Disney World & Disneyland Furlough Cast Members
Walt Disney World and Disneyland are notifying Cast Members that the company will be furloughing them later this month. This temporary move comes in lieu of a permanent layoff, allowing employees to potentially resume their positions once the parks are able to reopen. (Updated April 11, 2020.)
As you’ll likely recall, Disneyland and Walt Disney World have announced that the parks and resorts in both Florida and California would remain closed until further notice. As part of that announcement, Disney indicated that the company will continue to pay parks and resorts hourly Cast Members through April 18, 2020.
Over the weekend, Walt Disney World and Disneyland modified their policies to only accept dining resort reservations starting June 1, 2020. Additionally, the Free Dining Summer Recovery Deal was released for guests whose reservations have been cancelled.
These past moves have indicated a desire by Walt Disney World to reopen by that date. However, that’s simply an internal target at this point and is certainly not carved into stone. Walt Disney World has previously continued to accept reservations and modifications for dates that ended up being encompassed in the closure extension.
As we previously noted, Walt Disney World has dozens of resorts on property and tens of thousands of hotel rooms in its inventory. They need to accept hotel reservations now in order to meet minimum occupancy thresholds that are a necessary prerequisite.
This is pretty much reflected in today’s news, as the Walt Disney Company’s statement (below) concedes that there is “no clear indication” as to when the parks and resorts businesses can resume operations.
Initially, the furlough applied only to executive, salaried, and non-union hourly theme park Cast Members at Walt Disney World and Disneyland (and other United States-based employees working in the Parks, Resorts & Experiences division) with the exception of those whose roles or projects are crucial to maintaining operations during this closure period.
The Walt Disney Company will continue to cover health insurance costs for the impacted Cast Members, paying both the employer and employee contributions. Furloughed cast members will be eligible to file for state unemployment benefits, plus the $600 per week of additional compensation offered via the new federal stimulus bill. The furlough will begin on April 19, 2020.
April 11, 2020 Update: While the furlough as announced by Disney does not apply to union Cast Members covered by collective bargaining agreements, ongoing negotiations have extended to many unions on both coasts.
Walt Disney World and Disneyland have been negotiating with union leaders in Florida and California. One leader of Workers United Local 50, a Disneyland Cast Member union, told the OC Register: “the furlough is going to happen to union members.”
Walt Disney World has reached furlough agreements with several local unions in Central Florida, including with the largest local union. The Service Trades Council Union represents approximately 43,000 Cast Members at Walt Disney World and comprises 6 different sub-organizations and a vast array of trades.
The Services Trades Council Union joins a variety of smaller unions that have struck similar deals. These include American Federation of Musicians Local 389, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2088, and North America’s Building Trades Unions Craft Maintenance Council (per official statements via Scott Gustin).
For its part, Disneyland has reached a furlough agreement with 10 unions representing thousands of employees in California. These unions include Workers United Local 50; Make-Up Artists & Hair Stylists Guild; IATSE Local 706; IATSE Local 504; IATSE Local 923, representing the park’s sound shop workers; Teamsters Local 495; the Master Services Council; the Craft Maintenance Council; Laborers Local 652; Operating Engineers Local 501; and Independent Employee Service Association.
Thus far, the public statements of each union furlough has mirrored the terms Disney gave to non-union Cast Members. It’s possible the unions managed to secure additional return-to-work concessions, but those are not apparent. So it would seem that eventually this furlough will be extended to all union employees, and on the same terms as previously announced by Disney.
Per CNBC, the entire Disney Parks, Experiences and Products business segment has around 177,000 Cast Members, a number that includes people who work in its retail locations like the Disney Store in addition to those at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, plus Disney Vacation Club Resorts at Aulani, Vero Beach, and Hilton Head Island. Disney declined to say how many of those employees will be affected by this announcement.
Last week, a report from J.P.Morgan analysts estimated that furloughing some employees at Disneyland, Walt Disney World, and Disneyland Paris could amount to $500 million in cost savings for the month of April. That same report anticipated that the closures of the Florida, California, and Paris resorts through May 1, 2020 could have a $1 billion negative impact–even with said furloughs.
Here’s the official statement from the Walt Disney Company concerning the furloughs:
“Over the last few weeks, mandatory decrees from government officials have shut down a majority of our businesses. Disney employees have received full pay and benefits during this time, and we’ve committed to paying them through April 18, for a total of five additional weeks of compensation.
However, with no clear indication of when we can restart our businesses, we’re forced to make the difficult decision to take the next step and furlough employees whose jobs aren’t necessary at this time. The furlough process will begin on April 19, and all impacted workers will remain Disney employees through the duration of the furlough period. They will receive full healthcare benefits, plus the cost of employee and company premiums will be paid by Disney, and those enrolled in Disney Aspire will have continued access to the education program.
Additionally, employees with available paid time off can elect to use some or all of it at the start of the furlough period and, once furloughed, they are eligible to receive an extra $600 per week in federal compensation through the $2 trillion economic stimulus bill, as well as state unemployment insurance.”
Earlier this week, the Walt Disney Company announced in an email to Cast Members that executive chairman Bob Iger would forgo his entire salary, and recently named CEO Bob Chapek will take a 50 percent pay cut to his base salary. Additionally, all senior executives will take a reduction in pay—effective April 5, all VPs will have their salaries reduced by 20%, SVPs by 25%, and EVPs and above 30%.
In retrospect, that news was likely to soften the blow for this news. In our view, this furlough was an inevitability, and we’re glad to see that it’s a furlough rather than an outright layoff. It’s also nice to see that the Walt Disney Company will be paying all health insurance costs during the furlough. Obviously, this is far from ideal, but nothing about the present situation is ideal for anyone. Our hearts go out to the Cast Members and their families who are negatively impacted by this.
Need Disney trip planning tips and comprehensive advice? Make sure to read Disney Parks Vacation Planning Guides, where you can find comprehensive guides to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and beyond! For Disney updates, discount information, a free download of our Money-Saving Tips for Walt Disney World eBook, and much more, sign up for our free monthly newsletter!
What do you think of the Walt Disney Company furloughing Cast Members? Did you think this was inevitable given the likely duration of the closures? Are you pleased that Disney at least provided advance notice and is covering all health insurance costs? Are you concerned that this suggests a longer closure of the parks is likely? Think this is the right or wrong move for Cast Members and/or Disney’s corporate viability? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!
McAdam family want horses 5, 6, 7, and the roach maned horse with blue trappings on Castle Carrousel if we go in the future.
We have booked for the week of December 1st. Do you think that is a safe bet theoretically?
Tom, what do you think a soft opening would look like at the resorts? Would they only open some resorts and combine guests from other resorts of the same classification? (For example…Move all deluxe guests to WL and Poly?)
If they do a soft opening in the parks and limit shows and parades, I think you’ll see mostly only locals and guests who visit WDW multiple times per year. I’d probably keep my reservation if only two parks were open, but most wouldn’t.
As the parent of a cast member, I am grateful he has been paid for the last month. It saved his bacon in this uncertain time. That said, he also has about 4 weeks of vacation/sick time saved up, a hefty savings account (because he’s thrifty and was saving to buy a house), and the furlough qualifies him for unemployment and the $600/weekly benefit. Disney paying for their health insurance was also much appreciated. Can you imagine trying to get health insurance on the open market right now?
The College Program kids got a raw deal, but no worse than what college students all over the country got. All can return for another program if they want.
Disney is doing the best they can in this uncertain time with the massive employee base they have. I appreciate what they’ve done for their cast members and hope they get to reopen soon.
Anyone making $15.00 an hour or less will definitely bring home more on unemployment with the extra $600 week on top of what the state pays. Plus, I haven’t researched if the $600 is taxable or not, if not their tax bill owed will be less when all this is over. In addition to that Disney is still covering insurance which is a huge plus that a lot of people and families don’t have. Yes, it is sad with no known return date but they have it pretty good all things considered.
Hi Tom and thanks for the post. First, I want t I say thank you to all the great people that are on the frontlines day in and day out to fight this beast!
Second, I have a trip planned August 1-August 8. Think we may be safe?
All anyone can do at this point is guess. Right now there is no factual or intelligent answer. I even looked at some investment sites like Goldman and several of the investment banks like Citi and Chase. They are all over the map. My PERSONAL opinion is that a phased, test-type opening can be expected no later than July but that and five bucks will get you an overpriced cup of drive-thru coffee.
You’ll just have to wait and see.
Thankyou Anne and all the other healthcare workers, first responders, grocery workers, truck drivers, sanitation workers, and anyone else risking your lives to keep us safe. Wouldn’t it be great if Disney dedicated a week to honor all of you with discounts and specials as a big show of country– wide gratitude.
My husband is a cast member who is just for furloughed. I mean I should say his furlough begins on April 18. He has been with the company for five years. Unfortunately in his current position he has the least seniority and so was one of the employees to be furloughed. Our whole life revolves around Disney, it is not an accident that he works there. They are a great employer, and the cast members are a family. The hardest thing about this for him is that he is losing his life, the job that he loves, and his coworkers that are friends. Working for the mouse isn’t just a job. I really hope that Disney is going to bring back it’s furloughed employees. These are loyal cast members, with many years of experience, and much investment in the company, don’t let us down Mickey.
My daughter’s internship was canceled. I wish they would tell her that is just started on a later date instead of saying sorry try again. It has shattered a dream she had since a little girl. I’m sure all those interns feel the same!
Well first of all, Thank You to all of you medical people helping. You are underappreciated, but that is changing. Now, for the few of you so bent on your trips being cancelled and your $ loses, get a grip on reality. Stop focusing on just your lives and for once consider everyone else. Be a giver instead of a taker. Givers are what this country has been built on, takers are destroying it. Yes, it’s sad you lost some money and some Disney time. It will come back!
I think what Disney is doing is a very hard decision on their part. And by doing this shows that they are terminating anyone’s employment. They also could have told their CM’s that they are on their own for health care coverage like so many other companies have done, but they did not. Instead they have elected to pay it for them.
For those who say Disney can afford to pay everyone throughout this entire pandemic, think about the ramifications that would do for future guests. You would see an incredible increase in costs to go to any of the parks, hotels and resorts, not something I would like.
At this time, I think everyone needs to remember to be kind to one another, many of us have people we love on the frontlines of this pandemic, stressors are high, and people are getting stir crazy. So please be kind to one another and understand that what is happening is not out to get you in particular.
Again, I think Disney is doing a phenomenal job at keeping people in the know and they are most definitely taking care of their CM family.
I understand that due to relatively low pay and high Orlando-area rents most cast members live in situations ranging from college dorm rooms to apartments crammed with people. Neither are particularly safe, so I suspect that some will try to relocate for health reasons. How many of the cast will come back afterwards depends upon how long this goes on, how many of them get called back quickly (I don’t expect the Parks to be fully staffed for quite a while after the Parks re-open) and what job prospects they find wherever they move to. “Temporary” moves have a way of becoming permanent.
I don’t envy Disney trying to manage this crisis. I’ve got major problems with 2 small churches I’m partly responsible for, and my situation is far less complex than Disney’s and I have more options I can control at least partially. Future business courses will find much to study in various corporate responses to the pandemic.
I was just Wondering if you get to choose the ads on your post? Just wondering as the first one I saw was about the do nothing democrats….which was more than slightly off putting.
Those ads are contextual, meaning that you see what Google believes is relevant to your interests.
I have been getting the “do nothing Democrats” on many different pages. I actually don’t typically notice banner ads, but I’ve noticed that one because it bothers me. My hub works in advertising and marketing, and while many banners are targeted to your searches and such, they can also just be generic buys. Based on the fact that I am 100% NOT the target audience for such an ad, I am positive these are generic mass buys through one or more web ad firms. Despite the state of the world, there is still (hopefully) an election in November. These PACs are taking advantage of nearly all of America being stuck at home spending countless hours on the internet. Regardless of my political opinions, and perhaps with some cynicism, it’s a savvy move. (Sorry to be off Disney topic.)
Interestingly enough, Disney just bought approximately 26 acres to the West of its present holdings . . . .
That transaction would’ve been initiated months ago–probably sometime in 2019. I wouldn’t read anything into it.
YOU OBVIOUSLY DON’T WORK FOR DISNEY!
YOU HAVE NO CLUE ABOUT HOW UNEMPLOYMENT PAYMENTS ARE CALCULATED IN FLORIDA
IT’S UP TO $275 PER WEEK DEPENDING ON YOUR GROSS PAY
IT’S UP TO $600 EXTRA WITH THE UP TO $275 PER WEEK
NOBODY WILL BE MAKING MORE $$ BY GETTING UNEMPLOYMENT WEEKLY PAYMENTS
How much unemployment will I get?
The maximum weekly benefit varies by state. For instance, in Florida, it tops out at $275, while in New York the maximum is $504. But under the federal relief law, everyone will get an additional $600 a week until July 31.
How much money will I receive?
The plan will give you an extra $600 a week on top of whatever you get through your state’s current unemployment insurance package. It will cover you for an extra 13 weeks. That means in my state of Florida — which usually covers 12 weeks — residents will be covered for 25 weeks. Most states have unemployment benefits that are upwards of 26 weeks. The extension would mean they’re covered through 39 weeks. Even if you’ve already exhausted all your unemployment benefits, you could reapply for the additional 13 weeks.
Q. How much will my unemployment check be?
A. Unemployment benefits vary by state. The new stimulus law increases unemployment assistance in every state by $600 a week for up to four months. In New York, for example, the state’s maximum weekly benefit check is about $500. That would increase to $1,100 a week.
Let’s be clear on one thing that’s not mentioned in the story: Disney absolutely, 100% *could* afford to pay cast members throughout the entirety of this shut down. They are choosing not to, for the sake of limiting losses (which they will inevitably make back in the long run) and their shareholders.
Eat the rich.
GWP, I think you are off base. First, while Disney has an obligation to its cast members, it has a bigger obligation to its owners, the stockholders, to preserve the value of the company and this means limiting the losses. Second, and more importantly in this case, I believe the company is doing many of the employees a favor by furloughing them. $15/hr equates to ~$31,000 per year which is equal to or greater than what many first-line cast members make. It makes their take-home pay about $500/week. The federal coronavirus benefit is $600/week and Florida unemployment benefits are about $275/week. That means that in the short run they will have MORE available cash, not less. Yes they will eventually have to pay taxes on the benefits and yes they don’t last forever but for right now Disney’s action makes them more than whole while preserving shareholder value. Time for you to get off the hate the rich train.
Yes, exactly what I was thinking; they’ll make more money while furloughed than when they were working.
First you should get record straight. Cast members make $13.25 an hr. September is when they make $15. With high rents they live paycheck to paycheck. This will be devastating to cast members and the Florida economy.
Right so do the math, $13.25 x 40 = $530 per week.
Coronavirus Unemployment Bonus per week = $600 in addition to whatever they get from state unemployment per week.
Simple math shows they make more money on unemployment.
Pla-ease…its called business, not charity. Stuff happens. Businesses pay for unemployment claims. It is what it is….went through it in 2009. Thank god for unemployment. Got my family through a rough patch. Adopted my new born daughter, pd 20k to adoption agency, then was laid off. In hindsight would I do anything differently…not a chance.
I’m sure that in protest and solidarity you’ll never go to Disney again, right?
These are hard times for everyone! Everyone! Regardless of race, wealth, gender or age. Everyone is impacted at different levels. Companies liked Disney and many others will take huge losses in the foreseeable future. These are businesses, regardless of the fact that it’s Disney. And they are in it to make money, not charity. So they do have to find ways to minimize their losses. If they lose too much money, it could possibly lead them to take more drastic permanent measures, and surely their employees would not benefit from that either. So what is so wrong with the choice of having to furlough their employees? They are continuing to pay for health insurance and that’s a huge benefit. God willing the pandemic will be behind us soon, and hopefully with not a lot more devastation….. and eventually we can all go back to our lives in a somewhat of a normal basis.
I guess it makes sense for them…but it’s another sad moment for all of us.
Tom, I bumped our May trip to September…I know you don’t know, but I’m curious as to what you think. Will our trip happen this time? ( I haven’t deleted our fast passes…sigh.)
Again, thanks for continuing to post, it helps reading about Disney!
I sure hope so. I cannot fathom what society looks like if we don’t have some semblance of normalcy back by then.
We had a trip planned for May 16th , through AAA.
We are canceling, heartbroken grandkids! We looked at November, but my husband believes when school starts in the fall, we could see another outbreak. UGH! AAA agent, thought the same. We are looking at next year and it will cost so much more. We were able to get our package in before Disney raised the prices. Our families are so disappointed!
This virus won’t “go away” in the summer so I don’t know how they allow large group gatherings until there’s a vaccine
I really think it is unreasonable to think that the parks will be open before the end of June at the earliest! That being said, I still haven’t canceled my trip for April 30 – May 7. I just can’t bring myself to do it!! To make it even sadder, my Disney Magical Express envelope arrived in the mail two days ago! Something that would normally be so exciting to receive, just made me want to cry. I am a nurse and I work in a New York Hospital- 15 miles north of NYC. The outbreak is getting bad. Really bad! It will be several weeks before we see any return to normal life.
I can’t say anything that’ll relieve the pain of that trip not happening, but for what it’s worth, we both appreciate what you and so many other nurses on the frontlines are out there doing–and so do many Americans. You are definitely deserving of a Disney vacation after all of this is over!!! 🙂
Book the free dining offer!
Thank you for your kind words . Hopefully I can get some time off in October so my son and I can go for a few days. Fingers crossed for a good promotion! A big trip rebook is the plan for May 2021.
I feel your pain and I’m upset at the fact. Hopefully everything will resume by May first. We have a schedule trip for June 2 till the 7th. Hopefully everything is more stable so we can enjoy our trip.
Thank you so much for your service. I really hope you are able to stay safe and healthy during this.
Thank you CJ for your kind words and support!. You stay healthy and safe too
Thanks Anne for your work! My sister is an ICU nurse and brother respiratory therapist in Denver. Hoping for all of your safety during this while most of us are bunkered down.
My 9 day bwv late may trip through David’s vacation is shot. Hopefully we get some money back.
Thank you Mike for your support! I hope your sister and brother are staying safe on the frontlines of this awful virus too. I hope you (and we all) can get back to the Disney parks soon!