ORLANDO, Fla. - As guests slowly return to Walt Disney World, workers are as well.
"I love the job at Disney. It’s been wonderful to interact with people from all over the world and hopefully, we get that again," said Nick Caturano, a server who was laid off during the pandemic but recently put on a list for part-time alternates. "That was a surprise and it’s hopeful because we didn’t see that happening as soon as it has, but that could still be a ways off."
Jeremy Haicken, president of Local Unite Here 737 explains, "People have been recalled steadily since the summer. Business is picking up. Which is good and people are staying safe."
During Disney’s fourth-quarter earnings call in November, it was announced that Disney World saw an increase in bookings at 77%, with Thanksgiving week booked close to capacity of 35 percent. They recently announced the reopening of Blizzard Beach and three hotels next year.
Caturano is relieved Disney World is back in business, unlike Disneyland in California.
"I’m a big proponent and really grateful for what’s happening here, as opposed to what’s happening in California."
"Hopefully, a vaccine will mean tourists feel safe to travel next year and come back in bigger numbers which means more jobs," said Haicken.
Haicken added that around 6,000 workers in housekeeping and food and beverage services are still out of a job. Disney had said a total of 32,000 people were to be let go.
"People who are out of work are really struggling."
He is grateful to those who’ve donated both food and money for their food bank.
Caturano got a license to sell insurance and details cars as a backup, but he said there is nothing like working at Disney.
"I definitely plan to go back if I’m called."
A Disney spokesperson wouldn't say how many have returned to work.
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