The Walt Disney Company has been hit hard due to the current pandemic, and because of that, they had to make the difficult decision to layoff nearly 28,000 Cast Members, including both Walt Disney World and Disneyland workers.
The most recent wave of emails just went out last night, which included several different entertainment performers from shows such as Hoop-Dee-Doo, the Citizens of Main Street, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, The Festival of The Lion King, Finding Nemo The Musical, and the Citizens of Hollywood, Move It! Shake It! MousekDance It! Street Party, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, and more. (Note that at this time, Disney has not issued any official statements regarding the reported entertainment cuts listed.)
At the same time as these entertainment emails were going out, Disneyland Cast Members were also receiving notices. Now, one of the recently laid off Disneyland Resort CMs is speaking out.
Note: None of the Cast Members pictured in this article are former CM Theresa Bojorquez, who this article is about.
Theresa Bojorquez, 63, who began working at the theme park back in 1981 through a connection from her brother, recently spoke to SF Gate regarding the unfortunate news. Bojorquez said the Disney theme parks have meant so much to her as she met her husband there as well as had two sons, who both grew up and went on to work for the company as well. However, just as Bojorquez was about to reach her 40th anniversary at Disneyland, which was in just a few months, she found out she was, in fact, one of the 28,000 Cast Members that The Walt Disney Company has decided to layoff.
When the initial news came out from Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro, Bojorquez had actually said she’d been planning to retire. And though the company decided to end her career just before her retirement, she doesn’t feel any hostility whatsoever.
“My brother loved going to work, even though it was third shift,” she told SF Gate, “so when they had a role I was like, ‘Oh, that could be a good thing.’ And it really was. That steered my life in a direction, and I’m thankful for that. Really thankful for that.”
Bojorquez went on to say, “When people take furlough, Disney is paying their health insurance and everything else, and they’re not making money. So what do you do? It can’t go on forever.”
As for her husband, Ruben, who has also been working in the parks for nearly 42 years, he went back to work in June after being briefly furloughed. She met her husband when they both were working in the same maintenance department. “I left that role in 1986 and became a secretary in maintenance, which is now called facilities,” she said. “That was my love. I was with them for so long. It’s not easy to gain respect from the maintenance guys, but once you do, you know, you feel it. You give it back, and they give it to you.”
Bojorquez continues to try to look on the bright side of things and to remain positive in such a difficult and unfortunate time. “It is what it is,” she said. “I’m just starting my retirement earlier than planned.” She feels that she’s better off than newer cast members who don’t have the same kind of established pension. “Other people are scrambling trying to figure out what their next step is. I am fortunate that I have options. Others do not.”
The former Disneyland Cast Member explained that her time with the company has been indescribable and she will never forget it. “You meet so many people along the way, you gain friendships, you start a new marriage,” she explained. “My sons worked there, my brother and his wife were there,” though they’re both retired now. “You meet a lot of wonderful friends that you have for life.”
And even though this news is unfortunate, and it can be very hard to accept these big changes, Bojorquez explained why she is okay with all of this. “Sometimes it’s hard to accept change,” she said, “and know that sometimes the change they’re making isn’t the right thing to do.”
She went on to say, “There’s always hiccups along the way, and things change over time. Companies change. People change. What it was back in the ’80s certainly isn’t the way it is today, but I was happy to experience that you really felt like part of a family. You still get that today as a cast member, but not as strong as it was before.”
When asked about how Disney Parks Chairman Josh D’Amaro handled the layoff news, and how he went to visit the Cast Members the day after the announcement came to personally apologize to them, which many refer to as a publicity stunt, Bojorquez said she understands both sides of things.
“I see it both ways,” she says. “Josh is very cast-focused. But being on the other side, being one of the cast members who was affected, that wasn’t really appropriate.”
She went on to explain, “It’s very hard to put on that smile if you interact with the guests and act like everything’s fine when it’s not. And then the guests come up and want to talk about it. I’m sure sometimes the tears flow.” Still, she says, maybe he could have done something behind the scenes.
But all in all, the recently laid off Disneyland Cast Member has no hard feelings towards the company. “It’s not like I’m taking all that down,” she says. “I still love Disney. It’s just a different world. That’s all.”
Approximately 28,000 Disney Cast Members will be laid off. In total, Disney employs around 220,000 individuals. Our thoughts are with all of those Cast Members who are being affected by this wave of layoffs. If you are looking for ways to help these Cast Members, check out our resource article here.