March of this year saw the Disney parks close, one by one, all over the world. In May, the company reported that their second quarter revenue, the majority of which comes from the parks, was down from $5.4 billion in 2019 to a mere $475 million in 2020. Still a substantial chunk of change, but a drop of a staggering 91 percent. And not enough to cover the park’s operating costs. By July, when Disneyland had hoped to reopen for its 65th anniversary, most Disney Parks employees were placed on furlough (with benefits), with no end date in sight. Now, those furloughs are turning into layoffs.
It seems wrong to say that a giant like the Disney Company is struggling, and it certainly doesn’t mean the same thing as when you say it about a much smaller business, but the closures and pandemic climate have hurt the company badly. Even the perhaps incautious reopening of Disney World Florida hasn’t managed to bring revenue back up enough to keep up with costs.
On September 29, 2020, Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro announced that layoffs would soon begin at “all levels” of the parks segment of the company, to total 28,000 workers.
“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,” read D’Amaro’s statement in part. He went on to include that the company would do what it could in the future to bring those affected back.
Disney World has over 70,000 employees, or castmembers as they call them there, and Disneyland/California Adventure has an additional 30,000 or so, to give the layoff a sense of scale. According to a memo shared with CNBC, approximately two-thirds of those affected will be part-time employees.
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