Tourism is a topic that has gained much attention within the realm of anthropology over the past few decades. Anthropological research of the tourism industry has been largely devoted to the study of the tourist gaze and its subsequent sociocultural impacts as well as the benefits that travelers reap from their colonialist excursions. However, the voices of those who form the foundation of this industry, the laborers, remain almost entirely absent from said discourse. Furthermore, there is a lack of anthropological consideration for the relationship between tourism and mental health experiences of employees within the tourism industry. One specific region that is rife with information on tourism and its effects is Orlando, Florida. This research employs participant observation and semi-structured interviews to analyze the lived mental health experiences of current/former Disney cast members as a direct result of their employment within Disney and the Orlando theme park tourism industry. Not only does this thesis aim to backtrack the erasure of the perspectives of tourism employees and help create a space for them to make their voices heard, but it also attempts to bridge the gap of consideration for the impacts of tourism on the mental health of tourism employees within anthropology and touristic studies. Through the application of my own research as well as the minimal amount of relevant anthropological and touristic studies literature, I argue that Orlando theme park tourism exists as a type of structural violence that utilizes performativity and a neoliberal market to cast tourism employees in a slot of servitude that is nearly impossible to escape. As a result, this research possesses great potential to highlight the ways in which Orlando can become the happiest place on earth for its residents and employees, not just those who engage with it for their own leisurely gain.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Harvey, Lea, "Trouble in Paradise: Impacts of Theme Park Tourism on the Mental Health of Employees in Orlando, Florida" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 6700.