The Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts will not be hiring their college program students for this fall and beyond, the company announced today.
In an update posted to the Disney Internships and Programs social media, Disney said that it is suspending the Disney College Program until further notice and withdrawing employment offers. Disney previously sent home its spring semester program participants early, when the parks closed in March. It then dismissed its scheduled summer program participants.
This is essentially a layoff of tens of thousands of Disney theme park employees, signaling that Disney does not expect its theme park attendance to rebound significantly anytime in the immediate future. While the Walt Disney World parks are preparing for a phased reopening later this month, the Disneyland Resort's theme parks remain closed, with no sign of a potential reopening date.
Meanwhile, college across the country are wrestling with the logistics of reopening their campuses to students this fall. Many schools that draw students from across the country are hesitant to reopen dorms to thousands of students from a variety of communities, including some Covid hotspots. The Disney College Program would have faced the same challenge in housing students from across the country, some of whom might be bringing the coronavirus into the community.
And then there's the issue of demand. Until tourism returns to 2019 levels, Disney simply won't need as many cast members as it planned at the beginning of the year, when many college program students were accepted. Universal Orlando and Legoland Florida also recently laid off employees, as the theme park industry begins to adapt to what looks to be a sustained period of lower attendance, due both to capacity limits to support safe physical distancing and sharply reduced travel worldwide, including the continued closure of international borders and mandatory quarantine periods for visitors coming from certain US states.Tweet
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