Disney is to lay off 28,000 theme park workers due to the “prolonged impact” of COVID-19, including limited capacities and ongoing uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic.
The cuts will affect the entertainment and media giant’s Parks, Experiences and Products department, which has more than 100,000 US employees. Some 67 per cent of the employees laid off are to be part-time workers.
The decision comes six months after Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California initially closed, although the former partially reopened in July.
Disney Parks chairman Josh D’Amaro said in a statement: “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.
“Over the past several months, we’ve been forced to make a number of necessary adjustments to our business. 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 Parks News (@DisneyParksNews) September 29, 2020
Disney officials said the company would provide severance packages for many laid-off employees, but not all, and also offer other services to help workers with job placement.
D’Amaro placed partial blame on the state of California for its “unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen.”
Florida’s Disney World and California’s Disneyland closed in March, causing the firm to lose an estimated $500m for every two weeks the attractions were shuttered.
Disney’s parks and resorts division notified its staff in April that because of coronavirus it would furlough employees “whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time”.
Shares of Disney have fallen 13 per cent in 2020 and its parks unit saw its operating profit fall 58 per cent in Q2 compared with the previous year, which brought in more than $26bn. Disney reported a loss of a billion dollars in profit just a few weeks into the global health crisis.