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The happiest place in the world just got a little sadder. Disney theme parks have had to lay off thousands of employees this year.

Not so happy anymore: Disney theme parks lays off employees

The pandemic has been ravaging businesses, and even the mighty Disney has not remained invincible. Like Scar did to Mufasa in The Lion King, Covid-19 has thrown Disney into a financial canyon that left Disney getting trampled by wildebeests. The sector of Disney left most impacted is its amusement park division.

The happiest place on earth doesn’t seem so happy right now as Disney has had to layoff thousands of its employees. Here are some more details about Disney’s monetary struggles.


Disney parks reopen, but nobody wants to go

Disney began closing its international parks as Covid-19 spread throughout China & Europe in Jan. & Feb. When the United States went into lockdown in March, Disney was forced to close its parks in Florida & California. 

Slowly, as the situation became slightly better, Disney began to reopen its parks in France, Japan, and China. In mid-July, Walt Disney World in Florida reopened on a limited basis. According to The New York Times, around half of the resort’s unionized workers returned to work. 

However, the guests didn’t return. While locals in Florida have visited the parks, families have not felt safe flying to Florida, especially since it’s a state with one of the highest numbers of coronavirus cases. Families have also not wanted to visit due to the experience still not being fully back to normal yet.

For those who have returned to Disney parks, the experience is quite different right now. There are no fireworks, no up close meet-and-greets with characters, no parades, lines are socially distanced, shorter park hours, and everybody has to wear a mask except for when they are sitting down and eating. Certain shows that require large populations to sit together are also closed for the time being. 

Disney has also had to cancel its holiday events, including Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. These are separate ticketed events that typically draw large crowds of people and have parades & fireworks that would be hard to coordinate with current social distancing guidelines.

In California, Disneyland Resort has been unable to open since March, due to current restrictions set by the California government. Governor Gavin Newsom has not allowed amusement parks in the state to resume operations. Disney has also been unable to resume their Disney Cruise Lines as cruises are still in limbo.  

So far, Disney’s theme park procedures have not been linked to any outbreak within Disney guests or employees. On the business side, the total revenue of Disney’s theme park division, which includes the cruise line & stores, totaled $1 billion, an eighty-five percent decline from that time last year.

Disney layoffs

According to The New York Times, Disney has kept thousands of employees on furlough with health-care benefits for six months. However, due to Disney’s current losses, the company’s theme park division announced it will be eliminating 28,000 jobs in the U.S. 

About sixty-seven percent of the layoffs will be part-time jobs; however, executives and salaried workers will also be among the thousands of people getting laid off. Disney’s theme parks in the U.S. have around 110,000 employees, but both the Florida & California locations will be affected by the job losses. 

Disney is not alone in amusement park companies who have had to lay off thousands of employees. Both Universal Orlando Resort & SeaWorld have had to lay off thousands of their employees due to the effect of the pandemic. Both of these parks are open with similar guidelines to Disney in place.

Is there still a great, big, beautiful tomorrow in Disney’s future?

Some sectors of Disney are starting to bounce back, mainly in its entertainment industry. Live sports have returned to ESPN. Disney is currently hosting the NBA & WNBA finals in a bubble at Walt Disney World Resort. 

Disney movies and television have begun to go back into production. However, Disney has had to delay many of its upcoming films, including entries in Disney’s massively popular Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has seen delays to all of its movies. Disney+, Disney’s streaming service, has also been doing well, with Hamilton getting a ton of views over the summer and the upcoming season two of The Mandalorian

The amusement park industry as a whole has been severely impacted by the pandemic, with many parks not being able to open up at all. It is impossible to know exactly when Disney can go back to normal or when guests will feel comfortable traveling to Disney. Hopefully, Disney’s routine can resume soon and people can enjoy Disney magic once again.

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