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Realityland's David Koenig

Bicoastal Massacres

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Last month's middle-management layoffs at Disneyland and Disney World were in fact just a small foreshadow of the serious blood-letting that began this week. The earlier dismissals were designed to encourage more cast members to take the voluntary separation package while they still had the chance to voluntarily separate.

The massive firings began this Wednesday at both resorts, starting with 11 jobs cut in the Entertainment division, and are continuing, division by division, through today. One West Coast source said Thursday saw the departure of 45 cast members who handled Quiceanera and the Fantasy Wedding planning and the entire WDI document management team. Literally hundreds upon hundreds of employees, mostly salaried, many with decades of experience, are being led out of their offices with a security escort.

The idea is to streamline middle management, reduce duplication of duties between coasts, and keep costs in check during a deepening recession. As a general rule, I'm all for lean management. Yet this is a tremendous loss on a personal level for those involved, as well as for the resorts, as cumulative centuries of park-operating experience evaporate.

I've been in on a flurry of cast member emails over the last two days, listing the latest casualties, both confirmed and rumored. To be honest, most of the names are unfamiliar to me, so I'm not sure just how much leadership and "value" each division is really losing. Certainly, WDW lost plenty when on Wednesday Epcot released Jim Korkis, hands down the company's greatest historical source outside of California. Disneyland let go a lot more names that are familiar to me (including—unconfirmed—the man who has overseen fireworks since they were introduced at the park in the 1950s). Let's pray these individuals are back on their feet soon, and that Disney hasn't made too many grave mistakes in whom they've chosen to go and, more importantly, in whom they've trusted to remain. Our parks are in their hands.

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Updated 03-27-2009 at 12:14 PM by David Koenig

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  1. olegc's Avatar
    i just commented elsewhere that this was expected - but I read above and am amazed they would let go of key personnel who are the leads or managers on things (especially things like fireworks). I think this whole "One park" vision will be detremental to the Anaheim resort - and I guess its how Rasulo, et. al, want it.

    Of course, as soon as there is a fireworks issue - the finger pointing will begin. I just hope we don't have to wait for more injuries (or God forbid fatalities) for things to go back for some departments. The only thing that is not surprising is the letting go of highly salaried, seasoned personnel. I don't care what the press is writing that FIFO hires are getting the axe - money is money and expensive peope are getting hit hard.
  2. DizneyMommy's Avatar
    I'm curios to know if it is really as bad as it sounds when it comes to some of these "seasoned veteran" people. 50+ years in the park sounds like about time for retirement to me - he has to be 65+, are they getting nice packages or are they really just being outright fired?
  3. JCrickett's Avatar
    As tough as it is to see (and by no means do I wish anyone to lose their job), if the Parks want to survive they must scale back until the economy turns around. I do not know all the intricate details, but I trust Disney to do he right thing in order to keep the Parks open for us to visit. I am sure there will be mistakes along the way, but in general I think they are doing what they need to do to survive.

    If indeed the higher up managers that have been with The Walt Disney Company for 50+ years, then I too agree that it is time for them to retire on their own as they would most likely be close to or in their 70's.

    What we as fans seem to forget is that Disney is a business and as a business they sometimes have to make those difficult decisions in order to last as long as they have; we're going on 86 years now, they know a thing or two about survival.

    I can't believe the decisions made were easy ones. I wish the best for all those affected, and hope that as the economic situation rights itself that there will be the possibilities of rehiring.