Studio lays off 1,900 jobs or 2% of workforce

The Walt Disney Co. said Friday it has cut 1,900 jobs at its U.S. theme parks, or about 11% of those in the division (2% of the conglom’s total workforce), as part of a wider restructuring announced in February.

Disney said some 1,200 of the cuts were direct layoffs; the others were positions that the company will not fill. They came from both parks — in Anaheim, Calif., and Orlando, Fla. — as well as corporate headquarters, and they applied mostly to managers and salaried employees, not workers in the parks.

A big part of the division’s revamp was to combine the back-office functions of both parks. Disney had contemplated such reorganization for several years, but the move was accelerated by the economic downturn.

“These decisions were not made lightly, but are essential to maintaining our leadership in family tourism and reflect today’s economic realities,” Disney spokeswoman Tasia Filippatos said. “We continue to work through our reorganization and manage our business based on demand.”

As of last quarter, attendance at Disney’s theme parks and resorts had held up reasonably well — due in large part to deep discounts.

Among the cuts announced Friday were 50 executives who accepted a voluntary buyout that was offered to 600 people.

Disney shares fell 21¢, or 1.04%, to close at $20. The Labor Dept. announced Friday that the U.S. unemployment rate rose to 8.5% in March — its highest level in 25 years.

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