Disney To Lay Off 28,000 Workers From Theme Parks, Cruise Lines

The company announced widespread layoffs at Disney World and Disneyland, citing the coronavirus pandemic's disastrous economic impact.

Disney announced Tuesday that it plans to lay off 28,000 employees from its Parks, Experiences and Products segment ― which includes Disneyland in California and Disney World in Florida ― as the coronavirus crisis continues to wreak economic havoc nationwide.

About 67% of the layoffs will affect part-time employees, Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro said in a statement. Those affected range from salaried employees to nonunion hourly workers within the company’s theme parks, resorts, cruise ships, vacation experiences and consumer products divisions.

A Disney spokeswoman said the company did not have a breakdown of the layoffs across each Disney Parks division at this time.

“Over the past several months, we’ve been forced to make a number of necessary adjustments to our business,” D’Amaro said in his statement, “and as difficult as this decision is today, we believe that the steps we are taking will enable us to emerge a more effective and efficient operation when we return to normal.”

Disney furloughed roughly 100,000 employees in the spring when it closed its parks due to the pandemic. Disney World reopened in July, but Disneyland has not yet reopened due to stricter measures California officials have adopted to stem the transmission of the virus.

D’Amaro blamed California officials for refusing to “lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.” The office of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said it is working on new guidelines that would allow the state’s theme parks to reopen but hasn’t yet provided a timeline, The Los Angeles Times reported last week.

Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In March, Disney CEO Bob Chapek ordered all senior executives to have their paychecks reduced while the theme parks were closed due to the pandemic. But roughly a month ago, Disney announced that senior executives would have their pay restored to pre-coronavirus levels. 

Disney’s parks typically generate billions of dollars annually for the U.S. economy. As of March, Disney World employed more than 75,000 people, making it the largest single-site employer in the country. Disneyland is the largest employer in California’s Orange County, with nearly 30,000 workers.

Although Florida and California were hot spots for coronavirus during the early summer, both states have seen sharp declines in new cases in recent weeks.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) signed an executive order last week to allow bars and restaurants to fully reopen across his state, despite warnings from some public health officials who fear the move could lead to a fresh spike in cases.

Meanwhile, bars and entertainment venues such as movie theaters and bowling alleys remain closed in California as state officials seek to balance reopening the economy with preventing another wave of infections.

Clarification: The layoffs will affect workers across Disney Parks, Experiences and Products ― not just Disneyland and Disney World.