Disney makes ‘heartbreaking’ decision to cut 28,000 jobs

Most of the lay-offs are at theme parks in the United States

Minnie and Mickey Mouse at Disneyland Park in California
Most of the lay-offs are at theme parks in the United States
(Image credit: Marsaili McGrath/Getty Images )

Dreams usually come true when you live at the “Happiest Place on Earth”, but for Minnie and Mickey Mouse the coronavirus pandemic has created a nightmare.

The Walt Disney Company’s parks, experiences and products division has been “crushed” by Covid-19, says Reuters, and the impact has resulted in 28,000 employees losing their jobs.

Most of the lay-offs are at the company’s theme parks in the United States, BBC News reports. Disney cited limited visitor capacity and future uncertainty over the virus as reasons for the cuts.

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Parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan and Hong Kong have been able to reopen with limited capacity, but Disney’s two locations in California - Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park - remain closed.

‘Only feasible option’

In a memo sent to employees yesterday, and obtained by CNBC, Disney parks chairman Josh D’Amaro explained the “difficult decisions” that had to be made.

D’Amaro wrote: “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.”

Massive financial losses

According to a statement by D’Amaro, around 67% of the 28,000 laid-off workers were part-time employees.

Disney declined to break down the layoffs by individual locations, but the parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Paris are not affected by the announcement, says the BBC.

In the three months to 27 June, Disney reported its financial results with net quarterly losses totalling $4.72bn (£3.6bn) as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that it was The Walt Disney Company’s first quarterly loss since 2001.

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Mike Starling is the digital features editor at The Week, where he writes content and edits the Arts & Life and Sport website sections and the Food & Drink and Travel newsletters. He started his career in 2001 in Gloucestershire as a sports reporter and sub-editor and has held various roles as a writer and editor at news, travel and B2B publications. He has spoken at a number of sports business conferences and also worked as a consultant creating sports travel content for tourism boards. International experience includes spells living and working in Dubai, UAE; Brisbane, Australia; and Beirut, Lebanon.