Walt Disney Faces Backlash Over Homeless Donations Amid Employee Wages Dispute

The Walt Disney Company has recently been under fire over contentious wage negotiations and Cast Members’ well-documented battles with poverty; nonetheless, in spite of the uproar, Disney recently contributed thousands of dollars to a Central Florida organization that focuses on homelessness.

The Disney Parks Blog announced the good news of Disney’s $100,000 donation to the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida’s Juvenile Center Renovation. Disney’s funding allowed for the construction of a new youth center with several enhancements.

The Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida’s President and CEO stated in a blog post that the Walt Disney Company’s support has allowed the coalition to expand resident programs, provide opportunities for families to make new, happy memories, and now, provide a special place for [their] students to unwind. This blog post made it clear how beneficial Disney has been to the coalition.

Undoubtedly, Disney’s donation had an impact as seen by the children’s wide smiles in the blog post image up top, but sadly, Disney fans who have been following the wage negotiations or listening to Cast Member testimonials on social media, where Cast Members have been disclosing their struggles with poverty or homelessness, are not letting Disney’s kind donation go by uncommented.

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Walt Disney World’s New Board

While this was going on, the first meeting of the new board of Walt Disney World’s government, which was completely reorganized by sweeping legislation signed by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis as retaliation for Disney publicly opposing Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” law, dealt with the routine issues any other municipal government would deal with, such as requests for better firefighter equipment, instructions on how to request public records, and bond ratings.

But the five DeSantis-appointed board members gave hints on Wednesday about potential controversial measures they might take, like forbidding COVID-19 restrictions at Disney World and advocating the abolition of two cities that were established after the Florida Legislature authorized the theme park resort’s self-governance in 1967.

In order to assist in the interpretation of the new laws, the board also approved the appointment of the legal team that assisted the governor’s office in making amendments to the governing district.

At a hotel ballroom near Disney World, the new board members mostly listened as members of the public and staff from the district’s departments described what they did.

The new board appointed by DeSantis will have a wider constituency encompassing more than just a single company, instead representing workers and residents of nearby communities, according to Martin Garcia, the board’s new chair. This is a significant change from the previous board controlled by Disney.

The other new board members for the organization that has been renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District are Ron Peri, the head of The Gathering USA ministry, Mike Sasso, an attorney, and Bridget Ziegler, a conservative school board member and the wife of Florida Republican Party chairman Christian Ziegler. Brian Aungst Jr. is an attorney and the descendant of a two-term Republican mayor of Clearwater.

For the preceding 55 years, when the government operated as the Reedy Creek Improvement District, they replaced a board that was under Disney’s control.

District administrator John Classe informed the board of the need for a new logo to replace the outdated one that is present on 123 vehicles, 300 trash cans, and 1,000 manhole covers.

The Disney district was taken over by DeSantis and the Florida Legislature last year when the media giant, under pressure, publicly opposed “Don’t Say Gay,” a law that forbids teaching about sexual orientation and gender identity to children in kindergarten through third grade as well as other lessons deemed inappropriate for that age group.

DeSantis moved quickly to penalize the company, calling a special session and instructing the GOP-controlled legislature to dissolve Disney’s self-governing district, launching a closely watched reorganization process.

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