Among the 28,000 workers losing their jobs throughout Disney’s Parks, Experiences, and Products division are 411 working at Walt Disney Imagineering, which is responsible for designing Disney theme parks.
This portion of the layoffs was revealed via a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice filed with the state of California. The WARN Act requires large employers to provide advance notice to employees who are impacted by mass layoffs, which are becoming common in the theme park industry thanks to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Imagineers, while well-known to diehard Disney fans, received greater attention from a casual audience thanks to “The Imagineering Story” docuseries that premiered with the Disney+ streaming service last year. Previous reductions in staff at the Glendale, Calif.-based Imagineering have typically followed the end of a major Disney project, such as layoffs after the opening of Shanghai Disneyland in 2016 or Disneyland Paris in 1992.
In four separate notices filed with the state, Disney disclosed that 2,765 non-union workers in California would be laid off. The majority of those employees were based in Anaheim at the Disneyland Resort.
For unionized workers, their labor organizations will have to negotiate how the layoffs are distributed among the membership. Unite Here Local 11, for example, said it expects 950 of the nearly 3,000 Disneyland hotel workers that it represents to be laid off.
Disney announced the layoffs on Tuesday, partially blaming the state of California not releasing guidelines to allow the Disneyland Resort to reopen.
Reopening has not saved other destination parks from firing employees. Universal Orlando has gone through three rounds of layoffs since it reopened in June and SeaWorld recently laid off nearly 3,000 workers in Orlando and Tampa.