Disneyland character performers move to unionize: ‘We are the Magic’

A Disneyland cast member greets visitors at the theme park in 2021.
A Disneyland cast member greets visitors at the theme park in 2021.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

Disneyland’s costumed characters and parade performers have announced their intent to unionize.

Calling themselves “Magic United,” cast members in the Anaheim resort’s Characters and Parades departments said Tuesday that they plan to unionize with Actors’ Equity Assn., which represents 51,000 professional actors and stage members on Broadway and in live theater around the country.

Labor organizers have begun circulating union authorization cards to 1,700 Disneyland workers and said they will seek voluntary recognition from the company when a majority have signed.


If Disney declines to recognize the union, Actors’ Equity Assn. will file the cards with the National Labor Relations Board, which will schedule a union recognition election for the cast members.

“We believe that our cast members deserve to have all the facts and the right to a confidential vote that recognizes their individual choices,” Disneyland said in a statement.

In addition to character actors — who play roles such as Mickey Mouse, Snow White and Cinderella — and assorted parade performers, the bargaining unit also includes hosts, trainers, leads and other workers who support the cast members.

“Disney workers are openly and powerfully invested in and loyal to the Walt Disney Co. 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,” Kate Shindle, president of the Actors’ Equity Assn., said in a statement. “Equity already represents hundreds of performers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and we have a long and successful bargaining relationship with Disney.”

The association said that most of the Disneyland workforce is already 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.”


By unionizing, cast members said they would like a “more productive conversation” with their employer to address concerns like safe and sanitary workplace conditions, fair wages and more transparency in scheduling and rehiring decisions.

“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,” the leaders of Magic United said in a statement. “We are the Magic!”