New “Feathered Friends in Flight” Show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Ruffles Feathers of Actors’ Equity Association

While the new “Feathered Friends in Flight” show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom may soar with guests, it’s ruffled some feathers with a major performers’ union.

The bird show, which debuted with the reopening of the park, replaces “Up! A Great Bird Adventure,” featuring characters from the 2009 Disney/Pixar film. According to Deadline‘s Greg Evans, the show was reportedly created due to Disney’s dispute with the Actors’ Equity Association, which represents performers in the resort’s stage shows, including the performers who played Russell, Dug, and Wilderness Explorer Troop Leader Jones in the previous show. The show was hosted by Cast Members announced as “animal behavior specialists.” With the new show, only the specialists appear.

Actors’ Equity’s Communications Director Brandon Lorenz said in a statement: “Did Walt Disney World also buy the FastPass for union busting when it reopened the parks? It is deeply disappointing that Disney has locked performers out, after Walt Disney World refused to allow masks and testing for performers, a lower safety standard than so many other park workers.” Disney has not responded to these comments.

Equity has recommended that union members not take jobs with Walt Disney World unless they’re allowed to wear masks while performing, or until COVID-19 testing is implemented by the company. The union has filed a grievance with Disney, and negotiations between the parties are expected to begin this week. In an earlier statement to Deadline, a Disney spokesperson said, “Seven unions signed agreements to have their employees return to work, the Actors’ Equity rejected our safety protocols and have not made themselves available to continue negotiations, which is unfortunate. We are exercising our right to open without Equity performers.”

The Feathered Friends in Flight show continues to run at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, with showings displayed on the former UP!-themed show times board. Signage has not been updated throughout the theater. You can watch the full show in our YouTube video below:

Keep reading WDWNT for continuing coverage of this ongoing story.

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  1. Well, if the new show is more like the original flights of wonder, then I say OK, fine, I’m good with that!

    And I do hope it is.

  2. I’m OK with the change. It made no sense why Up, a movie set in South America, had a show that took place inside Asia…and featuring birds that were not exclusive to the continent. But then, New Orleans can be next to the wild west, so I guess anything goes inside their minds.

  3. What I’m seeing is a show that is commonplace for AZA zoos. Where the animals are center stage, not humans. I’m going to guess the keepers were tasked with making the show (not a bad thing). As an animal care professional, I love this! I feel bad for you if these animals being themselves isn’t impressive enough for you. Goodness forbid not ‘every’ show be full of human actors.

  4. The old show that they had before the UP one was sooo much better anyway! Keep this new one! No one is entitled to a job…if you don’t like Disney, you’re welcome to work literally anywhere else in the world.

  5. Honestly, I’m happy about the removal of the UP characters. I loved Flights of Wonder and think the change to the UP theme did nothing for the show. It became. Once and done for me. I’ll be glad to check out potential improvement on my next trip

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