Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Disney Lays Off 28,000 Workers, 67% Are Part-Time Employees


The Walt Disney Company is laying off 28,000 workers in the U.S. The company said the uncertainty over the pandemic left it with no other choice. Disney theme parks, resorts and cruises, they've all been extremely hard hit. NPR's Elizabeth Blair reports.

ELIZABETH BLAIR, BYLINE: It wasn't for lack of trying. When Walt Disney World reopened in July, it made a video explaining safety precautions.


UNIDENTIFIED NARRATOR: Prior to entering, guests will undergo a temperature screening with no-touch thermometers.

BLAIR: Visitors returned. Theme parks in Shanghai, Paris and Hong Kong also reopened. But it wasn't nearly enough to make up for the losses. Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., has been closed for more than six months. In August, The Walt Disney Company reported a loss of $4.7 billion in its third quarter. In a letter to employees, Josh D'Amaro, chairman of Disney parks, experiences and products, writes, we are now forced to reduce the size of our team across executive, salaried and hourly roles. Of the 28,000 workers being laid off, 67% are part-time.

MIKE LYSTER: It's very distressing.

BLAIR: Mike Lyster is the spokesperson for the City of Anaheim. He says it's been a crisis for workers, as well as the hotels and restaurants that rely on Disneyland visitors for income.

LYSTER: If you go down Harbor Boulevard today, which is the main thoroughfare in our city where the theme parks are, unfortunately, it feels like a ghost town.

BLAIR: Disney has been paying health care for tens of thousands of furloughed workers since April. In a statement, D'Amaro writes the company is talking with employees, as well as to the unions, on next steps. In response, the Service Trades Council Union says it's disappointed Disney is making the layoffs. The union represents 43,000 Disney employees and says it is negotiating with the company about the news and its impact to its members.

Elizabeth Blair, NPR News.


Elizabeth Blair is a Peabody Award-winning senior producer/reporter on the Arts Desk of NPR News.