Walt Disney World has announced Performance and Show Cancellations, affecting some of our most beloved Disney experiences. While cutbacks last year were a blow, the Disney layoffs of performers in 2020 are a result of the ongoing challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. So, what does this mean if you’re visiting Walt Disney World soon or within the next year? What can you No Longer See or Experience on your Walt Disney World Vacation?
Disney World Cancelled Shows and Entertainment
First off we just have to say, the news that almost EVERY experience at Walt Disney World that includes a trained actor, performer, artist, and the like has been cancelled is DEVASTATING. The Actors’ Equity Association reported 720 layoffs of performers on October 28, 2020 and our hearts go out to them all. A Disney Vacation is mostly made special by these people and these experiences, losing them is heartbreaking.
What some are deeming a “bloodbath” this round of layoffs is part of the full 28,000 layoffs that Disney Parks reported would happen earlier this month. We didn’t however know the scope of the areas cut. As over 400 Imagineers were also part of the layoffs, we’ll continue to see delays in the growth of Disney Parks as a result of this move. Incidentally, as focus shifts to cosmetic changes happening for The World’s Most Magical Celebration the entry gates to Walt Disney World are being changed from “Where Dreams Come True” to “The Most Magical Place on Earth.” Let that irony set in…as we realize just how many dreams won’t be coming true for our beloved Disney Cast Members.
What Entertainment and Shows at Walt Disney World are Cancelled?
It’s no secret that Walt Disney World has undergone some major changes in the last few years. We’ve been keeping track of many of the ride and entertainment changes in our Changes for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary post. But now we’re seeing even more Covid casualties across the Disney parks as long running experiences, shows and performances have been cut. These parkwide Disney Layoffs take effect in December 2020.
Full List of Shows that are Cut at Walt Disney World
- Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor
- Main Street Citizens
- Move it Shake it MousekeDance It! Street Party
- Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire
- Voices of Liberty
- Turtle Talk with Crush
- Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular Show
- Jedi Training Academy
- Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage
- Green Army Men Drum Corps
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Pandora Utility Suit (Mech Suits)
- Festival of the Lion King ( set to return Summer of 2021 with COVID-19 protocols in place )
- Finding Nemo – The Musical
Disney Resort Performances Cut
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds
- Grand Floridian Society Orchestra at Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
Something to keep in mind is that as layoffs occur in the Disney Parks, contract terms remain the same. The Disney employees represented by the Service Trades Council Union that were recently laid off, still maintain priority for rehiring, and seniority privilege, and pay rate through their contract running until October 2022. Disney’s contract with the Actors’ Equity Union is valid until 2022 so that if things do change, the laid-off performers do maintain their right to return to work until the end of 2021.
How to Help Disney Cast Members Through Difficult Times
It’s sometimes difficult to realize that as we lose magical moments, the Cast Members at Walt Disney World are losing more than just Magic. As Disney lays off almost 20% of it’s Orlando workforce, these people will need help over this hurdle. Donating to the Second Harvest Food Bank in Central Florida or purchasing items from the donation-based Cast Member Pantry makes a difference. Check out the organization’s Amazon Wish List or consider helping via Venmo @castmemberpantry. Disney Cast Members can contact Cast Member Pantry via their Facebook page for food assistance.
Disney World Cutbacks and Closings
With the arrival of a completely new Fantasyland in 2012 came new rides, restaurants and the closing of some old favorites. Thus began the work across Walt Disney World to revamp the parks to a more modern place, relevant to today’s families. The addition of Pandora: World of Avatar in Animal Kingdom, and Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios has given us new places to see, new rides, and new restaurants. We love them all. But unfortunately these come at a bit of a cost. After all a large company like Disney has a budget to stick to.
Temporary Shows and Events Cancelled
Shows cut last year in 2019 include the following. for a complete list in each park check out our Changes coming for Disney’s 50th Anniversary post.
- Move it! Shake it! Mousekedance it! Street Parade
- Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy
- The Lion King Hakuna Matata Time Dance Party
- Mickey and Minnie’s Surprise Celebration
- Incredibles at Pixar Place
- Wonderful World of Animation
EPCOT Illuminations Retired Sept 30 2019
Illuminations was retired Sept 30 2019. This digital show over Crescent Lake in Epcot World Showcase is saying it’s farewells, with commemorative merchandise to boot! The Show was replaced by “Epcot Forever” on October 1, 2019 and will be replaced by the more permanent show, Harmonious, set to take center stage at Epcot.
Muppets Great Moments in History Show Closed | Magic Kingdom
Great Moments in History…but only the American Parts is done for. This Feature show that takes place in Liberty Square… and really is the only reason to stop in this area at all on the way to Haunted Mansion… is closing. We absolutely loved Kermit and Piggy and Fozzie and the gang as they retold the “important parts of American History,” but alas all good things come to an end. We hope this is a sign of Muppets taking a stronger hold in Hollywood Studios Muppet courtyard, but that that has yet to be seen. Closing end of September 2019.
Royal Majesty Makers are No More | Magic Kingdom
These fun impromptu characters were best known for their antics near the Sword in the Stone near the Carousel in Magic Kingdom. Leading the way for any brave soul willing to look like an idiot pulling the sword outta the anvil. And yet, we will miss these guys.
Citizens of Hollywood Let Go | Hollywood Studios
The biggest, most disappointing news that arrived with the cutbacks at Disney was the elimination of several Citizens of Hollywood street performers. This isn’t surprising considering Hollywood Studios has gotten a major overhaul in favor of Star Wars. It’s still disappointing to see any interactive opportunities go the wayside. From our point of view, it’s these little added extras that make Disney feel like Disney and not just another theme park. This is however in line with completely removing the classic Hollywood movie vibe from the park. A trend that started with the closing of the The Great Movie Ride. And one we’ll see continue as Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land and other movie specific features take their place in the park.
Rafiki’s Planet Watch Now Seasonal, Supposedly | Animal Kingdom
When Walt Disney World, or any Disney Park for that matter, takes a program seasonal it’s because they’re testing the push back of the guests if they were to close completely. Will anyone actually be devastated if Rafiki’s Planet Watch doesn’t return next year? This absolutely amazing conservation center and petting zoo in Animal Kingdom was hidden to begin with. Only accessible by a train ride, it required families to take more time than usually committed to a ride or show to experience it. As more and more shows, rides, and activities compete for guest time, Rafiki’s Planet Watch was sure to be affected. We’re hoping that the conservation messages previously shared at Rafiki’s can find their way into the general Animal Kingdom park area in its stead.
Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial Ends | Magic Kingdom
Pirates of the Caribbean may have run it’s course as a film franchise but in the Disney Parks this ride and story are alive and well. With the recent revamp of the redhead in the ride to a sassy pirate, we are slightly confused about why this extra show was pulled. So we can only blame it on staffing and time. Captain Jack’s Pirate Tutorial takes about 20-30 minutes, which is sometimes longer than people are willing to commit. We could also blame slowed popularity. Pirates of the Caribbean came out in 2003, so a film 15 years old may be lacking it’s devoted following in kids aged 5-9. With the rumored arrival of a new pirates movie featuring Red, perhaps the stage will soon find a sassy new owner in Adventureland.
Move it! Shake it! Dance & Play it! Street Party Retires | Magic Kingdom
This parade retired December 1, 2018. While we weren’t terribly sad to see this dance party go, it’s actually only getting a slight revamp for the 2019 year. Mickey and Minnie center stage, set to Mickey Mouse Club Mousketeer music is a nice upgrade to this parade and will resonate better with the families who have kids at the “dancing in the street” age. The new street show, called the Move it! Shake it! Mouskedance it! Street Party includes special merchandise as well.
How Walt Disney World Cutbacks Will Affect Your Vacation
Loss of Magic?
We’re not going to go into a monologue here, but heck, you know we could. The loss of Disney Cast Members in any capacity is tough. Really tough. From the guy who sells balloons to the person who trained their entire lives to be on that Disney stage, you will FEEL the loss on your next Disney vacation. It will affect what’s available to experience, and the cast members left behind. For us, much of the Disney experience is about those impromptu conversations with the Main Street Citizens, seeing the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular and reveling in Hollywood Movie Magic. Hearing Festival of the Lion King and crying through the songs every single time. You will notice a change.
Disney Buses and Transportation
We’ve talked about Disney’s phenomenal transportation system in the past. Always keeping in mind that Disney offers bus transportation as a courtesy and not as a paid service helps to put this situation in perspective. With the staffing cutbacks came less bus drivers available to transport guests and less people allowed on the busses. Fewer buses mean that the lines everywhere were longer. This was most noticeable at the resorts, and at the closing times for each parks, when crowds are heaviest. If using the Disney buses on your vacation just be aware of the trials and tribulations with this one. Especially with Disney World COVID rules in place.
What about the Minnie Vans?
The Minnie Van service is alive and well, but has increased in price. Apparently Disney underestimated the popularity of this service and made the price too affordable? Possible? We guess so. While still available at all resorts, the prices for this service have increased.
The housekeeping services are known for being stellar across Disney Resort property. At the moderate and deluxe resorts we’re still seeing pretty great housekeeping services. At resorts where there is construction happening we’ve seen the housekeeping compromised for a variety of reasons. This may not be due to staffing, but instead the fact that construction disrupts the regular workflow at these resorts. Many housekeeping services, like extra coffee/ tea service has been stopped, though you can still call the front desk for things to be dropped off at your door.
Walt Disney World Customer Service Changes
In years with less construction and less changes, we don’t know if we’d be seeing extra care taken with the customer experience. There is definitely some tension around Hollywood Studios being overtaken by Star Wars experiences. And more tension around the construction in the parks and the lack of faster bus service. So how does one counteract the negative with a positive?
Disney Loyalty Appreciation
We’ve been visiting Walt Disney World regularly since 2013 and this was the first year we actually received a card. Like an actual Thank You Card at Kona Cafe for being a return guest to the restaurant. We don’t know if this was simply because they asked us if we visited before or checked our names against some mass database system. But, either way, we got a card thanking us for visiting. We didn’t get a thank you card at every restaurant we returned too, so we’re figuring this is just a small perk that will show up at random for guests every once in a while.
Return Resort Guest Treats
Staying at Pop Century Resort on this last trip to get a peak into the refurbished rooms, we received a little Thank You treat. A card and small bag of chocolates were waiting for us, thanking us for our return visit to the resort. This may not be the new normal. But we appreciated the effort and the chocolates just the same. We also received a card at Caribbean Beach Resort. No doubt attempting to entice the guests actually still coming to the parks
Walt Disney World Cutbacks and Changes
These changes are a combination of temporary and permanent changes. Walt Disney World construction is getting more complex with Epcot refurbishment plans and continued work on new rides. That said, we can assume that staffing and extras will be at operational levels only while the construction continues. Additionally, since Walt Disney World visitor levels have been down, Disney may not be making up the revenue it needs to continue fueling these large projects or unfortunately staff.