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  • Gas prices and DL cast retention

    So here's an interesting point I've been musing over...

    Gas prices are dangerously flirting with $4/gal. We all know that by summer they'll have solidly pushed past that price threshold (and no doubt gone beyond). While this is affecting everyone, it's particularly hard on low wage earners. I think starting pay for CMs these days is $9.05/hr, isn't it? Or approximately 2 gallons of gas after taxes.

    Given that a large percentage of the DL cast lives in far flung (and ostensibly cheaper to live) places like Riverside or Corona, how long can Disney sustain casting levels at the park at the current wage?

    Seems a pity, since I think they only just raised those wages a couple months ago, but I'm thinking another wage hike may be unavoidable if gas prices stay this high. At some point those far-flung CMs are going to have to make some tough decisions about their commutes.

    So Disney is probably going to have to start figuring out how to keep the parks fully staffed, with an all-OC applicant pool. Tough business, that. I wonder what they're going to have to pay to keep the park fully staffed with quality people?

    Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe...



  • #2
    Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

    Have other rising gas prices ever made Disneyland pay CMs better?

    I am curious... but I agree. Some kind of compromise for gas needs to be arranged.

    "I'm not funny. What I am is brave." - Lucille Ball

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    • #3
      Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

      I think it's fair to say that rising wages and more flexible schedules have made the cast better. Have you noticed how much better the cast is this year compared to this time last year?

      Unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe...


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      • #4
        Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

        I would also point out that in general, the park is not critically understaffed anymore. Granted that thanks to YOMD the park is not as busy as the spectacular 50th Anniversary, but still.
        Retention is atrocious to be sure, but staffing levels are adequate. Furthermore, IMHO the quality of cast filtering into the park is slowly but steadily getting better.
        Measures such as the raise in starting pay, and the Fri/Sat/Sun and Sat/Sun only availabilities can be credited to that, making things more attractive since it is no secret that pay and scheduling are the two things that keep folks away. The problem has been identified and Disney has combatted it.
        That being said, it is only temporary. If the Cost of Living keeps skyrocketing, then another wage hike will be necessary to keep the park from being filled with Six Flags rejects (perish the thought). Another point to is the lack of incentive for folks to stay with the company.
        The starting wage has been raised, but nothing else has. So after a year, some CMs get a tiny raise, but others won't get anything for TWO YEARS. For most folks there is no reason to stick around. Granted Disneyland can no longer operate economically by being totally staffed by CMs with 20 years of seniority making $15+ an hour and having tons of benefits and vacations and such... but you still need that mix. And if current policy holds true, many of the old timers, once they leave, will not be replaced except for someone zooming in so they can make enough money for their latest video game and then quit.

        In short, more effort needs to be done to retain quality cast members.
        "If we cut the budget are you going to be the one standing at the exit explaining to guests why the ride they just rode is a piece of crap?" - - John Lasseter

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        • #5
          Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

          Originally posted by Wally View Post
          In short, more effort needs to be done to retain quality cast members.
          such as jacking alot of the starting wages for some departments to $15 easily. 3rd shift custodial is loaded with a ton of details that 10.50/hour just doesn't cut it, you need more cash to make it more worth your while for coming in and running your tail ragged. Try doing bathroom detail during the night on the west side, about 6-8+ different sets of bathrooms from hungry bear all the way down to rancho del zocolo are involved, lots of up and down hill cart pushing.... hosing is another that runs you into the ground, many work through their breaks just to get alot of it done in time for magic morning days

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          • #6
            Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

            Does anyone seriously become a CM to make a living? I don't know how it's tenable to make only $9 per hour for 40 hours per week, and live in SoCal. Plus there's no health benefits. The job is only tenable for students and retirees. Anyone else would be in dire financial straits.

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            • #7
              Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

              Originally posted by vfire View Post
              Does anyone seriously become a CM to make a living? I don't know how it's tenable to make only $9 per hour for 40 hours per week, and live in SoCal. Plus there's no health benefits. The job is only tenable for students and retirees. Anyone else would be in dire financial straits.
              I see grown adults working at the drive-thru, and families of 6 or 7 living in 1 or 2 bedroom apartments, here in orange. i'm willing to bet working at disneyland is a better living than fast food or the car wash... for some people it's the only option.

              i'm glad to hear that the quality of the cast is going up in people's minds... i still get some extremely slow and grumpy cms (esp in food service) often.

              next year i'll be in so cal for nearly a full year; thinking about applying to be a cm! but i would want to do some kind performing job, like characters or dancing, or even tech hand on F!. i think that would be the best reason to work at DLR, because it's fulfilling. actually, being a plaid or tour guide or some kind of city hall or hotel employee could be cool too... i'd bet you see a lot of interesting things or meet a lot of nice travelers. i've never been in a job where people complain or berate me, but i'd like to learn how to handle that!
              "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by" (John Masefield)


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              • #8
                Gas prices --> Less Guests!

                What about the effect of gasoline prices on guest attendance ??

                It has got to be driving attendance down to some degree. Anybody have any estimates of the correlation.
                --
                http://www.bewaterwise.com

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                • #9
                  Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                  Interesting discussion. I know a lot of CM's who have quit over the years when they realized that they were paying to work for Disney and not the other way around... in all cases it was gas/commute and the lack of Disney pay. Also if the hire-in is $9 and the top-out for Attractions is $10... means after a year or so you get squat for a raise!
                  "Happiness is a Low Water Level"

                  sigpic

                  "Creating magical memories and making Managers cry since 1955!"

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                  • #10
                    Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                    Originally posted by vfire View Post
                    Does anyone seriously become a CM to make a living?
                    Does anyone seriously try to sell paintings for the rest of their lives because it's what they love? Disney pays pretty bad but if it's what you enjoy doing, some people make it work.

                    "I'm not funny. What I am is brave." - Lucille Ball

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                    • #11
                      Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                      In this economy I don't think anybody is going to be seeing higher salaries anytime soon whether they work at DL or not. The econony doesn't seem to have effected the parks yet, but I think we'll have to wait and see what it looks like in the Summer and Fall. As we have seen in the past, Disneyland is NOT recession proof.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                        commuter assistance,

                        $1 a day! (sad I know)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                          Originally posted by techskip View Post
                          Interesting discussion. I know a lot of CM's who have quit over the years when they realized that they were paying to work for Disney and not the other way around... in all cases it was gas/commute and the lack of Disney pay. Also if the hire-in is $9 and the top-out for Attractions is $10... means after a year or so you get squat for a raise!
                          Ding ding. Starting wage is $9.05, and only by the 5th year does it reach $10. That's $0.95 of raises in 5 years (I'm talking about Master Services Contract here; foods and other departments use slightly different numbers). Also unless you make FT status, there are no benefits at all- forget how many hours you work, you must be statused.
                          Do folks live off of Disneyland? No. They live off of Disneyland + a 2nd job, because it is impossible. The job is only tenable for students living at home looking for some mad money, a vanishingly small set of retirees looking for something fun to do.
                          As it is set up, once folks are in the situation they find that the system seems to designed to attract as many new hires as possible, baby them for a few weeks and then... nothing. So they quit a few weeks or months later once they realize the situation. Turnover will remain at 100% for the foreeable future, which is in IMHO too high.
                          "If we cut the budget are you going to be the one standing at the exit explaining to guests why the ride they just rode is a piece of crap?" - - John Lasseter

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                            Originally posted by Wally View Post
                            Ding ding. Starting wage is $9.05, and only by the 5th year does it reach $10. That's $0.95 of raises in 5 years (I'm talking about Master Services Contract here; foods and other departments use slightly different numbers). Also unless you make FT status, there are no benefits at all- forget how many hours you work, you must be statused.
                            Do folks live off of Disneyland? No. They live off of Disneyland + a 2nd job, because it is impossible. The job is only tenable for students living at home looking for some mad money, a vanishingly small set of retirees looking for something fun to do.
                            As it is set up, once folks are in the situation they find that the system seems to designed to attract as many new hires as possible, baby them for a few weeks and then... nothing. So they quit a few weeks or months later once they realize the situation. Turnover will remain at 100% for the foreeable future, which is in IMHO too high.
                            The majority of my comment would likely take this thread completely off topic. Let's say that prior to reaching top-out it is the union raise plus company raise, numbers depending on contract. One you hit top-out you have just your union raise every anniversary date and that is usually 3% or 3.5%... so basically pennies on the dollar!

                            People will cite that you can't live on Disney's dime alone, those same people will then tell you that prior to 1984 you could! But it is not specifically a Disney story, this is most major corporations in America today.
                            "Happiness is a Low Water Level"

                            sigpic

                            "Creating magical memories and making Managers cry since 1955!"

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                            • #15
                              Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                              Ok as for the comment that people don't work for disney to live off of... That is soooo not true and I am proof of that... I work for Disney and it is my only job... I am not a student... However I have a deal worked out with my family that as long as my money is going towards paying for gas and paying off my credit cards from a past screw up I don't have to pay for my living... I pay for my food, my gas, my old credit cards, and my own clothes... However even with that gas prices are getting so high that I am thinking I am gonna have to move home to Vegas and get a job that pays more and I won't have to drive as much.... Also if I do that I could get a cheap apartment that is close to where ever it is that I get a job... There are several people in my location as well that are paying for families with their jobs... I personlly don't see how they do it... but they do...

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                              • #16
                                Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                                In simplistic terms, high oil prices work in two ways to affect DLR, one in a good way and one in a bad way for the bottom line. Airfare tickets are going way up coupled with worse service, which means a number of SoCal residents will be going nowhere for their summer vacation, and instead be tempted to take a local vacation at DL and other destinations (hey, there's a lot of fun stuff to do in SoCal). This will hurt the hotels obviously because the high airfares will prevent the non-locals from flying here to go to the parks. Hence, overall attendance is unlikely to take a hit because those who do not fly in will be replaced by locals not flying out. Hotels will take a hit however if out-of-towners stop flying in since locals will stay in their home. This is why Orlando (heavy reliance on domestic out-of-towners and international tourists) will be in bigger trouble in the long run than Anaheim (heavier reliance on locals) if oil prices continue to push upward.

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                                • #17
                                  Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                                  Originally posted by vfire View Post
                                  In simplistic terms, high oil prices work in two ways to affect DLR, one in a good way and one in a bad way for the bottom line. Airfare tickets are going way up coupled with worse service, which means a number of SoCal residents will be going nowhere for their summer vacation, and instead be tempted to take a local vacation at DL and other destinations (hey, there's a lot of fun stuff to do in SoCal). This will hurt the hotels obviously because the high airfares will prevent the non-locals from flying here to go to the parks. Hence, overall attendance is unlikely to take a hit because those who do not fly in will be replaced by locals not flying out. Hotels will take a hit however if out-of-towners stop flying in since locals will stay in their home. This is why Orlando (heavy reliance on domestic out-of-towners and international tourists) will be in bigger trouble in the long run than Anaheim (heavier reliance on locals) if oil prices continue to push upward.
                                  However there is another reason for the high oil prices which have a positive effect on Disney and the tourism industry in general. WEAK AMERICAN DOLLAR... so while domestic tourism may be down, international tourism is up! And those empty rooms that a domestic traveler may have occupied are now occupied by an international traveler who sees it as a "bargin" when compared to their native currency! The weak US Dollar has a huge impact on everything we import, including oil... they did an analysis and if we had the stronger dollar of years past the oil would be between $60 and $70 a barrel , not the $100+ it currently sits at.
                                  "Happiness is a Low Water Level"

                                  sigpic

                                  "Creating magical memories and making Managers cry since 1955!"

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                                    Originally posted by Morrigoon View Post
                                    So Disney is probably going to have to start figuring out how to keep the parks fully staffed, with an all-OC applicant pool. Tough business, that. I wonder what they're going to have to pay to keep the park fully staffed with quality people?
                                    This was a problem even before the gas price increases, due to other companies competing successfully for the teenager/college-kid job pool.

                                    Big problem is that the park has changed from being a year-round-open-but-seasonal park to a non-seasonal one, and that means the applicants for CM jobs have to be a lot more flexible than college kids and high school seniors filling in on weekends and during holidays.

                                    Only one way to change that back, though I did read that in 1984, attendance was less than 9.5 million. Hard to give up those numbers just to make sure there are quality CMs, quality attractions, quality food and souvenirs, and reasonable ticketing options that mean everyone pays a reaonable price every time they go.
                                    "The cause of every one of DL's problems."

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                                    • #19
                                      Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                                      Originally posted by Wally View Post
                                      Turnover will remain at 100% for the foreeable future, which is in IMHO too high.
                                      Tell that to my overstaffed department.

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                                      • #20
                                        Re: Gas prices and DL cast retention

                                        Originally posted by mrfantasmic View Post
                                        Tell that to my overstaffed department.
                                        And what area is that?
                                        I've been kicking around the thought of rehiring back into the park after a 15 year absence.
                                        I worked Attractions from the early 80s to the early 90s and really enjoyed it.
                                        I've been teaching since I left the park, so if I were to return it would be more for the enjoyment than it would be for the paycheck, as I really don't need the second job (I'm single).
                                        The areas in which I was trained were the Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, and Main Street Attractions areas.
                                        How are those areas doing for staffing?
                                        What would be the chances of hiring back into your previously-trained area?
                                        Do they ever honor personal requests or preferences during the interview process?
                                        I really liked the Tomorrowland and Fantasyland areas.
                                        And being that I'm old school Disney, Disneyland fits my style better than DCA.
                                        Any thoughts?

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