Government Takes Control of More Than 1,700 Disney Cast Members

in Disneyland Resort

Disney Adults at Disneyland Resort with Mickey Mouse

Credit: Disney

Weeks after Disneyland Resort character performers announced a push to unionize, the federal government officially certified the results of their vote.

On Wednesday, May 29, federal labor officials told ABC7 that they’d certified the results of a three-day union election among more than 1,700 Disneyland Resort character performers. Actors’ Equity Association will represent the Disney entertainment cast members, joining their Walt Disney World Resort counterparts already under the union’s umbrella.

Character performers are hardly the first Disney cast members to unionize. Local workers’ unions already represent thousands of Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort employees working in housekeeping, food service, merchandise, custodial, engineering, and more. Last year, Disneyland Paris Resort cast members went on strike, picketing on Main Street, U.S.A., until their union reached an agreement with the European Disney Park.

Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck, two Disney Character performers, pose in front of a tea set in Mickey's Toontown at Disneyland Park.
Credit: Disney

Parade, meet-and-greet, and other entertainment performers spoke out ahead of the vote, dubbing their union “Magic United.” They advocate for safety, noting that countless performers suffer injuries from guests and heavy costume pieces. They also cited concern about hugging theme park guests when Disneyland Resort re-opened during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We need enforceable policies to protect Cast Members from preventable injuries, and to be treated appropriately when we are sick or injured, including sufficient sick time,” the Magic United website reads. “Management must improve the safety and sanitary conditions of our costumes, wigs, and workplaces.”

The entertainment cast members also seek increased compensation, better communication with The Walt Disney Company, and fairer scheduling practices.

Disneyland's Toontown characters
Credit: Disney

“Magic doesn’t pay our rent,” Magic United writes. “We must be able to live comfortably in the community where we work. It’s time for pay increases that keep pace with inflation and reflect the value of the World Class Experiences we bring to life for our Guests through our performances and storytelling throughout Disneyland Resort.”

“We must be part of the discussion when decisions are made about our work,” the union continues. “Leadership must be accessible to us, and their expectations must be clearly and consistently expressed and reinforced with appropriate training. Every Cast Member must be treated with respect regardless of seniority, role, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”

“Work schedules and desired availability must be well-defined and provided with sufficient notice. We call for reforming policies that harm part-time workers and older Cast Members. Disney must open more opportunities for full-time employment.”

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

Some former Disney cast members have expressed concern that Disneyland Resort will retaliate against performers by cutting schedules and decreasing entertainment offerings.

“The puppeteers tried to do something like that in 2017 or so, and Disney eliminated many of the puppeteering roles from the parks…like they got rid of the Disney Jr. puppet show,” YouTuber and former Disney cast member Jenny Nicholson told Rolling Stone. “So I worry for those people’s jobs, and I hope that things go well for them.”

The character performers’ union has yet to begin negotiations with Disneyland Resort. Follow Inside the Magic for further updates on working conditions at the Southern California Disney parks.

Will the new union impact entertainment at Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park? Share your thoughts with Inside the Magic in the comments.

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