We’ve lived in Orlando for almost two decades. We’ve been through a lot, including the horrific tragedy of the Pulse shooting in 2016. That was a painful time for our city. One of the most moving events I’ve ever attended was the memorial celebration at Lake Eola, in the middle of Downtown Orlando, just days after the tragedy.
While the mourning of those lost unnecessarily to gun violence at a gay nightclub hurt my soul, it’s not the only time I’ve felt like I was in the pit of ultimate sorrow while feeling for others dealing with problems that I could only imagine.
We visited Las Vegas in 2017, just after the mass shooting around the Mandalay Bay hotel. It felt appropriate for us to visit the ad-hoc memorial set up at the Las Vegas sign. We knew what they were going through and wanted to give some of our positive energy to people living there.
So while we’re not dealing with a traumatic event from a gun, the feeling in Orlando for those who are friends with people who work at Walt Disney World is much the same. That’s because the Walt Disney Company is alerting roughly 7,000 Walt Disney World employees, many of which have worked for Disney for decades, that they are now out of a job.
While Sharon and I are Disney Annual Passholders and have taken a few trips to the themeparks, we have to say that the parks were relatively empty. The only park that was marginally full was Disney Hollywood Studios.
It wasn’t too hard to get a picture with almost no one in the background. The park was that empty, except for Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge.
Tourism to Orlando hasn’t come back. Saying anything else is a bald-faced lie. While Disney has tried to get locals to return to the parks, that’s not where they make their money. It’s from the tourists who stay at hotels, eat at restaurants and buy a ton of souvenirs.
A large portion of our town is going to bed tonight not knowing what the future will hold for them. They have worked at jobs that brought joy to travelers from around the world for a large portion of their life. As of today, those jobs are gone. How will the pay their bills? What job experience do they have after working for a theme park? Will they be able to find another job in Central Florida or will they have to move somewhere else? If so, where?
Our thoughts go out to the Disney family right now. This is all happening through no fault of their own. Walt Disney World in Florida has done many things to try to keep the parks, hotels and restaurants open. Eventually, you can’t deny the obvious fact that it’s going to a while before things start to recover.
Besides the emotional pain that many families are going through, there’s going to be a ripple effect through the Orlando economy. All of the businesses, many of them small businesses, that depended on Disney cast members, are also in trouble and some of them will close and never reopen.
Sure, the sign outside Disney World says it’s the Happiest Place on Earth. Tonight, that’s not the way many people living just outside those gates are feeling.
Want to comment on this post? Great! Read this first to help ensure it gets approved.
#stayhealthy #staysafe #washyourhands #wearamask
Like this post? Please share it! We have plenty more just like it and would love it if you decided to hang around and get emailed notifications of when we post. Or maybe you’d like to join our Facebook group – we have 15,000+ members and we talk and ask questions about travel (including Disney parks), creative ways to earn frequent flyer miles and hotel points, how to save money on or for your trips, get access to travel articles you may not see otherwise, etc. Whether you’ve read our posts before or this is the first time you’re stopping by, we’re really glad you’re here and hope you come back to visit again!
This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary