ORLANDO, Fla., and ANAHEIM, Calif. — Dozens of Disney World employees and supporters, as well as a few others near Disneyland in California, marched near both resorts Friday to protest the company’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
What You Need To Know
- Disney is requiring workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19
- Some Disney World and a few Disneyland workers marched Friday to protest the mandate
- Many are afraid of losing their jobs if they don't comply
- The protests come as the highly-contagious delta variant continues to spread across the country
In July, The Walt Disney Company announced that it would require its U.S.-based salaried and nonunion hourly workers to get vaccinated.
Friday’s march, which started on Apopka Vineland Road near the Disney World entrance, was organized by Nick Caturano, a current Disney cast member. He and others who joined in the protest are against a mandate and instead want to choose whether to get the vaccine.
“We understand that COVID-19 is a very real health concern that we all have to take seriously,” Caturano said. “But many cast members have a legitimate basis for refusing vaccination.”
Spectrum News reached out to Disney for comment but has not received a response.
In Anaheim, only three people showed up to a protest outside Disneyland Resort. None of them were Disney cast members. One woman was the wife of a Disney cast member who did not want to identify herself or her husband for fear of retribution. Within an hour, only one person remained.
“I’m not opposed to the vaccine,” said Lori, who did not want to give her last name. “I’m standing up for those who want to be able to choose what’s right for them. We have to respect people in their place. Some are just not ready [to get the shot].”
But for many workers, the deadline to comply with Disney’s mandate is quickly approaching. And those who don’t want to get the vaccine are concerned about what will happen if they don’t.
“People feel really strongly against it, but they also love their jobs at Disney and don’t want to lose them,” Caturano said.
Protests against vaccine mandates come as the highly contagious delta variant continues to sweep across the country, with rising COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and in some cases, death.
There have been more than 41.8 million positive coronavirus cases and 670,590 deaths in the U.S. since the pandemic began last year, according to Johns Hopkins. But with nearly 80 million Americans still not vaccinated, President Joe Biden has enforced a vaccine mandate or weekly testing for companies that employ more than 100 employees, federal workers, federal contractors and health care employees.
Disney is among dozens of major U.S. companies that already have vaccine mandates in place for their workers, including CVS, Facebook, Google and Walmart.
As for Caturano, he wants Disney to reconsider the mandate.
“I would love to see a moratorium of 60 days so that we can reevaluate, and we can make an informed decision... rather than a rash, emotional, fear-driven decision, which is what I feel this is,” he said.