was "on time." We didn't get paid at all for the time it took us to get from the parking lot to our office, but we did get paid for 15 extra minutes of walking time at the end of our shift to get from the office to costuming. So overall I had an extra hour's worth of stuff that I had to do in addition to my 8 1/4 hour shift. I loved my job at Disneyland and so I was willing to overlook the extra 45 minutes out of my day that I had to spend in the process of getting to and from my office.

    About three months after I hired in they started construction on the new Tomorrowland and so our office had to move. They opened a brand new Outdoor Vending office which was awesome and much, much larger, but it was located behind Spash Mountain, so it was a MUCH longer walk from costuming. The shortest route was usually cutting across Towne Square, from behind the Mad Hatter to over by the Fire Dept. You could expect to be stopped once or twice by guests asking questions, but overall I'd say it took an extra 15 minutes each way. So now I was up to an hour and fifteen minutes unpaid that I had to spend getting to and from my office. I could live with that too, so life went on.

    Then, in 1998, they started construction on DCA and took away our parking lot. They moved it over to Katella and Haster, and you now had to catch a cast member shuttle from the parking lot over to Harbor House. The shuttles were fairly continuous, so I didn't have to spend a lot of time waiting for the next shuttle (at least, getting from the parking lot to Harbor House). However, to park your car, get on the shuttle, go through Harbor House, get your costume, change, and then walk to the office now took an hour when I was arriving. Leaving the park was even worse, and there would always be a very long line of cast members waiting to board the shuttle (we used to put up signs that said "Wait time is 30 minutes from this point" but management kept taking them down), and so it took an hour and a half to leave the park. Minus the 15 minutes of walking time, I was now at two hours and fifteen minutes out of my day that I had to spend in order to make my shift. I did it for a year, and eventually decided I just couldn't take it and so Halloween of 1999 was my last day working at Disneyland.

    Of course there were other things that I didn't like dealing with, just as there are with any job. There were some good managers, some clueless managers, and some a-hole managers, but since I've moved on, I say the managers at Disneyland as a whole were better then the managers I've had since then. If nothing else, they generally didn't come into the park so you had most of the day to yourself. The pay was atrocious, but I loved working there so much I was willing to put up with that. Outdoor Vending is hard work, harder then say attractions or merchandise because you have to push the wagons through the park (and over the hill by splash mountain), and you have to clean them at night. But any of those things I was more than happy to live with. Today it is a little bit better because the cast members are now able to take their costumes home, and while I don't like seeing someone in costume outside of the park, I totally understand why and I support Disney's decision to allow cast members to take their costumes home because that saves probably 30 - 45 minutes each day of that unpaid time it takes between parking your car and getting to your office. But I still wouldn't be willing to work somewhere that requires you to be there an hour prior to your shift in order to be "on time."
    Disneyland Cast Member
    Outdoor Vending
    1996 - 1999

    My interview with MiceAge about working at Disneyland:
    http://micechat.com/blogs/mouth-of-t...ding-crew.html

  2. #2

    • Monorail Junkie
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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    It was great to hear that you loved working for Disney, but the experience of having to park or spend extra time before clocking in for a shift is something that people do everyday. I work in San Francisco and I live 30 miles away, I have to be at work at 9am. I get up at 530am, go through my routine of getting ready for work and then drive to my train. Spend 45 min to an hour on my train then walk 10min up to my job. Then do the same backwards on the way home. I used to have to get to work at 230am and would have to drive in. Parking in SF is horrible and I would have to park a half an hour away and walk to my job. But with all this being said I love my job and would not trade it in the world except for working at Disneyland.

  3. #3

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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    that does seem to be a major con for working at disney

  4. #4

    • Senior Minion
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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    For those of us who remember the decades when Disneyland was the #1 desirable workplace in Southern California, the sad thing is how Disney continually diminishes the employees' previous situation without offering any compensation. Move your parking lot far away, no compensation. Add to the time it takes to get to your work station, no compensation. Eliminate the traditional employees' holiday party, offer popcorn discounts as compensation.

    Goes right along with the "offer less and charge more" treatment of customers that the beancounters have found works so successfully for their bottom line.
    "With the acquisition of Marvel and now of Lucasfilm,
    Disney may have finally found the grail. You don't need
    imagination or art. All you need is a brand."

    - Neil Gabler


  5. #5

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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    Quote Originally Posted by jchamb268 View Post
    It was great to hear that you loved working for Disney, but the experience of having to park or spend extra time before clocking in for a shift is something that people do everyday.
    This pretty much sums it up. Since my practice deals primarily with small businesses, I travel to them a lot to find out what their legal needs are and to go over documents with them. If it takes me longer because of traffic to reach a client, my billable hours don’t start when I get on the 405. They start when I actually get into the room and I am dealing with the client. The parking situation at Disneyland would considered part of the daily commute to work, not work time.

    I will add, though, that it is very mature that you left to find other employment when you found the working conditions were no longer to your liking. We see so many people on here try to justify the fact that they no longer like the conditions of their employment as an excuse to shirk their responsibilities. This is a sign that there still are some responsible people out there.
    Last edited by calsig31; 08-09-2013 at 12:05 PM.
    "You can cut me off from the civilized world. You can incarcerate me with two moronic cellmates. You can torture me with your thrice daily swill, but you cannot break the spirit of a Winchester. My voice shall be heard from this wilderness and I shall be delivered from this fetid and festering sewer."

  6. #6

    • Mrs. J. Depp
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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    Good grief I would have no patience for that unless I was like over the moon about my job. My patience meter runs pretty low most of the time and so does my attention span. That would drive me nuts to spend so much time getting from point A to point B. Where I work now is ten minutes from where I live and I get paid from the minute I'm in the door to the minute I leave and for everything in between.


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  7. #7

    • Larger Than (After)Life
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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    Disney refers to the park employees ALL of the employees as "cast members." Furthermore, they are instructed to maintain a certain character, play a type of role, while on the job. They are all part of the live production that is the presentation of Disneyland and other Disney parks. So, their work begins the moment they complete each day's first check-in.

    In mainstream film production, talent is compensated for wardrobe fittings, travel from basecamp to set and down-time between takes. There is no doubt in my mind that Disney cheats its park employees by making them work a 10-hour day and compensating them only for 8 or less. However, wait time for any shuttles after checkout should not be included. BUT the company should provide enough shuttles so that the wait time is not unreasonable.

    If enough disgruntled workers complained to the state's Department of Labor, the unfair business practices might stop. Disney exploits the fandom and loyalty of their employees. The company uses them.

  8. #8

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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    For those who don't know, cast members clock out 20 minutes before their scheduled off time, but are paid for those 20 minutes. This is to help with the extra time it takes to take the shuttle back to CM parking.

  9. #9

    • Former Churro Jockey
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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    Quote Originally Posted by TrulyGoofy View Post
    For those who don't know, cast members clock out 20 minutes before their scheduled off time, but are paid for those 20 minutes. This is to help with the extra time it takes to take the shuttle back to CM parking.
    It depends on the department. Every department negotiates their "walking time" with their contract. I haven't worked in the parks for 14 years now so I have no idea what the restaurant union has been able to negotiate since I left, but in 1999, it was 15 minutes for all restaurant employees. But other departments may have had more walking time, less walking time, or no walking time at all.
    Disneyland Cast Member
    Outdoor Vending
    1996 - 1999

    My interview with MiceAge about working at Disneyland:
    http://micechat.com/blogs/mouth-of-t...ding-crew.html

  10. #10

    • Former Churro Jockey
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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    Quote Originally Posted by jchamb268 View Post
    It was great to hear that you loved working for Disney, but the experience of having to park or spend extra time before clocking in for a shift is something that people do everyday. I work in San Francisco and I live 30 miles away, I have to be at work at 9am. I get up at 530am, go through my routine of getting ready for work and then drive to my train. Spend 45 min to an hour on my train then walk 10min up to my job. Then do the same backwards on the way home. I used to have to get to work at 230am and would have to drive in. Parking in SF is horrible and I would have to park a half an hour away and walk to my job. But with all this being said I love my job and would not trade it in the world except for working at Disneyland.
    I hear you, but what I'm talking about is in addition to the daily commute. I personally commuted 60 - 90 minutes from Moreno Valley to Disneyland every day, but whether it's 90 minutes or 9 minutes the extra time I'm talking about comes after I park my car and and "ready to start working" from my point of view.
    Disneyland Cast Member
    Outdoor Vending
    1996 - 1999

    My interview with MiceAge about working at Disneyland:
    http://micechat.com/blogs/mouth-of-t...ding-crew.html

  11. #11

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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    Quote Originally Posted by Big D View Post
    It depends on the department. Every department negotiates their "walking time" with their contract. I haven't worked in the parks for 14 years now so I have no idea what the restaurant union has been able to negotiate since I left, but in 1999, it was 15 minutes for all restaurant employees. But other departments may have had more walking time, less walking time, or no walking time at all.
    As a current CM, I'm pretty sure the 20 minutes walking time is true for all departments.

  12. #12

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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    Quote Originally Posted by Big D View Post
    I hear you, but what I'm talking about is in addition to the daily commute. I personally commuted 60 - 90 minutes from Moreno Valley to Disneyland every day, but whether it's 90 minutes or 9 minutes the extra time I'm talking about comes after I park my car and and "ready to start working" from my point of view.
    I think that the tram to/from the parking lot should be considered commute time, but I also think once you walk in the gates and "clock in" you should be compensated for your time. Maybe a dual clock-in system, where you clock in when you enter and clock-in again at your office to start your shift, and if the time is over whatever walking time your dept. has negotiated, you would need to explain the difference or not get paid (to avoid people getting food, talking with friends, etc. prior to going in to work).

  13. #13

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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    Interesting insight. I'd imagine this was even worse last summer after the CA Adv grand reopening.

    The reality of it is this: the requirements and the job were tolerable up to a point. At the point where the compensation for a day of work was no longer worth it for you, you left. Someone else who found the job and its requirements worth the compensation took your place. At the same time, on the flip side, if your compensation for your performance was not worth it for Disney (bad performance, showing up late, too many mistakes, not doing your job, etc.), then they fire you.

    What I'm getting at is that people always think only companies can do the firing. But the reality is that you didn't quit; you fired Disney! And the best thing? Your skills are probably better used elsewhere, the enthusiasm and skills of your replacement are probably better for Disney, and your replacement gets a job that they want. It's win/win/win. This is the beauty of the marketplace. The system worked beautifully here.

    If these inconveniences were too much for too many people, Disney would have to make improvements, perhaps by easing the extraneous time through infrastructure , increasing compensation, or paying employees starting the moment they walk onto the property. Otherwise, they'd face a shortage of employees or too many employees that are below their standards (or a combination of both). That's bad for business and would hurt them unless they made changes.

    Unfortunately, there are lots of people that want to work at Disneyland. As long as that's the case, and these people can do the job required of them, things won't change. But that's the way it is.

  14. #14

    • Chief Troublemaker
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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    I'm trying to equate this to when I was working (yay, retirement!). When we occasionally had to work in the 'main office' it included parking at an 'on premises' parking lot & walking to the main building and then having to go through building security, including a metal detector & bag search. We worked 'flex time' & if you got there either before or after the 8am 'rush hour' it would take you 10-20 minutes from the time you parked to the time you walked in your office door. If you weren't on a 'flex tour' & you had to sign in at 8am security could get pretty backed up & could take up to 20 extra minutes just to get through security. You didn't sign in until you actually stepped inside your dept's office door so you had to allow yourself that 'extra' time to be sure you were in the door at 8am. But that's all part of the 'commute', even though I was 'on premises' the minute I entered the parking lot, because technically I was on my own time with no official duties until I signed in. I will agree however that CMs should have been clocked in when they reached costuming, as checking out a costume would have been the first employer mandated duty of the day. Obviously that's moot as CMs now take their costumes home.

    I might have been 'ready to work' from the time I left my car, but I really wasn't 'at work' until I began my employer mandated duties (signified by signing in & sitting down at my desk).

    Not criticizing your point of view, just offering a different one.
    "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.​"

  15. #15

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    Re: Why I left Disneyland and wouldn't work there today

    If Disney paid like In and Out....I'd say that the trams are fair because you get the perk of free tickets...but they don't so...my opinion Disney is just a greedy company that is lucky enough to have been started by some really talented and hard working men...and to this day just stand on the shoulders of giants but only the past saves them from not having a tomorrow

    That and...they buy up everything from Star Wars to Marvel...so besides DC all of the big things you loved as a kid is owed by them

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