On Friday, April 3, the Associated Press reported that The Walt Disney Co. will begin furloughing some workers at Florida's Disney World and California's Disneyland in two weeks. The announcement was delivered as a response to the spread of the coronavirus. Due to the pandemic, officials do not know when the businesses will be able to reopen.
Originally, on March 27, the Walt Disney Co. said that park employees would be paid through April 18 while parks remain indefinitely closed, according to Vox. The first set of furloughs are scheduled to start on April 19.
Those with non-essential jobs will be furloughed, though they will remain Disney employees. As such, they will continue to have access to all health care benefits. Employee and company premiums will also be paid. Staff currently enrolled in continuing education classes that Disney has paid for may remain in the classes as well. Select workers are also allowed to use paid vacation time at the beginning of the furlough, too.The company has not yet shared how many park employees -- often referred to as "cast members" -- will be furloughed. In Florida, there are 75,000 people employed at Disney World. There are 31,000 cast members at Disneyland. Any portion of those employees could be furloughed.
Disney World is home to the greatest number of workers at a single location in the U.S., and more than half of them are part of a union contract.
As the coronavirus crisis continues to wreak havoc on the Walt Disney Co., the company's top executives have taken significant pay cuts in recent weeks. Executive chairman and former chief executive Bob Iger chose to forgo his entire salary, according to Variety. Current Disney CEO Bob Chapek opted for a 50 percent cut to his salary. Starting April 5, all vice presidents will earn 20 percent less. Senior vice presidents will see a 25 percent cut, and executive vice presidents will see their salaries slashed by 30 percent.
Earlier this week, the company issued a statement to Disney World annual pass-holders. Reservations at the Florida resort and park are still being accepted for any date after June 1. Though no official date has been set, the announcement serves as an idea of when officials hope the businesses will be able to reopen.
This is only the fourth time Disneyland has closed since it first opened in 1955. The March 16 closures also marked the first time in the company's history that all six theme park resorts were closed at the same time.