With anniversary, Disney recognizes 50-year, opening day cast members

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

From the article:

At the time, the three were among the 6,000 employees who opened the Magic Kingdom at Disney World to the public for the first time on Oct. 1, 1971. Now, they are among two dozen from that first day still employed at the theme park resort as it celebrates its 50th anniversary on Friday.

Read more from NPR.

I’ve never known anyone in my life with 50 years of service anywhere. An exception may be someone who runs their own business but even those don’t come to mind.
Most of those Disney lifers (literally) are still on the hourly I imagine.

I cannot imagine working for 50 years. That is either dedication or stupidity. Heck my goal is to be done after 37 years, and that seems pretty long to me.

Last edited by Shades,

I think it is dedication, familiarity, and the benefits are probably still good for those long timers. I am guessing they were grandfathered in to the better health plans that Disney offered. They likely have had kids, grandkids, etc who have benefitted with admission to the parks.

And, I think there is the nostalgia of the long timers who likely worked with and/or met Roy and Walt and some of the early visionaries. That said, I'm 25 years into FT employment and I have no reason to believe I will work another 25.

Jeff's avatar

Yeah, I'd like to be done with work by 58. I'm at 26 years now.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Do healthcare benefits get grandfathered? I have not heard of that. Certainly has not happened where I work.

My dad did 40 years with an employer and retired on his 65th birthday. He had a pretty nice (union, rare in Texas) shipping job with a manufacturer where he worked a lot of hours. His pension eventually converted to a 401k and his retirement income is comparable to his working income without all of the overtime. I'll hit 24 years with my current employer in March. It's weird to think that I can match his 40 years at age 62 in just 16 years.

ApolloAndy's avatar

Crap, after this pandemic year, I'm wondering if I've socked away enough to retire before 50. (That's about 8 years out for those playing at home). It's not that I don't love my job(s), but the stress of having to reinvent them on the fly every week for 12 months was pretty draining.

Hobbes: "What's the point of attaching a number to everything you do?"
Calvin: "If your numbers go up, it means you're having more fun."

Full retirement for social security purposes for people born in 1960 or later is 67. If you start working right out of high school, it will be 49 years. 45 if you start after 4 year college degree.

Early retirement for social security purposes for that demographic is 60. So 42 years and 38 years for high school and college grads respectively.

Big issue for many retiring before 65 is cost of healthcare. Know many people who kept working to 65 because of it and others who retired in late 50s/early 60s who complain costantly about it.

Now working all those years for the same company is a much different matter. Much less likely today than it was in the past. I know more than a few people who retired in the last 10 years or so who worked for same company 50+ years. And a lot of people who are 35+ years and counting. Have someone retiring this year with 44 years at some company.

When I was at World in the early aughts, the majority of my division there had been around since before they built Epcot. A lot of 20, 30 year guys. One 40 year guy at the time had just gotten a Main St window. Almost all have since retired. But it isn't just hourly employees. Disney maintains incredible retention, I haven't witnessed at any other company in my professional career.

Jeff's avatar

GoBucks89 said:

Big issue for many retiring before 65 is cost of healthcare. Know many people who kept working to 65 because of it and others who retired in late 50s/early 60s who complain costantly about it.

Yeah, I'm not yet sure how to compensate for that. It's really the biggest variable. Assuming Obamacare is still a thing, and I suspect it will be because there's no universe where it's politically worth eliminating access for that many people, it won't necessarily be cheap. This is another reason a single-payer system or other situation like every other successful nation in the world should be our north star.

I've always assumed that Social Security might not exist. I could get by without it assuming the market doesn't have some catastrophic event, but if it does survive, I can live pretty comfortably. There's nothing magic going on there, I just save to retirement accounts (with the caveat that I've had to catch up because I was stupid in my 20's and early 30's). Now in my 40's, I put away all of the tax advantaged stuff to the limits (401k, Roth IRA's), plus whatever I can drop into investment accounts with the usual basic mutual funds and ETF's (and a little Disney stock, just for fun).

The pandemic has, more than anything, made me realize I don't want to work myself to death, or any longer than I have to.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

99er's avatar

A lot of these 50 year Cast Members have worked different jobs over the years so it isn't the same boring job for that long. With a company the size of Disney you can bounce around to different opportunities over the course of your career. I know a couple of the 50 year CMs and some have basically been in retirement mode for awhile now, just coasting through on an easy hourly role.


Vater's avatar

Hasn't most of Congress been in office for at least 50 years?

Jeff's avatar

Ugh, sad reality. #termlimits

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

When I worked for WDW I always would hear the old timers talk about "the old contract" with better benefits and higher pay rate. I would imagine these 50 year Cast Members are making a good living.

My first job after college was Kilimanjaro Safaris. I always say that once I retire from whatever I am doing come retirement time, I want to do it again one day a week. That attraction was a dream come true for all the old retired guys that worked part time to get out of the house.

Jeff's avatar

If I still live here at that point, I'm in the same boat (or truck). I would really enjoy that, I think. I remember coming down here in my 30's and seeing the retirees working at Disney and Universal and thinking, that's not a bad way to spend your time. I think about Richard who worked at the Grand Floridian almost until he died, and he was fantastic. How could you not appreciate a person like that?

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Ah, Richard. He was always a highlight of our visits and was noticeably absent the last time. He loved his job, and his favorite thing was attending to the brides.

Like a couple of others in the thread, my sense of what work means has changed a lot over the past year or two. Five years ago, I assumed I'd leave my job feet first. Instead, this summer, I looked up my retirement eligibility date---the point at which I'll be able to stay on the U's (high quality and reasonably priced) health insurance plan for life. It is just a little over two years from now, and I will be in my mid-50s. I would have to pay the full premium until I am 62, after which the U picks up about 2/3ds of the tab for my wife and I.

I may not retire the year I become eligible, but I am not ruling it out. I'd still probably do something, but I might not do this.

Last edited by Brian Noble,

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