If you’re as big a Disney fan as I am, you’ve probably heard that Disney recently had to lay off 28,000 employees from its theme parks division, including the Disneyland Resort here in Orange County. 2/3 of these employees were part time workers. Disney to their credit had managed to keep these employees on their health benefits for the first 6 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is more than many other employers were able to do during these tumultuous times.
Even so, these layoffs have been devastating to our community, since so many in our area know people that work(ed) for the Disney company.
I typically write about all the fun stuff you can do, see, and eat at the Disneyland Resort for OC Mom Collective here. But when this news broke, I felt like I had to write something, anything, in support of all these wonderful former Disney Cast Members who have lost their livelihoods. Even more than that, they’ve lost their healthcare benefits, which is a very scary prospect in the midst of a health crisis.
First and foremost, I wanted to say thank you to these cast members for creating so much magic for me and my family during our many visits to the Disneyland Resort, Downtown Disney, and Disney World in Florida. I’m so sorry you have been affected in this way. And I hope you’re able to just keep swimming until you find your next gig.
Ways to support former Disney cast members
Many of the people who work for the Disney theme parks are creative people, and have found alternatives to supplement their income during the shutdown with their other talents. Some have opened online shops to sell their creations. Others have come together to rally support for their former co-workers in need.
So I thought, if you’ve loved visiting Disneyland in the past like I have and would like to help support some of these talented people that helped to make your visits so magical, here are some links to the small businesses of former Disney Cast Members and other ways to help support them:
- This facebook group runs a food pantry specifically for former Disney Cast Members both in Florida and California in need of a bit more support. Click here to learn more about the organization and how to help.
- The Ear For Each Other facebook group is place where furloughed and laid off Disney Cast Members can list their side hustles and creative goods for others to purchase. This is a GREAT way to get some holiday shopping done while also supporting small businesses that need it most! I’ve already discovered several amazingly talented vendors this way, including:
- Kyle Branch Design: He applies his experience in graphic design to making holiday card designs with a Disney theme. They’re so whimsical and lovely. He can also do custom orders on request!
- Rachel Ffrench: She makes beautiful wooden coasters, custom ornaments, and more. Her baby Yoda wooden coasters would make a great gift for any STAR WARS fan!
- Gracie Gomez: This talented pastry chef was the subject of this feature article where she was called a “creative genius” for her contributions to many super popular Disneyland Resort sweets including Jack Jack’s Cookie Num Nums, Toy Story macarons, speciality cupcakes, and desserts at 21 Royal and Club 33. She’s now applying her talent to selling handmade hot cocoa bombs and mini gingerbread houses. It’s like having a little taste of Disney in your home this holiday season.
- The Franco Shop: This 17 year Disney veteran who was furloughed in March and his wife are parlaying their love of woodworking into a veritable furniture business! They make everything from custom engraved serving trays and pet feeders to large items like custom headboards, wine bars, shoe benches, and much more.
- I found this helpful linktree site with links to various creative endeavors by recently laid-off Disney Cast Members including Etsy shops, books they’ve written, their professional photography, and more.
- The Disney Food Blog put together this post which includes a spreadsheet of various small online shops owned by former Cast Members.
- Super Disney fan and influencer @DAPSmagic has pledged to showcase former Disney Cast Member businesses on his Instagram for the foreseeable future.
These are dark times, no doubt.
But if I can find even the thinnest of silver linings to this latest bit of devastating news amidst the never-ending hell that is 2020, it’s to see people who love Disney coming together to support the folks that have brought that Disney magic into their lives through its theme parks.
I look forward to the time when Disneyland opens its gates once again. Until then, I’ll be doing my best to keep that Disney magic alive in my heart, and thinking of this quote from the Disney movie FROZEN 2:
“You are lost, hope is gone. But you must go on. And do the next right thing.”
Are you a Disneyland Resort Cast Member who was affected by this layoff and have a small business you’d like fans to support? Let us know in the comments!