BREAKING: Disney is Firing The Grand Floridian Orchestra on October 3rd

Tom Corless


BREAKING: Disney is Firing The Grand Floridian Orchestra on October 3rd

Tom Corless


BREAKING: Disney is Firing The Grand Floridian Orchestra on October 3rd

It’s with a heavy heart that we share the news of The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra being fired from the Walt Disney World Resort. After having played at the resort since its grand opening, the band was furloughed during the COVID-19 shutdown and ultimately brought back as “The Disney Society Orchestra”, a fill-in for the Beauty and the Beast – Live On Stage show during equity performer negotiations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. However, the band has since announced that their last day of work will be Saturday, October 3. They will no longer play at any location in Walt Disney World.

The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra as seen on the modified bandstand that was created for them after they were moved downstairs at the resort’s lobby with the opening of Enchanted Rose.

The announcement came from the band’s own Facebook page:

The following message was issued by the band:

“It’s hard to find the words but, sadly, our days at the Grand Floridian are over. In fact, as of Oct 3, 2020, our days at WDW will come to an end as well.The company brought us out of furlough, changed our name to “The Disney Society Orchestra,” closed us out of the GF to play a show of Disney themed show tunes at the Theater of the Stars in Hollywood Studios. We’ve been playing 9 shows a day, 7 days a week since Aug 2nd. The music is a far cry from the closely knit harmonies & sounds we became known for at the GF but. the guys are real pros and they sound great! Well… Two weeks ago we got notice that the theater is going dark and our last day of work will be Saturday, Oct 3, 2020. As we all know, these are very uncertain times and can’t say what will happen from one day to the next. So after 32 years of playing together and playing music we love… we’re done. We are so thankful for the opportunity to play in a beautiful setting for the hotel guests and friends we have met & made over the years. We’ll never forget you and how wonderful you’ve made us feel. We will miss you!Thank you-thank you- thank you!”

As mentioned in the heartbreaking caption, the band has been playing for 32 years at Walt Disney World. While this is probably just the first entertainment group to be formally canned post-COVID, it will likely be one of the greatest losses. The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra has been performing at the hotel since its opening day and is part of the very fabric of the resort. I’ve often overlooked the shortcomings of the grand as a “real” luxury hotel and the pricing that comes with it because of things like the piano player and live band in the lobby. How Disney can fathom charging for what they do for this hotel a night while cutting such things is a joke. One room likely pays for an entire day of band performances. 

The bandstand was lost for a seating area that is rarely used inside the overpriced Enchanted Rose—a bar themed to a European fairytale in a hotel called the Grand Floridian. If this is the direction the hotel is going, then Disney has made another IP-oriented, idiotic decision in a long string of such choices.

If you’re feeling nostalgic for this incredible band, here’s a clip of them playing at their original location on the second floor of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort:

66 thoughts on “BREAKING: Disney is Firing The Grand Floridian Orchestra on October 3rd”

  1. This latest cost cutting move by Disney is absolutely reprehensible. I’ve stayed at this hotel countless times since it opened, having logged the equivalent of several months worth of time staying at the resort and the band was truly one of the great hallmarks of the resort, a facet that made it truly special and majestic every time one walked into the lobby when they were playing. It further made it all the more worthwhile to stay in a room in the main building so that one could look and listen to the band as they played in the evenings from the concierge lounge on the fourth floor of the main building.

    Disney once again in an effort to save the almighty dollar is eviscerating the very things that make people willing to spend the extra money especially to have their most premium experiences at their flagship resort. You do not cut your way to prosperity. You have to give people a reason to spend money with you. The Grand Floridian is more expensive than ever and yet they offer ever less of a value proposition to its customers than ever before. This is only the next step in the long slow painful demise of a once fantastic resort hotel. Gone are the days of Hallmark customer service, custom everything even down to Victorian themed bathroom toiletries, and chocolates that were custom themed to the hotel, not to mention custom welcome gifts and welcome back handwritten cards from the staff. staying at the grand Floridian used to be a truly special experience equivalent to that of luxury hotels around the world, those days are long gone. This is now a budget hotel with budget service and amenities masking itself with an exorbitant flagship price tag of which it no longer deserves. This is just the latest proof. Now it’s a turn them and burn them mentality.

    With the Four Seasons, Waldorf Astoria, and a new JW Marriott on Disney property, it is all the more puzzling the Disney it’s just willing to continue to let this hotel slip and loose more of the charm and nostalgia that makes it worth paying exorbitant prices to stay at, especially as compared to the more luxurious offerings of non-Disney hotels that are on Disney Property.

    The above coupled with the dilapidated and sterilized dethemed nature of the rooms since the 2014 renovation, with the exception of the suites, eliminates any justification for the price to stay here for such a muted experience of the resorts former glory. Very disheartening and Disillusioning.

    • John, I could not agree more–this is exactly how I feel after countless stays–esp regarding the 2014 “wreckovation…”–very well said. I fell in love with my wife with that band playing in the background–we honeymooned there etc

      Disney is making it harder and harder to revisit memories–they are hindrance to nostalgia at this point. Current management is like a zombie ant version of what made Disney great–the husk is still there–but the innards that made it magical are being destroyed at an ever accelerating pace. Current management is a disgrace, unfit to hold the water of the great men and women who came before them…

    • Disney has lost their direction. They no longer care about the people that dole out their earned money. Customer service has deteriorated over the years. We cancelled our vacation to DW in December due to extremely high ticket prices that would not be backed up with a dream trip that did not back the price up with the value.

  2. I have a 2 week trip booked at the end of October I am canceling every dining reservation I have there and it was about 4 meals way to go Disney ,you are just not the company you used to be and this will be my last WDWtrip for a very long time possibly ever.

  3. So sad. Just saw the post of them being forced out. So very sad and disappointing act of the Disney company. While I could never afford to stay at the Grand Floridian, no visit to WDW was complete without spending some time in the lobby enjoying your talents. The other day my brother and I were discussing how awful it must have felt for them to be moved to Hollywood Studios to play paired down in size and have to play music so below their skill. Thankful for the many hours of entertainment they gave me. I wish them all the best. They were musicially and personally top notch, everyone of them.

  4. I can’t wait until the next Parks Center to see how Pete can justify this just like he did when the Executives salary went back to normal.

  5. Grrrrrrr… many decisions they are making are disappointing me. I’ve been going to Disney since 1972 and watched them remove the magic. I still visit on my own terms making my own magic. This great musical group will be a huge loss.

  6. Thanks for showing them playing that song, which is likely something else we won’t ever hear again on Disney property. I’m sorry to hear they’ve been let go and I won’t be there to see them before they’re gone. I had looked forward to maybe seeing them in that small show at DHS in November but apparently that is ending too. Good luck to them and here’s hoping they will all find success again very soon elsewhere.

  7. I am very sad to see them go. I have always felt that GF is a bit overpriced for the atmosphere but the “band” definitely made it classier. Kudos to the musicians for choosing that life and I wish them well.

  8. Disney is slowly losing its way. Yes, times are very tough, and tough decisions need to be made financially, but what has made Disney Disney for so many years has been little things, little details, little extras like this. Disney is more than a theme park, more than a resort, it is all engulfing, all encompassing customer service and feel good. Getting rid of these little details puts them into the league of Universal with lower intensity rides.

  9. “ One room likely pays for an entire day of band performances.” Exactly! It is so expensive to stay there and there are hardly any amenities! They just keep cutting things.

  10. The orchestra gave the Grand Floridian it’s luxury appeal, which is fast slipping away. What a terrible decision. I always planned to stay there again, but I won’t be now. I’m so sad for the orchestra and hope they end up playing together somewhere. When I did stay there twice, they really elevated the atmosphere and added a sense of magic. I hoped this wouldn’t happen when they added the lackluster Enchanted Rose. This is a bummer.

    • I agree that Enchanted Rose is lackluster. I never could find the connection between Victorian Grand Floridian and French Baroque castle. While not eating or drinking there, I did pop in on my last trip. The floor was so intensely sticky everywhere! It was like a cheap dive bar back home! Couldn’t somebody mop that up properly and show some pride in the establishment?

  11. For me, the live entertainment has always been a integral part of the Disney experience. Whether it be the Citizens of Hollywood, Yeehaw Bob or the great live entertainment in the World Showcase, I always carry special memories of the live entertainers. I know difficult decisions have to be made with COVID19, but the cast members preserve the magic at WDW. This is sad news indeed.

  12. Tom, you are absolutely right. Enough with the IP. I like their IP, but Disney is making some MAJOR bad choices. STOP KILLING THE NOSTALGIA

  13. How sad!! I’d like to know the reason for the cut. This was a bad decision. Now our young children won’t get to hear classic songs from American culture when we visit.

  14. Sad news. First Mizner’s Lounge refurb into the Enchanted Rose and now the orchestra is gone. What’s next? I didn’t like it when they got rid of the British Invasion at the UK Pavilion, too.

  15. We have always enjoyed walking into the GF and hearing the band. It was one of my Father’s joys! (He passed this April, due to covid, but my 1st thought was to tell him this info!) They will be missed very much. I have been going to WDW since ’72 and just can’t deal with some of the changes and decisions management has made these last 10 years. IDK, Tom. 😔

  16. Why? Is this forever? Are they going to bring in a different group? I am so sad and a bit mad about this news. When Covid19 is past, and someday it will be, I was so looking forward (if I make it through) to hearing them play again in my favorite resort. Are they trying to kill the magic? I absolutely loved at Christmas time listening to them play, smelling the gingerbread and then making my way to the Magic Kingdom after a dinner at Narcoossees. Please, is there something we fans can do to get them to hear us? We want them to stay.

  17. This really makes me sad. Sad for the “old Disney” where customer experience is the most important. This was such a unique experience to the Grand. I hope they eventually bring them back, but my fear is corona will always be used as an excuse to cut cost/do less.

  18. This is beyond sad and foolish. From the night my wife and I got engaged at what was then Flaglers, to our most recent trip last January, sitting in the lobby of the Grand Floridian listening to the orchestra was a highlight of Our trips, a great way to unwind and relax, and a cherished memory. Sad to see this end. Good bye and good lick to all the members , your music will always be part of our memories.

  19. Tom- so sad to hear this! One of the first memories I have of the Grand Floridian is that band playing. It gave you a sense of old fashioned luxury and grandeur. What will welcome you into the lobby now? Disney, we know times are tough, but it’s the little things that we take for granted that give us the most memories and charm.

  20. At the rate they are going, the GF will be turned into Pop Century with chandeliers. Nothing was more relaxing than going to the lobby while waiting for the rest of the family to dress for dinner after a day at the parks. I bought DVC at the GF because of things like the orchestra and the pianist in the lobby. This news is very disappointing. Shame on you Disney.

  21. I am so sad to hear this news, they were the best part of the GF experience. I danced to the music of this iconic orchestra at the Grand Floridian during my honeymoon. It seems that Disney is sacrificing, AGA the quality of the Disney resort experience to the almighty $, leaving us that are DVC members and annual passholders to wonder if it is worth the investment anymore. I wish the talented musicians all the best.

  22. From someone who has stayed at the Grand Flo COUNTLESS times, this is VERY disappointing. The staff, service, special holiday features,the spa, the Victorian feel and ESPECIALLY the Orchestra were things that my family and I found charming about the Grand Floridian. We accepted it being the most expensive accommodations because of these ‘special’ things. Disney putting stockholder over guest lately is really beginning to burn my butt. I know I can say without hesitation that Walt would be VERY disappointed in such a decision and wouldn’t stand for it. Still reeling over losing Richard and now this??!!!

  23. I for one appreciate their talents…and thank them greatly for many hours of enjoyment….yet another bad move by corporate Disney that will continue to alienate their loyal fan base….I sold my stock..sad days ahead unless they right the ship… Disney works best as a happy place…. not a corporate / political place

  24. One would think that a CEO making in excess of $50 million base extortion could could grudgingly pay to keep the musicians employed. This takes the magic out of my next scheduled “Magic Kingdom” visit. How greedy can near-people get?

  25. That is really sad. While I do like to move forward, some things are worth maintaining. I do wish they could remain. What’s next the Gingerbread House? (I know it won’t be up this year).

  26. We were so disappointed at the GF when they put in enchanted rose because one of the things we loved most about the GF was the orchestra especially during the holidays. I am horribly disappointed by this news, and is making me reconsider my purchase to the villas at GF. We might be done staying there. :(

  27. Sad but they were playing to nobody. Lots off things changing. Money talks! Disney is losing millions per day. Long road back.

      • It pissed me off when they were cutting the charm out when they were booming with unprecedented growth and profits. Like axing muppets and all the stuff in world showcase.

        If they cut in the best of times does the literal apocalypse have to occur to get them to value the little quality of life things and reverse course.

  28. I know it is hard times right now but the magic has gone from Walt Disney World, and has been for some time.I used to go because it was my get away from reality place once a year,planing my next trip while still there. The new boss under Mickey Mouse is good at removing the little things that make the magic memorable to save a buck such a shame!

  29. Here is the question on my mind…. are times REALLY that tough for Disney? What’s it been? 6 months? A billion dollar enterprise whose senior executives are worth more money than most of us can fathom or spend in a lifetime. As someone who has worked in higher level executive positions, I can assure you that the majority of these cuts could be avoided. They are being done at the grassroots level so they don’t impact the senior and board level. Seriously …Just google the net worth of their board members and key leadership.

  30. The only way for Disney to stop cutting costs is for people to complain to customer service when they go. If the guests don’t call them out they will keep doing it. Soon all live entertainment will be gone and they will blame it on covid. The sad part is they will never bring it back unless the guests make them.

  31. This is what happens when you put a zero personality bean counter like Bob Chapek in as CEO. After going to Disney since 1977 it was live entertainment that brought me back time and again. Yes there are great rides u want to go on everytime but the live shows are what made it magical time after time. WDW has become a video game ride and merchandise money grab. I won’t be back.

  32. My wife and I are devastated. Disney and the Grand Floriadian can look and see that the Trapps have traditionally spent 2 visits per year, at times 3, at the GF over the last decade. We moved our preference from the Contemporary to the GF. The Orchestra was just one of the major reasons. We have elected not to visit or schedule a trip since our last trip in August 2019. We we scheduled to go in March/April but had to postpone due to COVID-19. We have recently started looking into booking our next reservation, but have elected to hold off as the Resort is still charging similar prices for the main building Club level but with far less amenities, such as the club level food and drink options. We preferred to continue to await the day things resumed more traditionally however long that takes. We understand the issues surrounding Covid, but how Disney can continue to charge the prices that they are with all of the things no longer an option is actually unbelievable. BUT now that the Orchestra is gone, our days at the Grand Floridian are done. It was one of the driving forces of our decision to stay there and particularly in the main building at The Royal Palm club level. We will just start spending our money at the Outer Banks twice a year as we did this year. We miss the old Disney, but understand the need to be safe, but now making decisions that will forever affect our experience, we are done.

  33. This is very sad news. It has always been so nice to end the day at the GF with the relaxing sound of this band. Disney is going to cost cut their way to mediocrity. Disney is losing the reasons people go there.

  34. So WDW new President is doing the same thing he did at Disneyland by eliminating all free entertainment. Bad move. This is not DL and WDW is very different then DL. Huge Mistake.

  35. I’m old enough to remember Gabriel’s Horns, a big band playing at the Tomorrowland restaurant. Spent hours listening to them my first time at Disneyworld on a school band trip in 1976. Years later when I brought my daughter there, I was excited at the prospect of showing her the pro talent playing in the parks, only to find most of it already replaced by canned tracks. But the GF stood out as an exception. This is so incredibly sad, it’s hard to express. I feel like they’re using COVID as an excuse. The magic over the years has definitely been tarnished. I’m a professional musician who called the late Jim Christensen, the original Disneyworld Music Director, a friend. Somewhere he is weeping over another awful Disney decision.

  36. Why doesn’t the WDW company let the patrons who dish out the money to keep the park afloat make the decision on some of these ridiculous cuts. Long live the orchestra!

  37. While the GF is not our favorite resort (we love the Polynesian) We would make special trips to the GF just to hear the orchestra play, they are a very talented group! Experiences like the orchestra that made the Disney resorts top notch, and having them as part of every one of your vacations for DECADES makes it a nostalgic WDW experience, up there with hearing the train bell and whistle in the distance, it just makes memories flow. Pre-covid, the special things- especially live entertainment were being chipped away one by one. The prices being charged at the GF and other deluxe resorts increasing beyond inflation year after year and amenities disappearing or severely being downgraded, The price isn’t justified/worth it anymore. It appears with recent Disney hotels that they are stepping away from the fanciful and fun themed hotels for a more toned down, Generic “modern” hotel with a few Disney paintings thrown in aesthetic.Seems like that way of thinking is creeping into the classic resorts as well. Picture it- one day Wilderness Lodge will remove all of the natural wood and is painted bright white with minimalist furniture.

    • So true about the generic room designs. I was SO happy to get one of the old style rooms at All Star Music in December because it still had character and made me feel like I was at Disney! The new style rooms I’ve seen in pictures could be in any hotel in any part of the world. When I’m at Disney, I want to be absolutely enveloped in Disney! There are plenty of other “good neighbor” hotels on property and nearby for those who want the modern look.

  38. I’m staying elsewhere but I had planned to dine at the floridian sometimes specifically for the band and it’s marvellous reputation, unfortunately I’ll cancel those reservations now. Such a shame Disney don’t realise its the little touches such as bands etc that bring their custom.

  39. Big mistake! Deleting the elegance of the orchestra & any any other live music damages not only the ambiance of the hotel, but will damage the restaurant business as well. Out-of-town guests are not the only ones who graced the GF. Locals like us, who came for dinner & music often, didn’t come for the mediocre food. We came for the excellent music. We were also disappointed in the displacement of the orchestra from the balcony to the main floor. Why must Disney ruin everything that made Disney great, unique & worth going out of our way to enjoy?

  40. WELL….nothing new from Disney. If it adds charisma, experience, small things that guests truly enjoy but does not add to the bottom line….it goes. Just the way the Mouse has been going for years now. They have been cutting small things here and there that we all have loved for at least the 45 years we had been going. Notice I said had…no more. Way overpriced for the experience you get now. They are riding the nostalgia train but let’s face it…getting old quick. Disney Springs is a bust…theme parks are too controlling so you cannot do anything spontaneous anymore.

  41. I am so very saddened to hear this news. I had a sinking feeling this would happen when Covid hit. Disney has been trying to squeeze the orchestra out for the past couple years, kicking them out of their “grand” location on the balcony and putting them in the corner of the lobby. They are using covid as an excuse to do something they were planning to do anyway. The Grand will never be the same without the orchestra. The band really transported you to another time and place. We loved to relax in the lobby in the evenings while my kids danced to the music. Even when just passing through, it was such a special thing to hear the orchestra playing in the background, making the resort feel so alive. Disney is slowly stripping all of the magic and extras from everything they can. What is next? :(

  42. And also a big thank you for posting the video of the Orchestra playing one of my favorite positive and magical songs, which Disney has also “cancelled.”

  43. It is a sad day at disney. When the band played it made you forget all your worries.
    It was such a relaxing moment. Each time we stayed there ( and it was many many times ) we would always make it a point to just relax at the end of the day listening to them so we could unwind. We will have to change our hotel plans from here on out. I can’t believe they are doing this to save money
    If Disney just cut one minute of fireworks that alone would pay for the expense of the band …. and no one would even notice.
    He should think about bringing Michael Eisner back he ran that place so fine and he was the one who brought it back to life when Disney almost was closing back in the day

  44. Disney is losing the nostalgic feel which made it special from other parks. I used to work there and almost every change made the park a bit less than it was before. The loss of this group from The Grand Floridean is without merit. Appealing to more younger people without cheapening the parks is not something DISNEY has mastered.

  45. There goes my retirement! It has been my dream for more than 15 years to one day retire to Florida and play trumpet with The Grand Floridian Society Orchestra. So much for the place where dreams come true. They will be sorely missed and my heart goes out to the orchestra members being cast out “into the streets” after so many years of loyal performances.

  46. I wish we could petition to keep the orchestra.. this is just wrong! I used to be a musician… it just hurts.

    They need to stop with IP taking over the hotels. Especially at the GF.

  47. I am heartbroken by this devastating news. As a member of a musical group, I know the talent, devotion and unbelievable hours of practice it requires to become an accomplished musician of their caliber. We have stayed at the GF primarily because I loved listening to their recreating a nostalgia of an earlier era in America. They played with a finesse only achieved with countless hours of performing together. DOES ANYONE HAVE A NAME AND ADDRESS TO WRITE AND HAVE A VOICE TO OUR OUTRAGE? I think that only by unifying our outrage can any force be applied to the decision makers who erroneously stepped on the spirit, heart and allure of Disney and The Grand Floridian. Otherwise the need to rename the hotel The Overpriced Mediocre Hovel.

  48. I hope all you whining people who say you are never going to WDW again hold up to your words. The entire world is in a pandemic. A Band is gone, a few actors are gone, GET OVER IT. Either they cut those things or everything goes. Disney is foremost a BUSINESS. Walt knew it, he was all about making the $$$$$. He would bless all these moves in a second. “Disney magic is going a way”…..Boo Hoo, get over it.

  49. Probably some moronic “up and coming” exec at Disney came up with this. I HATED when they moved them for that stupid new bar, but this is just beyond idiotic. They were iconic, they pulled the whole place together. It made you want to spend time(and money), walk around, have a drink, relax. Now, I’m just going to breeze through on my way to Narcoosees.

Comments are closed.