ORLANDO, Fla. — Disney World may have reopened earlier this month, but several popular shows are still dark because of an ongoing dispute between the resort and the union that represents more than 700 of its performers.
What You Need To Know
- Disney World, performers' union dispute continues
- Actors' Equity Association released video targeting Disney
- Some performers released positive video in response
- Some shows featuring union performers are still dark
Even before the resort welcomed back visitors, the Actors’ Equity Association called on Disney World to delay the reopening of its Florida parks as coronavirus cases in the state surged. The request also followed the postponed reopening of Disneyland in California.
“If Disneyland has postponed, it is unclear how Walt Disney World can responsibly move toward reopening when coronavirus cases are much worse in Florida,” Actors’ Equity Association Executive Director Mary McColl said in a statement last month.
The union represents 750 singers, actors, dancers, and performers at the resort.
Disney World has a number of health and safety measures in place at its parks, including increased cleaning procedures, mandatory face coverings for visitors and employees, and temperature checks.
But the union has called for regular coronavirus testing of its members because “actors cannot practice social distancing.”
Disney World reportedly denied that request and moved forward with its reopening earlier this month.
"Seven unions representing 48,000 cast members signed agreements to have their employees return to work, and the Actors' Equity rejected our safety protocols," a Disney World spokesperson said in a statement to Spectrum News. "We have exercised our right to open without Equity performers."
In the weeks since the reopening, talks between the Actors' Equity and Disney World have stalled.
In response, the union on Friday released a video on its Facebook page that shows an altered version of Disney’s “Welcome Home” marketing video. Instead of the warm tone of the original video, the edited version features distorted voice-overs.
“There’s nothing magical about COVID-19," the caption on the Facebook post says.
The video upset some Actors’ Equity members, who, in the comments, said the union’s post did not represent how they felt.
“Stop making inflammatory content like this!" one comment says. “This is not helpful and so disappointing. You have been asked repeatedly to stop by the people you are representing.”
The rift between Disney and the union means performers have not been called back to the parks. In the meantime, shows such as Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, Finding Nemo – The Musical, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, and Festival of the Lion King remain closed.
Some performers have even publicly taken a stance against the union, saying they are ready to return to work. A group of performers released a video of their own, sharing how Disney makes them feel.
In the video, performers hold signs that say “safe,” “valued,” “proud,” and “inspired.”
“This video represents those of us who feel safe to go back to work under the safety protocols laid out by Disney,” according to a statement included with the video.
“We are aware that not all members agree with us, and we don’t claim to speak for everyone but the public and aggressive social media action taken by AEA does not reflect all of its represented members and those cast members were not consulted prior to them being carried out. We now feel that we deserve to have our voices heard as well,” the statement continued.
Spectrum News 13 has reached out to Disney World for comment.