Disney Cast Members Fight Back, Hundreds Vote to Unionize

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A child wearing silver Mickey Mouse ears hugs a person in a Minnie Mouse costume at Disneyland, where character actors recently unionized. The castle and other visitors are visible in the background, and both the child and the character appear to be happy.

Credit: Disney

There are so many things that make Disneyland Resort “The Happiest Place on Earth.” From the immersive rides and attractions to the delectable dining options, gorgeous nighttime spectaculars, and so much more.

But one of the most memorable experiences a guest can have is meeting some of Disney’s most iconic characters, including Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy, Goofy, and Pluto. Not only do these characters have designated meet-and-greet locations, but they can frequently be seen roaming the parks and interacting with guests.

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse stand together, both wearing colorful outfits. Mickey sports a white shirt with a multicolor heart design and a bright jacket, while Minnie wears a rainbow bow and a white outfit adorned with purple fringe. Both characters have cheerful expressions.
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney Cast Members Announce Official Unionization for Safer, Fairer Work Conditions

For a lot of Disney fans, working for Disney as a character performer seems like a dream come true. However, for those who actually do the job, the experience is not so magical.

Disneyland Resort’s character performers were so disappointed in Disney’s treatment of them that they recently decided to hold a vote to unionize. Many of Disneyland’s cast members are already part of a union, so this is not so unusual. Disneyland’s character performers simply wanted to have the support of a union so they could voice their concerns and air their grievances without fear of retribution.

Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, and Stitch posing joyfully in front of Cinderella Castle at a theme park.
Credit: Disney

On Saturday, May 18, a union vote was held, and the performers overwhelmingly voted YES. Disneyland’s character performers will now be a part of the Actors’ Equity Association, which represents many performers who work on Broadway.

Per The Hollywood Reporter:

“They say that Disneyland is ‘the place where dreams come true,’ and for the Disney cast members who have worked to organize a union, their dream came true today,” Actors’ Equity Association president Kate Shindle said in a statement on Saturday. “The next step will be to collaborate with them about improving health & safety, wages, benefits, working conditions and job security. After that we will meet with representatives of the Walt Disney Company to negotiate those priorities into a first contract.”

Disneyland's Toontown
Credit: Disney

Unionizing has become very important to those who work at Disneyland over the past few years. Disney is frequently being called out by fans and cast members for its low wages. Studies have been conducted that show Disney cast members struggle with food insecurity and homelessness, while the Mouse House rakes in billions in profits.

And it is not just Disneyland cast members who have to fight for fair wages. Strikes and protests have also broken out at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Paris as cast members fought for a living wage. It should be noted that Disney typically pays more than the minimum wage, but that does not mean that cast members make enough to live comfortably.

Minnie and Daisy pose at Minnie's House in Toontown
Credit: Disney

Related: Mickey Mouse’s Surprising Salary Revealed in Disneyland

With the power of the Actors’ Equity Association behind them, Disneyland’s 1,700 character performers will now be able to negotiate higher wages, better safety procedures, and workers’ protections.

Do you think all Disney cast members should unionize? Let us know in the comments!

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