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Walt Disney World’s entertainment layoffs cut deep

by Susan and Simon Veness

Walt Disney World fans have been left in shock this week after it was revealed that the resort’s live entertainment offerings are being decimated in a new round of job cuts.

walt disney world
Photo by Kat Corson

News trickled out on Tuesday evening,Oct. 27, of live show after live show seemingly being permanently axed from the theme parks, and, while Disney offered no confirmation or explanation, it seems at least 12 entertainment acts will be gone for the foreseeable future.

hoop dee doo

The shows include headline acts and fan-favorites alike, among them “Festival of the Lion King” and “Finding Nemo – The Musical” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and the “Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular” and “Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as well as the long-running “Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue” at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground.

Much of the live entertainment has remained shuttered since the parks re-opened following the pandemic shut-down in July, but it seems they will now go on full-time hiatus, with the various cast members part of the recently announced 28,000 redundancies across Disney’s theme parks division. More than 15,500 of those layoffs have been at Walt Disney World alone, accounting for roughly 20% of Orlando’s entertainment industry.

walt disney world

Word of the shocking array of show casualties first leaked out on social media on Tuesday, with the likes of the Citizens of Hollywood, Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Jedi Training Academy cast all announcing they had been laid off.

The full list of live entertainment cuts is as follows, pending an official announcement:

Fort Wilderness

  • Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

  • Festival of the Lion King
  • Finding Nemo – The Musical

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

  • Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage
  • Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
  • Green Army Men (Toy Story Land)
  • Citizens of Hollywood
  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
  • Disney Junior Dance Party

Epcot

  • Turtle Talk with Crush

Magic Kingdom

  • Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor
  • Citizens of Main Street U.S.A.

Epcot had already lost much of its live entertainment around World Showcase due to cut-backs in March, but it seems Voices of Liberty, Mariachi Cobre and the Jammitors could be spared from the latest cull.

indiana jones

Disney has listed all of these shows as “Currently unavailable” since the parks’ re-opening, but it is our understanding they had hoped to resume, especially as the company had been locked in contentious negotiations with actors’ union Equity for much of the summer.

Now, with individual cast members receiving official notices of their dismissal, it seems doubtful there will be a resumption anytime soon.

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11 comments

Cindy Harrington October 28, 2020 - 6:13 pm

My family will not be returning to Disney! I refuse to pay the ticket price and not get the shows, parades and entertainment that was once afforded me and my family.

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Carrol October 29, 2020 - 12:24 pm

I agree. Every year they keep increasing and adding extra expenses. The last straw for me was when they added parking fees at all the resorts. I haven’t been back since they did that. I was a huge Disney fan and have travelled there at least 35 to 40 times. I now go to Universal. So much cheaper and more relaxing. You can buy the cheapest annual pass for a little over $300. Now I don’t feel like I have to be at a park from open to close to get my money’s worth.

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Bob October 28, 2020 - 6:14 pm

Looks like the boys at the top are making sure their paychecks keep coming at the expense of the little guys. My family and I have made several very expensive vacations to Walt Disney World over the years but I will be dammed if I will pay their outrageous price’s for the entertainment they have decided to keep. All the shows that my family
looked forward to seeing are all gone and so are we. Walt must be looking down on his company
In disbelief.

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Craig Chodak October 28, 2020 - 6:24 pm

Shame on Disney! All the memories we have come from the cast members themselves! No matter what their job is, they All bring us the things that will stay with us for ever! But it seems that the greed of the company has taken it All to another level! I have visited the park since it opened in October 1971. We were really looking forward to the 50th anniversary celebration there. Our reservations have already been made. But with nothing to look forward to, we still have plenty of time to cancel. We can only hold on to the memories and fun from the past, because the future for me at Disney does not look so bright. I don’t think this is the way Walt Disney would have wanted it!

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Brian October 28, 2020 - 6:44 pm

Not sure those who left comments recognize how razor thin margins are at the parks. It’s sad to see these performers lose their jobs but Disney has no choice. With Disneyland closed (until further notice) and Walt Disney World limping along with limited capacity and continuing to hemorrhage money, what does anyone expect. Instead of claiming that you will never go back, you should do just the opposite; then and only then will these actors return.

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Carrol October 29, 2020 - 12:28 pm

I’m sorry but I just can’t afford their outrageous prices anymore. I will not be returning.

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Bk October 30, 2020 - 6:18 am

Totally agree we’ll said I’ll be back 👏

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Rachelle October 28, 2020 - 11:21 pm

I’m truly sad to hear this. The entertainers involved with the above-mentioned shows/entertainments are superb and will be missed. I feel bad for these talented individuals who have always given 110% to Disney guests. Good luck to all and I sincerely hope we’ll be able to “see ya real soon”.

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Michelle Sheive October 29, 2020 - 9:31 am

Disney parks will eventually recover. But the cast members who have been laid off that live and breathe to create the magic may not. I just hope they call back these special Always going above and beyond people when the time comes.

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Cindy Chenevert October 30, 2020 - 9:36 pm

This is as sad as the Covid! There is no MAGIC at Disney World without these fantastic shows! Especially The Festival of the Lion King 😭

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Jennifer H April 12, 2021 - 12:09 pm

Sadly Voices of Liberty wasn’t entirely spared. A lot, if not all, of the part time/sub positions were cut. So at least the group themselves survived but many individuals were not.

Reply

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