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Festival of the Lion King

Late yesterday news broke that Walt Disney World had laid off a substantial part of their entertainment workforce and now it looks like the Actors' Equity Association, the national labor union representing professional actors and stage managers in live theatre, has released a statement confirming exactly how many Cast Members have been affected: 

“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.” 

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.

With these layoffs it seems likely that none of the affected shows (which include Monsters Inc Laugh Floor, Beauty and the Beast: Live on Stage, Finding Nemo: The Musical, Festival of the Lion King and more will return any time soon. Right now the only show operating on Walt Disney World property is For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing Along. 

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