Coming Soon to Disneyland: Union Representation for 1,700 Disneyland Characters and Parades Cast Members

ANAHEIM, Calif.– Calling themselves “Magic United,” Cast Members who work in the Disneyland resort’s Characters and Parades departments announced today that they are unionizing with Actors’ Equity Association. Equity, as it is more commonly called, is the national union that represents 51,000 professional actors and stage managers on Broadway and in live theatre across the United States, including the performers at Walt Disney World in Florida.

Magic United has begun circulating union authorization cards to 1,700 Cast Members and will seek voluntary recognition from Disney Resort Entertainment when a majority of the workers have signed. If the company declines to recognize the union, Equity will then file the cards with the National Labor Relations Board. Upon receiving the “petition,” the NLRB will schedule a union recognition election for Cast Members in the Character and Parades Departments. The company will be required under federal labor law to sit down with Equity’s representatives at the bargaining table and negotiate a contract, following a vote in favor of unionization.

The bargaining unit includes Cast Members in the Characters department who create Disney magic for Guests by bringing beloved characters to life in shows, meet and greets and character dining experiences. Others signing union authorization cards include parade performers who make the Disney experience real as they cheer and dance through the parks, spreading the magic with every step. Also included in the bargaining unit are Hosts, Trainers, Leads and other roles that support their fellow Cast Members.

“Disneyland is a very special place, where Cast Members create magic that attracts millions of guests every year. Disney workers are openly and powerfully invested in and loyal to the Walt Disney Company and its values, so it's reasonable for them to expect ‘the happiest place on earth’ to pay them fairly and prioritize their health and safety. Unionizing is the collective pathway to ensuring that the magic makers share not only in the happiness, but in the $9.13 billion in quarterly 'experience' revenue that Disney announced to its shareholders on February 7,” said Actors’ Equity Association President Kate Shindle. “Equity already represents hundreds of performers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and we have a long and successful bargaining relationship with Disney. We look forward to extending that work to include these Cast Members in Anaheim and applaud them for their incredible work on the campaign thus far.”

The Disneyland Resort, which includes Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventure as well as three hotels and Downtown Disney, opened in 1955 and has become one of the most attended themed entertainment attractions in the world. Most of the Disneyland workforce is unionized, with those working in Characters and Parades being a notable exception – particularly notable given that their colleagues doing the same work in Florida have been unionized for decades.

The Magic United Cast Members perform a wide variety of functions across the Disneyland Resort, but it is common for individuals to handle multiple roles, even across departments. What they all share is a passion to begin a more productive conversation with their employers to address concerns like safe and sanitary workplace conditions, a fair wage and more transparency in scheduling and rehiring decisions.

The leaders of Magic United echoed Shindle’s assessment in the following statement released today:

“As the Entertainment Cast Members at the Disneyland Resort, it is time for us to come together as a union, to use our collective power to ensure that the park is a safer, more sustainable place to build careers and share magic with Guests from all over the world.

“We chose Actors’ Equity Association as our union because we’ve seen how well they work with Disney in Florida, on Broadway and on tour. Our Walt Disney World colleagues exemplify how you can be pro-Disney and pro-union at the same time. Furthermore, the vast majority of our park colleagues here in Anaheim already have union representation. It’s a win/win: when we can speak with a collective voice, we can have a clearer, more productive conversation with our employer. Ultimately this will result in a better experience for all – Cast Members, managers and more importantly, our Guests.

“We find inspiration in Disney every day, in the stories that we get to tell. Whether we are meeting Guests up close or dazzling them with a parade, we know we are making lifelong memories. And now, we’re laying the groundwork for the future of entertainment employment at the Disneyland Resort. With Magic United, we can work together with each other and with Disney leadership to ensure our talents remain central to the Disneyland experience for generations to come. We are the Magic! We are the union!”

Equity encourages all workers in live performance who believe they would benefit from a union contract to join the union. This includes performers in both traditional theatre settings and other stages. In the past two years, Equity’s organizing campaigns have resulted in union recognition for planetarium lecturers and strippers in Los Angeles and at Drunk Shakespeare companies across the country.

ACTORS’ EQUITY ASSOCIATION, founded in 1913, is the U.S. labor union that represents more than 51,000 professional actors and stage managers. Equity endeavors to advance the careers of its members by negotiating wages, improving working conditions and providing a wide range of benefits (health and pension included). Member: AFL-CIO, FIA. #EquityWorks

February 13, 2024