By R.T. Watson
Disney to Lay Off About 28,000 U.S. Theme Park Employees
About Two-Thirds of Laid-Off Workers Are Part Time
Disney Blames Covid-19 Restrictions for Layoffs
Laid-Off Workers Have Been on Furlough Since April, Unpaid But
Collecting Health Benefits
More to Come
Disneyland Resort will remain closed for the foreseeable future
as Southern California struggles to meet state-set health metrics
that measure the spread of the coronavirus.
A top state health official said Tuesday that Orange County,
home to Walt Disney Co.'s flagship theme park, failed to meet
guidelines that would have allowed easing restrictions on
businesses. The county is currently in the second tier, which
indicates the state still considers the spread of the new
coronavirus "substantial." Local officials and business leaders had
hoped the county, south of Los Angeles, would qualify for the third
tier, a designation that the region has improved to a "moderate"
The state's color-coded system ranks contagion risk into four
tiers, from the purple Tier 1, for "widespread," to Tier 4, yellow,
for "minimal." Each tier spells out restrictions for about 20
industries or other public establishments, including playgrounds,
family-entertainment centers, wineries and nail salons. There are
no guidelines specific to theme parks, a source of frustration for
the industry and some lawmakers.
Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human
Services Agency, said in a press conference Tuesday the state is
"getting very close" to unveiling theme park-specific
"We know that a number of Californians are eager and wondering
when [guidance on theme parks] is coming," Mr. Ghaly said. "We're
working with those industries to put out something that's
A move to the third tier would have allowed more indoor public
spaces to reopen in Orange County, and some that are already open
could have increased their maximum occupancy.
Disneyland closed its gates in March, along with most other such
establishments around the world. But it remains the only one of the
company's theme parks yet to reopen at least at reduced capacity --
including Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., which in July began
allowing visitors to return in limited numbers. Disney has also
reopened its parks in Japan, France and China -- all at limited
The Disney division that includes theme parks and consumer
products generated more revenue last year than any other business
unit, making reopening a priority for the company.
At the Disney parks that are open again, customers are required
to submit to temperature checks when entering and wear face
coverings except when eating and drinking. They are operating at
50% or less than usual capacity.
Disney said it lost $4.72 billion in the three months ended June
27, its first quarterly loss in nearly two decades. The previous
year the company generated a profit of $1.43 billion during the
Disney had expected Disneyland to reopen in mid-July, but had to
reverse plans in June as California struggled to curb the spread of
the coronavirus. The company says nearly 80,000 local jobs are
dependent on the theme park.
On Monday, a group of nearly 20 California legislators sent a
letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom, urging him to consider allowing theme
parks to reopen, noting that some indoor public spaces have already
been cleared to reopen.
"In the city of Anaheim, there has been an increase of about 12%
for the unemployment rate and the city could be facing a $100
million budget shortfall in large part because of lost tourism
dollars that is created through Disneyland," said Assemblywoman
Sharon Quirk-Silva in an email to The Wall Street Journal. Ms.
Quirk-Silva, who signed the letter to Gov. Newsom, represents a
district that is part of Orange County.
Last week Disney sent reporters a video in which it pleaded for
California to allow theme parks to reopen.
At one point in the 25-minute video, Patrick Finnegan, a vice
president at Disneyland resorts, politely lamented the lack of
state guidance on theme parks while asserting the company's
readiness to resume operations.
"We are ready to open and we are hoping we will have guidance
from the state soon," he said.
Anaheim's mayor and other elected officials have joined Orange
County business leaders in lobbying for the state to provide
clarity on when theme parks can reopen.
Disney recently resumed partial operations at Downtown Disney,
an outdoor shopping area with dining, as some indoor public spaces
in Orange County, like restaurants, retailers and movie theaters,
have been allowed to reopen at limited capacity,
Among the other Southern California parks that remain shut are
Comcast Corp.'s Universal Studios Hollywood theme park, Knott's
Berry Farm and Six Flags Magic Mountain.
Write to R.T. Watson at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 29, 2020 17:25 ET (21:25 GMT)
Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.
Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS)
Historical Stock Chart
From Sep 2020 to Oct 2020
Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS)
Historical Stock Chart
From Oct 2019 to Oct 2020