Financial analysts have a suggestion for Disney as part of a plan to save the company $500 million: temporarily lay off theme park employees. 

A report from J.P. Morgan suggests that the closure of Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort could stretch until May 1 amid the coronavirus pandemic. According to the Orange County Register, the report says placing an unspecified number of employees on furlough— meaning unpaid, involuntary leave —   at the two U.S. resorts and Disneyland Paris for the month of April as one facet of a $500 million cost mitigation strategy.

Even with cost-cutting moves, however, J.P. Morgan estimates such an extended closure of Disney theme parks will cost the company $1 billion in operating income. 

Disney’s Parks, Experiences and Products division, which includes its theme parks, reported $6.7 billion in operating income in its last fiscal year. 

Disney is exposed to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on numerous fronts. Along with shuttering all six of its theme park resorts around the world, the outbreak has delayed theatrical releases, moved Pixar’s newest film, “Onward,” to a quick home release, shut down film production, and deprived ESPN of live sports events to broadcast. 

So far, Disney World workers have been paid while the resort has been shut down. The resort has yet to announce an extension to its closure, but Orange County, Florida’s stay-at-home order, which runs through April 9,  includes amusement park rides and water parks in its list of non-essential businesses. 

Universal Orlando postpones monthly annual pass payments

If you make monthly payments towards your Universal Orlando pass, the resort is giving you a break during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new notice posted on the Universal Orlando website says all FlexPay monthly payments for annual passes have been postponed as of March 25. 

“We will be in touch with further details on when payments will resume,” the website says. 

Disney has not implemented a similar policy, continuing to charge monthly payments to annual passholders during the closure. The Orlando Sentinel recently shared the story of an Orlando freelancer who wasn’t allowed to cancel his Disney World pass after losing $7,500 in business in a single week. 

For both Disney and Universal, the expiration dates for annual passes will be extended to make up for the dates the parks were closed. 

Universal Orlando is currently scheduled to remain closed until April 19.

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