Disney to Furlough Many Theme Park Cast Members

April 2, 2020, 5:05 PM · Disney is sending letters to its cast members this afternoon informing them that the company will be furloughing many employees later this month.

The move comes following the Disney theme parks' announcement that they will remain closed until further notice. Disney is accepting reservations for future hotel visits at its resorts, but only for arrivals starting June 1, providing an indication that Disney is planning for the parks' temporary closure to continue through this month and next.

Disney had been paying its hourly cast and salaried cast members during the closure and previously announced that it would continue to pay them through April 18. The furlough announced today applies to executive, salaried and non-union hourly Cast Members based in the United States, "with the exception of those whose roles or projects are crucial to maintaining our operations during this closure period."

The furlough takes effect on April 19. It does not apply to union cast members covered by collective bargaining agreements, but the company said that it will set up meetings with union leaders.

Disney will continue to cover health insurance for its cast members, paying both the employer and employee contributions. Furloughed cast members will be eligible to file for unemployment, including the $600 a week in additional compensation through the new federal stimulus act. Disney Aspire benefits will not be affected by the furlough and will remain available to cast members using that educational benefit.

Since this is a furlough and not a dismissal, Disney's intent is that it will put its cast members back on the payroll when the parks do reopen.

A spokesperson for The Walt Disney Company issued this statement:

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a devastating impact on our world with untold suffering and loss, and has required all of us to make sacrifices. Over the last few weeks, mandatory decrees from government officials have shut down a majority of our businesses. Disney employees have received full pay and benefits during this time, and we've committed to paying them through April 18, for a total of five additional weeks of compensation. However, with no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses, we're forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees whose jobs aren't necessary at this time. The furlough process will begin on April 19, and all impacted workers will remain Disney employees through the duration of the furlough period. They will receive full healthcare benefits, plus the cost of employee and company premiums will be paid by Disney, and those enrolled in Disney Aspire will have continued access to the education program. Additionally, employees with available paid time off can elect to use some or all of it at the start of the furlough period and, once furloughed, they are eligible to receive an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance.

Replies (45)

April 2, 2020 at 6:27 PM

Anyone else want to jump on the "there's NO WAY the parks will remain closed all summer" bandwagon?

And for the record, The Rookie needs to get his ass in front of TV cameras (many of which his company owns) and start detailing the strategy moving forward.

Deadline: Tomorrow.

April 2, 2020 at 6:46 PM

Most people are going to get their full pay thanks to Uncle Sam and free health insurance thanks to Mickey Mouse just to sit at home for god knows how long. $275 a week from the State of Florida, $600 a week from the federal government ($875 total), and another $1200 because why the hell not.

God bless America!

April 2, 2020 at 7:05 PM

Yeah ... "God bless America" ... In the last 24 hours we lost 1,000 people ... That state and federal assistance is not charity. It's defense spending.

And I agree, "why the hell not"?

April 2, 2020 at 7:15 PM

I'm not saying its bad i'm just trying to point out that this furlough isn't going to torpedo Disney employees finances like the media is going to try and make it look like.

April 2, 2020 at 7:27 PM

the__man: way to generalize an entire workforce. you have no idea how this is going to hit each cast member. you don't know what they are facing, you don't know who they are supporting (kids, parents, relatives). you act like this is a vacation, like there isn't a lot to worry about in the world today because they get $875/week. this is a major impact to many people, not just disney employees, but everywhere this is happening. figure out some empathy man.

April 2, 2020 at 7:34 PM

@the_man: I have two family members that are CMs. While they have not worked in two weeks, they've actually done more than "sit at home." But please, feel free to generalize and stereo-type to your heart's delight

April 2, 2020 at 7:48 PM

Well, I live right behind MK and pretty much everyone I know works in the the theme park biz either at Disney, Universal, Sea World, or Six Flags. Most all the Cast Members I know (hundreds) have been a mix of sitting at home, going out for a walk, going grocery shopping, watching youtube, etc. I am very familiar with the intricacies of what goes on at all of these companies and Orlando politics. I confidently stand by my previous statements. The only real issue these people may have had is making rent in April because there is a 2-3 week lag when you apply for unemployment to when you get your first check, however, that is being made up for my the $1200 FED check, so even that's not an issue.

April 2, 2020 at 8:00 PM

Also I want to add when I got my first furlough notice a few weeks ago that company didn't have executive pay cuts, no health care subsidization, no heartfelt message signed by all the executives. I got an email from HR saying you're SOL. So don't try to attack me with that "you have no idea" crap.

April 2, 2020 at 8:21 PM

That $1200 check is, like, two weeks' rent for many people in California, FWIW. And it's taking weeks for people to get unemployment checks as state systems are crashing under the strain of millions of new applicants. Being owed an unemployment check is of no use when trying to buy groceries while the parks are closed.

April 2, 2020 at 10:30 PM

Robert---- In california, the unemployment benefits are much more generous and they are not reduced by the federal money at all. In calif, there are approx a million of the unemployed workers who are getting paid MORE than they ever got paid when they worked to sit home and watch loads of TV. If union workers do not agree to the same thing it is criminal and they should be shamed. That would be complete inequity by the union workers, which is the exact opposite of all the slogans and rhetoric they always claim they are for. Make no mistake. These costs will eventually be reflected in much higher ticket prices for all of us. Robert. I work with the courts. I believe the all of the eviction courts in california is closed. So. Landlords have no chance to evict people. I believe the Gov of calif, even signed an executive order that anyone laid off by Covid cannot even be charged late fees. So. The only possible hardship calif disney workers have is grocery store food. And. Anyone who has been responsible in any sense has a credit card. The credit cards are waiving late fees also. Even with a high credit card interest rate, the interest is not very much until either the fed or state money comes in the mail. Even in socialist countries like Italy and France I see news reports that a significant amount of people are saying they barely have any money for food. So. Socialist systems are handing this situation even worse than ours. A capitalist system is not perfect. It is just better than any other economic system.

April 2, 2020 at 10:40 PM

Just to be clear on my position I didn't make my original post to make any political statements, I was just trying to point out that this is not the worst thing that could happen for these Cast Members as for many of them it is paid time off. I grew up working in theme parks and I don't know about you guys but i'd rather be in my house in the AC doing whatever I want as opposed to being out in the 90+ degree heat dealing with crazy a** people and situations all day.

April 2, 2020 at 11:11 PM

@ the_man...You are an ass and an idiot.

Paid time off??? Paid time off to do what exactly? After April 19th they will no longer be paid. They will join tens of thousand if not hundreds of thousands of people without a job. They can seek pay from an unemployment system that is severely crippled at the moment. I live in Colorado and they are quoting 4-6 weeks before benefits begin from time of application. Get off this site and go away.

April 3, 2020 at 12:18 AM

Considering (as I just said) I was furloughed 2 weeks ago and I live right next to WDW and pretty much everyone I know works in theme parks and is affected by this I think i'm more qualified to talk about this than someone that lives in Colorado. I know literally hundreds of people that work at WDW, NO ONE is upset right now. Most people are still going to get their full (or very close to) salary. They are getting free health insurance. They are still getting their Aspire checks. Partners is allowing people to defer mortgage and car payments if they need to. Trust me Disney has thought this through and is taking care of their people.

How many WDW employees do you interact with on a daily basis?

April 3, 2020 at 12:13 AM

I support the_man. Even when I was young and making near minimum wage (which was significantly less than the current one), I lived cheaply precisely in order to have at least four weeks of cushion in case of unemployment without gov benefits in case of natural disaster. California has been warned for 40 yrs that the big one earthquake is overdue (as well as a pandemic for everyone on the planet) so this has been something people should have reasonably planned for all their lives. There are many types of disasters/wars that could cause gov unemployment benefits to be delayed. In the 90's, I did independent contractor work for the state of california. They had a budget crisis and the politicians decided to make independent contractors the very last priority. They did not pay me the money they admitted they owed me for nine months! I was about 20 Thousand dollars. Furthermore, every when that didn't happen the state of california took 3 months from when I submitted my invoice to pay me. Bottom line--they are millions of people who have lived and survived the government not paying for 3 months, without receiving Taxpayer money in the meantime

April 3, 2020 at 1:37 AM

@the_man...

Wow. You are right, I know no one that works at WDW or Universal for that matter. Clearly that means that I am not or do not know anyone affected by this pandemic. I realize that this is a theme park focused website but your small minded thinking is disgusting. I honestly have no words. I work in an industry that has been affected and I know plenty others who have as I started my career in hospitality. My closest friends and family are suffering.

I stand by my statement that you are an ass. You (and davedisney) don't deserve to be a part of this community or any other with your narrow-minded thinking and selfish attitudes. F*** you both. I'm sorry Robert but come on...

April 3, 2020 at 2:06 AM

And there we go....

The one thing I've observed is that this crisis is ripping communities apart - even virtual communities. People are frightened and reacting abruptly to anything said,especially if it doesn't fit in with their view of the world. Where I live we have a mob, literally, who have taken it upon themselves to scream invective (both real world and online) at anyone they perceive as 'breaking' the government rules and guidelines regarding self isolation. The result is local residents being accused of being 'visitors', of people being denounced for needing to go shopping and a general total collapse of the whole 'be kind' principle.

@AndrewL. the-man didn't comment upon workers other than Disney employees who it seems are being looked after rather better than many employees across the USA. Other workers may well be suffering badly but if in his experience the many people he knows who do work for Disney are, currently, facing uncertain times but with a small degree of security thanks to the furloughing arrangements then we should accept that statement, whilst feeling free to observe that others may not be so fortunate.

Be kind folks...

April 3, 2020 at 2:22 AM

@David Brown..thank you but I must disagree.

My anger comes from his generalization that ALL WDW employees are seeing this as simple paid time off. I appreciate that he has so many friends in the business but he does not know them all. At the end of the day there are thousands not represented by his generalizations that are greatly impacted. His flippant comments are what flame the need to react. We need to keep in mind that most are being taken care of ONLY through April 19th. After that, if they are not as financially secured as davedisney expects all Americans to be then they are at the mercy of unemployment. Which is a grim outlook in this country right now.

April 3, 2020 at 2:47 AM

....and a grim outlook across the world. I'm a small self-employed business owner working in the tourist holiday accommodation sector. This crisis will have long-lasting effects that are impossible to predict but right now we have no income and are forbidden by law from trading.... The same goes for the majority of my friends and acquaintances in this town who are similarly affected. But I also know most people here are simply putting a brave face on it and making the most of the enforced idleness. There are worse people to work for than Disney.

Like I said, be kind. If you disagree then respond with gentle persuasion because once you start telling people to go forth and multiply you're only one step away from pitchforks and flaming torches.

April 3, 2020 at 3:16 AM

If you want to bring the world into this, then you are not arguing the same point he his. This is based off his own statements.

David... I will react how I react and you will react how you do. I use expletives quite liberally in daily life; so I apologize if that seemed too aggressive. I am sorry your business is suffering. Like everyone in the world...this is a terrible tragedy and I wish the best for all.

I will defend myself against the_man and davedisney's selfish and narrow-minded view points though.

April 3, 2020 at 6:53 AM

If my assumption is correct, and please correct me if the system across the pond is different, Furloughing employees in America is similar to that in the UK, where-by, it is not a mandatory commitment by employers to "Furlough" it's employees, it is at the discretion of the employer. With that in mind, Disney are doing everything they can to protect their workers' employment status within the confines of the Government parameters.

April 3, 2020 at 8:17 AM

As part of the CARES act (aka stimulus package) employers with less than 500 employees are allowed to borrow money from the government and as long as they keep paying their employees, when the coronavirus clears and the economy opens up again the loan turns into a credit and they don't have to pay it back.

Obviously theme parks have more than 500 employees so that's not going to work for them. Also as part of the CARES act it added $600 per week to unemployment insurance coming from the federal government. So the state of Florida's unemployment is $275, then the federal government adds $600 a week on top of that, so the full time employees are going to be getting $875 per week. When you consider the fact that most fulltime employees at theme parks make like $12-15 an hour which is like $500-600/week, and add on top of that everyone is getting a $1200 stimulus check from the federal government as well on top of that, you can start to see why none of the theme park employees are freaking out. "At the mercy of unemployment" is more than what they are getting paid right now. And if he kept up with the Orlando news he would know that Disney and tourism have a huge lobbying presence in Tallahassee and the governor knows the website is likely to crash on April 19 and has hired 100 additional people to process claims and has created paper applications that can be mailed in for when the site crashes.

I don't know what the deal is with Mr. AndrewL who does not live here, does not know any theme park employees, yet comes to a website called "Theme Park Insider" and inserts himself into a conversation with theme park employees who are right in the middle of this and calls them names and says they are unsympathetic and don't know what is going on. I guess some people are easily triggered and can't take a lighthearted joke (which is what my original post was).

April 3, 2020 at 9:12 AM

It is because a lot of people are being misinformed and only reading facebook/reddit posts like they are God's holy word. I support you the_man, I live in Florida as well and have friends working at Disney. Bottom line is we are all in this together and everyone is affected in one way or another.

April 3, 2020 at 9:33 AM

Why hasn't The Rookie stepped up for an interview? And when will the company name a Parks Chairman?

April 3, 2020 at 10:21 AM

@ the_man...I called YOU names and said YOU are unsympathetic. YOU not all theme park employees. Don't be so inflammatory. My statements stand. YOU are and Ass**** and the rest of what you say is not in support of tens of thousands of employees come April 19th. I don't support religion or government here. People will be f***ed. It's not Disney's fault or Universal's. It's just the bottom line during this pandemic.

April 3, 2020 at 10:26 AM

And they all lived happily ever after ... THC is OUT!

April 3, 2020 at 10:27 AM

Excuse me.

I am a salaried Disney Parks employee.I have been working from home since shutdown. I have been working more hours than a typical work week.

Comments that all staff are sitting at home being paid for not working are baseless.

Surely there are many people in much more dire situations, but show some empathy. Or at least, butt out of conversations you're not informed enough to contribute to meaningfully.

The White House's callous indifference has made this situation far worse than it had to be. No need for more of it, especially on a forum meant to celebrate magic and make believe.

April 3, 2020 at 11:22 AM

Well I standby all my previous statements. I'm not going to share what I do for a living because i'd never be able to post here if I did but if you're comfortable doing that more power to you. I have no problem with any of you, I was originally just trying to point out that Disney has worked this all out so their employees aren't going to be adversely affected other than some obvious administrative inconveniences.

April 3, 2020 at 11:19 AM

To get off this fight, it just shows how, like many others, theme park places vastly underestimated how long this would take. Remember, in mid-March when it first broke, folks thought "bad flu, a couple of weeks and it'll blow over." It wasn't just Disney, also sports and movies/TV shows. Then came social distancing and places doing stay at home orders so it's more up in the air.

Not helping is Florida's governor dragging his feet from having beaches open at Spring Break to waiting so long for a state-wide shelter order. Compare that to Illinois which shut down eating spots on the 16th (yes bars closed before St. Patrick's Day) and shelter order on the 21st. Cases are high because of Chicago yet possible they and other states can be a bit ahead on a recovery curve than the ones who waited longer.

Again it's just so much up in the air and not helped by the back and forth on social media with way too many "hey, did you hear...." rumors reported as fact and folks arguing on "the numbers aren't as bad as media says." I hate this happened to the employees (I work for UPS, an essential service, so I'm lucky) but like everything else in the country, Disney is having to handle an unprecedented situation.

April 3, 2020 at 12:28 PM

Just wanted to add..... I think the Man might be wrong on one point...

I dont think employees are going to get money in excess of their usual salary.

If an employee made $600/week, they federal gov't will give them $325 (+275 from the state) so they are made whole.

Otherwise, I just want to say this situation sucks for everybody. Even if you are working and/or getting paid. Everyone should just try to be bit nicer to each other and knock off the name calling.

April 3, 2020 at 12:31 PM

I appreciate everyone's best efforts to remain civil here in a stressful time.Thank you.

April 3, 2020 at 12:55 PM

Over the past 20 years on this site, I've had more than my share of heated discussions, and here's a little bit of argument etiquette.

1. Criticize the statement and not the person making the statement when you come across something that you object to.

2. Try to find points that you agree upon and de-emphasize the points of conflicts.

Do those two things and people find it easier to change their minds.

April 3, 2020 at 1:31 PM

What I will say is these lockdowns appear to be working. NHS Nightingale London officially opened today in a convention centre. The projections suggested it would be needed yesterday, and ICU awards would be overflowing by now in London. As it stands, ICU load is at 75%, and as a result there won’t be the demand in London for patients to go there until the middle of next week. Glasgow’s equivalent might not be needed at all.

It’s funny though to see otherwise intelligent people jump to conclusions. On Wednesday there was a report that there was an alarming increase of traffic after a downward trend and ticking-off messages came from the government. Drilling down into the actual data it showed decreases on the 28th and 29th, and then up on the 30th. It seems nobody bothered to check the days of the week, as the 30th was Monday. Doesn’t take a genius to work out what happened there.

April 3, 2020 at 3:35 PM

Oh yeah? Well let me tell you something Tim Hillman -- if that IS your real name. I have always thought you are a ********. And your profile pic makes you look like a ******* . Also *******. And while we are on the subject ********. And ********** Rao.

HA! Guy-liner!

April 3, 2020 at 4:23 PM

I kinda think that would have been funnier from the Michael Eisner Account...

April 3, 2020 at 5:34 PM

Is that what you think Chad H? Well you can **********! And also take this job and ********. And don't break my heart, my ************** heart. And ************** what you really, really want.

April 3, 2020 at 7:11 PM

Remind me never to cross you, TH.

That made me laugh.

April 3, 2020 at 11:55 PM

Ah, TH Creative, to you I say Hab SoSlI' Quch!

(Anybody who knows what this means without Googling it is an ubergeek of the highest order.)

April 3, 2020 at 11:59 PM

I had to google it. I'm more of a Star Wars nerd, myself...

I hope I didn't just start another war on on this thread!

April 4, 2020 at 1:17 AM

Wow Tim... thats offensive haha

April 4, 2020 at 9:46 AM

Oh yeah? Well "sham-ma-la-la-ding-dong" to you, my brutha!

April 4, 2020 at 11:03 AM

Does anyone know if Disney is going to receive bailout money from government?

April 4, 2020 at 4:08 PM

Probably not. Other, than disney's need to have airlines operating. Indirectly.

Robert--seperate thing. Wouldn't it be an interesting discussion on whether disney should be upgrading the parks in China and Hong Kong. The Chinese government maintains a 51 percent ownership of those by their insistence. It seems to me Disney should just tell China we will pay 49 percent of general maintenance costs but we are not going to contribute to upgrades to either of those 2 parks. This crisis has shown us what I had seen (on a smaller scale) for a long time. China is unpredictable and will invalidate any agreement or law they have power over as soon as the communist/socialist party thinks it is in their interest to do so.

April 4, 2020 at 4:15 PM

When there are expansions usually Disney pays for half and the government pays for half, like you said Disney doesn't have full ownership so they aren't paying the full cost of expanding those properties.
https://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/economy/article/2048305/frozen-and-marvel-attractions-planned-hk10-billion-hong-kong

April 5, 2020 at 7:12 AM

Anybody furloughed and depending on the US Government for their paycheck might be in for a rude awakening.

Any government entity has proven to move excruciating slowly - just look at the government’s response to the pandemic, to the need of PPE equipment, ventilators, processing unemployment claims, etc.

There has been a lot of misinformation and confusion pushed forth by this administration that it’s unclear when exactly people will be getting a ‘1,200 check’ as well as how much money unemployment money will be received and when it will be paid out. That can put a lot of stress on an employee who is trying to keep bills current and support a family.

The CARES Act supposedly makes things easier to process - however I’m afraid as with anything government related, there will still be a lot of red tape involved that will slow things down for people in dire need.

I hope things do end up working out smoothly for all of the WDW employees that are treating this like ‘paid time off’ as the_man describes - though I’d understand if there are many more employees that are not as comfortable relying on a notoriously slow and bureaucratic government to support their family in this difficult time.

April 6, 2020 at 2:35 AM

President Trump wanted to send the 600 a week directly to households. People who are old enough will remember that was done when we had a budget surplus after the cold war ended. SAdly, the democrats refused the simple method an refused to vote for money (for an entire 7 days) until their demand that the money be given to states to pass out was given. yes. government tends to be inefficient, wasteful and slow whether democrat or republican. In this case, there are two slow, inefficient levels of government thanks to the democrats.

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