Walt Disney World character performer and entertainment department decimated in layoffs

26 days ago in "The Walt Disney Company"

Layoff notices have gone out this week to thousands of Walt Disney World entertainment Cast Members, reducing the department to just a handful of performers to cover the current minimal entertainment offerings.

All seasonal and part time character performers have been let go, which includes those with decades of experience at meet & greets and character dining. Many full time workers, including some who have already returned to work and have been part of the reopening cavalcades, have been relocated to attractions and custodial roles.

Outside of the character performer layoffs, the vast majority of Walt Disney World's Equity performers have also been notified of layoff. This includes performers at Festival of the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Citizens of Hollywood streetmosphere, Green Army Men, Finding Nemo the Musical, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, The Laugh Floor Comedy Club, Citizens of Main Street, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, and Hoop de Doo.

The Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, released the following statement after signing a memorandum of understanding with Walt Disney World regarding layoffs of most of their Equity member employees.

“Our hearts go out to all the cast members at Walt Disney World,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “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.”

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 park. About 720 Equity member workers have now been laid off. According to the new agreement with Disney, these laid-off members maintain recall rights until the end of 2021.

While there has been no timetable for a return of character meet & greets and live shows, the deep cuts to the entertainment department now make it extremely difficult to resume these types of offerings. There has been talk among some performers of a possible recasting for shows in the middle of 2021, but nothing official at this point.

The layoffs come as part of the decision to layoff 28000 workers from Disney's domestic theme parks to control costs during the COVID-19 crisis. Cuts have been made across the board, including at the resorts, restaurants, transportation, DVC, back-of-house and administration.

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Article Posted: Oct 28, 2020 / 10:51am ET
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wannabeBelle5 days ago

That was last year unfortunately. Definitely not traveling like that in 2020. Marie

Goofyernmost5 days ago

I have to admit that I had the best time on that trip. I love, love, love the European Train Travel part. I had been to Europe in 1967 when I was in College for a credit receiving college sponsored two week trip. On that one we went to Lisbon, Madrid, Rome, Paris and London. Which means that as untethered college students we explored many of the bars in all those countries. This one was a non-structured trip. We went where we wanted and found our own way to those places. That didn't mean that it didn't require massive planning and pre-paying, but man was it worth it. Instead of hotels, we rented apartments. Took subways instead of cabs or organized tours. Otherwise it was a lot of shoe leather. I jokingly referred to it as our European Death March. I probably did more walking in those three weeks on the continent than I did in the previous 67 years of my life.

jkh366195 days ago

Bring me back some paprika!

wannabeBelle5 days ago

It was so amazing, I did a river cruise with Crystal Cruises. Interesting and completely different from ocean cruises. Wild going through the locks as we wound our way down the Danube. Definitely well worth it, the Christmas Markets are so amazing to do. Great time of year to go!! Marie

Sirwalterraleigh5 days ago

Budapest, Prague and Vienna are high on my “haven’t been yet” list

wannabeBelle5 days ago

Me with Budapest in the background. Technically it was the Pest side as I was standing on the Buda side at the Castle, but a Christmas Market Cruise down the Danube from Hungary into Slovakia, Austria and Germany was amazing and was not at all like EPCOT!!! Wonderful people and a wonderful time!! Marie

TrainChasers5 days ago

I did the same while exploring the Castillo in Puerto Rico.

Mr Mindcrime5 days ago

We've spent $8,000 for a family of four (included two hungry teenagers) for a week, staying on property. I think that was around 2016. Had a blast! Since then it's been shorter, more frequent trips as an AP. I like @Goofyernmost's month in Europe. Trips like that are what will get our money going forward. I grew up in Gainesville so I've been going to WDW my entire life. And I'm sure we'll go again. But we'll not be dropping big bucks there anymore....we'll drop them across the pond 😛 I love history and natural beauty. Visiting Normandy is on my bucket list as well as taking rail trips through Switzerland. Retirement's coming soon..... 😎

Sirwalterraleigh5 days ago

...embarrassing 🙄

Lilofan5 days ago

That's awesome. One lady I used to work with has been to WDW many times but never had been to Europe. When she saw the sights traveling in Italy, she remarked " It looks like Epcot! ".

Goofyernmost5 days ago

No, I'm saying you can't stay onsite, eat, go to the parks, go to evening entertainment for that, buy keepsakes, etc. for that. Anytime you go past one person the numbers start to go out of site. When I went, I went with my sister, we split all the costs that we shared, paid our own way to things that were just for us as individuals, turned out there wasn't that many things that we didn't share the cost of. So for me personally, I spent just about $7000.00. Thirty one of the most active days of my life.

Beenhereawhile5 days ago

Yes i think its the season and location of life you are in as to whether it is comparable in expenses and experience. I traveled all over before kids. Discovered cruising (dcl) and Disney with kids and it was built in entertainment with nice restaurants to eat at. Fabulous travel for my kids and us! Now we are in a new season (teengers and tween) and its back to Europe, skiing, cities etc. For now its dreaded camping due to covid. 😆 Honestly though we are glad we had disney when it was a value. Nowadays...I maybe mention going but, nostalgia isnt worth that much$$$$. Dollar just goes further elsewere for a more premium experience.

Sirwalterraleigh5 days ago

So you’re saying that you can’t spend at least $3,500 a week at wdw? ...it’s actually tough to spend that little in many cases.

Goofyernmost5 days ago

In 2015 I went to Europe from October 16th to November 17. One week of that was on a trans-Atlantic cruise from Rome to Fort Lauderdale and then back home to NC. We went to Paris for 3 or four days and went to DLP. Went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, spent a day in the Louvre, flew to Venice for a few days, took a high speed train to Rome, took trains to Pompeii, rode subways all over Rome, The Vatican, the Coliseum, the Roman Ruins, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter's Basilica, had an intimate session with the Pope along with about 8000 of his close friends and a variety of other things. The cruise included 5 ports of call in France, Italy, including Pisa, Florence and went to a wine tasting in Tuscany, also to Barcelona, Spain, passed by the Rock of Gibraltar and the last Port of Call was in the Canary Islands. There were two of us and it costs a total of just under $14000.00, for everything! Transportation, Food, lodging, tours etc. That's one month with everyday packed with things to do and so much to see. I have never spent that much going to WDW, but then again I never spent a month there either. As much as I have loved WDW (i.e. all of Disney), I wouldn't trade my trip for thirty days in WDW ever.