Disney’s affordable housing plan is self-interest, not socialism

Leftists sprinkled magic pixie dust on Disney and made it Marxist. In any case, this is the message currently filtering through the conservative media. To hear conservative commentator Mark Levin put it, “The Magic Kingdom is now a waking asylum.”

If you were to take these bogus claims at face value, perhaps the company’s recent decision to build 1,300 affordable housing units in the Orlando area is a logical next step. “We are invested in working with our community to solve complex problems,” said Jeff Vahle, chairman of Walt Disney World Resort. “The lack of affordable housing affects many people across our country, including right here in Central Florida.”

Solve workers’ problems! What future for the radical left? Will Donald Duck expropriate Cinderella’s Castle? Will Mr. Toad face the guillotine? Will Disney soon roll out Mr Marx’s Wild Ride?

Barely. The truth is, Disney’s new commitment to expanding housing options for its workers is a sign of corporate self-interest, not an inclination toward socialism.

It’s ironic that Main Street USA is still a popular attraction at Disney theme parks.

The simulacrum of century-old city centers reflects a rose-tinted nostalgia for a time when urban neighborhoods were denser, friendlier and less choked with cars. What Disney won’t say is that part of the reason barbers, shop workers, firefighters and other workers were lucky enough to thrive together was cheaper housing.

In 1920, you could rent an apartment in New York City for $60 a month, less than the cost of a Disney World day pass today, and probably enjoy a short commute to work. Even adjusted for inflation, that’s still only $850 per month today.

It’s reasonable compared to the exorbitant prices that cosplayers in Main Street USA have to pay to live near Disney World. The average apartment rent in Orlando in 2022 is $1,820, up about 40% from the previous year.

It’s great that the minimum wage for Disney World employees has increased from $10 to $15 an hour starting last October (thanks to the efforts of employee unions and political pressure from Bernie Sanders), but rising housing costs as well as rising inflation in other sectors of the economy continue to push workers into financial hardship and into the far outskirts of the city.

For Disney “cast members” to live in a two-bedroom apartment close to work (in ZIP code 32801), an hourly wage of nearly $30 would be needed, according to a National Low Income Housing report. Coalition. That’s double the amount earned by the vast majority of the station’s 77,000 workers. In a tight labor market, Disney struggled to hire enough bus drivers, waiters, custodial staff, and others to keep the resort running smoothly.

It’s no wonder, then, that Disney just announced plans to designate eighty acres of land in Orange County (which includes Orlando) for the construction of 1,300 homes. Without these essential workers, the magic is gone from the Magic Kingdom, and Disney couldn’t justify the $6,000 it costs for a family of four for an average five-day stay.

In doing so, Disney is following the lead of businesses in other high-end tourist destinations where rising rents are outpacing wage growth — from Dolly Parton’s theme park, Dollywood, to small restaurateurs in Door County, Wisconsin. . Disney World neighbor Universal Parks & Resorts said it had also pledged twenty acres of land in Orlando to be used for one thousand units of affordable and “mixed-income” housing.

Disney would have you believe that its decision to build affordable housing reflects the values ​​the company holds dear. “We’re lending a hand to make a real and meaningful impact in our community by tapping into the best of our company’s strengths,” reads their press release.

But to believe that one would have to be as gullible as Snow White singing to the doves while the Evil Queen plots her death.

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2020, Disney laid off more than 32,000 of its lowest-paid workers. A few months later, in March 2021, the company’s shares hit a new all-time high of $203 per share, and CEO Bob Chapek ended up doubling his earnings to $32 million last year.

Sorry, Fox and Friends, but Disney still believes in fashionable capitalism. And this leafy new development he wants to build is little more than a new take on an old element of American life that isn’t represented on Main Street USA: company town.