Disney World’s flagship theme park in Florida is no longer the most magical place in the world.
The lack of tourism in the area due to the global pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on the local economy, where Disney contributes more than $3 billion to it.
The motels along Highway 192 are no longer filled with tourists. Struggling motel owners are now filling the rooms with the people who have lost hours or their jobs due to Disney’s layoffs.
Dozens of people are now living in motels for two weeks at a time while they try to figure out the next steps.
Anthony, a single father of two, is currently residing at the Palm Motel. He was a full-time chef in Old Town, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, he only works just two days a week.
“This is no place for your kids, but here […] people are just trying to get by like the rest of us,” he told DailyMail.com during an interview. “I am living paycheck to paycheck. I can’t even save $100. We can’t get the tourists to come in and out, so it limits the hours that we can work, and unfortunately, because I was the highest-paid at the restaurant where I work, I was the first to get cut.”
Local motels have recently introduced a two-week maximum rule so that people could not stay more than 14 days. This means guests will not be able to claim residency which would then require the owners to obtain an eviction order to force them to leave.
Osceola County, where Disney World sits, does not have a homeless shelter. Most furloughed employees in the area are now left with only motels as their only option.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help those affected.