Disney laying off 28,000 furloughed employees as coronavirus pandemic hammers theme park business

DISNEY announced Tuesday it will lay off 28,000 U.S. employees in its theme park businesses as amusement parks struggle to survive during the coronavirus pandemic.

The multibillion dollar media and amusement franchise chalked the layoffs up to prolonged closures at Disney's California-based theme parks, and even more limited attendance at the parks that are open.

The company announced the 28,000 layoffs will span across its parks, experiences, and consumer products division. It also added 67 percent of the employees it will lay off are part-time workers.

Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, wrote a letter to employees Tuesday expressing sorrow at the news.

"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," he started the letter.

"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," D'Amaro continued. "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."

D'Amaro touched on efforts the company made to address the COVID-19 pandemic and attempt to keep its workers employed.

"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," he continued.

"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," the chairman announced.

D'Amaro said "a decision of this magnitude is not easy" and the company had attempted to cut expenses and furloughed cast members "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," D'Amaro continued.

Disney's shares fell less than 2 percent after closing bell on Tuesday.

Disney's parks in Florida, Paris, Shanghai, Japan, and Hong Kong have all reopened with limited capicity.

It's Anaheim, California parks, California Adventure and Disneyland, have remained shuttered through the pandemic.

Parks account for a large majority of the company's profit. Last year alone, the parks, experiences and consumer products section brought in 37 percent of Disney's $69.6 billion revenue.

More to follow…

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