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Looks Like Universal Orlando Just Upped Wages For Culinary Workers In A Big Way

Universal Orlando Resort Globe
(Image credit: Dirk Libbey)

It is impossible to understate the importance of the people who work at theme parks when it comes to creating the experience that we all love. It’s the people that truly make the magic, but that magic is sometimes made by people who are not making a great deal of money. The wages of theme park employees have slowly been on the rise in recent years, and Universal Orlando Resort has just taken another step in getting them closer to where they should be, by upping the minimum being made by the culinary staff.

Universal Orlando Resort needs food and beverage staff and according to Orlando’s Spectrum News, the theme park is looking to hire as many as 800 people for a variety of positions. And those people are going to be paid more than before, as the starting wage, depending on the position, will run from $16.50 to $20 per hour, up from the $15 per hour that was set last June.

We’ve seen wages increase in almost every field over the last couple of years. It seems virtually all businesses have been hiring to replace staff lost during the pandemic, Universal Orlando itself had to perform some layoffs in 2020. Wages have needed to be increased in order to entice workers. At the same time, we’ve seen unions fighting for higher wages in the areas where those unions exist, simply to get people to a living wage. Other parks, like Dollywood, have used funding college education as a way to attract more staff.

And certainly this level of pay won’t be limited to only the new hires. Anybody who is currently in a position that is being paid less than these new rates will see a pay bump. The competition for staff is strong, and Universal Orlando certainly needs to find people but it also wants to be sure it keeps the good people it has. And the culinary staff at Universal Orlando is top notch, as the resort has some absolutely amazing food.

It will be interesting to see how this decision impacts not only Universal Orlando, who will be holding a job fair April 4 in order to fill these positions, but also the competing businesses in the area. Disney World only started paying its Cast Members a minimum of $15 per hour at the end of September 2021. If $16.50 is the new floor at Universal Orlando then Disney may need to raise its base pay again in order to compete. Disneyland Cast Members actually sued the resort over its own wage situation, showing just how important this pay is to the people in the parks. 

Hopefully we’ll see this level of pay also cross into the other areas of the resort. Universal Orlando Team Members have had to work extra hard the last couple years because of the pandemic. And guests have started fights at Disney World too. Nobody is getting paid enough to deal with that. They should all get paid for it. 

That’s not a bad thing if it happens. Theme park employees are broadly loved by the guests that visit the parks. They often go out of their way to do their best to ensure that guests have the great experiences they’re looking for. And these employees generally work at theme parks because it’s the place they want to work, they love the resorts and want to be part of it. 

Dirk Libbey
Dirk Libbey

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.