For many Disney World employees in Orlando, their place of work is no longer the “happiest place on earth” thanks to the COVID-19 vaccine requirement the house of the mouse put on workers over the summer.
With a Saturday deadline to start getting the jabs looming, a number of Disney World cast members elected to protest their employer Friday with a march at Disney Springs, the Miami Herald reported. The march then went up and down Lake Buena Vista Boulevard through the middle of Disney World, according to WOFL-TV.
The man who organized the march, Nick Caturano, has worked at Disney World for 16 years. He told the paper that he hopes the march will ignite a national conversation and fight for Americans’ medical and constitutional rights.
“People are free to get this vaccine if they feel it’s going to be the best thing for them but to force people to get the vaccine, that’s another story,” Caturano said to the Herald.
“We understand that COVID-19 is a very real health concern that we all have to take seriously,” Caturano told WOFL, “but many cast members have a legitimate basis for refusing vaccination.”
He added that “Disney employees are resisting the forced vaccinations for a variety of reasons including health concerns, religious beliefs, natural immunity, and a principled commitment to maintaining control over their own health care,” WOFL said.
He also said that among the thousands of emails he has received were messages from international Disney cast members who said they feared speaking up against the company policy and didn’t know who to trust.
“So many cast members felt alone and felt like they were the only ones who thought this was wrong,” Caturano said to WOFL. “I think we were made to feel that way on purpose. But we have connected now, and we are pushing back.”
“I don’t want to lose my job,” Caturano said. “I love my job, but I’m also more afraid that if I don’t speak up now, where does it stop?”
He also noted that fellow Disney World employees have similar fears about losing their jobs over the vaccine, but that they also feared getting canned for showing up for the anti-mandate protest.
Caturano said that though he is immunocompromised, he’s resisting the shots because he has natural immunity and for religious reasons and that he hopes Disney will halt the mandate and reconsider making it a requirement for employees.
“I’m not comfortable with taking it,” he told the Herald. “I just can’t see putting it in my body.”