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Tens of Thousands of Disney World Cast Members Remain Furloughed

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On the 8th September, the operating hours of the Walt Disney World theme parks will be reduced. EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood will see a 20% decrease in operating hours. Whereas, the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will see a 10% decrease in operating hours. Overall, the Disney World theme parks will operate for 28% fewer hours this coming September then they did back in September 2019*.

*The hours for the 2019 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party have not been counted, which would bump the above percentage to 30%.

50% – the amount of unionised Cast Members who are still waiting for a call to return to work from Walt Disney World, Local 362 union President Eric Clinton told Blog Mickey. The Cast Members, who range in roles from Attractions to Custodial, are still furloughed and continue to live off the $275 a week check that the State of Florida offers for unemployment.

The amount of union Cast Members who have not returned to work is over 21,000. Of the approximately 75,000 Cast Members who work at Disney World, the Service Trades Council Union represents around 43,000. These numbers do not account for the tens of thousands of Cast Members who are not part of a union. A substantial amount of non-union Cast Members are still waiting on a call to return to work also.

As part of an agreement between the unions and Disney, furloughed Cast Members will continue to be covered by Disney for health and insurance and will not owe back pay when they return to work. That being said, these benefits are currently set to expire next year.

As the furloughed Cast Members wait for a call to return to work, Walt Disney World will be reducing the operating hours of the theme parks on the 8th September. Whilst Disney hasn’t officially commented on the reason for the cutback in hours, Disney CEO Bob Chapek suggested that the demand is noticeably below what Disney was anticipating. With around 50% of the theme park attendance made up of locals, Disney has started to shift Disney Park Pass reservations to the Annual Passholder bucket – a type of ticket that doesn’t tend to make Disney much money, however, one that shows a lot of demand for a theme park visit. Other elements such as the start of school for many around the U.S. typically account for lower crowd levels this time of year.

As of writing this article, Disney has yet to reveal when they will reopen the Disney World water parks, which account for some of the Cast Members who are still furloughed. Disney is also slowly reopening the Disney World hotels, with Disney’s Yacht Club set to open on the 24th August after hosting some of the NBA teams that were “in town”. Another NBA host hotel, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is set to open late next month.

Whilst there were no guests staying at these hotels since they closed in March, there were Cast Members called back to operate the hotels for the NBA players, coaches, and staff. Several Cast Members are looking forward to hotel reopening dates as a chance to return to work, BUT Disney isn’t a stranger when it comes to cancelling previously announced opening dates – for example, Disney’s Beach Club and Disney’s BoardWalk Inn.  

As of right now, 72% of Americans are uncomfortable with visiting a theme park presently. We believe that Disney will be able to find a way back to longer operating hours, operating water parks, on-time hotel reopening, and getting those furloughed Cast Members back to work in a safe and sensible manner. We think Disney has done an incredible job with the implementation of various safety measures at the theme parks. Stay tuned to Orlando Theme Park Zone for further updates.

H/T Blog Mickey (Percentages included)

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