Disney heiress discovers Disneyland workers forced to 'forage for food in the garbage' during secret visit

Chiara Giordano

The heiress to the Disney fortune has criticised the company’s top boss after discovering Disneyland workers are being forced to “forage for food in the garbage” during a secret visit.

Abigail Disney decided to take matters into her own hands and tour California’s Disneyland undercover after receiving a Facebook message from an employee struggling to make ends meet.

The 59-year-old said she found “The Happiest Place on Earth” was in fact full of people forcing smiles onto their faces as they tried not to bend under the pressure of not being able to pay basic bills.

She told Yahoo News: “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’.”

The documentary filmmaker said she was “livid” because her grandfather Roy O Disney taught her to “revere these people that take your tickets, that pour your soda”.

Ms Disney, whose grandfather co-founded The Walt Disney Company with her great uncle Walt Disney, has called out the company’s chief executive Bob Iger for taking home almost $66m a year.

The company’s lowest-paid worker received $135 (£108) compared to Mr Iger’s $180,000 (£145,000) a day in 2018, according to the Financial Times.

Ms Disney said Mr Iger needed to do more to close the gap between his earnings, which are about 1,000 times more than the average employee, and other Disney workers.

She added: “Bob needs to understand he’s an employee, just the same as the people scrubbing gum off the sidewalk are employees and they are entitled to the same dignity and human rights as he is.”

Abigail Disney, granddaughter of The Walt Disney Company co-founder Roy O Disney. (Frederick M Brown/Getty Images)

The heiress said she recently wrote Mr Iger an email telling him he was a great chief executive, but adding: “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.”

According to the Financial Times, Mr Iger did not reply but referred Ms Disney to the company’s human resources department, “who cited initiatives such as its $150m funding for employee education”.