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Disney to Sack 28,000 Theme Park Staff as Visitor Attendance Plunges

September 30, 2020, 11.20 PM

LOS ANGELES, – Walt Disney Co is looking to ax 28,000 staff, mostly at its Disney theme parks, as the coronavirus pandemic delivers crushing visitor attendance.

Of all the Disney theme parks, its California location has been especially hit by the pandemic hence resulting in Disneyland’s continued closure.

Walt Disney Co shared that nearly two-thirds of the expected furloughed employees will be part-time workers.

Read also: Tourist Attractions and Malls in Jakarta Half-Empty Despite Reopening

When the Covid-19 pandemic began, the company's theme parks worldwide shut down but all the parks have since reopened except for Disneyland dubbed the ‘Happiest Place on Earth’.

Though the popular tourist attractions reopened globally, the company was forced to limit the number of visitors to allow for physical distancing.

"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," Josh D'Amaro, chairman of the parks unit, said in a statement.

He cited the parks' limited capacity and uncertainty about the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, which he said was "exacerbated in California by the state's unwillingness to lift restrictions that would allow Disneyland to reopen".

Read also: Netflix Steps Up Its Game as Disney+ Hotstar Readies for SE Asian Market

In a letter to employees, D'Amaro called the move "heartbreaking".

He said management had tried to avoid layoffs by cutting expenses, suspending projects and streamlining operations. The company had continued to pay health benefits for furloughed workers since April.

"However, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity," D'Amaro said.

Walt Disney World in Florida had employed 77,000 full- and part-time workers before the pandemic, while Disneyland in California employed 32,000.

Read also: Coronavirus Outbreaks Inside a Norwegian Cruise Ship

Disney did not disclose how many other US employees work in the parks unit, which includes consumer products, cruise lines, and other businesses.

Last week, Disney urged California officials to issue guidelines that would allow Disneyland to welcome visitors again.

On Tuesday, Dr. Mark Ghaly, California's health secretary, said the state had taken a science-based approach to its reopening that aimed to "minimize the health and economic risks that would be caused by opening and shutting repeatedly". 

(Writer: Lisa Richwine | Editors: David Gregorio, Stephen Coates)


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