Nearly 6,700 Disney employees in Florida face layoffs

Documents shows layoffs are across more than 7 Disney World locations

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts notified the Florida unemployment department Tuesday of impeding layoffs across the theme park’s properties that includes nearly 10% of its employees across the state.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Walt Disney Parks and Resorts notified the Florida unemployment department Tuesday of impeding layoffs across the theme park’s properties that includes nearly 10% of its employees across the state.

The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the branch that oversees the state’s unemployment system, was notified late Tuesday of thousands of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts layoffs. Employers are required by law to notify state and local leaders of mass layoffs under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification or WARN, Act.

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Two WARN notices were sent to the state, federal officials, Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, Lake Buena Vista Mayor Renee Raper and Osceola County Chairwoman Viviana Janer.

“Due to the continuing business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made the very difficult decision to reduce our workforce. As a result, 6,390 employees of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts U.S., Inc. will be laid off beginning December 4, 2020. Please note that these are non-union employees,” the notice read.

The second notice notified officials of 279 employees from Disney Vacation Development, the corporate name for the Disney Vacation Club, who will be laid off beginning Dec. 4.

The layoffs impact Disney properties in Florida across seven locations, according to the WARN documents. More than 6,200 of the employees are from Disney parks.

Other locations with pending layoffs include workers at the Orlando International Airport, and vacation club workers inside officers for Imagineering, Disney Cruise Lines and Walt Disney World sales and marketing.

Disney announced Tuesday it will lay off at least 28,000 U.S. employees, of which 67% are part-time, according to the statement.

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products chairman Josh D’Amaro said in a statement the layoffs are due to the prolonged financial impact of COVID-19.

Walt Disney World’s Orlando theme parks were shut down from March until June when they began gradually reopening. Its four major parks in Florida have reopened but only at limited capacity to allow the enforcement of social distancing measures as the pandemic continues.

The shuttered attractions also forced more than 70,000 Disney workers to be furloughed for months, with only some returning to work with the parks' phased reopenings.

A union representing Disneyland employees in California said in a statement approximately 950 of its 3,000 members will be laid off on Nov. 1. Another union representing Disneyland cast members said approximately 2,500 members will be laid off on Nov. 1, but the exact number is still being negotiated.

According to WARN notices filed with the state of California, more than 2,700 non-union Disneyland cast members will be laid off starting on Dec. 4.

That leaves more than 15,100 unannounced layoffs to come across Disney parks and resorts in Florida and California.

Unions representing cast members at Walt Disney World said they are negotiating the layoffs with Disney leaders, including how many full- and part-time employees will be affected and how long health benefits will last. Union leaders did not have any updates on their talks on Wednesday.

Disney officials said cast members who are losing their jobs will find out in a couple of days.

News 6 producer and theme park expert Ken Pilcher and reporter Amanda Castro contributed to this report.

About the Authors:

Ken Pilcher is a lifelong Floridian with more than 30 years in journalism experience. He joined News 6 in 2003 and has covered Central Florida attractions and theme parks since 1988. He currently produces News 6 at 7 p.m.