Walt Disney World Lays Off Over 700 Entertainers and How You Can Help

Festival of the Lion King cast at Walt Disney World

In the continuing series of pink slips given by Walt Disney World, over 700 entertainers from shows around the parks and resorts were laid off on Tuesday, October 27.

Those laid off include entire casts of performers from:

  • Festival of the Lion King” at Animal Kingdom
  • Finding Nemo: The Musical” at Animal Kingdom
  • Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage” at Hollywood Studios
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” at Hollywood Studios
  • Citizens of Hollywood” at Hollywood Studios
  • Green Army Men” at Hollywood Studios
  • The Jedi Training Academy” at Hollywood Studios
  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor” at Magic Kingdom
  • Main Street U.S.A.” performers at Magic Kingdom

Even the long-running cast of the “Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue” dinner show at Fort Wilderness Resort, which opened in 1974, was let go.

Hoop Dee Doo cast at Walt Disney World

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Actors’ Equity Association, the union representing many of the performers, said Wednesday 720 of its members were laid off, but have recall rights until the end of next year. Small consolation for many who have been cast members for years.

“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.”

Earlier this year, Disney and Actors’ Equity went through negotiations about returning performers to work safely, after Walt Disney World reopened in July.

A few weeks ago some guest-favorite performers like the Grand Floridian Orchestra and Yee-Haw Bob (my heart still hurts for this loss!) were also let go.

Now it seems Disney isn’t interested in reopening any of the shows or street performances which helped make the theme park so magical.

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HOW CAN YOU HELP?

One easy thing is when filling out Walt Disney World guest surveys, make sure you put you want these shows and performers coming back.

Not at the parks? You can email guest services and let them know how you feel.

There’s also a local organization called the Cast Member Pantry, which has been operating a food bank for cast members who have lost their jobs. Visit facebook.com/castmemberpantry to see how you can donate.


About Michelle Snow

Michelle is the owner and editor of CitySurfing Orlando. She also owns Zengrrl.com, is a freelance writer specializing in travel and entertainment, and has authored/co-authored four guidebooks on Orlando and Florida. She lives in Orlando near Disney, and hears Magic Kingdom fireworks every night.
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