‘People are in need’: Laid-off and furloughed Disney workers receive free food in Orange

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With thousands of Disney workers laid off or furloughed eight months after the pandemic forced the closure of theme parks, a church in Orange decided to help out.

The Main Place Christian Fellowship held a drive-thru food distribution event at its parking lot on Saturday.

Drew Lockerbie, a pastor who also worked at Disney’s Anaheim parks, helped put the event together.

“If we can get another box of food and provide one more meal for their family, we are so blessed to able to participate in doing that,” he said.

Lockerbie showed off decals that read “cast member strong,” saying that they came all the way from fellow Disney workers in Florida.

Louise, a furloughed security worker who has been with Disney for almost four years, had one of the stickers on her car. She got emotional describing her and her friends’ experience during the pandemic.

“People are in need. Disney cast members are in need,” Louise said.

She said two of her friends, a married couple with three children, were laid off.

“We need to open up,” Louise said. “Even if it’s at 25% capacity. Get back open. We need to make the magic for people.”

The food distribution event took place as the reopening of large theme parks in California hang in the balance. Earlier this week, the state’s health secretary said they’ll be allowed to reopen with safety measures in place when the county a park is in moves into the least-restrictive level of California’s four-tier reopening roadmap.

That could mean waiting months for parks located in Orange County, which remains in the second-most restrictive tier due to a “substantial” risk of coronavirus spread.

Dr. Clayton Chau, director of the Orange County Health Care Agency, is not optimistic about the region’s prospect of moving forward into the next tier anytime soon.

A chart from the state of California's website shows the four tiers of a framework announced on Aug. 28, 2020 for the reopening businesses.
A chart from the state of California’s website shows the four tiers of a framework announced on Aug. 28, 2020 for the reopening businesses.

“It depends on when the vaccine will come, as well as how many doses [are] available for our populations, as well as how many of our residents will readily accept the vaccine,” Chau said. “Those are the three factors that will determine how soon we can get to the yellow tier.”

Some workers did receive better news on Friday, when Disney Resort officials announced that the Downtown Disney District will be expanded in November to allow the reopening of shops in parts of Disney California Adventure park.

The company has not released an exact date but confirmed that guests won’t need to pay an admission fee.

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