Here’s What You Need to Know About the Recent Disney Layoffs, and How You Can Help Those Affected

Yesterday, it was announced that the Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products area will be reducing its Cast Members over the next few months.

Mickey and Walt Partners Statue

At this time, there will be 28,000 employees laid off domestically, with more specifics and details emerging today on exactly who has been affected.

As information continues to be released about the unions, non-unions, and other Cast Members who will be affected, we will provide you with up-to-date details on the employment state. And, we have also listed ways that you can help the Cast Members who do their best to make your experience magical in Disney World, Disneyland, the Disney Cruise Line, and more.

Official Statement from Disney

The Chairman of Disney Parks and Experiences Josh D’Amaro released a public statement about the employment status of the Cast Members in the domestic Disney Parks.

He noted that Disney has “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 healthcare benefits. Approximately 28,000 domestic employees will be affected, of which about 67% are part-time.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

However, D’Amaro also sent out a personal letter to the Disney employees about the layoffs to provide more information and support.

“I write this note to you today to share some difficult decisions that we have had to make regarding our Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products organization.

Let me start with my belief that the heart and soul of our business is and always will be people. Just like all of you, I love what I do. I also love being surrounded by people who think about their roles as more than jobs, but as opportunities to be a part of something special, something different, and something truly magical.  

Earlier this year, in response to the pandemic, we were forced to close our businesses around the world. Few of us could have imagined how significantly the pandemic would impact us — both at work and in our daily lives. We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived, and that we would recover quickly and return to normal. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case. And, as a result, today we are now forced to reduce the size of our team across executive, salaried, and hourly roles. 

Sleeping Beauty Castle

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. 

Spaceship Earth

Thank you for your dedication, patience and understanding during these difficult times. I know that these changes will be challenging. It will take time for all of us to process this information and its impact. We will be scheduling appointments with our affected salaried and non-union hourly employees over the next few days. Additionally, today we will begin the process of discussing next steps with unions. We encourage you to visit The Hub or the WDI Homepage for any support you may need.

For those who will be affected by this decision, I want to thank you for all that you have done for our company and our guests. While we don’t know when the pandemic will be behind us, we are confident in our resilience and hope to welcome back Cast Members and employees when we can.”

Disney California Adventure Entrance

At the end of the letter, Josh D’Amaro expressed his appreciation by stating that, “Cast Members have always been key to our success, playing a valued and important role in delivering a world-class experience, and we look forward to providing opportunities where we can for them to return.”

Take a look at all the details provided to Cast Members here

Unionized Employees

As Disney continues to release more information about which employees would be experiencing the upcoming layoffs, the Service Trades Council Union released a statement about the situation on their Twitter page. The STCU, which has six unions that represent 43,000 Cast Members in Disney World, stated that We were disappointed to learn that the Covid-19 crisis has led Disney to make the decision to layoff Cast Members.”

In a subsequent series of statements, the union continued that “Unlike at the other theme parks and hotels in Central Florida, Disney workers have a voice at the table because of our Union. We have begun negotiations with the Company about this news and its impact to Union members.

Cast Members Welcoming Everyone Back!

The STCU ended by informing everyone that the council would be looking into “How many full-time and part-time Cast Members will be affected, how long health insurance and recall rights will continue and many other issues crucial to Cast Members are on the table.”

Skyliner Cast Members

“As soon as more information becomes available, we will notify our members.”

Read more information about the Service Trades Council Union here

President Chris Duarte released a statement on the Workers United Local 50 Facebook page with information for its members about the union’s layoffs. He noted that the union has limited information right now but that they are “scheduled to meet with Disney in the coming days to get more information and bargain over the effects.”

Character Cavalcade Pocahontas
Pocahontas waving from a Character Cavalcade boat at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in

Duarte provided few details that the “Notice of layoff to Local 50 members is set to occur November 1st. Non-union, salaried, and executive cast are starting to receive notice now. Actual termination dates will be set in the notice. At this time over 2500 Local 50 members are expected to be laid off.”

Cast Member Halloween Costumes

The discussions will detail which Cast Members will be subject to upcoming layoffs.

Take a look at the full announcement from Workers United Local 50 here

Unite Here Local 11 has also made notice in a Facebook post that 950 of its 3,000 members will be laid off on November 1st. The union stated that it will be bargaining for job security and healthcare coverage, but urged people to contact California Governor Newsom.

©Unite Here Local 11

Currently, Disneyland isn’t open but California has moved forward with discussions about what it will take for parks and resorts to reopen soon.

Find out all the details of Unite Here Local 11’s Cast Member layoffs here!

The Orlando Hotel and Restaurant Workers Movement (or Unite Here Local 737) has provided the information that they are in negotiations about how members’ layoffs will impact them moving forward. The discussions will include “How many full-time and part-time Cast Members will be affected, how long health insurance and recall rights will continue and many other issues crucial to Cast Members.”

Cinderella’s Royal Table Reopening

Even though the Orlando Hotel and Restaurant Workers Movement has said they were “disappointed to learn that the Covid-19 crisis has led Disney to make the decision to layoff Cast Members,” they assured everyone that they would be doing their best to help union members. They added that “Unlike at the other theme parks and hotels in Central Florida, Disney workers have a voice at the table because of our Union.”

Here’s what you need to know about the how restaurant workers could be affected in Disney World.

Non-Unionized Employees

Along with unionized employees, there will be 6,700 non-union Cast Members laid off on December 4th.

Cast Members

According to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney informed Florida about the upcoming layoffs in the theme parks, Disney Cruise Line, and Imagineering divisions of the company.

Here are all the details you need to know about the non-unionized employee layoffs.

Performers

Disney has also started to notify multiple Cast Members working in entertainment that a few performances across the parks and resorts have been canceled.

Mickey and Friends Boo-to-You Character Cavalcade

A post made by the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra stated that the band would be playing its last show in both Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Disney’s Hollywood Studios on October 3rd.

Grand Floridian Society Orchestra

After the Grand Floridian ceased featuring the orchestra in the resort due to safety concerns, the musicians were moved to the Theater of the Stars in Hollywood Studios instead.

Disney Society Orchestra

The band replaced the Beauty and the Beast show to play Disney music during the new “The Disney Society Orchestra and Friends” show.

Find out more details about the Grand Floridian Society Orchestra here

However, other musicians at the Disney Resorts will also be seeing additional layoffs. Despite performing at the River Roost Lounge at Port Orleans Riverside for 23 years, Bob Jackson (AKA Yehaa Bob) has announced that his show has been canceled.

YeHaa Bob Jackson ©HuffPost

On his Facebook page, he stated that, “I’ve just learned my act will not be returning to Disney. I made so many friends over the last 23 years, it was a great time, we had a lot of laughs together.”

Riverside Mill Food Court
Riverside Mill Food Court along the Sassagoula River at Disney’s Port Orleans-Riverside Resort in Walt Disney World, Orlando

While his piano show will still be occurring on Sundays for now, he will not be returning to Port Orleans afterwards.

Read about Yehaa Bob’s shows in Disney World here

Performer layoffs have also reportedly been extended to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort during its current extensive reservation. The Tikiman’s Unofficial Polynesian Resort Pages posted that “many of the Cast Members were told they won’t be back, including the entertainers at the resort.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Lobby

However, there weren’t any specifics provided as to which entertainers wouldn’t be returning to the resort.

Here’s what you need to know about the entertainers at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

It’s important to note that Disney hasn’t officially released details on all of these layoffs yet. We will continue to keep you updating on additional information provided by unions, Cast Members, and Disney.

Ways That You Can Help

Cast Member Pantry is working to provide free food essentials once a month to the Cast Members who are in need of groceries during this time. Visitors will receive a reusable grocery bag filled with food that can make meals for 4 people, along with breakfast and snacks.

Cast Members

The Cast Member Pantry hands out donations every Saturday, but appointments are required so they are aware of how many bags to have ready. If you are in need of assistance, have donations, or want to help serve Cast Members, you can contact the group through the email or Facebook provided here. Additionally, the group has set up an Amazon Wishlist where you can purchase and donate needed pantry items.

Skyliner Cast Members

Additionally, you can help out the Walt Disney World Cast Member and Hospitality Pets in Need Facebook group, a group that helps provide for Cast Members with pets in need. You can currently donate through the group’s Amazon Wish List, or, if you are a local, you are able to drop off donations in person at 13239 Sunkiss Loop, Windermere, FL 34786. Another resource to help Cast Members with pets in need is the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando. You can visit the organization’s website for further information on how to get involved and donate.

Lady and the Tramp Topiary in Italy

We will continue to update this post with more information about the employment situation and other ways you can receive or provide help! Our hearts go out to all those that have been affected during this time.

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Rachel Franko has been going to Disney Parks since she was a baby, and her love of Disney has only grown into a SLIGHT obsession since! She's been writing for AllEars since 2019 and loves sharing the magic with all the readers. When she's not writing, you can catch her heading to Disney and Universal Studios with a heart full of dreams and a backpack full of themed ears!

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