By Day, a Sunny Smile for Disney Visitors. By Night, an Uneasy Sleep in a Car. | Wow not so happy place after all!
ANAHEIM, Calif. — On Disneyland’s Main Street, Emily Bertola spends hours working on her feet, embroidering names onto mouse ears at the Mad Hatter shop, where she has been an employee for the last two years. She usually offers visitors the sunny smile she was trained to give.
None of her customers know that for months, she slept in the back of her truck, showering at the park before her shift.
Her struggle is hardly unique to Disneyland.
Orange County is known for its affluence, and for its tourist industry. But the thousands of workers who keep its resorts, restaurants and hotels running are sometimes struggling to stay afloat.
As the state grapples with soaring housing costs, workers in California earning just above the minimum wage find it difficult to pay for basic costs. Many employees at Disneyland have moved farther inland, driving hours each day to work. Others, like Ms. Bertola, have opted to move from couch-to-couch or sleep in their cars for months at a time.
Disneyland Resort — which includes the theme park, California Adventure, and nearby hotels — employs roughly 30,000 people. It is the largest employer in Orange County and one of the biggest employers in the state.