Business

Disney will lay off 28,000 theme park workers due to coronavirus pandemic

Squeezed by attendance limits at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida.

Florida parks reopened in the summer, but California parks remain closed

Guests wear masks at the official reopening day of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on July 11, 2020. The Walt Disney Company announced Tuesday it is laying off 28,000 workers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via The Associated Press)

Squeezed by attendance limits at its theme parks and other restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Walt Disney Co. said Tuesday it planned to lay off 28,000 workers in its parks division in California and Florida.

Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers but they ranged from salaried employees to non-union hourly workers, Disney officials said.

Disney's parks closed last spring as the pandemic started spreading in the U.S. The Florida parks reopened this summer, but the California parks have yet to reopen as the company awaits guidance from the state of California.

In a letter to employees, Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney Parks, Experience and Product, said his management team had worked hard to try to avoid layoffs.

He said they had cut expenses, suspended projects and modified operations, but it wasn't enough given limits on the number of people allowed into the park because of pandemic-related measures.

"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," he said, "including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic."

Disney officials said the company would provide severance packages for the employees where appropriate, and also offer other services to help workers with job placement.

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