Layoffs for almost all Live Performers

Disney has laid off almost all their live performers and I think this will do irreparable harm…Citizens of Main St, Beauty and the Beast, Hoop Dee Do Revue, Monsters Inc., Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo have all been laid off (on top of all the other live performers that have already been let go). Live performances are one of the things that makes Disney Disney and I have a feeling that these moves will do more harm than if they just kept them furloughed…Couldn’t they have saved money in others ways and kept these people employed and preserve one of the best aspects of WDW??? This is really bad news

I thought the same. But meanwhile, they are spending money to re-design the entrance to the park.

Disney isn’t Disney without all this. And if they had plans to immediately re-hire them once the pandemic is under better control, they wouldn’t have completely terminated their contracts.

I was planning a summer 21 trip but I think this is going to be the dagger in that.


I am an outlier in that I don’t care about, and haven’t seen most of the shows at WDW.
That said, however, I think it is disrespectful as hell that they let all these people go while reinstating the pay of the executives.
Whether I like the shows or not, fact is a lot of other people do. And it dramatically reduces the value of admission for a lot of people.


I wouldn’t get worked up about the magic leaving yet. Live performances are on hold in most parts of the world. Broadway is closed down until at least June 2021. Heck, my kids are in band at school and they are planning a put together virtual concert. I don’t think Disney can keep everyone on furlough forever. I have confidence that once live performances can begin again, many of these shows will be in back DW. I do feel horrible for those laid off and I really think the Disney executives need to be sacrificing more than they are. I hope the CMs are able to find something and keep themselves afloat during this time.


Ahem… execs salaries perhaps???

How many CMs could we save by firing Chapek?


I agree that the exec pay thing is a major misstep on Disney’s part. It is going to leave them with the proverbial pie on their face.

Having said that, though, I’m not sure exec pay cuts would have been enough. These lay offs being announced aren’t really “new”. They were already furloughed with no projected date to be able to return to work. So now, they are being layed off officially. I doubt they are technically “permanent” layoffs. Once the travel economy rebounds (vaccine???) Disney will be able to start bringing some of this kind of thing back.

But even if people filled up the hotels in the next few months, the fact is, the performers are much more expensive compared to other CMs. And shows, in particularly, require a lot of performers…not to mention backstage techs and general CMs. Basically, shows are going to be take time to return because they simply cost a lot, but don’t directly drive revenue. (Yeah, magic goes poof…but that’s something Disney is figuring they will have to deal with when they can.)

The other problem with performers? Until there is actually a widely available vaccine, how can they put on their performances safely? I’m not talking about the audiences. I’m talking the performers and other CMs involved in the shows themselves. They work in close proximity with one another, etc. This just adds to the difficulty.

I think the performers on the streets themselves (Citizens) are more easily brought back (as seen with the Dapper Dans). Open air, able to keep them socially distances from each other, etc. But even so, I think the Citizens are MORE difficult because they are supposed to just be THERE among the people.

So as much as all this pains me, I understand Disney’s thinking here.

Regardless, the execs need to take some of the hit here as well, even if only as an act of solidarity. It is possible that if enough people express distaste in this, something might change.

A few years ago, our company had set up a new performance-based bonus. There were two tiers. One was for management and above, the other for those below management (essentially). Management, of course, would set financial targets that needed to be hit, and the bonus would be based on how close the company came to hitting those targets. But the way they handled bonuses for management was based on different criteria.

So, this particular year, the company actually had generated record revenues…but didn’t actually hit the targets set by management. The end result? No one got bonuses (or very very tiny bonuses)…except, you guessed it, management! Because the way they were judged resulted them in getting large bonuses.

There was mass outrage in the company. And so the entire bonus system was revamped so that the same criteria applied to lower graded employees as well. Management was left with egg on their face for getting bonuses due to the hard work their employees had done to drive record revenues, but the employees didn’t share in it because management had set unrealistic targets!

Point is…the outrage of the people did drive change within the company. I think the same could happen with Disney regarding the execs.


More and more Disney is looking like an overpriced amusement park. They took away all of the attractions and experiences that made it better than the others.


I totally get why it happened— completely agree. I think there will need to be a balance of bringing back some magic to get more people back in the parks. Maybe it will take the vaccine.

Here’s the problem. In much of the construction costs, Disney is contractually obligated in many cases. They already have contractors mobilized to work, and if they stop the work, they still might end up having to pay. So it isn’t like they can stop construction to save money.

Even if they could, you are still ultimately trading one job for another one. Construction workers would end up laid off!

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You just outryaned yourself, dude.

There is no acceptable excuse for what they have done. There just isn’t. Please stop suggesting there is. I drink the kool-aid pretty heavily; one could accuse me of being a Disney apologist much of the time. I accept that. But this is a horrible misstep, and I will not accept any excuses for it.


I’m confused. I didn’t offer any excuse. I said they misstepped. ???

After you said there was no other way and you understand their thinking.

Just say they are doing a crappy job of managing this situation and be done with it. Because that’s what’s going on here.

Well, they are doing a poor job of managing this for the most part. But I’m also recognizing the reality of things.

It isn’t just Disney. The entire entertainment industry is in the same boat.

We have good friends who are in the entertainment industry. He’s a drummer, and she’s a music director for various musical theater productions. But the entire cast/company was laid off during all this time period because they can’t pull off shows in a safe way. It is the reality across the board. I’m not going to hold Disney to a higher standard in that regard.

But, I still think Disney’s decision to reinstate full exec salaries is a major blunder!!!


It would be nice to hear directly from Disney about their management strategy. What is their plan? Is there one? Is Chapek using this as an opportunity to skin the parks to the bone and see if people will continue to pay full price? I fear this is so.

I’m assuming (and hoping desperately) that these shows are all just being sidelined for now. The venues, stage and costumes, scripts and music, they are all ready for very specific shows. I just cant believe that they would discard them entirely or spend the money to replace them with something different. The question for me is how long would it take to train or re-train the CMs when the shows do return? 1 month? 6 months? I really have no idea.

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I can tell him the answer: No, they won’t. You take the magic out of Disney (for however legitimate a reason) and it’s just an amusement park like any other. A really, really expensive amusement park.


I’m as devastated as anyone else here, but mostly agree with Ryan, that things are being handled poorly AND this is just an awful time for large-scale entertainment globally, so some of this is unavoidable. Reinstating the full exec salaries is more of a symbolic problem than a real one to me. That money was not going to save all these employees. But obviously during a pandemic when many are struggling, that will rub many people the wrong way. I’m all for people making as much money as the market allows, but this is ill-timed and doesn’t look good.

I still think most people can have an amazing trip without all of those shows. For me, I’ll be there for just 3 1/2 days in Dec, focusing on favorite rides in each park and lots of new restaurant experiences that we’ve never had. We won’t have time to think about the missing shows. And I do love the shows, don’t get me wrong. But I won’t go as far as to say without them Disney is just another amusement park.


Pardon the cynicism but wasn’t it reported that while WDW had been able to get the majority of CMs working it was stymied attempting to resume stage shows owing to the live performers’ union concerns?
Could this be part of that “bargaining”/retaliation?

This has crossed my mind…although, I have to have enough faith in people to think that they wouldn’t be THAT vindictive. (And I recognize my faith may be ill-placed!) Still, even the APPEARANCE that it could be so is all the more reason Disney should be treading lightly on the exec salary thing.

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Agreed. We went to Universal and Disney for 9 days. Disney still has a feel that Universal does not even without shows/street entertainment. And we Stayed at the Boardwalk and most of those restaurants/clubs and the live performers and games and food booths were closed and it was still magical. I stopped and watched the two performances in the America Gardens Theater in Epcot that were provided and I think for me the street performers in Epcot World Showcase are where I feel something lost the most. However, even without them and hot and crowded feeling because of social distancing there was still magic in Epcot.

I think what Disney does best is its shows and I prefer not so many simulator rides like Universal does. Universal beats Disney in most thrills and new tech (although I can really see Disney trying to change that with RotR and FoP which I think have more re-ridability than Gringotts or Forbidden Journey but Hagrids…woohoo Universal for no stinking screens and a fabulous ride!) so it is sad to lose the shows which is where Disney excels the most. I hope it comes back but Disney is still enjoyable without it and much much better than Six Flags and Sea World (which I actually haven’t visited since I saw Blackfish but admittedly even before I saw Blackfish the pool where they let people feed dolphins in the San Antonio, my local, Sea World always disturbed me as I’ve scuba dived with wild dolphins and they are not all beat up and those dolphins at Sea World have scars all over from a lack of space and fighting each other for fish from people) Sorry I keep digressing lol…but comparing the Sea World in San Antonio of 10+ years ago to Disneyworld today…Disney still wins.

They could do it without shows and still be better than most everywhere else and the only one that would stand a chance of overtaking them is Universal. But Universal has so many simulators so for me Disney > Universal. I have hope Disney wouldn’t let those theaters in the park go to waste and more importantly the feel of World Showcase is the street performers due to a lack of other attractions so I hope they come back too as soon as they can. I even wouldn’t be too perturbed if they just did all new shows in the theaters because I can’t watch the same shows every year…I have to give it a couple of years even for great shows like FotLK.

I have also visited Cedar Point, Holiday World, Magic Mountain, both Texas Six Flags (and a long time ago the third one now closed Astroworld), Legoland and Carowinds and none of those parks are even close to WDW or DLR even without shows. Disney still does it better. So I think there are people like me who would still visit without the shows…but hope I still have.

The only park that beats Disneyworld in waterparks only is Schlitterbahn New Braunfels. They do waterparks like no other…I hope this continues under their new management.

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This is a valid point…but then, designing a new show takes a whole slew of imagineers as well. So, I can’t see them necessarily replacing an existing show during this time period.

In DHS, the idea that they replaced BatB with the orchestra from GF was an easy enough way to use the space without requiring the same level of CM involvement. But even that wasn’t enough to save them. Still, it shows that IF Disney were to do something in those facilities in the short term, it would have to be something much more simplified like that. An orchestra can pretty much play anywhere there is space. A show requires a whole lot more work.

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