It’s been a long and painful couple of weeks of cast member layoffs in the Disney parks, and there’s still a lot more blood left to spill as most Union workers won’t be contacted until next month! We’ve got some updates for you on how those calls are going and a bit of good news for Walt Disney World workers that we hope will make its way to Disneyland as well. 

As we rapidly head toward Halloween, the parks would normally be preparing for the next big thing . . . Christmas. This is just about the time of year that snow-capped rooftops appear on Sleeping Beauty Castle. Unfortunately, there’s a bit of news to unpack about the holiday season ahead and how it’s increasingly looking like a lump of coal instead of magical snoap. And, of course, we have some news-bites, construction updates, and a touching reader photo section you won’t want to miss.


Cause for Hope? 

It’s been bad news after more bad news for Disneyland’s cast members lately. They were first hit with Disney’s largest-ever layoff announcement. That was followed by news that the state would continue to hold up Disneyland’s reopening. Meanwhile, many cast and crew continue to twist in the wind as the layoff calls were slowly made. And while most hourly employees have now been notified one way or the other, the pain has yet to come for Disney’s union workers. Many of them won’t hear if they are safe until after November 1st! That’s a long time to wait and a lot of stress. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

But some union workers have cause for hope. This past week, a coalition of Walt Disney World unions were able to get Disney to agree that any layoffs of full-time workers would NOT be permanent. When the jobs return, the workers will get their same pay and seniority. Sadly, there’s no such protection for part-time workers at WDW, but any workers represented by the unions are guaranteed to be rehired before Disney hires anyone new off the street (until at least October of 2022).

These seem like positive advances in a challenging time for Disney World employees. We hope that Disneyland’s unions will smack the Florida agreement on the table and demand equal treatment for workers at the Disneyland Resort. Perhaps Disneyland’s California unions need to pool their resources to better advocate for their members as the Florida unions did.  

Here are the highlights of the Florida agreement, it’s even better in nuance than our summary above makes it sound: 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Exit Stage Left

One group of Disneyland workers being hit particularly hard are the entertainers. With shows unlikely to reopen for a long time after the parks themselves open, and anything that packs visitors onto sidewalks also off the table, hundreds of entertainers, stagehands, choreographers, directors, etc. are being notified that their services are no longer required. The current speculation is that at least 70% of the resort’s performers will be let go.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

One performer announced the sad news on Instagram, indicating that the Frozen Musical and Mickey and the Magical Map have been canceled. We have not been able to confirm a permanent cancelation yet, but it is clear that the shows will at least remain dark for a long time to come.  

If you’d like to know more about the numbers behind these layoffs and which groups of employees seem to be hit hardest, we’ve been doing out best to keep the following resource updated: 

MORE Disneyland Furloughs JUST Confirmed

Is Christmas Canceled? 

There are many unknows for everyone right now, for cast, for guests, and even for Disney management. Until last week, Disneyland was preparing to reopen the first week of November and quickly transition to holiday mode, complete with lights on the castle, festive foods, and a bit of surprise entertainment here and there at unscheduled times.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Unfortunately, it doesn’t make sense for Disney to spend time and limited resources on holiday plans until they have a fairly firm commitment from the state that they can reopen. Sadly, the Governor’s commitment that theme park guidance would be coming “Very, very soon,” has now become “there’s no hurry.” So the days will continue to slip until Disney has a sense of when they will be able to reopen and under what conditions. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
Meanwhile, at Walt Disney World, their large park trees are decorated and sitting backstage in pieces, waiting to be installed in the parks.

Keep in mind that it will take Disney 3 to 4 weeks to prepare the parks for reopening once Disneyland has confirmation they can reopen. Even if Disney were to be able to open in late November or early December (which seems unlikely at this point), there would be little time to prepare a proper holiday spread for the parks. But you can expect holiday merchandise to begin hitting the Downtown Disney stores this week. Most of the merchandise has already been received and is ready to be placed on shelves.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

When will the parks open? Leota’s crystal ball has never been cloudier on the subject. We hope to have a little more clarity soon. 

If Only It Were A Soap Opera And Not Real Life

Further adding insult to injury, the Governor made a swipe which seems to be directed at Disney and Bob Iger, who sat on the state’s task force on recovery until stepping down dramatically last week, when it was clear the state was about to release the sort of theme park guidance that Disneyland DIDN’T want to hear (late-stage opening, an extremely limited sphere of potential visitation, and other rules which Disney just wasn’t happy with). Since Iger embarrassed the Governor, he laid down a little shade of his own.

Governor Newsom stated that he understood “… the frustration that many business leaders have that they want to move forward, sectorally, to reopen. But we’re going to be led by a health-first framework, and we’re going to be stubborn about it.”

That “health-first” language really got under Disney’s skin. The company feels that it has the best science-based approach, developed through the hard work of a team of experts. That research has been translated into operating procedures for Disney parks around the world. Only Disneyland remains closed.  So, Disney crafted a statement of their own to rebut the Governor: 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

All of this back and forth had us wondering if Disney perhaps has a legal case against the state. Particularly since similar types of businesses have been allowed to reopen in the purple and red tiers (counties in the two highest levels of infection). So, we reached out to a lawyer who successfully argued on behalf of a well-known winery when the Governor imposed un-equal treatment for some winery operations over others.  We invite you to take a look at that case in our article below. It’s likely that Disney could make a successful claim if they chose to, and Iger’s stepping down from the task force has freed the company to do exactly that if they wish.  

War of Words and Disneyland’s Legal Case for Reopening!

Disneyland Construction Updates

One thing that is continuing at a rapid pace are the various construction projects across the park. 

With the Emporium project wrapping up on Main Street, several other facades are now getting paint jobs.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Tomorrowland also has a big project. The last of the french fry rocks was removed last month. Now, the two new gardens at the front of the land are finally ready to receive their mid-century updates and we hear that work is underway.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

This was the last of the rocks next to Buzz Lightyear. It has now been removed, as you can see from our aerial photo above.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

One of the two new gardens at the front of the land has a prominent construction wall concealing operations equipment for the Astro Orbitor. As a result, a new tiered garden structure will be built to hide the equipment and provide some new thematic details which signal the end of the Tomorrowland 98′ decor and a transitional 1960’s look which will hold the land over until an eventual major renovation of the land whenever that may finally be approved. We ALMOST got a confirmation at the last D23 Expo, but with the next Expo delayed and COVID canceling most projects which haven’t broken ground, we aren’t counting our chickens for anything major to happen soon.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

This is approximately what the new gardens will look like: 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas , Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

The textured walls which flank the front of the land were repainted and received new raised gardens late last year, which evoke the look of the water fountains which were originally in this spot in the ’60s. Turns out that the retro-modern look works better for the park than the Jules Vern-lite look installed in the late ’90s.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on ChristmasFantasyland’s two projects are also progressing and expected to wrap up shortly. This is an aerial from a couple of weeks ago. When complete, Snow White will be brighter and less scary. While that sounds horrid to us diehards, it will allow more families to ride the attraction without terrifying the kiddos. 
, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

The Carrousel should also be completed soon. Freshly painted horses and refurbished mechanism will keep you jumping round and round happily for a couple more years. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

The project that we are really looking forward to is Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The resort has confirmed that the opening date has slipped from 2022 to 2023. But it sure does look like they are making progress a lot faster than that.  In just a few week’s time, the project has gone from one steel beam to a multi-story structure.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas , Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

While on-site, we noticed lots of activity, including beams being lowered into place: 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Place your bets folks . . . when do you think this attraction will really open? 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Stage 17 in California Adventure Opens for Downtown Disney Shopping Expansion

After weeks of speculating if Disney would open their theme parks in some capacity to allow for more attendance, one of the multi-use spaces in Disney California Adventure opened to guests this week as a shopping venue. The new shopping area called the “Backlot Premiere Shop,” allows guests to enter the Stage 17 building (in the Hollywood Pictures Backlot section of DCA) from backstage, via the Esplanade between the parks. 

For weeks now, Downtown Disney has been regularly reaching capacity in the evenings and on weekends. Unfortunately, the addition of Stage 17 hasn’t really done much to meet the demand. Hours-long lines to get into the shopping district, and hours longer in virtual queues to get into the shops continue to plague the experience.

Since the Downtown Disney lot was closed when we arrived, we decided to take advantage of the MiceChat parking deal at the nearby Anaheim Hotel. Parking there means a very short walk the street, and generally no line at all to access Downtown Disney from the Harbor Blvd entrance. This is definitely easier than driving in circles and waiting in full sun on the West-side of the resort. If you’re interested in doing what we did, we have arranged for you to park at the hotel (and at a discount on the weekdays) just show the image below to the front desk at the hotel to get your voucher.

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Walking across the street, there’s no wait to get in.

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Keep in mind that on the other side of Downtown Disney, by the Disneyland Hotel, there was an estimated 45-60 minute wait to get into Downtown Disney.  , Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Because the Backlot Premiere Shop is new, it’s extremely popular, be prepared to add your name to a virtual waitlist when you arrive.

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Don’t get confused, you’ll access the Premiere Shop from the Security Tent on Harbor.  They’ve divided a section with a new fence so you don’t have to leave the secured area to access Stage 17. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

After making it through the tent area, you make a quick jaunt backstage(!!) before entering the converted Stage 17 from a side entrance 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Look for the red carpet and enter like the celebrity you are. . . 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
Rolling out the red carpet…

Even the safety signage is slightly different here. They’ve slightly themed it, using a Hollywood-style font, for the experience.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

But, once inside, this is obviously a very temporary experience. They are using little of the fun special events decorations which make this such an attractive venue for a party or corporate event. However, there is plenty of space for merchandise, though almost all of it can be found elsewhere in Downtown Disney.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Most of the merchandise is also found in the World of Disney . . . 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas , Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas , Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Look for the Backlot Premiere Shop projection to find the check-out. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

The area is very lightly themed, almost making it feel like one of the shops at a D23 Expo.

Interestingly, Disney does all sorts of creative things with this space on a frequent basis. Here’s what Disney Weddings can offer in Stage 17:

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

But even with the simple decor, this is an easy space to shop and might be a good option for you if you only have time to visit one shop in Downtown Disney.  

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

As you exit, look up and see a couple of old signs from the Who Wants to be a Millionaire attraction which was rushed into this space shortly after the park opened to poor reviews. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas , Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

When we called for Disney to reopen the parks in a manner similar to Knott’s Berry Farm for shopping and dining, this Backlot Shop wasn’t exactly what we had in mind. That said, we’re glad that Disney is at least offering something new that adds additional capacity to Downtown Disney. But, if they’d just let guests shop on Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Blvd, they’d really be able to make a dent in that Downtown Disney capacity problem. 

For more about the Backlot Premiere Shop, take a look at the article below. Plus, you’ll see some of the latest merch at Downtown Disney. Be sure to check back on MiceChat tomorrow for even more merch!

Disneyland Merchandise Update: Downtown Disney Expansion Now Open!

Just a couple more fun things from Downtown Disney for you. We ran into this Guest Relations cast member who was doing trivia with guests: 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

And did you know that Sprinkles Cupcakes offers Pupcakes for your pooch as well? 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
Anna the service dog gets a very special treat.

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

The Silent Curtain Call – MiceChat Reader Photos

Disneyland isn’t just about attractions, it’s the entertainment value of it all that has created a lasting legacy. Disneyland has always offered world-class entertainment, with a variety of shows and performers. Sadly, Disneyland entertainment Cast Members were struck a heavy blow this week, with mass layoffs and talk of cancellations of several shows. We asked the MiceChat Facebook group to share their favorite photos of Disneyland’s entertainment as a way to recognize and honor the Cast Members at this difficult time. 

Disney Cast Members have entertained millions of guests in various ways: parades, shows, character meet and greets, street entertainment, and even small heartfelt interactions between Cast Members and guests.

Here are a handful of parade shots that tug at our heartstrings.

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
The Magic Happens parade debuted in February this year and ran for less than a month before Disneyland was forced to close

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

The parades offer high energy. . . 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“It’s impossible to just choose one photo [of my favorite entertainment Cast Members]. All of the performers have auditioned, practiced and practiced some more to perfect their roles in creating happiness for so many people.” – Mike
Heart . . .

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“Toy Soldiers, November 2017, near Ghirardelli’s in DCA, marching to a cadence.” – Ellen

Humor . . . 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

Over the years, Disneyland’s musical groups have come and gone. While we may not be able to recall the exact songs played, we’ll never forget how listening to them made us feel.

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“The Five and Dime jazz Band at DCA in November 2017. I have so many nice shots of them individually but wanted to share this partial group shot. It’s hard not to take good photos of each of them, not just because of their wonderful colorful outfits and lovely smiles, but also because they know when a camera is on them and help to make the shots even better with their poses. Which, as a photographer, I love.” – Ellen

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
Billy Hill and the Hillbillies. Long gone, but never forgotten. You can find them “performing” at Knott’s (even during Taste of Fall-O-Ween) as Krazy Kirk and the Hillbillies.
, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“A magician at Big Thunder Ranch” – Donna

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“Green Army Men, doin’ their percussion thang!” – Ted

Of the interactions we’ve had with the various Cast Members over the years, there’s something special about seeing your favorite Disney character in person. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“The characters who walk around are performers, just like those in parades and productions. Disneyland as a whole is a stage, and we are all part of the production. This is Bell with Anna the service dog.” – Mike
, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“Saw this mini Darth Vader interacting with Rey” – Janet

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

As we mentioned earlier in the article, there were two shows that some cast are saying have been given the final curtain call: Mickey and the Magical Map, and Frozen – Live at the Hyperion. These last two sections of the MiceChat Reader Photos are dedicated to those shows and the memories we have of them. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“Mickey’s happy little jig as he exits the stage at the end of the show. Almost as if to say “see you real soon!”” – Erin

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“I absolutely loved the Mickey and the Magical Map show. Not just for Mickey and my favorite princesses, but for each and every performer on that stage that brought it to life with their passion and energy. I rarely made it through the beautiful, inspirational opening number without crying. Each of these shining star performers always looked so happy to be up there doing what they loved, and it brings back my own fond memories of performing onstage, so I know that feeling of passion and pride in their work. My heart breaks for these cast members that have now lost their beautiful show, many of whom made it their livelihoods for many years, and also for those of us who at one point watched this show for the last time and never knew it would be the last.” – Erin

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“I also love the great stage show Mickey and the Magical Map. I would make every effort just like Frozen to see at least one show a day if I was in the park. One shot I would always focus on is the popping of the big balloon and this one was perfect timing as half the balloon is gone and half there for a split second.” – George

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“Our favorite show and scenes” – Steven

The large-scale production at DCA has had its final curtain call. At least, for the time being. It’s hard to “Let It Go,” especially after seeing so many shows and singing the songs all day long afterward. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“Since 2005 I saw Aladdin 107 times and then they replaced it with Frozen and I fell in love with the new show too. I was up to 77 times watching it and hoping to beat my Aladdin record. I have over 3000 photos of the show and have many favorite scenes I seem to almost always take. Here is Elsa singing “Let it Go” and her cape just being taken away.” – George
, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“Another favorite is Anna singing “For the First Time in Forever” and jumping for joy.” – George

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“Watching Frozen is always magical” – Sarodge
, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
“The cast deserves an ovation” – Sarodge

Thank you to everyone who shared a photo with us. Our hearts go out to all the Cast Members affected by the immense job cuts. Cast Members are an integral part of what makes Disneyland magical. This sudden departure is confusing and heartwrenching, but we hope that you know your efforts have brought joy and happiness to millions. This isn’t goodbye, it’s just until your next opening night.

To see more beautiful photos of Disneyland’s entertainment, take a look at the MiceChat Facebook group.

This & That

And now for some of the other happenings this week from other theme parks and Disney.

Storming the Castle

The Los Angeles Lakers won the 2019-2020 NBA Championship on Sunday night at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. As you probably know, the entire season was played at Disney World so all the players could be kept in a safety zone which almost everyone called “The bubble,” for a little over 3 months. And while the teams were lodged at the pricy Grand Floridian and Coronado Springs resorts, the social media reports from many of the players made it sound like they were being held in prison. Boxed lunches wear thin after a while and you can only imagine what it might be like to be trapped in a cramped hotel room for that long. I’m sure everyone is glad to see this experiment come to an end.

Disney celebrated the Lakers by lighting Cinderella Castle in the team’s purple and gold colors last night: 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas
Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom Park lit in purple and gold on Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, to celebrate the Los Angeles Lakers NBA Finals win.

22 teams competed for a spot in the NBA Playoffs, and after 3 months and 205 total games, the Los Angeles Lakers came out victorious. Los Angeles Lakers, you just won the NBA Championships, where are you going next? . . . After 3 months in the bubble, they’d probably say “I’m going anywhere but Walt Disney World.” 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas  

Walt Disney World Update

Although Disneyland is without visitors, that certainly isn’t the case out at Walt Disney World, where the parks are increasingly busy. The parks are gearing up for the holidays— and the increased crowds ahead— and we have a great photo tour of all four WDW parks for your enjoyment. Take a look in the article below.

Walt Disney World Update – Silver Linings and Increased Crowds Ahead


Save On Future Theme Park Travel

Get Away TodayOur travel partners at Get Away Today are here to help you with your theme park booking and rescheduling plans. Whether you are ready to travel again or not, there is no better time to LOCK IN LOW RATES on future theme park travel to places like Walt Disney World, Disney’s Aulani in Hawaii, or family destinations like San Diego. Right now is a great time for you to speak with Get Away Today. Give your family something to look forward to and put a vacation on the calendar. Snap up those deals while you can, with your MiceChat partners at Get Away Today- HERE


Let’s Hear from You

These are such unsettled times, with information and conditions changing from week to week. What looked like a slam-dunk for Disneyland to reopen just a couple of weeks ago, now looks like a longshot for this year. Will this will be a year without a Santa Claus for Disneyland? With the sudden change in tone at the state, do you think Disneyland has a legal case to make about unequal treatment compared to similar businesses? Has Disneyland entertainment made an impact on your enjoyment of the parks over the years? Please share your own personal thoughts and memories of characters, shows, and performers who have made a difference in your Disney experience. 

, Disneyland Update: Don’t Count on Christmas


ADMIN NOTE: Please help us keep our comment section safe and friendly for all audiences, and please be respectful of other users and our staff. We appreciate your personal thoughts on all things Disney, but please try to keep heated political and religious comments out of our comments section. If you attack another user, spout highly political comments, are hostile, or intentionally sow the seeds of conflict, your comments may be removed.

Sharing is caring!

Dusty is the founder and CEO of MiceChat.com. When he's not visiting theme parks and writing, editing or speaking about Disney and theme parks worldwide, Dusty is involved in multiple Disney related projects and charities. He helped save and restore the charming Walt Disney Birthplace in Chicago, and currently serves as Executive Director of the Dick Van Dyke Foundation as well as curator of Walt Disney's historic 1930's estate in Hollywood. If you've got news or photos to share with the MiceChat community, or would like to book Dusty for an upcoming event, please contact [email protected]