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The non-pretend part of the Magic Kingdom

Michael Kruse, Times Staff Writer

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 11:22am

10 things I underlined in the Bloomberg story about poverty in Orlando Eve Edelheit sent my way this morning:

1. It costs a family of five about $1,500 for a four-day pass to the theme parks at Disney World near Orlando, Florida. It takes Weston Vlier, who drives a bus there, four weeks to earn that much.

2. ... a growing class of working poor in Orlando, which has the lowest median pay among the 50 most-populous American metropolitan areas ...

3. "The reason it becomes a potential problem for places like Orlando from a budgetary standpoint is that they don't have the money to build the infrastructure that could attract well-educated workers."

4. The metropolitan area, whose population has almost doubled since 1990 to 2.3 million, set a record with 59 million visitors last year, outpacing New York's 54.3 million and Paris's 29.3 million ...

5. ... Disney World is the largest employer in the region, with about 70,000 employees. An army of hotel maids, bus drivers and ride operators work around the clock to maintain its allure.

6. Almost 40 percent of jobs in Orlando pay less than $25,000 per year, the largest share in the 50 most-populous U.S. cities ...

7. Its poverty rate of 18.4 percent compares with 14.5 percent for the U.S.

8. About 53 percent of renters spend more than 35 percent of their income on housing, second only to Miami, according to U.S. census data.

9. "Very large numbers of Disney employees live in motels. Some of them live in cars. And Disney knows this."

10. "There are hundreds of thousands of people here who are just the embodiment of the whole 'paycheck-away-from-disaster' kind of thing. Not because they made poor choices, but because they're scratching the earth just to get by."