Disney will enact more furloughs at its marquee Disneyland, with coronavirus cases on the rise globally and no sign from California officials that the Anaheim theme park will reopen anytime in the near future. The news was broken in a memo from Disneyland president Ken Potrock to staff Monday (read it in full below).
In September, Disney said it would be laying off 28,000 staff at its U.S. theme parks, the segment of the company hardest hit by the pandemic. Like today, the cuts came at the executive, salaried and hourly level, although the bulk of the hit — or 67%, the company said — will fall on part-time workers.
“As you know, we’ve already taken the heart-wrenching action of laying off thousands of our Cast on both coasts,” he wrote. “We expected to be able to open our parks in Anaheim, given our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols as we have in all of our other theme parks around the world, but unfortunately this has not been the case.”
The theme park closed March 13 as the pandemic worsened in the U.S. Other Disney theme parks have been able to open at a restricted basis, including at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. Although last week Disney said it would reopen some restaurants and stores at Disney California Adventure on November 19 and before that Downtown Disney, the rest of the park remains shuttered, and “the recently released state guidelines put us in limbo regarding a reopening timeline in the foreseeable future,” Potrock said today.
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A spike in cases in Europe last week saw Disneyland Paris forced to shutter once more, the latest obstacle in reopening the theme park segment. Disney during its Q2 earnings call in May that the estimated COVID-19 impact on operating income at its Parks, Experiences and Products segment was about $1 billion.
Here’s today’s memo from Potrock:
Since Disneyland Resort closed its gates in March, nothing has been more important than fully reopening and getting our Cast Members back to work. That’s why it is with heavy hearts we find ourselves in the untenable situation of having to institute additional furloughs for our executive, salaried and hourly Cast.
After nearly eight months our parks and hotels remain closed, and while we have had some successes — like the opening of the Downtown Disney District in July, shopping and dining coming soon to Buena Vista Street and today’s announcement that we will reopen Disney Vacation Club units — the recently released state guidelines put us in limbo regarding a reopening timeline in the foreseeable future.
As you know, we’ve already taken the heart-wrenching action of laying off thousands of our Cast on both coasts. We expected to be able to open our parks in Anaheim, given our proven ability to operate with responsible health and safety protocols as we have in all of our other theme parks around the world, but unfortunately this has not been the case.
We will begin communication today with affected Cast. Consistent with what was put in place in April, furloughed Cast will be able to:
- maintain health and insurance benefits coverage, with the company paying both the employer and employee weekly benefit contributions;
- elect to use some or all of their available paid-time off hours (vacation and floating holidays) if eligible;
- access state unemployment insurance benefits; and continue progress toward their education goals with the Disney Aspire education program if already enrolled.
These decisions and actions are difficult — and we are committed to helping our teams through this and, most importantly, getting people back to work where we can.
I urge Cast Members who need support to utilize the Furlough Resource Center, along with additional company-provided resources including LifeCare and the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). You can also call Global Human Resources Operations at 321-939-7000 (Monday-Friday, 6 a.m.-5 p.m., and Saturday-Sunday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m.).
While the near term will be challenging as we continue to navigate in these turbulent times, I promise you that we will continue to work tirelessly to reopen the Resort and get our Cast Members back to work, and that my optimism for our bright future continues to be strong.
I want to thank each and every one of you for your resiliency and resolve during these challenging and unpredictable times. I am continually in awe of our amazing Cast and look forward to the day when we can celebrate the reopening of Disneyland Resort.
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