Disney to Lay Off 28,000 Theme Park Employees

September 29, 2020, 4:52 PM · The head of the Disney theme parks said this afternoon that Disney plans to lay off approximately 28,000 employees at its parks and associated businesses nationwide.

Josh D'Amaro, the Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, issued the following statement:

"In light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic – exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen – we have made the very difficult decision to begin the process of reducing our workforce at our Parks, Experiences and Products segment at all levels, having kept non-working Cast Members on furlough since April, while paying healthcare benefits. Approximately 28,000 domestic employees will be affected, of which about 67% are part-time. We are talking with impacted employees as well as to the unions on next steps for union-represented Cast Members."

The 28,000 domestic employees would come from Disney's theme parks in Florida and California, the Disney Cruise Line, consumer products and publishing businesses, Walt Disney Imagineering, and associated management. The Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segments employs more than 170,000 cast members around the world, according to the company.

The Walt Disney World theme parks have been operating far below capacity since they reopened in July, due to the need to provide safe physical distancing between guests during the pandemic. While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has cleared theme parks to resume normal operations "with limited physical distancing," Disney has announced no changes to its Covid operating procedures.

In California, the state has not yet issued guidance on how theme parks could reopen in the state, though other parks have resumed limited operations under guidance issues for other industries, including zoos, dining, retail, and museums. Disneyland's Downtown Disney shopping and dining district has reopened with capacity-controlled operation, but Disney has kept its Disneyland and Disney California Adventure theme parks closed until the state issues specific theme park guidance.

Disney's layoff has not yet showed up on California's Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice website, though rival Universal Studios Hollywood has filed notice of more than 1,200 permanent layoffs this month.

Again today, California state officials declined to say when they would issue guidelines for reopening theme parks in the state. California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly responded to the question:

"We're working hard to get that out in a responsible way as soon as possible, so planning can be done by both the counties that are home to the theme parks, as well as the operators of those theme parks. We know that a number of Californians are eager and wondering when that is coming, and we're working with those industries to put out something that's thoughtful, allows us to maintain the rest of our framework in a strong way, and really follows those principles of slow and stringent to ensure those large activities are done responsibly. So not quite yet, but we're getting very close."

This is at least the third occasion in the past month that Dr. Ghaly or California Governor Gavin Newsom has said that the issuance of such guidance is coming "soon" or is "close."

Meanwhile, thousands of Disney cast members are now losing their health benefits in the middle of a pandemic which shows no signs of ending soon. D'Amaro closed his note on a hopeful note, "Our Cast Members have always been key to our success, playing a valued and important role in delivering a world-class experience, and we look forward to providing opportunities where we can for them to return."

But it's hard to see the hope when case levels continue to rise in many states, and millions of Americans continue to see the pandemic as a partisan joke rather than a real public health issue that has killed hundreds of thousands of their fellow citizens and debilitated many thousands more.

Update: The Service Trades Council Union that represents 43,000 cast members at the Walt Disney World Resort issued this statement:

"We were disappointed to learn that the Covid-19 crisis has led Disney to make the decision to layoff Cast Members.

"Unlike at the other theme parks and hotels in Central Florida, Disney workers have a voice at the table because of our Union. We have begun negotiations with the Company about this news and its impact to Union members. How many full-time and part-time Cast Members will be affected, how long health insurance and recall rights will continue and many other issues crucial to Cast Members are on the table.

"As soon as more information becomes available, we will notify our members."

* * *
We wanted you to read this article before we make our newsletter pitch, unlike so many other websites. If you appreciate that — and our approach to covering theme park news — please sign up for our free, three-times-a-week email newsletter. Thank you.

Replies (46)

September 29, 2020 at 4:29 PM

" – exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen – "

That's a pretty damning line right there. :/

September 29, 2020 at 4:51 PM

Also related: good to know that the execs will be taken care of after having their original pay restored last month. Lord knows they're the ones who are truly suffering through all this.

September 29, 2020 at 4:54 PM

I don't think it is unfair to ask if TPI considers D'Amaro's comments as an example of a business trying to "bark its way to the front of the line"?

September 29, 2020 at 4:56 PM

That is a massive layoff. I think that this was in the works for a while with the start of the new fiscal year. 2020 was written off as a loss with no hope but I think they really felt that this new year would have enough of an increase in revenue (even if only marginally) to justify keeping more cast members. The size of the layoffs undoubtedly grew when this most recent round of state guidelines failed to materialize. I hope that there is a decent severance package for those laid off. Does anyone know the percentage of the total Disney workforce the 28,000 represents?

September 29, 2020 at 5:02 PM

I'm just going to copy from my Facebook here...

This is the beginning...but it is only the beginning. I expect most major corporations that had operations stifled this past spring and summer to announce massive layoffs this fall (if they haven't already). We have hit the part of pandemic response where the repercussions of our actions are going to become apparent. Brace for impact, because this one is going to hurt.

September 29, 2020 at 5:37 PM

California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly says:"We're working hard to get that out in a responsible way as soon as possible, so planning can be done by both the counties that are home to the theme parks, as well as the operators of those theme parks."

I BARK in Response: What the hell does that mean? "Working hard"? Exactly what are they doing that constitutes "Working hard"? When Ghaly shows up at the office, what hard work is he doing to try and save these jobs? What's on your "to do" list, Mark?

September 29, 2020 at 6:09 PM

We have spent the last six months terrifying and imposing our will over each other because of this virus. Did we think there would be consequences? Is everyone happy now?

September 29, 2020 at 6:25 PM

Ca needs to let these parks open with the same ideas used in Florida. Everyone loses if everything is shut down

September 29, 2020 at 6:43 PM

Has the state of California contacted Disney and Universal safety professionals to discuss the Florida approach? If not, why not? If they have, what is it about the Florida operations run by WDW and UOR that is lacking and dangerous?

September 29, 2020 at 6:30 PM

Count me as one of those millions of Americans that don't see this the same way you do Robert. We've known almost from the beginning how this thing spreads, how contagious it is and who is most vulnerable. Instead of using that knowledge to make policies to protect those at risk, we followed China's lead and shut everything down. I don't pretend to know China's reasoning for doing what they did, but it sure stopped the riots in HK. I also can't fathom the reasoning behind Newsom's response other than his base is backing him on this. There is no fathomable scientific reasoning to keep the parks closed when other businesses in this state have the same risk (sometimes greater) and have been cleared to operate. Meanwhile other parks in other states have proven they can operate without calamity. And before you get your knickers in a bunch, no I'm not pro Trump. This was botched at the federal level too. We needed leadership, and instead we got waffling and overreaction.

September 29, 2020 at 7:03 PM

I would be a little concerned to follow Florida’s lead on the pandemic response if I was in California.

California’s Population is about 40 million with 15,738 deaths.
Florida’s Population is about 21.5 million with 14,142 deaths.

If California has the same death rate (to date) that Florida has had you would be looking at about 27,000 total deaths, in California, to date. Only NY would be worse.

September 29, 2020 at 7:16 PM

No one on the thread is advocating "following Florida's lead." They are asking why the management strategies of WDW and UOR would not work in California?

September 29, 2020 at 7:47 PM

Curious to see if Newsom reacts the same way DeWine did when Cedar Fair sued the state of Ohio earlier this year, namely coming out with a completely unrelated announcement in the next 24-48 hours saying parks in California can reopen.

September 29, 2020 at 7:56 PM

It’s is part of the discussion. The park strategies is part of Florida’s approach. While Disney and Universal have done a better job in safety, as attendance grows at both safety protocol enforcement is weakening. You also have to deal with parks that have done a terrible job as well. Like Legoland, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, Fun Spot, Islands H2O, etc.

It’s not just a Disney, Universal issue for California.

September 29, 2020 at 10:12 PM

I just knew the comments section was going to be messy here....

Ugh, and of course, seen this fueling the idiotic "Apple about to buy Disney" story going around. Yes, Newsom clearly loves seeing mass unemployment in his state to hurt his poll numbers, that's why he's doing this.

September 30, 2020 at 12:24 AM

As a Canadian who saw his country initially handle pandemic better than his neighbours south of the 49th parallel, Governor Newsom probably under tremendous pressure from his supporters, donors and backers to reopen the economy and relax restrictions. But as soon as you loosen COVID restrictions because you "think" you have the situation under control, COVID cases start to spike upwards as they have here across Canada (more so in Central Canada though) so politicians like Newsom are stuck in a Catch 22 right now, sigh......

September 30, 2020 at 12:31 AM

This is absolutely devastating news for Orlando and Anaheim, and might cause a mass exodus from both cities that will take years or maybe even a decade to recover from. Sadly there's nothing anyone can do other than hope there is a vaccine and the pandemic ends as soon as possible because we've seen travel is going to stay depressed as long as there is a pandemic.

September 30, 2020 at 2:40 AM

@Yeowser, what happened in the U.S. is a combination of idiocy on the highest levels, a feeling of "it'll go away in a few weeks" and then this bizarre belief that shelter order and wearing masks equaled "tyranny." The truth is, most Americans accept the reality of it all but many others don't and even those who do now have many going "it's here, just have to live with it."

And yes, folks point out the risks. I live in a state that had lockdowns for over two months and handled it better but still risks and worries of spikes. Sadly, folks don't listen to rational scientists, they listen to someone sharing something online from a website claiming "It's all faked." In fact, one of the most prominent "Fauci is a fraud" online writers, Bill Crews, was just exposed as...working for Fauci's PR team, meaning he knew he was spreading false conspiracy talk on his website.

In short, stupidity spread in America faster than the virus and it's a shame so many had to pay for it. Newsom, as you say, knows the dangers of a further outbreak in such a large state so holding stronger which end up being the smarter move down the road.

September 30, 2020 at 2:44 AM

Let me repeat Robert's excellent post from a few weeks back:

Order in which we care about people's opinions on theme parks reopening:
1) Infectious disease specialists studying Covid-19
2) Front-line, in-park employees
3) Nearby tourism industry workers
4) Theme park fans who wear masks
5) Theme park management
6) Politicians
7) Media that don't cover theme parks daily
8) People who don't ever visit theme parks

Now, clearly, group 2 want to get back to work, we can understand that but if group 1 are warning still huge risks, those are the folks who should be listened to first.

September 30, 2020 at 5:35 AM

@MikeW - I concur ... #1 should be Infectious disease specialists studying Covid-19. Although I would also suggest that these specialists should not have some sort of ultimate veto power and that that Front-line, in-park employees should be regarded as a VERY CLOSE #2.

I would also ask what these "specialists" have done to study the Florida models at WDW and UOR and to evaluate their performance. To date there has been no reports of significant clusters/outbreaks of COVID-19 related to the parks -- whether it is guests or cast members.

A also believe the list should not be relegate an individual work in government as a politician if that person has a political motive. Some of those holt specialists residing in the #1 spot have political motives. Additionally, some government officials are experts in areas other than public health who can (and should) raise viable concerns. In Florida, we have no state income tax. The loss of revenue going to local and state governments that has had a substantial impact. Budget shortfalls will undermine public education, healthcare and food assistance programs -- perhaps for the long term. Those specialist at #1 should not be limited to smart people in the area of infectious disease.

September 30, 2020 at 6:02 AM

I’ve just learned that one of those 28,000 is Yehaa Bob! I’m absolutely not undermining anybody else’s role in the company but that man, to many people, is as much ‘Disney’ as Mickey ears and dole whips!

September 30, 2020 at 6:47 AM

Rave5: "While Disney and Universal have done a better job in safety, as attendance grows at both safety protocol enforcement is weakening."

Me: Do you have any solid, scientific data that shows this to be at all accurate? After all, the parks are closed because of, you know, "science" (I guess). If you're going to claim that WDW and UOR efforts at "safety protocol enforcement is weakening", you owe the thread and thousands of cast members (many who show up daily to enforce protocols) some basis for your assertion.

Rave5: "You also have to deal with parks that have done a terrible job as well. Like Legoland, Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, Fun Spot, Islands H2O, etc."

Me: No. No you really don't. Those parks can be inspected, fined and shuttered for failing to maintain standards -- the same way OSHA can enforce its protocols. Just because other parks fail shouldn't mean tens of thousands of WDW and UOR employees should be kicked to the curb.

September 30, 2020 at 9:12 AM

I completely agree with AJ here, and we're starting to see some of the same patterns emerge across multiple industries. Airlines, which were forced to maintain their workforce through October as a condition of taking PPP funding, are planning major cuts to their work forces. Other travel sectors are following suit, and some were cutting back during the summer if they weren't being burdened by the conditions of PPP subsidies.

This wave of unemployment and economic contraction was inevitable, and a direct result of how our governments responded to the virus. As with the response to the health implications of the virus, officials have been completely guided by political motives in addressing the economic implications of the pandemic. A contraction of the world economy was unavoidable, but instead of setting up true safety nets to help those that would permanently loose jobs, politicians have chosen to kick the can down the road until we have reached this current reckoning. We have been propping up businesses that were overextended even before the pandemic hit, and now when these businesses are forced to make tough decisions, officials whine, moan, and lament the inevitable loss of future tax revenue. As an example, here in DC, the city government normally provides subsidies to low income families to offset child care costs. Those subsidies are paid directly to child care providers, which in effect helps to prop up a necessary industry to allow working parents to earn a living. However, as the pandemic hit in March and the city closed down, those subsidies continue to flow to child care providers even if though they weren't being allowed to open. Even as facilities were slowly opening back up, those subsidies continued to flow at the same rate despite some providers remaining closed or providing services to a fraction of the children they were caring for prior to March. Now the city is requiring care providers to submit rosters to verify the children they are caring for to ensure the subsidies match the number of low-income families that are being serviced. The providers that remain closed that were cashing in despite not doing any work will be forced to open back up or close permanently because their funding will be cut off, while those that have opened will likely see reduced subsidies since they cannot care for as many children. In both case, many care providers may be forced to close at a time when child care is desperately needed. If the city had been proactive from the start, this situation could have been mitigated, but it was "easier" just to send money to these businesses than it was to slowly get things running again and provide support to those that were struggling to operate through the pandemic.

There has been absolutely no plan for this, and allowing situations to fester beneath the veneer of a perceived (though slow) economic recovery as certain industries get back to doing business following months of shut downs, has only made the situations worse. Now the pain will be 2-fold from economic contraction coupled with further disruption of necessary government revenue needed to stimulate recovery. It's further complicated by governments that have been picking and choosing which industries can and cannot operate without providing any rationale publicly for why those decisions are being made.

September 30, 2020 at 9:41 AM

This nation could have benefited of a great president, one who didn't downtalk the impact of Covid-19. To throw this to that states and not taking responsibility by providing guidelines is so damaging for so many people, not to mention all the deaths. It's hart breaking.

September 30, 2020 at 10:54 AM

" and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic – exacerbated in California by the State’s unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen"

Wow, what a colossally ignorant thing to say. The continued uncertainty is exacerbated by a criminally negligent federal response that has caused the pandemic to rage higher and longer than anyone else in the world. Gavin Newsome and the California state government are doing exactly what they are elected to do: protect their citizens' lives.

That Disney would allow such an ignorant, plainly political statement to be made is frankly shocking. Am I supposed to feel sorry that the giant conglomerate can't open when my CHILDREN CAN'T GO TO SCHOOL?!? We're NOT GOING TO HAVE HALLOWEEN, but I'm supposed to shed a tear for this millionaire?

Just wow. I have never though less of Disney than I do right now.

September 30, 2020 at 10:55 AM

Yeowser: "But as soon as you loosen COVID restrictions because you "think" you have the situation under control, COVID cases start to spike upwards as they have here across Canada (more so in Central Canada though) so politicians like Newsom are stuck in a Catch 22 right now, sigh......

Good post. They're only in a Catch 22 because America is filled with idiots who don't understand how a quarantine works. If we were as smart as Canadians we would have done the right thing to begin with and we'd be where you are now. Instead, we're still wrestling with the brainwashed third of our society who think that virus is a hoax, or a burden on their personal freedom, or subject to magic.

I'm quite proud of Newsome for doing the right, smart thing, while the majority of his redstate counterparts are actively undermining the country's progress and, through their ignorance, only ensuring this nightmare will continue well into 2021. We are where we are because a significant portion of Americans are self-righteous fools.

September 30, 2020 at 12:25 PM

I would ask you the colonel, if you were asking you boss for something (let's say a new office chair) that your colleagues were getting even without requesting, you'd be pretty perturbed that your boss wasn't even responding to your request. Let's say you were experiencing back pain and carpal tunnel because the chair you were using was old and ill-suited to your workstation, and you even had a doctor and company ergonomic specialist contributing to your request for a new chair. You were even willing to buy the chair yourself, but company policies prohibit you from using outside furniture in your office without supervisor approval. Yet despite this, your boss doesn't even do the courtesy to give an answer nor provide any reasoning for why no answer has been given.

That is exactly what is happening to Disney in California. Yes, the situation is a bit more complicated than a chair, but the continuing lack of response from California in regards to Disney's (and many other businesses') requests to resume operations is pure negligence on the part of the State of California. If the State and Governor do not want theme parks operating, then they should articulate the reasoning behind those decisions (or lack thereof). However, officials continue to keep these businesses in limbo with their non answers and deferments. While Disney employees are essentially being used as political pawns with this announcement, the business is completely warranted in this decision, while it's incumbent upon the government to ascertain why their unemployment rolls are about to explode and what should be done to limit the collateral damage from what will ultimately devolve into a legal tete-a-tete.

It's completely nonsensical what is happening in California, and it's only building further distrust of the state and local governments at a time when those levels are essential to fill the gap created by our ineffective and laissez faire approach at the Federal level. While I'm certainly not shedding a "tear for this millionaire", I am for the tens of thousands employees that are loosing their jobs because of the careless inaction coming from the State of California.

September 30, 2020 at 11:38 AM

@Tortuga_Mickey: I don't have the total number of people who work for Disney worldwide handy (Forbes puts that at 223,000 -- meaning this layoff would be affecting about 12½% of Disney cast if that number, dated last year, is accurate), but this article does mention that the Parks, Experiences, and Products division of the Walt Disney Company (where these layoffs are taking place) is made up of over 170,000 cast members. Laying off 28,000 of them would (if we just round off the total cast in the division to 170,000) would be almost 16½% of the workforce in that division.

I have cast member friends who read/watched this via news media LONG before they were notified by the company, who now are wondering whether they are among those losing their jobs, and VERY frustrated that Disney went to the media before informing those affected.

September 30, 2020 at 11:55 AM

RM hits the target. Again, California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly says, "We're working hard to get that out in a responsible way as soon as possible, so planning can be done by both the counties that are home to the theme parks, as well as the operators of those theme parks."

What is involved in that hard work? What are they doing? Are they engaged with the park operators? Have they visited the Florida parks?

September 30, 2020 at 12:10 PM

I am not affiliated to the democratic party but I am VERY liberal and progressive and still, I don't understand why California's governor is acting this way. I have been to the Orlando parks twice since they reopened and not only I felt uber safe but also my husband and I didn't get sick (not even a cold which we usually get when going to the parks). I felt very protected by Disney AND Universal (we also went to Aquatica but that's another story). I tend to agree with TH, why are they not looking at the Orlando parks performance? It is super weird to me...

September 30, 2020 at 12:20 PM

Everyone needs to stop being scared! This is NOT going away, even places that had this "Under Control" are seeing a resurgence. We are going to live with this for the next year. This is just to contagious to go away with lockdowns, not going to work. We are doing so much better treating this and possible vaccine soon, staying locked down is just making things worse. If you want to hide in your basement that is your choice, just don't try to make that MY requirement!
I'm sure come early to mid November places will start opening, just a hunch.

September 30, 2020 at 12:53 PM

'Gavin Newsome and the California state government are doing exactly what they are elected to do: protect their citizens' lives.'

The government is not here to protect citizens' lives or our safety. Governments are not there to protect us from someone mugging us or from a disease. In the case of mugging the police are not there to project us from the perpetrator. There is no liability to the police department if we get mugged. In the case of a disease the government has not been there to stop us from getting the flu, or AIDS, the zika virus for which many people died. In the past if we were infected by these diseases it was not the government's fault. The government did not lock down the country, which would have been a violation of our first amendment right to assembly. The exception is now the government is responsible for keeping us safe from Covid-19, because people think safety is more important than our natural right.

Federal and state governments are established to project our rights. They are there to make sure those rights are not infringed by others. We have no right to safety. We can walk out the door today and get run over by a car. This has not meant we stop cars from driving around. Our desire for safety does not override our rights as citizens, in this case as I said previously, the right to assemble.

There is a Maryland man sentenced to a year in prison for having parties in his backyard, in violation of the Maryland governor's decree because of Covid-19. Does everyone feel better now that this man is having his life ruined? We our disrupting and upending so many people's careers and finances because of this virus. If this were a real health crisis the hospitals would be overflowing with the dead and sick. They are not of course, but instead we have decided to lockdown the country and hide in our basements. How long until Disneyland is reopened? How many jobs will be lost? One wrong does not give us the right to make another.

September 30, 2020 at 1:05 PM

Mr Torrence I agree with you but let’s be smart about opening such as social distancing and the use face masks and dramatically changing the way some businesses, such as bars, operate.

September 30, 2020 at 1:25 PM

Agree Tiptop22, I follow mask requirements of every business, it is their right on how to run their operations. I think is also applies to capacity. If a bar or restaurant feels safe at any capacity let them do it, if the GP doesn't feel safe they will not go and everyone can adapt as they see fit.

September 30, 2020 at 1:49 PM

I'm sure that Disney could find a new place to put a Theme Park. What makes California so special? There are places where Disney could buy up enough land to create a new Theme Park and grow! California is a financial disaster. I love Disney World, but I won't go to DisneyLand.

September 30, 2020 at 2:04 PM

Very well said @Quokka

September 30, 2020 at 2:34 PM

@George Brungot-

I get what you're trying to say. However, the Disneyland area has spent so much money and investment that they can't just up and leave. Building a new theme park costs Billions of dollars, and trying to demolish all of Disneyland and build it in Texas would just add to the costs. Financially there would be no point to even demolish DL anyways. Also, there is a huge fanbase in CA for disneyland, but Texas? Not really

September 30, 2020 at 5:38 PM

Some folks keep ranting about their rights. But they fail to acknowledge that, as citizens, they also have responsibilities. Every American has responsibilities to their family, their neighbors, their community and their nation. It is every citizen's responsibility to help assure that they don't cause others to get ill from a deadly disease which they may be unknowingly spreading.

("Citizenship" used to be a required course in public schools. No longer. The Covid mess is partly the result of many Americans' clear lack of understanding Citizenship.)

September 30, 2020 at 7:10 PM

"The government is not here to protect citizens' lives or our safety."

haha, let me see if I can guess who you vote for. Give me a break.

@mikew You write: "what happened in the U.S. is a combination of idiocy on the highest levels, a feeling of "it'll go away in a few weeks" and then this bizarre belief that shelter order and wearing masks equaled "tyranny."

It's not just idiocy, and it's not just a "bizarre belief." It's highly sophisticate propaganda pushed by the GOP and Fox News, who care only about business and will gladly sacrifice hundreds of thousands of American lives to keep lining their pockets. Unfortunately, 35% of our population is either too stupid or too racist to resist, and so here we are.

The rate will soon be north of 100k a day, and both Disney parks will be shut again.

October 1, 2020 at 12:00 AM

Quite simply, the theme parks of California should sue, and I think guidelines will come out ASAP. I think theme park employees and the hospitality industry surrounding their parks all deserve to have a better idea of how they can re-open, when they can re-open, and maybe if they should look at another career, relocating, going back to school. I am trying to not get political here, but they have waited about 7 months for guidelines, acted civilly, have poured lots of money into trying to make their parks, hotels, restaurants, shops safer whether plexiglass dividers, temperature scanners, sanitizers and sanitizer stations galore, bought loads of PPE for employees, and marking areas to better maintain social distancing. Any how, not my idea... heard it on the radio tonight. Think of it TESLA sued and got guidelines and got to reopen, LA County malls sued, and suddenly got permission to re-open in the next 10 days, and some private schools sued, and got guidelines and some have re-opend too. And gotta say, we all know our risks now, these businesses mentioned all seem to know they need to require workers and patrons to socially distance, wear masks properly, and so on or risk horrible publicity, deaths blamed on them, etc.

October 1, 2020 at 12:12 PM

@thecolonel: You're right on propaganda. One very MAGA-site, Red State (once actually sane conservative spot until they purged any Never Trump writers) has their chief editor, streiff, going on for months on "It's all fake, political, Fauci has no idea what he's doing" and even calling for the "executions" of people who work for CDC as "enemies of America."

Last week, he was exposed as Bill Crews....who works for the National Institutes of Health...as a member of Facui's PR team. In other words, a guy who's spent years ranting on "government has no place in citizen's lives" was cashing a government paycheck and spinning out "facts" he knew first-hand were false while slamming his own co-workers. Needless to say, he's been fired from both jobs but shows how there is a concentrated effort by those who know "it's no big deal" is false.

October 1, 2020 at 1:09 PM

Mr Torrance allowing each business to decide is not smart. Educate yourself on how the virus spreads. That would be the equivalent of some magic kingdom gift shops not requiring a mask and others do - that’s not gonna work for the whole of magic kingdom.

October 1, 2020 at 1:45 PM

@Tiptop22 - I would agree with the overarching point of your statement, and letting each individual business make their own rules would be like the Wild West. However, I think Mr. Torrance is suggesting that businesses establishing rules at an industry level, and allowing industries to create their own rules and guidelines with review/oversight of prevailing authorities is a more effective way forward.

For your Magic Kingdom example, there are many different "businesses" within the gates of MK that all pose different risks to guests and employees in regards to COVID. The risks to guests watching a parade are different than shopping for souvenirs, which are different than riding Space Mountain, which are different than eating at Pecos Bill's, which are different than eating at Cinderella's Royal Table, which are different than watching Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor. Disney could certainly establish a blanket set of rules that would govern all of those "businesses", but it makes far more sense for each "industry" to establish specific guidelines for their line of work (entertainment, rides, shows, QS dining, TS dining, retail, etc...). I think what Mr. Torrance is suggesting (correct me if I'm wrong) is that theme parks should work together to establish protocols that govern theme parks, just like restaurants have established rules for their industry and retail has established guidelines for shopping. The businesses know the most about how they operate, and given a little bit of government oversight/approval, can establish their own reasonable guidelines for operation, which is furthered by the willingness of industry professionals to offer to do most of the work. The government can't be expected to know the nitty gritty details of how each individual business operates (and honestly shouldn't when it comes to trade secrets and patented processes), and shifting the responsibility to the businesses should be the path forward.

October 1, 2020 at 1:48 PM

I'd agree makes sense for theme parks to work together...except not happening. See how poor Sea World/Busch Gardens are with any mask/distancing rules in comparison to Universal and WDW and that's not counting other places (Indiana Beach only "suggests" guests wear masks). End of the day, they're competitors and if anything, would be working to get an edge by how can be seen as the safest rather than a united front.

October 1, 2020 at 2:13 PM

@MikeW - You're right, but that's when the government steps in to call their bluff. If they can't follow their own written rules and protocols, then they are fined or have their business license revoked. That's how things work across other industries, and even how they work in regards to theme park ride certifications. The parks/engineers develop SOPs for a ride, which are then reviewed and inspected by a government agency. Most states certify rides on an annual basis or when major renovations are made, but can also perform unannounced inspections of rides at any time during the year (or following a reported incident). If a company wants to cut corners or not follow their SOP, they will eventually get caught and cited or have the offending ride shut down.

The same holds true for restaurants that follow general Health Department guidelines developed by the restaurant industry, but establish their own internal policies and procedures that are to be followed by their employees. The Health Department will certify a restaurant when it first opens (or on an annual basis in some locales), but can also perform spot inspections or respond to complaints from concerned citizens. If a spot or random inspection comes back with violations, the restaurant is shut down until they address the deficiencies.

The same should be happening with COVID (and is happening in many other parts of the country and in other industries in California). There should be general public guidelines for operating a business, but the theme park industry should establish guidelines adopted and enforced by the state/local authorities. If Disney/Universal write the industry rules approved by the authorities, it would then be up to Sea World and Six Flags to follow suit. If Sea World and Six Flags want a say in what are contained within the rules, they will have to contribute to the process, and then follow up by implementing the approved rules or risk being shut down. In the end, it's up to the government to enforce the established rules, and if that enforcement isn't occurring, then that's a dereliction of duty by your elected officials. However, it's also a dereliction of duty for elected officials to sit on their hands and do nothing while industries are clamoring for guidance.

October 1, 2020 at 3:15 PM

Or the California government does see it as a bluff as they know Disney and Universal guys couldn't share a cup of coffee together, let alone be a united front on this.

It seems in Illinois, Six Flags kept pushing on opening Great America but somehow, could never come up with a plan proper for Pritzker (who's been more strident on this than other governors) so looks like it's closed for the year. So yes, it's not just Disney or Universal as some chains are having a harder time matching what some states want to keep it safe.

I once more think Newsom is wary as they were relaxing things back in June, ready to reopen then a huge spike forcing further shutdowns so he doesn't want a repeat, especially with flu season coming to add to it. Which sucks but again, had this all been better handled six months ago, we wouldn't be having this conversation....

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Shop Discounted Tickets

Theme Park Guides

Get Our Newsletter