Disney Parks Laying Off 28,000 Cast Members

Disney Parks Laying Off 28,000 Cast Members


Josh D’Amaro as Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, released the following message today:

Disney Parks Chairman, Josh D’Amaro.


There are a number of questions to be asked in connection with this announcement. Let’s study them out:

How many Walt Disney World Cast Members are there?

The number was above 70,000 before the pandemic. However, some 15,000 of those Cast Members constituted those on the college programs as well as international representatives. Keep in mind that the numbers probably do not include most third parties.

Former College Program Cast Members on their last day. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

How many Disneyland Cast Members are there?

Numbers a handful of years ago were around 23-26,000. But that didn’t include increased numbers that came from added attractions like Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge. Also, again, some smaller percentage probably like 3-5K were college program folks. 

Main Street, U.S.A. Disneyland, CA. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

How many from Disneyland and how many from Walt Disney World will be laid off?

We don’t know exactly, but given percentages you might see 3 Cast Members at Walt Disney World laid off for every Cast Member at Disneyland. Still, Disneyland has not reopened, so it’s very possible that those positions are in greater jeopardy.

Social Distanced Cast Members at Magic Kingdom. Photo by Disney.

How much of California has reopened?

Ten more counties progressed through the state’s reopening blueprint on  Tuesday, but none of the counties in Southern California changed tiers.

Downtown Disney, the only part of the Disneyland Resort was opened. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Is school in session in California?

Orange County schools reopened on September 22nd. Some Los Angles schools are allowed apply for waivers in reopening, but most will not be going back to school until possibly November.

Where is Governor Newsom of California on Re-Opening?

The governor announced a few weeks ago that guidelines would be coming out soon. But he made no response since, even after Josh D’Amaro held a news conference asking for such last week. 

Today, a group of 19 state senators and assembly members ratcheted up the pressure on Gov. Gavin Newsom to issue COVID-19 health and safety guidelines that would reopen Disneyland, Universal Studios and other California theme parks after more than six months of coronavirus closures have left 135,000 park employees out of work.

The Anaheim Convention Center, part of the economic tourism machine. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Asked when guidance for theme parks would be released, California Health Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly said, “We’re working hard to get that out in a responsible way as soon as possible. We’re working with those industries to put out something that’s thoughtful…to ensure those activities are done responsibly.”

Is a furlough or a layoff better?

Both mean you are not getting paid. In some instances, as is the case with Disney, employees were still being not only provided insurance, but they were allowed to continue receiving funding and being enrolled in Disney’s Aspire program, which allows for continuing education assistance from the company. 

That said, some hourly employees would prefer to be laid off rather than have drastically cut hours, because collecting unemployment would be a better option for them and provide more financial support than working a day or two at their current wage rate. In that case, a lay off may be more beneficial to the employee, and the employer may choose to lay them off. In many instances they were not receiving benefits as significant as full-time workers, and they are less often the provider in that home depending on them.

Could people see this coming?

Absolutely! There’s a pandemic, and it has really rocked the theme park industry. Other parks like Universal and Hoteliers like The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin have already announced layoffs. CEO Bob Chapek noted early on that this was a time to make things leaner. Josh D’Amaro noted that “the longer we wait, the more devastating it will be to Orange County and other communities.”

Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Hotel. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Now Returning to Your Regularly Scheduled Programming

We have two other posts/podcasts already out for this week! Check them out:

Efficiency: A Disney Key To Excellence. This includes not only an in-depth look at one of Disney’s Four Keys to Excellence, but we also announce a new Disney Key added this last week: Inclusion.

Disney’s Four Keys.

Top Disney Parks Poster Art. For those who really love Disney attraction posters, this is my top 10 favorite list. Check it out!

Disney Poster Art

J. Jeff Kober

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *