Park of the Week: Islands of Adventure

Disney to Lay Off 4,000 More Cast Members

November 26, 2020, 12:15 AM · The Walt Disney Company will lay off 4,000 more cast members than it initially announced, according to a company filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission posted Wednesday night.

Disney had announced earlier this year that it would lay off 28,000 cast members from its Parks segment. The new 10-K filing says the company will lay off 32,000 cast members by the end of March 2021 - which will be a full year after the company’s theme parks initially closed due to the pandemic.

That’s an additional 4,000 employees who will be losing their jobs, as Disney continues to struggle with lower than expected attendance at Walt Disney World in Florida and the ongoing closures of the Disneyland Resort in California and the Disney Cruise Line.

“Due to the current climate, including COVID-19 impacts, and changing environment in which we are operating, the Company has generated efficiencies in its staffing, including limiting hiring to critical business roles, furloughs and reductions-in-force. As part of these actions, the employment of approximately 32,000 employees primarily at Parks, Experiences and Products will terminate in the first half of fiscal 2021. Additionally, as of October 3, 2020, approximately 37,000 employees who are not scheduled for employment termination were on furlough as a result of COVID-19’s impact on our businesses,” the filing said.

The layoffs represent about 20 percent of the 155,000 employees that Disney said it had in its Parks segment as of October.

Replies (17)

November 26, 2020 at 3:55 AM

In a related story (that I may have missed reading on TPI), Universal announced similar layoffs — including hundreds at Universal Creative. The Orlando Sentinel: “Universal Orlando is laying off 1,123 salaried employees at its creative division, theme parks and resorts, the company has disclosed in a federally required notice of mass layoffs.

“Universal disclosed in the notice that 373 employees losing their jobs worked at the Universal Creative office at 8523 Commodity Circle. The majority of the layoffs — 678 people — are occurring at 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, offices located near the theme parks. None of these positions involved hourly workers, the company said.”

So is Epic Universe done?

November 26, 2020 at 6:06 AM

It's kinda hard to employ people when you can't actually put them to work. With one out of two domestic resorts basically closed and the cruise line not operating, this was always going to be the result.

Regarding Epic Universe, I hope/think it's not done. But they are clearly done putting resources into it until the economy rebounds. There's talk that Super Nintendo will be built at USF in the next few years in order to meet contractual deadlines. Between that and the Fantastic Beasts problems, they're almost going to have to go back to square one with that park. We may not see it for a decade.

November 26, 2020 at 7:30 AM

We get it TH Creative, it's the second time you mention that. Yes it sucks people are loosing their jobs and yes Comcast will build Epic Universal but it will take about a year longer.

November 26, 2020 at 7:40 AM

People are losing their jobs and livelihood and some on a themepark website want to use it to stir the pot. Classy.

November 26, 2020 at 8:13 AM

Or some want to put it on a theme park website to acknowledge a reality. WDI cut loose dozens of people in pre-construction and construction executive management -- some who have been with the company for decades. If you believe the chatter, Guardians, Harmonius and Rat are the last things being built at WDW. Apparently, TRON is in mothballs and when construction re-starts and the attraction opens, WDW will have nothing in the works.

Likewise, UC drops a hundred jobs and (beyond the Dino coaster) Universal has nothing planned for the future.

See? As far as attraction development goes, I'm noting that BOTH resorts are sitting at a dead stop.

November 26, 2020 at 9:39 AM

Fair enough.

November 26, 2020 at 12:42 PM

I hope, I hope, I hope, I hope this crap is gone by early May and that Disney and Comcast just STOMP on the accelerator.

And by the way, thanks again to the idiot governor of California for continuing to deny paychecks to thousands of USH and DLR employees as well as cash flow to the Disney and Comcast. Newsom is without question one of the reasons WDW has had to cut CMs.

In his defense, I hear he left a fat tip after he and his millionaire lobbyist pals enjoyed their dinner at The French Laundry.

November 26, 2020 at 3:43 PM

While I understand emotions are running high (including mine), and I don't fault ANYONE (including TH Creative or AndrewL) for expressing them, I think we can ALL agree that this sucks for a LOT of people, for a lot of reasons. And if we're commenting here, we are interested in the situation, but have no control over it (other than to wear our masks when we go out).

I'm not going to say we should all sing Kumbaya and hold hands (that wouldn't be good social distancing). We do have our disagreements. But while we do indeed disagree on some things, we should come to it with the understanding that NOBODY is happy about any of what is happening.

I hope that TH Creative is right about it being gone by early May...but I also remember being told (by a less-then-credible source) that it would "magically disappear by April" of 2020, so I'm not getting my hopes up. I expect that my new "mask police" portion of my job will continue to dominate my work days longer than that. But you have NO IDEA how much I hope you are right in your hope, hope, hope, hope. And I know it's just a BIG hope, and not a prediction like the April thing someone else said, but...I would like nothing more than for you to be right.

And to the Disney cast members and Universal team members (and those in other companies, for which I'm not sure what you're officially called), I wish you all nothing but the best, and hope you are able to get back to work as soon as is practicable, either back to what you have done so well, or finding something else that you are great at.

November 26, 2020 at 4:28 PM

Unfortunately, I think we should expect quarterly layoffs in the double digit percentages until parks around the world return to stable operation. I'm hopeful that happens in the first half of 2021, but realistically it could easily be a year or more before things return to relatively normal, and it will take some time beyond that for the market to rebound. Most forecasts I'm seeing predict 2-4 years after vaccine distribution for tourism to reach pre-pandemic numbers, so theme parks need to do whatever is necessary to not fold before then. When one resort is seeing a third of their normal attendance and the other is closed indefinitely, cutting employees is a sad but necessary move.

Regarding future projects across the board, at this point I think it's safe to assume that if it hasn't gone vertical it is on indefinite hold. At WDW, Ratatouille, Tron, and Guardians should all be opening in the next couple years, but I wouldn't get hopes up for anything else of note before the late 2020s. Same at Disneyland...after Avengers and Runaway Railway, that resort probably won't get anything for at least five years. At Universal, Nintendo will probably be the last thing built at either resort, and while I do think a third park will come to Florida at some point in the future (perhaps for the 40th anniversary of the resort), I've got a strong feeling Epic Universe as we've seen is toast.

November 26, 2020 at 6:05 PM

Anything that is deep into the building phase will get built. Disney will not want a half-built Tron coaster eyesore in its flagship park. Rumors are saying it may not get done prior to the 50th as the focus may be getting Ratatouille and Guardians finished at EPCOT, a park desperate for attractions right now. Anything not beyond dirt work will be postponed indefinitely, and unfortunately that will likely include Epic Universe.

I’m certain Joe Rohde’s retirement is directly linked to the lack of projects in the future. There is no reason for him to stick around. The next round of layoffs may include many imagineers, much like what we saw after MK was built in the mid-70s.

November 27, 2020 at 12:04 AM

It's sad but brutal business: If your work force majorly exceeds the need/demand, then there will be cuts. I've seen it at my spot, it sucks for Disney majorly and other parks but they're not alone as across more of the hospitality business.

I am hopeful but then, I was hopeful several times this year and it got worse in numbers and such. It's not just theme parks, obvious how movies/TV are shaken in plans too and that's also a major blow to Disney's profits. And reading of how the lack of fans for sports is a cascade effect on local businesses (especially bars near stadiums).

I'm hopeful for things to improve but it's going to be a long road getting there and too many folks will suffer because of this mess.

November 26, 2020 at 11:06 PM

Each layoff is just gonna be another nail in the coffin for Iger's presidential aspirations.

November 27, 2020 at 6:13 PM

Didn't help Newsom's prospects or legacy either.

November 27, 2020 at 9:09 PM

I absolutely agree, TH. Newsom may or may not have the support of his constituents, but the rest of the country seems to be viewing his actions with scorn.

November 27, 2020 at 10:16 PM

I work at Universal and most of the layoffs from the Creative department are from the Epic Universe project: So many of my friends and co-workers I knew were among the ones who were laid off. While what was initially planned for Epic Universe will be no more(You can’t build a theme park/attraction when the creative people behind it are let go), I’m just worried about all the layoffs and the lack of federal financial help to everyone in these hard times.

November 27, 2020 at 11:03 PM

Damn, had suspected the Universal stuff but not a promising sign for that park.

November 29, 2020 at 12:59 PM

Not a promising sign for more Potter attractions either.

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