More money, and more kids, for theme park workers
Published: April 25, 2006 at 11:55 AM
Today's theme park news, from across the transom...
- Universal Orlando has increased its starting wage for theme park employees by 50 cents an hour, to $7.25. That puts Universal ahead of its local competition, as SeaWorld Orlando pays $7 an hour to start and Walt Disney World offers just $6.80.
Universal's also dumping the three-month waiting period to be eligible for benefits, allowing new hires to be covered immediately.
- Who had "January 2008" in the "When will Disney finally get around to shutting the last DisneyQuest" pool? Well, if you did, Jim Hill says you're a winner.
- Disney's gone public with its 'Magical Beginnings' ticket package, designed to attract families with preschoolers to Walt Disney World and Disneyland. On first glance, one might think that Disney's full enough with the little ones, thank you. But Magical Beginnings packages free-meal discounts for families staying on property with special in-park events from Aug. 13 to Sept. 30. (A similar promotion, including stays at 'Good Neighbor' hotels runs from Aug. 13 to Nov. 21 at Disneyland.)
Why then? That would pull families with preschoolers out of the busiest summer vacation periods and into a "shoulder season" when most older kids have returned to school. In theory, this should even out the crowds by shifting some visitors from July and early August into late August through early fall.
Be careful if planning a 'Magical Beginnings' trip to Disneyland in late August, however. Unlike in Florida, most schools in Southern California do not start until after Labor Day, so one would expect most families with toddlers and older kids who want to take advantage of the package to do so between mid-August and early September.
Published: April 25, 2006 at 2:32 PM
NOOOOOOOOOO!!! I like Disneyquest!!
Published: April 25, 2006 at 3:18 PM
I'm a little unclear on the wage thing. Do all new employees working "the park" start at seven bucks an hour regardless of their position? In other words does that mean a gift shop employee make the same as a ride op? That's also nice about the benefits, but how much do those benefits cost the employee? Seven bucks an hour is a raise, but it might as well be minimum wage in Orlando. One other question if anyone out there knows, what is the wage ceiling for such employees?
Published: April 25, 2006 at 5:45 PM
Typically, when you bump the bottom of the wage scale 50 cents, the upper slots move up at least 50 cents, as well. But I'll leave the details to someone in Orlando who knows 'em.
When I worked Tom Sawyer's Island at WDW, someone every few days would ask what I made at the job. And many of them couldn't believe that we got paid the same as other ride ops (since we were actually driving a vehicle) *and* that ride ops got paid pretty much the same as merchandise and food service cast members... or that custodial got more than any of us.
Custodial was just supply and demand, I explained, which most folks could understand, but quite a few union guys, fire and Teamster-types, said we must have a really cr@ppy union if we were getting less than $10 an hour to actually drive a raft. (To which, I replied, the raft drivers are about .05 percent of the workers repped by the union, so who cares about us?)
Published: April 25, 2006 at 5:49 PM
Union in Florida means nothing. Florida is a right to work state, which means you have the right to work for the money that the company thinks your worthy of, or you dont, and the company has the right to fire you at any time without rhyme or reason. If you have a strong union, that usually doesnt happen. However, I work a governmental type job. I get paid less than 12 an hour (oh boo hoo I know). The same job "up nawrth" as the transplants say, would garnish anywhere between 19 and 25 an hour. Theme parks are no exception. They pay less because they can, and with such a booming population, there is always someone who would love the chance to work at disney just to say they do. You soon realize that free tickets into the park does not pay the bills. This is not the first time that Universal has stepped up its minimum starting pay. In recent months, rumor is that they've lost a lot of employees who have been there a long time and have not gotten appropriate raises.
As for Disney quest, are you saying that the one in DTD is closing?
Published: April 25, 2006 at 6:36 PM
Wages in the theme park industry are no different there than anywhere else. Cedar Point pays non entertainment employees a minimum of 6.25 an hour, with a dollar extra for every hour worked over the summer at the end of season...bringing in a total wage of $7.25 for someone who sticks around. Musicians and entertainers can rake in almost $500 a week after bonuses. Thats good hay in Ohio for a college/high school student, heck 500 a week is a decent check for just about anyone in Ohio... but $7.25 doesn't carry someone in Florida nearly as far. There are other factors to think of such as benefits, housing, etc...but the heart of the matter is that a unionized Disney workforce does no better per hour than a non-unioned employee does at Cedar Point.
Published: April 25, 2006 at 10:24 PM
Okay, pardon my ignorance here, but Cedar Point is non-union? How is that possible, in what is quite possibly the most pro-union part of the country?
Published: April 26, 2006 at 6:11 AM
Cedar Point is just like any other seasonal park. They recruit college and high school kids, foreign exchange students, and others who want to work for the summer months. To my knowledge, there has never been any kind of union at Cedar Point, or at any other Cedar Fair park for that matter. Now the maintenance guys/plumbers/carpenters/construction workers...etc may belong to their local unions, as many people of those trades do, but your average ride op on Millennium Force is a college student looking to make some bread during the summer.
I think part of the reason that Cedar Point is able to pay those kinds of wages is the fact that 1.00 per hour of it is a bonus structure. The base pay over the summer is 6.25, and if you fulfull your "contract" by working a certain amount of hours and month, you get the bonus of $1 for each hour worked at the end of your season. That enables them to keep payroll down over the season until they are in the black on profits. While some may believe different, it's not that easy for Cedar Point to have a full staff. There's no large market within reasonable driving distance for a teenager (although some make the trip) In fact, they rely heavily on overseas/exchange student recruiting, which gives them the ability to stretch their season out a bit when college starts back up. They also entice college students with college credit, and cheap housing that closely resembles the atmosphere of a college dorm...partying and all.
A place like Kings Island also employs many college students, but the fact that its in Cincinatti, a city of almost 3 million, gives them an almost endless supply of high school students looking for that summer job. The funny thing is, that while Kings Island doesn't pay quite as much, they still pay around the same as Disney...no union.
Published: April 26, 2006 at 9:09 AM
Well, Disney's unions were decimated when the company dumped leads in the 1990s, which prompted many senior cast members who did not get promoted to supervisor to leave the company, including many who provided a substantial portion of the official, and unofficial, union leadership. Cut off the head, and the body dies....
That said, I'd think that forward-thinking union organizers in the Cleveland area would want to go out and organize Cedar Point, if for no other reason than to introduce kids, especially the foriegn exchange kids, to union membership. Then again, I just typed "forward-thinking" and "union organizers" in the same sentence and my keyboard didn't explode, so I suppose I should quit this comment while I'm still ahead.
Published: April 26, 2006 at 4:36 PM
Disney is Union? I thought that they dropped Uniion years ago, as Robert had said when they did away with the lead positions.
Again, Union in Florida doesnt do too much anymore. The laws are on the side of the business owners.
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