Are Layoffs Coming to Disney Parks? It Certainly Seems That Way

Disney Layoffs

Disney has been desperate to hire recently, even going as far as advertising openings on a giant LED screen outside of their casting offices but could that be about to change? During the fourth quarter earnings call today. Disney’s Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy hinted that layoffs could be coming.


Credit: Disney

The comments came during the question and answer portion of the call when a caller asked about the potential for cutting overhead costs.

Mccarthy’s answer seemed directed specifically at front-of-house theme park cast members. McCarthy said, “We do feel that we have — you know, once again, hearkening back to the opportunity we took during the pandemic, we did permanently remove a significant amount of operating expense at the parks. And that better positions us right now as we go into an uncertain economic environment.” The “operating expense” they removed? Cast Members. Disney Parks saw some of the biggest layoffs during the pandemic. While many were furloughed, many others were simply laid off and never brought back.

Credit: Disney

Layoffs were particularly bad for food service workers. When the Parks reopened, they did so with a much lower front-of-house food staff than their pre-pandemic levels. This was due to the mobile ordering requirement and a lack of need for cashiers and people to work at the front counters. We were told this was a “temporary” change while we tried to avoid contact to reduce the spread of COVID. Judging by the news from the earnings call, it seems like it will be a permanent change.

Dmobile order

Credit: Disney

McCarthy said, “We also have technology advancements, and this is more on the expense side. That provides us opportunities for cost flexibility. So, we have things like mobile ordering, contactless check-in. So, those kinds of things give us levers on the expense side.” What she meant was, they are using technology to avoid having to pay Cast Members to do those jobs.

Alex Sherman, a financial analyst at CNBC, tweeted Tuesday that the language used by Christine McCarthy is often of impending layoffs. “CFO -Speak,” if you will. He went on to say that many of Disney’s “peers” are cutting costs and that while layoffs were not specifically mentioned, the wording very clearly hinted at it. As we described above, we certainly agree that going forward “employee reduction” will be a tactic Disney uses to generate higher profits. We predict we will start seeing more and more automation and technology taking the place of Cast Members. They’ll claim it is for a “better guest experience,” but in the end, it will be to avoid paying wages. So much for Cast Members being “the secret sauce,” eh?


About Jill Bivins

Jill Bivins has been visiting Disney Parks since she was 2 years old and loves sharing her Disney adventures with the world. She likes to say Disney is in her blood and writing is in her bones โ€” so any time she has the opportunity to combine these loves she is one happy camper! She has a deep abiding love for Epcot and as a die hard Star Wars fan has a serious love for Hollywood Studios as well. When she isn't exploring or writing about Disney Parks, Jill is homeschooling her 8 year old son, playing with her brand new baby son, or pretending to be a farmer on her family homestead (despite being unable to keep even a cactus alive). Find Jill on Instagram @minnieonmain.