Disneyland’s character performers vote to unionize

Employees who bring to life the beloved characters of Disney and entertain in theme park parades at the company’s parks in Southern California chose to unionize, becoming part of the Actors Equity Association as announced by the union on Saturday evening.

In the voting overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, an overwhelming 79% majority of those working as characters at Disneyland Resort expressed their support for union membership, with the final count showing 953 in favor and 258 against, as relayed by the union.

Provided there are no objections to the election process, the union’s successful vote is set to be officially recognized within seven days, according to Equity.

“We’re eager to start discussions with the performers regarding enhancements to their health and safety, pay scale, benefits, work conditions, and job stability,” said Kate Shindle, President of the Actors’ Equity Association. “Following these initial conversations, our plan is to engage in dialogue with the Walt Disney Company to establish these improvements in a first-time contract.”

Mickey Mouse welcomes guests at California Adventure in Anaheim, California, on April 24, 2024.

Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

The union of Actors Equity already includes Disney character performers from the Orlando Walt Disney World Resort and stage actors from Disney productions on Broadway.

Amongst Disneyland Resort’s workforce in Anaheim, which totals over 35,000, most are already represented by various unions. The parade and character staff at Disneyland announced their intention to organize in February, citing concerns over safety measures, scheduling, and additional issues.

According to Equity, since the opening of Disneyland in Anaheim in 1955, character performers have historically not been affiliated with a union.

Disney’s influence in Anaheim is significant, with two theme parks – Disneyland and Disney California Adventure – in addition to the Downtown Disney shopping and entertainment district. In 2022, Disneyland was crowned as the second most visited theme park globally, playing host to 16.8 million visitors, data from a study by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM shows.

Established in 1913, Equity declares it represents over 51,000 stage actors and managers across the nation.

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