Mickey Mouse, Pluto, Goofy, two of the Three Little Pigs and a few other Disney characters -- or, rather, eight people who are paid to fill those roles at Disney World -- have stepped out of costume to complain to reporters about their salaries and working conditions in the Magic Kingdom. There are scores of characters and some are played by more than one person.
In the midst of rehearsals for the "Tencennial" anniversary celebration, the unnamed Fantasyland performers, who asked that their identities not be revealed, took what they felt was a realistic look at their earnings (ranging from $4.10 to $5.20 an hour and less than Disney dancers are paid); their working conditions (costumes are hot and heavy, they protested, and some say they are abused by park visitors), and the question of job security (they sign a two-year contract, and there is no guarantee they will be transferred to another department if the company decides they have outgrown their roles).
A Disney official noted that company policy forbids interviews except through the publicity department, and emphasized the need to "preserve the fantasy of the Disney costumes." He added:
"These are eight individuals who have complaints and problems out of 150. We don't feel they are justified, though we certainly listen to their complaints and have taken steps over the years to alleviate some of them." He added that the jobs are "nonprofessional" and are not meant to be permanent.