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Disney to lay off 32,000 as pandemic takes toll on theme parks

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Up from the 28,000 redundancies it announced in September

Buena Vista Street Photo by Jeff Gritchen/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

Disney plans to lay off around 32,000 employees, mainly in its theme parks business, the company has announced in a 10-K filing. The company says it’s making these redundancies “due to the current climate, including COVID-19 impacts.” It’s an increase of 4,000 compared to the 28,000 layoffs it initially announced back in September. The new figure includes the layoffs that were previously announced, Variety reports, and will take place in the first half of its 2021 fiscal year, which began in early October.

Along with the layoffs, Disney said it’s considering additional measures like reducing its investments in film and TV content, halting capital spending, and furloughing more employees. Already, 37,000 of its employees were on furlough as of October 3rd, Variety notes.

The announcement comes after a difficult year for Disney’s business. Its theme parks in particular have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. Although its Florida Disney World theme park was able to reopen earlier this year with restrictions like needing to wear face masks when not eating, Disneyland has been closed since March. The WSJ notes that it’s still unclear when the Californian park will reopen.

Its theme park troubles combined with forced delays or changed release plans for several of its tent-pole cinematic releases, lead to Disney posting a rare pair of quarterly losses this year. In August the company reported a loss of $4.72 billion for the quarter, which the WSJ reports was its first quarterly loss since 2001. It followed with a further loss of $710 million the following quarter.

Despite the challenges to its in-person businesses, the company’s earnings have been helped by the launch of its Disney Plus streaming service, which had 73.7 million subscribers as of early October. The company has plans to launch another streaming service outside the US next year under its Star brand, the WSJ notes.

Correction November 26th, 4:51PM ET: This article originally said that the layoffs would take place in the first half of “next year.” This is incorrect. The layoffs will actually take place in the first half of Disney’s 2021 fiscal year, which began in early October.