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18,000 Walt Disney World employees are losing their jobs as part of mass layoffs disclosed last month

By Gabrielle Russon, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Business News

ORLANDO — Last month, the Walt Disney Co. revealed it was laying off 28,000 employees across its U.S. theme parks division, but the company wouldn't break down exactly where the cuts were coming: Disneyland or Disney World?

New federally required government filings give more insight: Orlando's numbers are much higher than California, where Disneyland remains closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly 18,000 people are getting laid off in Florida, according to the report, or nearly a quarter of the resort's Orlando workforce of 77,000 a year ago.

Disney filed a new notice of mass layoffs this week that revealed 11,350 Disney World Parks and Resorts union employees being laid off as of Dec. 31. Late last month, the company filed a notice that 6,390 non-union Disney World Parks and Resorts employees would be out of work starting Dec. 4.

Disney fans lamented news on social media, posting pictures and memories of their favorite performers.

Disney acknowledged the cuts to some of its live shows and entertainment experiences in a parks blog post released Friday.

"Determining which shows can return and when is a complex process," wrote Bettina Buckley, Vice President, Walt Disney World Resort Live Entertainment, on the blog. "As with the rest of our phased reopening, we will also consider the guidance of health officials and government agencies in determining when the time will be right to adjust capacity, and as soon as it is appropriate, we will start to bring additional entertainment back.

"Like most of our fans, we know that our beloved entertainment cast are an incredibly special and essential part of the Disney experience. We look forward to the day when we can welcome back more live entertainment to our parks, and we will share more news about these announcements as we're able to do so."

Before the pandemic, about 32,000 people worked at Disneyland Resort.

 

It's the latest blow to Central Florida's economy, which has been among the hardest hit in the state during the pandemic.

The job losses come as fears still exist over travel, and Disney World operates at reduced capacity to maintain social distancing. Disney has also faced criticism from prominent activists, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the granddaughter of the company co-founder, for its executive pay and for not doing more to protect workers.

Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, wrote employees in a letter released to the news media last month when the 28,000 layoffs were first announced, calling the cuts "the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business."

Disney is scheduled to discuss its latest financial results in an earnings call on Nov. 12.

Disney did not respond to comment for this report.

Disney's economic troubles aren't unique, as Universal and SeaWorld employees have also been laid off in recent weeks.

Universal theme parks' revenue fell 81% to $311 million for the third quarter compared with the same period last year, its parent company Comcast Corp. disclosed Thursday.

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