Disneyland: Performers who bring characters such as Mickey Mouse and Snow White to life form Magic United union

30 May 2024, 04:14 | Updated: 30 May 2024, 08:22

Workers posing as Disney favourites such as Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse and Snow White in California have formed a union - Magic United.

There are roughly 1,700 performers and assistants who help to bring popular characters to life at Disneyland near Los Angeles.

Disney has faced allegations of not paying them a living wage, despite many facing exorbitant housing costs and commuting long distances.

Parade performers and character actors earn a base pay of $24.15 (£19) an hour, up from $20 (£15.75) before January.

The president of the Actors' Equity Association, which will represent the group, called the workers the "front lines" of the Disneyland guest experience earlier in May, when the plan was set in motion.

"They say that Disneyland is the place where dreams come true and for the Disney cast members who have worked to organise a union, their dream came true today," Kate Shindle said.

The association and cast members will discuss improvements to health and safety, wages, benefits, working conditions and job security.

She added they will then meet with Walt Disney representatives about negotiating staff priorities into a contract.

Parade workers who campaigned for a union said they love creating a magical experience at Disneyland, but grew concerned when they were asked to resume hugging visitors during the pandemic.

They said they also suffer injuries from complex costumes and erratic schedules.

Most of the more than 35,000 workers at the Disneyland resort, including cleaning crews, pyrotechnic specialists and security staff, are already in unions.

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It all comes more than 40 years after those who play Mickey, Goofy and Donald Duck in Florida were organised by a union traditionally known to represent transportation workers.

At that time, performers in Florida complained about filthy costumes and abuse from guests, including children who would kick the shins of Disney villains such as Captain Hook.