Disney announced Tuesday that it has begun the process of layoffs for “approximately 28,000 domestic employees” across its Parks, Experiences, and Products divisions, due to the impact of COVID-19 restrictions.
Citing the continued capacity restrictions and uncertain nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products chairman Josh D’Amaro shared details regarding how the efforts to reduce Disney’s workforce would impact executive, salaried, and hourly roles. A press release from Disney stated that about 67% of the 28,000 employees laid off will be hourly roles.
“Few of us could have imagined how significantly the pandemic would impact us — both at work and in our daily lives,” D’Amaro stated. “We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived and that we would recover quickly and return to normal. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case.”
D’Amaro added that the financial impact felt by Disney has been exacerbated by the state of California’s restrictions on theme park openings during COVID-19. California Governor Gavin Newsom has faced criticism from reopening advocates in recent weeks. Disneyland in Anaheim is the only one of Disney’s theme parks that remains closed.
According to Forbes, 19 state legislators called on Newsom to give the theme park industry guidance on reopening measures in the interest of staving off greater business losses. Local officials in Anaheim and other nearby cities are similarly calling for a park reopening, saying the local economy has lost out on $1.3 billion. Newsom said in mid-September that theme park reopening guidelines would be coming “very, very shortly,” but has yet to produce them.
Florida’s Walt Disney World reopened in July as COVID-19 cases sharply rose. Florida ranks third in the nation in COVID-19 cases, following California and Texas, according to the Sun Sentinel. Florida recently surpassed 700,000 cases, according to the Tampa Bay Times. Despite the high number of cases, Florida has entered a “phase 3” of reopening, with Governor Ron DeSantis issuing an order that effectively reopened all restaurants and bars across Florida as well as halting fines for not wearing masks.
D’Amaro added in his statement that Disney is talking to impacted employees as well as to union leaders regarding next steps. Disney has previously tried to soften the impact of COVID-19 by cutting costs, suspending capital projects, and furloughing cast members while continuing to pay health benefits over the last several months.
Disney’s statement did not clarify if those laid off would include Florida-based employees. Disneyland employees approximately 35,000 people, with several thousand more relying on adjacent business.
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IGN previously reported that Disney parks have lost a total of $1 billion due to closures. Disney’s slate of 2020 films and series have also similarly been delayed.
Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer for IGN.