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Disney Cuts Nearly Half Its Workforce

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Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland, California. (Chava Sanchez/ LAist)
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With almost all of its core businesses in tatters because of the pandemic, the Walt Disney Co. has expanded its job cuts to nearly half its workforce, according to a published report.

At the same time, a stock analyst predicted that Disney's dozen theme parks -- the biggest driver of profits for the entertainment giant -- won't reopen until next year, while another Wall Street specialist has concluded that attractions such as Disneyland and Walt Disney World might not return to full capacity for two more years.

As recently as a week ago, Disney was accepting Anaheim theme park reservations after June 1 of this year, but on Thursday the company's updated website said "a reopening date has not been identified."

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The Financial Times estimated Disney's current job cuts total 100,000 out of an estimated work force of 223,000, the vast majority of whom work in theme parks. The paper said Disney's paycheck savings amounted to roughly $500 million a month. The Burbank-based company previously said its senior executives were taking pay cuts, and also asked its top commentators at ESPN to take a salary reduction.


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A week ago, the company said some 30,000 Disneyland (Anaheim) and related employees had been sent home, while about 43,000 workers in and around Disney World (Orlando) were no longer employed. Disney has said it will continue to pay benefits to those whose jobs were cut. The company did not immediately respond on Monday to a request for comment.

The pandemic has hit few well-known public companies harder than Disney.

In addition to all of its theme parks being chained up, Disney has been unable to release its feature films -- which account for about 40% of all movie tickets sold -- with theaters around the globe shuttered. Disney's four massive cruise ships are deserted, no one can buy tickets to the company's live stage musicals, including "The Lion King," and its toy stores are closed.

With no live sports now or in the immediate future, ESPN has been forced to rerun old games (although its Michael Jordan documentary series, "The Last Dance," which premiered Sunday, could become a hit). And while the new streaming site Disney+ has attracted 50 million subscribers in its first five months, its launch cost Disney hundreds of millions of dollars and might not return a profit anytime soon.

Disney's stock price has dropped about 28% this year, compared to an overall market decline of about 11%.