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Disney gives cast members free hotel stay, but limits park access

by Attractions Magazine Staff

Walt Disney World’s President Jeff Vahle recently announced that all Florida and Hilton Head cast members, both back at work and on furlough, will receive a free one-night stay at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel. This, as Disney states, is a gift of thanks for cast members’ continual hard work throughout the stressful year. But alongside this announcement came another reveal: theme park block-out dates for all of May for cast members and their families.

Disney cast member block-out dates.

Cast members have been blocked sporadically throughout the past year during the limited capacity openings at the parks. This was usually done at only one or two parks; Disney’s Hollywood Studios was blocked out the most, due to the incredible popularity of Star Wars: Rise of Resistance and its boarding group procedure. Now, unless cast members go on the day of this article’s posting, there is no date in the foreseeable future that they can enter the Disney Parks as part of their employment.

Walt Disney World president's instagram account showcases the new Moana-themed Polynesian Resort rooms.
Photo by Jeff Vahle, originally posted on Instagram

Cast members receiving a free hotel stay is a first. This is to be a moment of rest as Disney heads into their 18-month-long 50th anniversary celebration. While cast members have gotten discounts on hotel stays in the past, this free offer is new, and will allow many to check out (possibly for the first time) one of the many hotels at Walt Disney World. Disney did not disclose exactly which hotels would be offered. Cast members are told to head to Disney’s employee-only website, The Hub, to learn more.

Florida-based Disney Parks currently blocked from cast member admission.

You don’t have to be a Disney cast member to see their block-out window for park admission. Based on the information given, cast members cannot access the parks by themselves or with family. Gifted one-day Park Hopper tickets for guests are also fully blocked out.

Asia-based Disney parks with open cast member admission.

On the other side of the world, the block-out dates are not the same. In fact, at Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland, cast members and their families are given access to parks for the entirety of April, May and June. Of course, they are in different situations as far as pandemic conditions, as well. Walt Disney World’s block-out calendar only goes to May, so we do not yet know the availability for June in the Florida parks.

The initial announcement by Vahle about the free resort stay was taken very positively, but some cast members took to social media to express their anguish about losing the park admission perk. When we asked Disney about cast member block-outs, they told us they know most of their cast like the parks as much as the guests, but with the lower capacity, they have to limit them for now. The current block-outs may open up if space becomes available, so they aren’t set in stone. Disney said they understand how some cast members may be upset.

Walt Disney World currently limits park admission to promote physical distancing and safety in their parks. The Disney Park Pass system requires anyone who wants to visit the parks to get a reservation online prior. In January, Walt Disney World brought back the Park Hopper option. As long as the park’s capacity is not reached, visitors can switch back-and-forth between parks if they have the Park Hopper option on their ticket.


Are you a cast member, or family or friend of one? How do you feel about the opportunity for free hotel stays, but the loss of park admission? Let us know in the comments below.

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5 comments

LINDA J. April 21, 2021 - 6:51 pm

I HATE IT. . . . IVE GIVEN 14 YEARS OF MY LIFE TO HELP KEEP THE MAGIC ALIVE AND WE CANT EVEN VISIT THE PARK UPON REQUEST. IM 73 YEARS OLD NOW AND WONDERING IF ILL EVER SEE THE PARK AGAIN. THE ANNIVERSARY IS COMING UP AND IM ALSO WONDERING IF WE WILL GET TO BE A PART OF IT. TO SOME OF US ITS A PROUD THING TO BE PART OF THE DISNEY EXPERIENCE. NOT JUST A JOB, BUT WE MADE A DIFFERENCE. AND NOW WE CANT EVEN GET IN THE DOOR BECAUSE ITS MORE IMPORTANT TO THEM TO MAKE ROOM FOR THE PERSON WITH THE PAID ADMISSION TICKET RATHER THAN ONE OF US WHO WOULD WALK IN FOR FREE. WELL WE PAID OUR DUES TOO. WITH YEARS OF MAKING THESE SAME PAYING GUESTS HAPPY AND EAGER TO RETURN, AND WHAT DO WE GET . . . a bed for a night and then, wake up and leave property. TO WHAT PURPOSE ? ? WE GAVE A LIFETIME OF SERVICE AND NOW YOURE RIPING US OFF. THATS HOW I FEEL ABOUT YOUR FREE NIGHT .

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KJ April 22, 2021 - 5:31 am

I’m a former cast member and I have a great appreciation for everything that you all do. I really hope Disney realizes what a mistake this is and how unfair it is to those who give their all to the company.

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George T. April 22, 2021 - 8:01 am

I’m a retired Disney Cast Member with an adult disabled son whose life was going to the Parks. I’ve spent the last 13 months working with him trying to explain the full closure and then limited availability; but now with all Parks completely blocked out every day, I don’t know what to do. I don’t understand why there can’t be some kind of compromise to give Cast Members “some” access. He looks at the availability calendar every day and all he sees is RED, no hope, no future promise. There must be a better way.

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suong gilbert April 23, 2021 - 10:03 am

I feel the one night stay free at resort but cannot use park is useless . We want to see the park not the resort .Having able to visit the parks free is part of benefits to work there. Most of the times dates are blocked anyway does not allow flexibility with days off with cast members schedule. Beside long hours of working and sometimes no days off due to lacking cast members no energy to be able to enjoy visit to park anyway.

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Yani April 26, 2021 - 12:47 am

It’s only a one day hotel stay. One. Eliminating a 365 cast main gate and a 16 selective day guest pass for ONE day at a Disney resort. You can’t even get into the park. Long hours and unorganized leadership and policies that not everyone follows, just to eliminate the main perk of working there. I find it crazy.

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