Cast members welcomed thousands of guests to the Walt Disney World Resort's Magic Kingdom this morning. But some of those smiles came with gritted teeth under those masks, as Disney employees were still reeling from news that the company would be laying off approximately 28,000 workers.
Thank you to Theme Park Insider readers in the Orlando area who have been emailing updates and photos from the parks, as I remain at home in Southern California. Again, average crowd levels in Central Florida appear to be rising, as more fans find their way back into the parks following their capacity-controlled reopening in July. But attendance levels remain far below their traditional — and budgeted — levels, which no doubt contributed to Disney's call to fire what looks to be a double-digit percentage of its theme park workforce.
Rumors among Disney World cast members earlier today has most of the layoffs happening in Florida, but we now know that will not be the case. As a result, many Orlando-area cast members said they are feeling anxious about the layoffs, waiting to hear whom will be dismissed.
Several cast members said that they've been on reduced hours with no ability to pick up extra hours in recent weeks, which raised suspicions that layoffs were coming. People are wondering if they will ever see furloughed cast members back at work again. Others are concerned that being recalled is no guarantee that they will escape the layoff. Even managers are concerned about redundancy.
One cast member said that his love for Disney can no longer outweigh the uncertainty, so he's now looking for work outside the company.
We have been tracking the layoffs today and the latest numbers are 6,390 non-union employees to be dismissed at Walt Disney World, with 2,765 non-union cast members and an estimated 3,400 union employees slated for dismissal so far in California. But that's less than half of the 28,000 workers expected to be let go, the bulk of which appear to be union-represented cast members in Florida.
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