Entertainment Cuts Across Walt Disney World: What It Means

Entertainment Cuts Across Walt Disney World: What It Means

Over the last 24 hours informal news came over social media that many of the performers for the great entertainment and shows at Walt Disney World had been let go. Many took to Facebook and elsewhere to let fans know of their being laid off, and of the bittersweet pain they were feeling, disappointed by the announcement while reflecting on years of being able to perform in what could be considered one of the world’s greatest entertainment complexes. We look at the realities of this, what the union had to say, and three major factors that have probably led to this that many may not know. We will also go throughout the entire resort, and identify each entertainment offering and what we know at this time.

You can find our podcast here on PodbeaniTunesSpotifyMyTuner, and ListenNotesKey notes, photos and links are below, but you’ll find most of my commentary on the podcast.

Union Statement

“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.” 

While many performers are covered by Actors’ Equity, some are not. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

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 MOU with Disney, these laid-off members maintain recall rights until the end of 2021.

Equity has been fighting for a governmental response to an arts industry shutdown since  March, when it first asked for an economic relief package for an industry in crisis. The union then fought for the passage of the  CARES Act  in March, helping expand the bill to apply to arts workers who  lost future work. It is currently fighting for passage of the HEROES Act, as well as a full COBRA subsidy for workers who have lost their employment-based insurance. 

Factors Influencing the Decision

Capacity restrictions and the need to keep costs down when capacity is low, is at the heart of what stays and what goes entertainment wise at Walt Disney World. But it’s shaped and influenced by three key issues this week:

First, Disneyland Paris is re-closing on June 30th due to a lockdown established by French president Emmanuel Macron.

Dancers from the Golden Nugget at Disneyland Paris. Performers are affected throughout the world, not just at Walt Disney World. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Second, Florida Covid Cases may have only gone up marginally, but cases around the country, especially in key sectors where tourism is drawn from is going up considerably.

Third, Governor Newsom defines California Theme Park restrictions, as Disneyland Remains closed. Not noting Disneyland specifically, he states:

“Self-evidently, we should be concerned about opening up large theme parks which, by definition, people mix from all possible walks of life and putting ourselves and others at risk of seeing transmission rates rise.”

“You bring up one theme park. California has dozens and dozens of theme parks,” he said. “You bring up one particular operator of a theme park that does things very very differently than other operators. You have theme parks that are really cities, that operate hotels and restaurant facilities, not just organize around carousels and other amenities. You see others that are out on beaches and boardwalks that are very very different.”

Meanwhile, Disney has declared that it will open the shops and restaurants on Buena Vista Street at Disney’s California Adventure. A Backlot Shop at Stage 17 in Hollywood Land, and accessible from the main promenade had already opened.

Also, a few weeks ago, Disneyland announced that its primary entertainment shows, Frozen Live at the Hyperion and Mickey and the Magical Map would not reopen when the parks came back online.

Princess Tiana in Mickey and the Magical Map. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

So what does this have to do with entertainment? We discuss possible ties in detail during the podcast.

Those Affected

Let’s go through all of entertainment and see where we stand on what is and isn’t happening in the parks.

Magic Kingdom

Just Laid Off This Week

  • Citizens of Main Street
  • Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor

To Be Determined

Casey’s Corner Pianist. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
  • Let the Magic Begin
  • Character Meet ‘n’ Greets
  • Main Street Trolley Show
  • Casey’s Corner Pianist
  • Flag Retreat
  • Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
  • Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party
  • Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
  • Celebrate the Magic
Stepsisters can still be seen behind a railing, but not cavorting with guests. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Currently Working

  • Dapper Dans
  • Character Cavalcades & Appearances
  • Main Street Philarmonic Marching Band


Just Laid Off This Week

  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Previously Laid Off

  • Sergio the Italian Juggler
  • British Revolution
  • Matzuriza
  • Jeweled Dragon Acrobats
  • Marimba de las Americas
  • Serveur Amusant
  • Entertainment at Canada Mill Stage
  • Character Meet ‘n’ Greets
  • Epcot Forever
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

To Be Determined

  • HarmoniUS
  • Rose & Crown Pub Musician

Currently Working

  • Character Cavalcades
  • JaMMitors
  • Mariachi Cobre
  • Voices of Liberty

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Just Laid Off This Week

  • Citizens of Hollywood
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple
  • Green Army Patrol & Drum Corps (Toy Story Land)
  • Disney Jr. Dance Party
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

To Be Determined

  • Character Meet ‘n’ Greets
  • Wonderful World of Animation
  • Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
  • Fantasmic!
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Currently Working

  • Disney Junior Play and Dance!
  • For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration
  • Character Cavalcades
  • Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge Character Appearances
  • Savi’s Workshop

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Just Laid Off This Week

  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo the Musical
  • Pandora Rangers–Utility Suit
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Previously Laid Off

  • Rivers of Light

To Be Determined

  • Character Meet ‘n’ Greets
  • Bollywood Beats
  • Discovery Island Drummers
  • Pandora Drummers–Swotu Waya
  • Tam Tam Drummers of Harambe
  • Harambe Village Acrobats
  • Tree of Life Awakenings
  • Viva Gaia Street Band!
  • UP! A Great Bird Adventure
Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Currently Working

  • Animal Encounters: Winged Encounters–The Kingdom Takes Flight
  • Character Cavalcades
  • Feathered Friends in Flight

Walt Disney World Resorts

Just Laid Off This Week

  • Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue

Previously Laid Off

  • The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra
  • Yahoo Bob Jackson at River Roost Lounge
  • Disney’s Spirit of Aloha

To Be Determined

Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
  • Atlantic Dance Hall
  • ESPN Club, Live Radio Sports Shows
  • Jellyrolls
  • Victoria and Albert’s Harpist
  • Grand Floridian Lobby Pianist
  • Entertainment at Scat Cat’s Club
  • Disney Springs Street Entertainment
  • House of Blues Concerts
  • Edison Live Entertainment
  • Paradiso 37 Entertainment
  • Raglan Road Live Music
  • Stargazers Entertainment at Planet Hollywood
  • NBA Experience at Disney Springs
  • Electrical Water Pageant


  • Drawn to Life Presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney

Hopefully, in the end everything will come together as one happily ever after. Until then, remember beautiful transformations come from the hardest moments.

Check Out Our Halloween Fun!

Thanks for joining us. Make sure you check out the following:

Imagineer and Haunted Mansion Author Jason Surrell: Celebrating the Haunted Mansion

Jason hIt’s Halloween, but any time of the year is a great time to celebrate the infamous Haunted Mansion. We are fortunate to have former Disney Imagineer and author of The Haunted Mansion: Imagineering a Disney Classic. We take the time to talk about those Imagineering pioneers who made the mansion a possibility, from Marc Davis, Claude Coates and Rolly Crump, to Ken Anderson, X Attencio, and the original Imagineer, Walt Disney. We’ll talk about what makes this attraction so amazing, and share our favorite moments as well as insights. Join as we celebrate The Haunted Mansion.

Disney & Halloween with Jim Korkis

Jim Korkis is our guest as he shares how Disney and Halloween have come together over the decades. We cover all things haunted, from The Tower of Terror to the Haunted Mansion. We talk about the advent of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Parties, and some of the best Disney villains, shorts and scary moments in the movies. Did you know that The Headless Horseman almost had an attraction when Magic Kingdom opened in 1971? Did you know that there are different versions of the Halloween tree on the Disney Cruise Line? We’ll share all this and more.

Halloween & Magic Kingdom

Fall is upon us and at the Magic Kingdom, that usually means a big salute to Halloween. In the absence of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, we cover what Disney has tried to do to make the holiday succeed during this pandemic. We look at decorations, character cavalcades, food, and merchandise. We also pay homage to those missing pieces this year. All this and more on this Disney at Play post & podcast.

And Stay Tuned, Halloween is not over! We have more to come!

Photo. by J. Jeff Kober.

J. Jeff Kober

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *