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Interns accuse Disney World of abuse

Jared Christman, Off the Wall Editor
October 23, 2012
Filed under Off the Wall

Despite Walt Disney World’s reputation as one of the happiest places in the world, its interns are sending another message.

According to several UW-Green Bay students who were enrolled in the Disney Intern Program, the theme park takes advantage of the labor.

Dania Bennett, junior intercontinental studies major with a minor in puppeteering, said conditions were so rough several of her co-workers collapsed from being overworked.

“The Disney internship is one I will never forget,” Bennett said. “They had people falling left and right, and they didn’t do a single thing to help us.”

Bennett said some interns were even forced to take shelter in the Tower of Terror when space in the apartments filled up.

To add insult to injury, Bennett said Disney offered a dismal 5-cent pay raise to those interns forced to live in the ride — $4.95 an hour from $4.90.

Deena Rosales, sophomore bowling industry management and technology major and Ethopian studies minor, saw similar abuses at the hands of Disney during her time in Florida.

“Everyone came to Disney thinking they would get to be Snow White or Cinderella or Prince Charming,” Rosales said. “Instead, they were making people the vultures from ‘The Jungle Book’ or Ariel from ‘The Little Mermaid.’ Turns out walking with a flipper is a lot harder than it looks.”

Rosales said three weeks into the program, her roommate was committed to a mental ward after spending 72 straight hours in costume as Toaster from “Brave Little Toaster.”

So who’s to blame for this tirade against interns? According to Bennett and Rosales, it’s none other than Mickey Mouse himself.

The mean-spirited mouse was brought to life through a crazy experiment initiated by Walt Disney in which he transferred his life energy to a Mickey Mouse costume before he was cryogenically frozen miles underneath the theme park.

While the former interns were wary of going into detail regarding the pressures Mickey Mouse put upon them, junior Ty Perewski, poultry science major with a retail floristry minor, was not afraid to tell of the horror he had seen at the hands of the mouse.

“I saw some crazy stuff at Disney World,” Perewski said. “I had a buddy who was able to play Prince Charming for three straight years. One day on a  break, he accidentally bumped Mickey, and he just laid into him.”

Perewski went on to explain Mickey Mouse left his friend with a black eye and then shaved his perfect brown hair as penance for getting in his way.

“My friend spent two weeks on vomit detail — which is cleaning up after guests who throw up on rides — and then had to play Iago from “Aladdin” until his hair grew back,” Perewski said.

Walt Disney World has responded to similar claims made by other former interns.

“These claims are nothing but false accusations perpetrated by former interns looking to make a name for themselves,” a spokesperson said.

As for Bennett, Rosales and Perewski, all three see no chance of improvement in the near future.

“It’s a shame that they treat their interns like this,” Rosales said. “I went to Florida hoping to relive my childhood. It was nothing like I thought it would be.”

“I highly recommend people stay away from Disney,” Perewski added. “I’ll put it like this: My friend McKenzie was chosen to be Rapunzel. She was so excited at first, until she learned that she had to grow her hair out and give 20-foot hair extensions. That’s not even the worst part. They forced her to stick her head out of a window and let the prince climb up to her on it. The toll that did to her head — you can’t un-see something like that.”

“These brutal conditions have been going on since Disney World was created,” Bennett said. “I don’t see an end in sight.”