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Disneyland Resort has been arguing for months that it needs to be allowed to reopen. In addition to the financial strain that Disney's Parks, Experiences, and Products division is feeling due to the closure, there are thousands of people whose livelihoods are dependent, both directly and indirectly, on the theme parks being open. And now, it seems that even more of those people are about to face difficulties of their own as Disneyland is apparently planning another round of furloughs.
Yesterday, a letter was sent to Disneyland cast members (and covered via OC Register) announcing the furloughs, which will impact executive, salaried, and hourly employees. As has been the case with the other furloughed cast members, Disney will continue to cover health benefits for the staff that have now had their jobs paused.
What's unclear at this point is exactly who is being impacted by this new round of furloughs. With the theme parks and hotels completely closed down, the majority of cast members were already furloughed. Any that were still working were likely deemed "essential" at the time. The parks also recently saw a massive layoff as 28,000 people from across the Parks, Experiences, and Products division were let go.
The new furloughs are also surprising because, right now, Disneyland Resort is actually getting ready to put many cast members back to work for the first time since March. In addition to Downtown Disney being open since July, a section of Disney California Adventure, Buena Vista Street, is set to reopen for shopping and dining next week. In addition, the Disney Vacation Club Villas at the Grand Californian Resort & Spa will reopen to guests next month.
Of course, with these cast members going back to work, if there's a fear that the newly opened shops and restaurants aren't going to pay for the staffing themselves, then Disneyland Resort could end up costing more money than its making with the additional labor hours, and perhaps that's why these furloughs are taking place. It's essentially a rebalancing of staffing levels.
Disneyland has been arguing for months that the success that has been shown at Walt Disney World, which has been open since the summer without seeing any significant outbreak, is evidence that Disneyland Resort can also reopen safely. However, the state of California is clearly unconvinced. The guidelines in place currently will require virus transmission in Disneyland's home of Orange County to be at levels much lower than the county currently has, indicating it will likely be several more months before the theme parks will reopen. Seeing Disneyland closed for a full year is likely right now.
The Walt Disney Company will hold its quarterly earning call later this week. At that point we'll likely receive some more clarification regarding exactly where Disneyland is standing financially, and what the company is doing to deal with these issues with an end to it all still nowhere in sight.