Disney Ends Special “Cast Member” Holiday Passes to Disneyland

Disneyland becomes a winter wonderland every year during the holidays. Families take pictures next to a 60-foot Christmas tree at the base of Main Street. Sleeping Beauty’s castle shimmers with blue icicle lights. It’s a Small World’s facade turns festive with twinkling Christmas-colored bulbs. The holiday magic draws many to the theme park, but Disneyland workers and their families claim they’re getting shut out from the season.

In previous years, “cast members” (the Mouse’s name for its employees) enjoyed a special Disney Family Holiday Celebration which granted free access, discount vouchers and complimentary snacks at both its theme parks as a token of appreciation for all their hard work. But now union flyers are circulating among workers lambasting the corporation for limiting their special holiday passes to California Adventure only. Sure, Disney’s other theme park is decked out for the holidays, too. Cars Land gets a Christmas makeover, food kiosks serve up holiday treats, and a decorated tree towers over Buena Vista Street. But everybody knows Disneyland is where the spirit of Christmas brings the most joy.

Unless you happen to work at the Disneyland Resort and are getting Scrooged!

One flyer implies as much by depicting a scene from Mickey’s Christmas Carol where Ebenezer Scrooge (Scrooge McDuck) admonishes his worker Bob Cratchit (Mickey Mouse) with the caption “…and stay OUT of Disneyland.” Workers represented by 11 different unions are banding together to challenge the decision, deeming it another in a series of eroding benefits like when the Mouse nixed its cast member holiday party and stopped closing the park for a worker-only day. “Let cast members have the holidays we deserve,” another flyer declares.
“We regularly evaluate cast offerings in an effort to continue delivering a great experience for both our cast members and our guests celebrating the season with family and friends,” Disney spokeswoman Suzi Brown wote the Weekly in an email. “This year, theme park admission as part of the Disney Family Holiday Celebration is offered exclusively at Disney California Adventure Park.” The company is adding a MaxPass in addition to regular discount vouchers and snack coupons. Brown also notes that workers still enjoy a few unblocked “sign-in” days at both theme parks during November and December when they can bring friends and family in addition to having complimentary tickets every year.

The union flyers follow an anonymous resort worker “living conditions” survey organized by nine unions in late September ahead of numerous contract expirations. Service Employees International Union-United Service Workers West (SEIU-USWW), one of the unions in an emerging resort coalition, asked to set bargaining dates over the issue of holiday passes in early October. It’s unclear if that ever took place; SEIU-USWW didn’t respond to our request for comment and Disney didn’t immediately clarify if negotiations happened. Either way, the Disney Family Holiday Celebration ain’t happening at Disneyland.

“For more than the past decade, management has helped brighten the holiday season by providing employees with free access for them and their families into Disneyland and California Adventure during the holiday,” Matthew Harden, SEIU-USWW senior coordinator, wrote in an Oct. 5 letter to Matthew Altman, Disney’s labor relations senior manager. “Notwithstanding the fact that revenue from Disneyland’s Parks and Resorts have increased in the past year, Disneyland has unilaterally decided to darken the holidays by taking away some of these benefits from the employees and their families.”

In the words of Scrooge McDuck: And a bah humbug to you!

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