by, 03-27-2009 at 09:38 AM (3653 Views)
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.