Local news CFNews13 reports that layoffs began yesterday at Walt Disney World. The story mentions executive level employees who had the option to receive a severance package or take their chances with layoffs. We’ve actually known of some of the executive layoffs for a few weeks now.
I think these layoffs were different. Some front line in-park managers were either let go or asked to take lower positions. Others were just terminated and walked off property.
No word on how widespread this is. But Disney CEO Bob Iger had mentioned in the past that they would try to avoid cuts that affect the guest experience. One has to wonder what that meant to Iger when some of the mangers involved yesterday handled the front gate and guest control.
I also want to mention that this comes during a spring break period when Disney has been experiencing heavier than usual drive-in traffic (from as far away as South Carolina) and steady air arrivals too with recent airfare discounts. Perhaps Disney’s pencil pushes have some frightening forecasts for summer bookings.
I hope Disney takes care not to lose the experience that many of those manager level cast members brought with them to the front lines of the parks. When training and supervision suffers, so too does guest service. Since a superior guest experience is what drives return business, this is a dangerous game to play.
Our sympathies go out to the cast members who lost their jobs today. Hopefully they were let go with time to find another tourism industry job during Spring Break? Disney training still counts for something, right?