Disney under fire for reopening so soon after Hurricane Ian: ‘Are people supposed to swim to work or?’

Walt Disney World Resort Florida has come under fire for reopening within days of Hurricane Ian hitting the southern US state, where at least 71 people have been confirmed dead.

Disney, which closed its parks to guests as Ian hit central Florida on Thursday last week as a tropical storm, was criticised by social media users for asking employees to return to work on Friday.

Staff would have returned to the resort for Friday’s phased reopening just two days after Ian made landfall in southwest Florida with wind speeds of 155mph as a category four hurricane, reported Narcity Orlando.

One person frustrated by the reopening with concerns for Disney employees tweeted: “Give your employees a freaking break!”

Referring to flooded roads in many areas of central Florida last week, another person asked: “Are people supposed to swim to work or?”

“My dad is a cast member he’s working today and still has no power,” added another Twitter user on Friday. “Be kind to your cast members please”.

A fourth person wrote: “Thanks to everyone in (Disney) leadership during the first days of Hurricane Ian. Cast members have been regularly and throughly updated on closings and hotline numbers to call for specifics. Thanks!”

Disney World Florida and its theme parks, hotels and other attractions are one of the biggest employers in the US and in Florida, where about 77,000 employees live, according to magicguides.com.

Tens of thousands are employed at the Florida attraction (Getty Images)
Tens of thousands are employed at the Florida attraction (Getty Images)

At one point last week, 2,7 million people were without power and thousands remained stranded in floodwater in southwest Florida, which has faced the worse of the storm’s impact.

Flooding has also been reported in parts of central and northeast Florida, although Disney is about 36 miles southwest of the nearest flooding in Seminole County, north of Orlando.

There have been at least 71 fatalties confirmed in Florida thus far as well as seven other deaths in North Carolina and Cuba, where Ian was also felt last week, per Associated Press tallies.

The Independent has contacted Disney for comment.