Disney to lay off 28,000 workers at its parks in California, Florida

(Anaheim) Sleeping Beauty's castle, Disneyland, Monday May 2, 2005. On MAY 5 as Disneyland kicks–off it's 50th anniversary "Happiest Homecoming on Earth" celebration the park will unveil a whole new look; an elegant transformation now underway inspir

Disney is laying off 28,000 U.S.-based employees across its Parks, Experiences and Products division due to continued struggles caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the company announced in a statement on Tuesday.

Disney Chairman Josh D'Amaro said in the statement in part:

"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."

RELATED: Stay up to date on all coronavirus-related information

The company did not say how many of the affected employees worked at the Anaheim theme park and how many worked at Disney World in Florida.

Letter to employees from Josh D’Amaro, Chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products:


"I write this note to you today to share some difficult decisions that we have had to make regarding our Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products organization. Let me start with my belief that the heart and soul of our business is and always will be people. Just like all of you, I love what I do. I also love being surrounded by people who think about their roles as more than jobs, but as opportunities to be a part of something special, something different, and something truly magical.  Earlier this year, in response to the pandemic, we were forced to close our businesses around the world.

Few of us could have imagined how significantly the pandemic would impact us -- both at work and in our daily lives. We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived, and that we would recover quickly and return to normal. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case. And, as a result, today we are now forced to reduce the size of our team across executive, salaried, and hourly roles.

As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude is not easy. For the last several months, our management team has worked tirelessly to avoid having to separate anyone from the company. We’ve cut expenses, suspended capital projects, furloughed our cast members while still paying benefits, and modified our operations to run as efficiently as possible, however, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity.  As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have 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.

Thank you for your dedication, patience and understanding during these difficult times. I know that these changes will be challenging. It will take time for all of us to process this information and its impact. We will be scheduling appointments with our affected salaried and non-union hourly employees over the next few days. Additionally, today we will begin the process of discussing next steps with unions.

We encourage you to visit The Hub or the WDI Homepage for any support you may need. For those who will be affected by this decision, I want to thank you for all that you have done for our company and our guests. While we don’t know when the pandemic will be behind us, we are confident in our resilience and hope to welcome back Cast Members and employees when we can."

RELATED: Orange County community makes desperate plea to reopen Disneyland Resort

Disneyland remains closed per the state's COVID-19 guidelines, but Disneyland Orange County officials have lobbied hard in recent weeks in an attempt to convince Gov. Gavin Newsom to allow the park to reopen.

Disney World, which comprises four separate Disney theme parks near Orlando including Magic Kingdom, reopened this summer with restrictions amid the pandemic, but attendance has been down sharply.

The company's Parks, Experiences, and Products segment saw an 85% revenue drop from the third quarter of last year.  

The company had originally planned to reopen its Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks in Anaheim on July 17, but those plans were scrapped as the state saw a surge of coronavirus cases.

That surge prompted a delay in the state's release of operating protocols for large venues such as theme parks.

The Downtown Disney shopping and entertainment district reopened to the public on July 9, although some individual businesses remained closed.

CNS contributed to this report.

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