Honestly, when I think about all of the issues being reported online from various guests who have visited Walt Disney World recently, along with many cuts at the theme parks that appear to be budget-related, I can’t help but feel as though the lack of staff has become a bigger problem than many of us may realize.
In fact, the whole ability to decline housekeeping appeared to be more of an issue with a lack of staff than saving money, at least in my opinion. While I don’t have an explanation for things like the free FastPass+ being replaced by the upcharged Lightning Lanes, surely we all knew there were going to be staffing issues when the parks, restaurants, and resorts began reopening after the COVID-19 pandemic closures. As a matter of fact, when I visited Magic Kingdom last fall for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, the driver on the bus transportation back to my resort told me several stories about drivers who couldn’t return to work for various reasons when they were called back. He had retired already but made the decision to return temporarily due to such a desperate situation over the lack of bus drivers.
Let’s think about this for a minute or three. Grocery stores, restaurants, and even retail stores in my area are all having serious staffing issues. Some have even reduced their hours of operation. Folks don’t want to work for what they feel is a low salary. You’ve got an absolute ton of entry-level positions available, at least we do here, but no one wants those positions because they want to be paid double what the minimum wage is per hour. Typically, at least from what I’m hearing in the area I live in, these people who want to be paid so highly don’t have the experience and/or education to back up their monetary desires, which is rather unfortunate because it just doesn’t work. So, businesses are remaining short-handed and are figuring out other ways to stay open, even if it’s just for part of the time.
Around here, we’ve still been able to enjoy some of our favorite restaurant meals by utilizing apps like Door Dash and Uber Eats because those have typically been kept staffed enough to get the job done. I’m not sure if it’s because the drivers are able to work for an hour or two at their discretion whenever they want or if it’s because people (like me!!) tip well and they can work in addition to their regular jobs.
When I think about very popular Disney World restaurants that still haven’t reopened, looking at 1900 Park Fare specifically, I can’t help but wonder if it could be due to simply not being able to hire enough staff to run the place. For a restaurant such as that one, you certainly need experienced servers and people who know how to cook large amounts of food at a time or, at a minimum, people who have worked at a restaurant before.
Even with housekeepers, there is a minimum expectation with regards to their speed in how fast they can ‘turn a room,’ so I feel like there is some experience preferred there as well. How many times do you see people posting on social media about their Disney hotel room not being ready at 5:00 or even 6:00 pm when check-in time is 3:00? Have you ever been assigned a room only to walk in and find other guests’ belongings still in that room? No? I have. And I’ve also witnessed things like toilets not being visibly clean when I’ve walked into the restroom; that’s no fun, and it’s certainly embarrassing for housekeeping management as well. Obviously, that’s more of a training issue than anything else, but my point is that when you are cornered into hiring people that may not have as much experience as you’d prefer as an employer, these are the kinds of things that can happen.
I feel that the issues we’re all seeing in our hometowns with regards to staffing and even prices skyrocketing on everyday items are multiplied, sometimes several times over, in a theme park.
I know that so many folks are disappointed with the [lack of] announcements that came from the D23 Expo in regards to anything new coming to Walt Disney World. I really don’t know what could make it more obvious that staffing situations like the ones going on for the last couple of years or so are super hard to recover from and may take another couple of years to bounce back. As much as we’d like to think we are, we’re not back to business as usual, and as a long-time Disney fan, I’d rather not have my family fly across the country only to experience some of the not-so-exciting things happening in the parks currently while simultaneously paying top dollar for such experiences.