Disney World Cast Member Speaks Out Regarding Layoffs

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Yesterday, The Walt Disney Company announced they made the difficult decision to layoff over 28,000 Disney Parks employees.

Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products Josh D’Amaro released a statement which announced the unfortunate news that thousands of Cast Members will be laid off. Among those layoffs, popular entertainment acts including ‘Yehaa Bob’ from Port Orleans Riverside and the iconic Polynesian Resort performers. 

Related: Disney World’s Largest Union Issues Response to Layoffs

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Now, Sally Nieves, a Walt Disney World Cast Member, is speaking out and voicing her concerns regarding this news. According to ClickOrlando, Nieves learned about the news through an email from Disney Chairman Josh D’Amaro, which was sent out to Cast Members yesterday.

“As soon as I saw the news I was like ‘Oh God,’ and my phone hasn’t stopped for the last hour,” Sally Nieves said.

The scary part is that Nieves said the email it didn’t specify whether she was actually among the latest wave of Cast Members being laid off. “Right now, I’m not even thinking about that, how are we going to survive the next couple of months,” Nieves told ClickOrlando.

Nieves continued, “Stress levels are up, it is difficult to even sleep.”

Disney World Cast Member Safety Rules
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The email being sent to Cast Members that Nieves is referring to reads as follows:

September 29, 2020 


I write this note to you today to share some difficult decisions that we have had to make regarding our Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products organization.

Let me start with my belief that the heart and soul of our business is and always will be people. Just like all of you, I love what I do. I also love being surrounded by people who think about their roles as more than jobs, but as opportunities to be a part of something special, something different, and something truly magical.  

Earlier this year, in response to the pandemic, we were forced to close our businesses around the world. Few of us could have imagined how significantly the pandemic would impact us — both at work and in our daily lives. We initially hoped that this situation would be short-lived, and that we would recover quickly and return to normal. Seven months later, we find that has not been the case. And, as a result, today we are now forced to reduce the size of our team across executive, salaried, and hourly roles. 

As you can imagine, a decision of this magnitude is not easy. For the last several months, our management team has worked tirelessly to avoid having to separate anyone from the company. We’ve cut expenses, suspended capital projects, furloughed our cast members while still paying benefits, and modified our operations to run as efficiently as possible, however, we simply cannot responsibly stay fully staffed while operating at such limited capacity.  

As heartbreaking as it is to take this action, this is the only feasible option we have in light of the prolonged impact of COVID-19 on our business, including limited capacity due to physical distancing requirements and the continued uncertainty regarding the duration of the pandemic. 

Thank you for your dedication, patience and understanding during these difficult times. I know that these changes will be challenging. It will take time for all of us to process this information and its impact. We will be scheduling appointments with our affected salaried and non-union hourly employees over the next few days. Additionally, today we will begin the process of discussing next steps with unions. We encourage you to visit The Hub or the WDI Homepage for any support you may need. 

For those who will be affected by this decision, I want to thank you for all that you have done for our company and our guests. While we don’t know when the pandemic will be behind us, we are confident in our resilience, and hope to welcome back Cast Members and employees when we can. 

Most sincerely, 

Josh D’Amaro


Disney Parks, Experiences and Products

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Credit: Walt Disney World Swan Resort

Approximately 28,000 Disney Cast Members will be laid off. In total, Disney has 220,000 employees.

“Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” Nieves said.

Our thoughts are with all of those Cast Members who are being affected by this wave of layoffs. 

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