Walt Disney World Lays Off Hundreds of Performers, Return of Many Shows Questionable

As part of the recently announced layoffs that will affect over 28,000 cast members at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, the Florida resort has laid off hundreds of performers from some of the most popular shows at the parks, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

What’s Happening:

  • Recently, Disney announced that 28,000 Cast Members would be laid off to help the company survive through the pandemic. As part of this, Walt Disney World has laid off numerous performers, numbering in the hundreds, from many marquee shows throughout the resort.
  • These performers are mostly part of the Actor’s Equity Association, a national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, and made up the majority of the casts of these productions, leaving their shows’ return in limbo.
  • The shows (and their cast) that are affected are:
    • Hoop De Doo Musical Revue
    • Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
    • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
    • Citizens of Hollywood
    • Festival of the Lion King
    • Finding Nemo The Musical
    • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
    • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
    • Green Army Drum Corps
    • Jedi Training Academy
    • Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
    • Move It, Shake It, MousekeDance It Street Party
    • Citizens of Main Street
    • Turtle Talk with Crush
  • Set to end at the end of the year:
    • Voices of Liberty
    • Dapper Dans
  • Before the pandemic, about 780 Equity members were employed at Walt Disney World, either full time, part time or seasonally. About 60 are currently working or about to return to work in the parks. About 720 Equity member workers have now been laid off.
  • According to the new Memorandum Of Understanding with Disney, these laid-off members of Actors’ Equity maintain recall rights until the end of 2021.
  • Earlier this year, Disney and Actors’ Equity had a very public back and forth regarding the performers’ return to work as the parks reopened, leaving high profile shows like Festival of the Lion King and the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular closed when the parks reopened in July. Negotiations took place shortly after and the future looked promising but only a few dozen performers returned leaving many productions shuttered.
  • Some of these performers had worked at the parks for decades, while some had been signed just before the pandemic hit. The My Disney Experience App lists these shows as “Temporarily Unavailable,” which is the same that it has said since the parks reopened in July.

What They’re Saying:

  • Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association:  “Our hearts go out to all the cast members at Walt Disney World. Disney has made it clear that our members would face work reductions since they announced layoffs of nearly 28,000 employees. That does not make this news any less painful. These reductions are another tragic reminder that until the virus is brought under control with a national strategy for masks, testing and contact tracing, everyone who works in the arts needs help like extended pandemic unemployment insurance and federal COBRA health insurance subsidies.”