Originally on Shanghai Expat but found it on Dave's Eslcafe today about Disney English in China:
DO NOT WORK FOR DISNEY ENGLISH
I've noticed a lot of concerned people on other forums commenting on the dominating cultural influence of Disney. Here's my response: I currently work for Disney English in Shanghai. The fact of the matter is, there's a market for the Disney brand here and we can't quite expect a company like the Walt Disney Corporation to fail to exploit a willing market niche if it will expand their waistlines, cultural homogenization be damned.
The most pernicious thing about the Disney Corporation in China, from my perspective, is the awful manner in which corporate protocol, efficiency, and the profit margins lay waste to any semblance of decency regarding the workers here. Tens of "cast members", including myself, gave up jobs, kissed families goodbye, and uprooted our lives to work for Disney based on blatant lies that recruiters spat regarding vacation allowances (5 paid vacation days per year and you work on Thanksgiving, throughout the Christmas holiday; that was a revelation), compensation, working hours, you name it.
Most of our benefits and compensation (especially time off, overtime, etc.) are below industry standard, from what I gather in the teaching communities here in Asia. Also, Disney will not list benefits for employees in the contract. They don't want to put it in writing; what they will put it writing is "all benefits are subject to the discretion of your direct line manager."
Each new contract that comes out is different from the last, and offers less and less to look forward to. They've just changed the policy from a reasonable 30 days notice; now you have to give them three months' notice in advance of your quitting.
Teachers here have not been reimbursed for funds spent to acquire a health check and other standard procedures that Disney requires. Employees are urged to take precautions to check if promised reimbursements ever make it into our accounts. Make sure to copy your forms, because if Disney loses them (fairly common occurrence, here), they will not take you at your word regarding the money they owe you.
Taking sick days is openly discouraged because it is very difficult to get coverage for people's classes. Disney can't keep on substitute teachers because their full-time stock is so transient, they have no other option but to hire would-be substitutes on full-time. You cannot simply take the requisite time you need to rest. Disney doesn't trust you, and so forces you to seek medical attention for even those child-acquired illnesses that only require bed rest and fluids. Thus, we are expected to pay sometimes outrageous hospital fees out of our meager salary. Three visits to the doctor because you had a nasty cold and didn't want to infect your students? How about you pay the man 6000 RMB, minimum.
Furthermore, Disney English, at least in the Shanghai region, has an uncanny knack of hiring teachers for managerial positions; teachers with no managerial skills, very little people skills, and poor communication practices. Please, if you are at all interested in acquiring a job here or anywhere, get a thorough feel for the type of management system you'll be forced into. My colleagues and I did not get a choice, and this greatly reduced the amount of clear information we could obtain about our working environments before we signed on.
Rest assured, however, that the Disney environment is thoroughly Corporate. Expect your good work to be rewarded with more work and very little thanks. Expect your less-than-stellar work to be met with persistent, distrusting micromanagement, written warnings, and passive aggressiveness. Expect to continually feel vaguely put upon by upper management, to be thoroughly alienated from any job title that carries more weight than yours, and to have your pushes for innovation funneled through an endless bout of (thoroughly inefficient and demoralizing) chains of command, form letters, open-ended presentations, and eventually non-implementation.
The company is desperate to fill its pockets with money and expand as rapidly as possible-- so much so that they are currently running into trouble because people are quitting before they fulfill their contracts.
The Walt Disney Company is renowned for its customer service, and this makes sense when you see the profit incentive in it. What Disney English needs to learn is that honest and responsive human resources are equally good markers to strive for. This isn't a theme park in Anaheim or Orlando with fifty schmucks willing to sign up any day in the week. This is a job in China that requires certified teachers willing to leave kin and kind behind for something completely unknown. Frankly, we deserve better.