It seems Disney can’t catch a break lately.
From headlining lawsuits to streaming woes, The Walt Disney Company has had its fair share of dramas over the last few months. It hasn’t been the most magical start to the company’s 100th anniversary year, with Disney100 being celebrated across the world from the Disneyland Resort, Anaheim to Tokyo Disneyland.
Now, to add another crisis to the mix, Disney has been dealt a major blow at one of its Disney Parks.
Its last animated movie, Strange World (2022), was a flop. A writers’ strike is halting creative production. We’ve all been following the ongoing battle between Disney and Ron DeSantis down in Florida. And let’s not forget the thousands of layoffs happening across the company.
In the ongoing saga between Disney and Florida Governor DeSantis, Disney CEO Bob Iger has affirmed that The Walt Disney Company is being punished for free speech amid countering lawsuits and a presidential campaign.
But now, attention has been directed away from the Walt Disney World Resort in Central Florida to Disneyland Paris in France, which recently celebrated its 30th anniversary.
On Wednesday, May 24 Cast Members at Disneyland Paris went on strike to demand better pay and working conditions. The Disney employees, represented by UNSA, a French confederation of trade unions, walked off the job, resulting in multiple entertainment cancelations.
The shock strike took place mostly on Main Street, U.S.A., while the Disney Park was open to the public. Disney magic was temporarily stalled as Cast Members were demonstrating in front of Guests, marching along Main Street, U.S.A., and rallying at Town Square.
Unsettling photos and videos from the event show the striking workers marching through the Disney theme park, blocking Main Street for Guests and taking away from the fantasy ambiance of Disneyland.
The Cast Member strike comes amid ongoing demonstrations criticizing unpopular reforms that threaten to raise the state pension age in France. French Citizens have protested the retirement age increase from 62 to 64, leading unions to call for workers to strike.
The juxtaposition between the Disney Cast Members striking and upset about workers’ rights versus the beautiful magic of Le Château de la Belle au Bois Dormant (Sleeping Beauty Castle) was striking (excuse the pun), with their plan to strike during Park operating hours one that certainly got attention.
The Cast Members’ strike, organized by Disneyland Paris Union UNSA, led to several parades officially getting canceled by Disney Park management. This included the 4.10 p.m. parade “Dream… and Shine Brighter,” the 4:50 p.m. performance of “Rhythms of the Pride Lands,” and the 5.40 p.m. showing of “Disney Stars on Parade,” as reported by the DLP Report on Twitter:
Stars on Parade now officially canceled ahead of its 5:45pm scheduled time, due to the ongoing Cast Member strike. pic.twitter.com/AGoKiSVTzO
— DLP Report (@DLPReport) May 23, 2023
It’s unusual for Disney Park entertainment and parades to be canceled due to a strike, but with working conditions and pay such a big topic right now, it was inevitable that something big like this was going to happen.
France is no stranger to worker-organized protests — as is well-documented in January’s pension reform protests that turned into civil unrest — with action against the Borne government’s reform bill continuing until very recently.
If Disneyland Paris Cast Members and The Walt Disney Company fail to come to an agreement, Disneyland Paris Guests may see future upheaval and cancelations at the theme parks in the future. Who knows if these kinds of Cast Member strikes will be seen at Walt Disney World, Disneyland in California, or Parks across the world.
Video: Disneyland Paris Cast Members are demonstrating on Main Street. They are requesting better pay and working conditions: pic.twitter.com/JnRoSBUzxi
— DLP Report (@DLPReport) May 23, 2023
The protest lasted just over an hour and Cast Members peacefully left the Disneyland Park without further incident, allowing Disneyland Paris to return to normal operations. The next scheduled parade was able to perform without issue, but it’s clear that the strike led to increased visibility of the issue at hand.
Disneyland Paris consists of two theme parks (Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios Park), seven Resort hotels, and a shopping and dining district known as Disney Village. It was previously known as Euro Disney when it opened back in 1992.
We’ll keep you posted on this developing story as it happens.