The heir to the Disney fortune has said she is “livid” due to the work conditions at one of the company’s theme parks after going undercover there. Abigail Disney told Yahoo’s Through Her Eyes that she decided to do her own investigation after getting a Facebook message from a distressed worker begging her to come find out what life is really like for staff at the “The Happiest Place on Earth.” As Yahoo News reports:
She said what she found at “The Happiest Place on Earth” was a façade that was about to crack from the pressure of making ends meet.
“Every single one of these people I talked to were saying, ‘I don’t know how I can maintain this face of joy and warmth when I have to go home and forage for food in other people’s garbage,'” she recalled, adding that this was not the work environment her grandfather Roy O. Disney sought out to create.
“I was so livid when I came out of there because, you know, my grandfather taught me to revere these people that take your tickets, that pour your soda,” she continued. “Those people are much of the recipe for success.”
Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of Roy Disney, who co-founded the company with his brother Walt. And though she is heir to the family’s fortunes, she does not have an active role in the company. Disney didn’t say which theme park she visited where workers complained of squalid living conditions. Disney has six theme parks across the world in Florida, California, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
After her discovery, Disney says she wrote Disney CEO Bob Iger about her concerns:
I wrote Bob Iger a very long email, and one of the things I said to him was, “You know, you’re a great CEO by any measure, perhaps even the greatest CEO in the country right now. You know, your legacy is that you’re a great manager. And if I were you, I would want something better than that. I would want to be known as the guy who led to a better place, because that is what you have the power to do.”
But the Disney heir says she got “nothing” from Iger in return. Instead, she was referred to Disney’s HR department “who cited initiatives such as its $150m funding for employee education.” But as the Financial Times reports, Disney then attempted to contact Iger again, but says “That never got an answer, so I had my answer.”
This isn’t the first time Disney has criticized her family’s company. Back in April, she called CEO Bob Iger’s $65.5 million compensation “insane” as it was 1,424 times that of the median Disney employee.
Update: Disney has since released a lengthy and sharply worded response to Abigail Disney’s statements (read it in full here), while Yahoo clarified that she did not go “undercover” to investigate the theme park, as was previously reported.