ORLANDO, Fla. — Some Walt Disney World street performers and other park entertainers were among the Disney employees who found out Tuesday night they were being laid off.
What You Need To Know
- Walt Disney World sends out more layoff notices to employees
- "Cast members" who were part of shows among the job cuts
- Disney said in September it would be laying off thousands of workers
- Union says 720 of 780 workers it represents at Disney World have been laid off
Some of the affected workers took to social media to share that their time with the company had come to an end. Among those being let go are those that are part of the acting troupe at Disney's Hollywood Studios known as the Citizens of Hollywood.
"The next round of layoffs is happening, and unfortunately at this point, some of the Citizens have been let go," read a post on the Citizens of Hollywood Facebook page. "We do not know if it is the whole cast, or what will happen to the Citizens in the future."
Notices were also reportedly sent to employees at several Disney World shows, including Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo — The Musical at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at Hollywood Studios, and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort.
Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor at Magic Kingdom was also reportedly hit with layoffs.
The cuts are part of the massive layoffs Disney announced last month for its Parks, Experiences and Products division. A total of 28,000 U.S.-based employees will lose their jobs, with more than 15,000 of them being Orlando-area workers.
The entertainment layoffs left many wondering whether the affected shows would return. Disney would not comment on the layoffs or the status of the shows, when Spectrum News reached out on Tuesday.
Disney World closed its theme parks in mid-March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When the parks reopened in July, many of its live stage shows remain closed. Festival of the Lion King, Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage, and others are still listed as “temporarily unavailable” on the Disney World website.
The entertainment workers who were part of those shows belong to the Actors’ Equity Association, a union that represents hundreds of performers at Disney World. Disney and the actors union were locked in a dispute earlier this year, eventually reaching an agreement in August. Some performers have since returned to work, and the “Frozen” sing-along at Hollywood Studios resumed performances earlier this month.
The union released a statement Wednesday after signing a memoradum of understanding with Disney World regarding the recent layoff notices.
"Our hearts go out to all of the cast members at Walt Disney World," Actors' Equity Association President Kate Shindle said in the 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."
In the release, Actors' Equity also said that 720 of the 780 equity workers it represents at Disney World have been laid off. The workers will keep recall rights until the end of 2021 as part of the new memorandum of understanding agreement with Disney.
Ty Menard, who worked in entertainment at Disney World for more than 10 years, left to pursue other opportunities last December. He said he knows many of those affected by the layoffs.
"It's such a passion for the people that do it," Menard said. "And it's so sad to see so many of them out of work, hopefully just temporary here, for people that have made a career of performing for the theme parks and making magic."
Menard said visitors who are still going to the parks can support workers who've lost, or could lose, their jobs by giving Disney feedback.
"If you're asked to take a survey, share your thoughts, say how important entertainment is to you in the theme parks," he said.
Disney has been sending out layoff notices in phases. An undisclosed number of notices were sent out Monday, with food and beverage and merchandise employees reportedly among those affected. Earlier this month, notices were sent out to seasonal workers, many of whom typically work during the busy holiday season or staff big events such as the runDisney marathons.
Spectrum News 13 report Jeff Allen contributed to this report.