Theater News

Walt Disney World Lays Off 700-Plus Equity Members From Theme Park Shows

The casts of productions like ”Finding Nemo” and ”Beauty and the Beast” have been let go.

Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World
(© David Gordon)

More than 700 members of Actors' Equity Association have been laid off from performance jobs at Walt Disney World, according to press representatives for the union. Disney announced earlier this fall that they will lay off nearly 28,000 employees, mostly from its Disney's Parks, Experiences, and Products division, which was hit hard with pandemic-related theme park closures.

According to published and social media reports, the entire casts of park production shows Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage, Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo: The Musical, and the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue have been let go, as have the casts of Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, as well as various street performers.

These shows had been dark since Walt Disney World in Florida reopened to the public. On the West Coast at Disneyland Resort, cast members of Frozen: Live at the Hyperion and Mickey and the Magical Lamp were said to have received closing notices from the company.

Actors' Equity signed off on a memorandum of understanding with Walt Disney World regarding the layoffs. According to this new document, these Equity members maintain recall rights until the end of 2021.

"Our hearts go out to all the cast members at Walt Disney World," said Kate Shindle, president of Actors' Equity Association, in a statement. "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."