This week has been a very difficult week for the Disney cast member family. Earlier this week, many Equity entertainers who appeared in shows throughout Walt Disney World Resort. According to the Actors’ Equity Association, around 720 actors were laid off. They previously appeared in shows like Festival of The Lion King, Finding Nemo: The Musical, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage and other entertainment roles throughout the resort. There are now approximately 60 Equity cast members remaining.
Today, Walt Disney World Resort addressed the layoffs via a post on the Disney Parks Blog. It was written by Bettina Buckley, Vice President, Walt Disney World Resort Live Entertainment. In it, Disney acknowledged the difficulty of continuing on with traditional entertainment that many Disney guests consider a major part of their Disney experience. The statement highlights the entertainers that they have figured out how to accommodate and have continued to perform at Walt Disney World Resort. It also acknowledges that this can’t be said for all of the shows, like some mentioned above. Read the full statement below.
Walt Disney World Resort Statement
Walt Disney World Resort offers a treasure trove of experiences for guests of all ages. We recognize that part of the magic of visiting any Disney park is seeing favorite Disney friends and discovering one-of-a-kind shows and performances. Since reopening, we’ve continued to offer modified character experiences and entertainment throughout our resort, while also taking the appropriate steps for the health and safety of our guests and cast members.
Recently, we’ve had to make some difficult decisions to reduce our workforce as the business impacts from the Covid-19 pandemic have become more long-lasting than anyone could have predicted. As a result, we’ve had to pause many live shows and entertainment experiences at our resort for longer than originally anticipated.
While it’s impossible at this time to fully replace the incredible entertainment that existed throughout our parks before the pandemic, we are offering live entertainment in new ways wherever possible, including character cavalcades in all four parks and pop-up appearances, like discovering Joy from “Inside Out” frolicking on the lawn near the Imagination! pavilion in EPCOT. Additionally, we’re featuring modified shows such as the popular “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and live musical performances like the Main Street Philharmonic in Magic Kingdom or the Discovery Island Drummers at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. This extends to our seasonal offerings, with Halloween underway and the holidays right around the corner. In fact, the fan-favorite Voices of Liberty are set to make their return and join the JAMMitors and Mariachi Cobre at the American Gardens Theatre during the upcoming Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, beginning on Nov. 27.
Determining which shows can return and when is a complex process. As with the rest of our phased reopening, we will also consider the guidance of health officials and government agencies in determining when the time will be right to adjust capacity, and as soon as it is appropriate, we will start to bring additional entertainment back.
Like most of our fans, we know that our beloved entertainment cast are an incredibly special and essential part of the Disney experience. We look forward to the day when we can welcome back more live entertainment to our parks, and we will share more news about these announcements as we’re able to do so.
During this time of phased reopening, entertainment at Walt Disney World Resort has been hit particularly hard. There are no longer character meet and greets, parades, nighttime spectaculars, and stage shows due to safety concerns regarding people not being able to be socially distant. Singing is also particularly unsafe which makes the traditional musicals in a theater even more difficult.
The DAPS MAGIC team’s hearts go out to those who are losing their jobs during this difficult time. If you would like to support them, please check out how you can do so via the Cast Member Pantry and other groups that are helping out Cast Members.