As Disneyland’s months-long closure continues, the company announced Tuesday that its Parks, Experiences, and Products division will be laying off as many as 28,000 employees, 67 percent of them part-time workers.
In a statement, theme parks chairman Josh D’Amaro blamed the pandemic, as well as California’s refusal to allow theme parks to reopen. The State of Florida allowed Disney World to reopen with limited capacity in July, even as COVID-19 cases spiked in the state. Disneyland, which closed on March 12, is the only Disney theme park that has yet to reopen in some capacity (although the Downtown Disney outdoor shopping and dining district is currently open).
“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, having kept non-working Cast Members on furlough since April, while paying health care benefits,” D’Amaro’s statement says.
A week earlier, D’Amaro issued a plea to California Governor Gavin Newsom and state health officials to allow theme parks to provide guidance on theme park reopening, warning that the closure could ultimately have a “devastating” impact on Orange County’s economy.
“We need guidelines that are fair and equitable, so that we can better understand our future and chart a path towards reopening,” D’Amaro said. “The longer we wait, the more devastating the impact will be to Orange County and the Anaheim communities and the tens of thousands of people who rely on us for employment. With the right guidelines and our years of operations experience, I am confident that we can restart and get people back to work.”
Several weeks ago, California released a color-coded, four-tier reopening blueprint that lays out what businesses can operate—and at what capacity—as counties begin reaching certain infection rates. At the moment, amusement parks do not appear as a sector on the blueprint.
Newsom has yet to comment on the development.