BREAKING: Shanghai Disney Puts Financial Strangle-Hold on Domestic Disney Parks

Shanghai Disneyland is behind schedule and over budget, so Disney Parks will be looking to shave some money off their operational budget by cutting labor hours at both the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts.

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According to inside sources, the Disneyland Resort saw a 20% cut in labor costs from non-profit locations starting at the beginning of the month, this includes positions such as attractions, guest relations, custodial, entertainment, and more. Walt Disney World will see similar cuts starting this week, such as the cut of front desk curbside greeters at all resorts. All front desk and concierge cast members will also only be offered only up to 32 hours a week once the cuts are in effect. Other departments will have similar restrictions, but we could not confirm a complete list.

Entertainment cuts are coming as well, such as the removal of the 2nd Fantasmic! show on evenings until Easter week and only one nightly performance of the Main Street Electrical Parade through the entire month (a month which is typically quite busy thanks to Spring Break and Easter). Other entertainment cuts have been rumored, such as various characters meet and greet experiences being permanently removed, but none are confirmed at this time.

This isn’t the first shakeup Disney has made since the Shanghai project financially got out of hand. Just a few weeks ago there was a massive shakeup at Walt Disney Imagineering in an attempt to prevent such projects from falling apart again. However, these new changes affect cast members on the much lower end of the pay scale, many of which count on the longer hours in these seasons to make a decent living. Many have voiced concerns over the cuts and that they may have to look for work elsewhere in order to pay their bills.

Disney has made no public statement on the cuts as of yet.

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133 comments

  1. Laurence Banks

    This seams silly, I guess that Disney does not share revenue between the Parks group and the Movie division. Hello guys ‘Star Wars’ has brought in over 2 BILLION dollars!

    • Christian Fronckowiak

      It used to be that Disney profits were for the entire company. Eisner changed that, so you’re correct. Profits for the studio division mean absolutely nothing for the parks.

    • J

      Yep. And each park is a seperate business. This article doesn’t seem to grasp that. It’s highly unlikely what happens in Shanghai has anything to do with domestic staff cuts.

      • Sk

        It actually does. We’ve been told as cast members from management that Shanghai Disney is affecting us here locally, on a financial level.

      • Someone in the know

        Well that goes to show how much you know. The shorter work hours for Cast Members are a DIRECT result of the Shanghai situation. All divisions across WDW and DLR are being asked to cutback to make up for the shortfall.

        • To “someone in the know” and others… This has NOTHING to do with Shanghai; Shanghai’s budget is an ENTIRELY separate pool of money. Any manager at the parks dealing with rank and file employees is not privy to these details, and if they told you as an individual CM that this is the case, they were re-reporting bad info. The majority of the investment is from Shanghai Shendi Group, a state-owned entity. This is a cost-cutting measure that would have taken place regardless of Shanghai’s existence.

          • Someone in the know

            Really, BECAUSE my information came from 4 different Labor Managers across 4 different lines of business. Care to explain how all 4 told me the exact same scenario without having spoken to each other?

    • Robert

      No, they don’t. Thank Eisner for that. Yet if Iger gave every cast member an hour of his annual salary, none of them would have to work for the next year or so.

    • Mysty325

      Meanwhile, as your fast pass option MIGHT not be valid, Cast Members are LEGIT trying to make ends meet with hours, paying rent, feeding their kids, paying bills….

      But you’re right… Let’s talk about the lack of fast passes you might get…. #priorities

      • Jud

        A little harsh, don’t you think? Things like this happen to companies all the time, unfortunately. I’m sure this person isn’t saying they could care less about the job cuts….but alot goes into planning a vacation for a family and a trip to Disney is one of those things you want to be perfect. I completely understand the concern they are showing.

          • derfallbright

            It’s about future profits. If for example Shanghai was scheduled to open in March, but doesn’t open until October, you are six months short of projected revenue, because you developed a budget based on money starting to flow in March.

      • Ryan S

        Why are people raising kids on Disney front line, entry-level, near minimum wage, hourly positions? These aren’t career positions…. Get a better job. You knew the payscale before joining.

          • Charles

            Greeters & parade talent are hardly running the park or managing your safety. Better check that finger you’re pointing.

        • Please tell me what other job out there pays more, doesn’t need a college degree, and isn’t damn-near impossible to get? I guess you forget adults ages 18-24 that REQUIRE these types of jobs to pay off rent, and their ridiculous student loans, since college is more expensive than a house.

          • Ryan S

            My comment is not for the 18 to 24 year olds, it’s for the the person who said “feeding children” and supporting families. I worked in the Orlando parks while going to college (not a CP), and knew I could not sustain myself, let alone support a family. The issue is people who cry victim when they knew what they were getting into! They knew what the wage was, what the benefits were, and hour structure, before they signed their offer letter.

            As for your comment about jobs not requiring four year degrees, they still definitely exist. They are called trade jobs! For a few months of training you can become a welder, HVAC, linesmen, cable installer, etc, and make $18+/hr. And guess what? A lot of the hiring companies will even train you. People overlook these types of jobs because they don’t want to put in the work. It is society and government who has driven this faux political narrative that everyone needs a four year degree, debauched the idea people can make honest living by working trade industry, and wants a college degree to be the new high school diploma.

        • Also, ever heard of a seconds job? Someone I work with is a teacher and works attractions at Disneyland. Why? Because teachers get paid crap in this country, and are forced to get second jobs. So when their second job decides to just cut them out, they have every right to be pissed.

          • Mysty325

            Exactly. I just feel bad for those that truly need hours… From what I hear, not many places are looking to hire at the moment… So yes. I know how hard it is to book a vacation… But I also know of the people working the rides we all love need this job… So for those above Zachariah comment that decided to get defensive… What if it was you? What if you depended on the hours your company gave you to make your ends meet?

            So I’m sorry if my heart goes out to the workers and not a simple fast pass.

        • HarryHG

          We knew the pay scale when we signed on, but some of us need the medical benefits which are almost impossible to match anywhere else, and probably most of us wouldn’t like to move to a job without a real pension, Disney is one of the only companies that still offers a pension to hourly employees. But when most of us started 32 hour weeks didn’t exist for full timers unless you wanted them, in fact a lot of us were working on mandatory 70-80 hour weeks. It’s not just the hourly rate but the total paycheck that’s important. Also, nobody at Disney makes minimum wage, although a lot of us are just a few dollars overt our.

          • Tony

            Sorry, respectfully your comment doesn’t seem true in my three years working for Disney So. Cal. Disney is not forth coming with details on status conversion, CR opportunities and full time is a carrot on a stick which since our last union contract, has been the most brutal process where deals are made and “promotions” to leads or full even full time have now led to two to zero days on the schedule. These cuts are Draconian to say the least. These cuts include 88% reduction in new hiring for summer. The Happiest Place On Earth may be true for some but not for others who’s hard work and sweat produce the profits for the company! And all this is really on the down low for sure, with Managers being briefed and then told not to say anything about it.
            A shout out to all those folks at any of the Disney parks who have been waiting for conversion, or for scheduling to give you the full time hours you were just hired for. Hang in there! Wow, “Mickey Moused” is a really apt description for how the company is currently being run.

        • Carol O.

          If you lived in Central Florida you would know their aren’t many job options. Plus, Disney pretty much sets the pay scale for the entire area.

        • G

          @ Ryan S WDW has the training programs for trade jobs. They are three year programs, not “a few months”. And they pay significantly less than $18 per hour! Look to the facts about Disney and not general assumptions about your limited knowledge.

      • The Company is Posting Record Profits, and those “Fast Pass” folks that you are dismissing and disrespecting, have paid the King’s Ransom that Disney charges to take families to their parks. They have to Save and spend a significant amount of time planning trips to this place. ANY attendee has the right to expect a level of service that is reflected in the Cost they have to pay….. Of Course, The Employees suffer…but maybe the ire should be directed at Disney. THEY are the Bad Guy here. They literally COLLECT more cash every single day than most countries on Earth. How THEY choose to compensate workers is the issue. Does anyone get a say on IF they need another park? No. It’s called GREED, and Disney puts it ahead of their employees need and ability to pay their own bills.

    • ADP

      I actually think this is the bigger reason for the reductions. They are using Shanghi Disney as a scapegoat to hide the cord-cutting problem.

        • ADP

          Very true, but don’t think for a second that profits & revenue don’t cross over between divisions. They all effect each other. At the end of the day it’s about the top & bottom lines.

        • True Ryan S .
          But we still are talking about an entity under the same company name ” Disney ” .
          And this is another part of the problem , people want to devide the Walt Disney Company into separate entities instead of
          UNITE the Walt Disney Company the way it should he . A house divided cannot stand . Remember this .

  2. Disney used to be such a proactive company known for being a cut above the rest regarding guest experiences. Unfortunately whoever these “new” executives are have made Disney become very ordinary. They are now very reactive, poor in giving guests a high end experience. The very things that made them so superior, are the things they are eliminating. Such a shame to see a company who set the bar so high, turning into a very average entertainment experience.

    • Ryan S

      You are 100% correct. Every single year the cost (admission, lodging, dining) goes up for a worse experience (more park attendance, longer lines, more overcrowding).

      The value gets worse every single year as Disney fails to meet demand, or reduce it.

        • Ashley

          That is why Disney raises the prices though. There are so many people who visit that it gets crowded. They raise prices to try and cut back on attendance. If it is more expensive to go then people will put it off or not stay as long meaning less people.

          • Ryan S

            Exactly right! Raising prices helps reduce/slow demand, but brings more revenue.

            The problem is that the demand at Disney keeps rising while prices do, so paying customers keep getting a worse value every visit.

        • Jacob

          You think its wise for a company to reduce demand?

          If I think it’s wise … let’s change the context of “company” cause that’s really generic, and use what is the mission of the company itself: “We seek to develop the most creative, innovative and profitable entertainment experiences and related products in the world.”

          Now we know part of what’s Disney’s Mission as a Company. Do you think that keeping increasing the demand overflowing their parks with people in a way that it’s impossible to make that entertainment experience that they allegedly make you expect. Disney nowadays is a place where you go to have a great time with your family, but it’s not the magical experience as advertised. If you’re trying to sell the highest quality product in the market, but keeps increasing demand to the point where the quality keeps falling…. what’s the point ?

  3. RippingMK

    The three cinderella girls at MK, Chip and Dale at Epcot and I heard Pluto at Epcot too. Dream Along with Mickey is ending in April Operating Hours are getting reduced too :(

    • Kate

      Also Aurora at Epcot, Winnie the Pooh and Friends at the UK, and others as well. Although Dream Along With Mickey is being replaced as it’s has been rumored for a while now.

    • Megan

      Not all of the Entertainment cuts are because of budgetary reasons. For instance Dream Along with Mickey is stopping to make way for a brand new day time Castle show that showcases a wider variety of Royalty (like Tiana!!). As far as meet and greets, they’ve done it for ages where they phase out a character opportunity based on it’s lack of popularity …I’ve been witnessing no longer than a 3 minute wait for Pluto at Epot for the past 4 years, it’s inefficient when he can be found elswhere.

      Working for Disney as a front line cast member definitely blows, and I’m not negating the fact that there are issues with wages and hours and fair treatment for the workers who are responsible making the guest exoerience, just not every business decision is made for such slimy reasons (I’ll even say that while I personally despise the company -at least WDW parks and resort end of it).

      Walt Disney World is also going through a large restructuring in management and they’re adding new roles and new positions while altering the ladder of hierachry – not to mention they’re preparing for an entire new resort property opening in the next couple years and and entire parks worth of advancements between Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Disney is a a wealthy company but they’re a business before anything -when you increase costs you decrease them elsewhere.

      • Joe

        Actually pkuto keeps a solid 20 minute line all day at epcot, and the character meet and greats are a temporary cut due to Shanghai

      • Connerd

        There are certainly some well informed cast members who list decades worth of events that affect Walt Disney’s cash flow and attendance, who explain what full time employees think of the College Program participants and the real life problem of a livable minimum wage that affects all of the United States. I commend you.

        There are a few items that I did not see mentioned and these are capital expenditures, CapEx, which are funds used by a company to acquire or upgrade physical assets such as property, industrial buildings or equipment. CapEx will be amortized over several years versus the labor budget that is scaled up and down based on business needs but both require cash-flow management.

        1. The billion dollar Disney MagicBand project and the annual upkeep for that. Note Shanghai Disneyland will rely on guest’s mobile phone apps verus MagicBands.
        2. The cost of Avatar and Rivers of Light for Animal Kingdom and the Frozen overlay for Norway’s pavilion in Epcot’s world showcase.
        3. The cost of Disney Springs (shopping, dining and entertainment center). Competitors produce E ticket attractions. Disney produces shopping malls.

        I think Shanghai Disneyland will pay dividends in ten to twenty years when Disney’s intellectual property is ingrained in Chinese kids. Imagineering needed someone like Bob Weis to get it in shape. The cost and lead times for Imagineering projects was not competitive. I’m not sure if that was Bruce Vaugn’s or Jay Rasulo’s fault but both are leaving the company. Look at the speed and cost that Universal can produce attractions at.

        • Hello. Carrie Wogaman here. I’m assuming, since I’m a huge Hamilton fan, that you are pretending to be me online. I don’t understand why, and I’m uncomfortable with this for many reasons. Please stop using my name, especially to leave creepy comments like this about people I don’t know.

      • Hi Paul, I don’t know you and I apologize for whoever is pretending to be me on this website. I’m trying to shut it down and I’m very uncomfortable with it. I’m so sorry they mentioned you, and as soon as I find out who it is I’m going to take action!

  4. Allison

    Well… those jobs were never meant to be made into a career anyways… As a former CP, I wouldn’t ever want to go back and work those same jobs again— although a BLAST it’s just not something that’s made to sustain you and/or your family entirely. Just like any other low-skill position.

    • Hello?

      Kind of a messed up thing to say… There’s a huge number of people in this country working low level jobs to support families, and low level jobs and the institution of things like minimum wage were instituted to provided people with the minimum needed to provide, survive and thrive.

      • Charles

        Minimum wage only raises costs across the board, making it difficult for all people to keep costs low, make monthly ends meet, save money, invest in anything (like themselves) and improve their standard of living.

    • Ryan S

      Spot-on. Every Cast Member knew the pay before joining, just like every other minimum wage workers in unskilled positions across the country.

      • Kai

        What about cms that work skilled jobs? Ones that you can only get with 10 years experience? And the money is still bad at best? Not every job at disney can be done by anyone, think the techs for the fireworks shows. Or the peoe who drive the trolley down mainstreet. These are jobs that people worked for and have a skill in doing. Jobs teens can’t just pick up and do as a part time job. Get of your high horse and realize everyone deserves to have enough to live and eat.

        • Ryan S

          What about them? They still knew what they were going to be paid before they accepted the job. And given they’re skilled labor with Disney on the resume, I imagine they could find another job elsewhere.

      • Ecm

        Also to consider before ripping the hard working cast of the Disney company consider the fact that ticket prices have increased over 100% in the past twenty years yet the base wages have seen less than a 30% increase in that time. Granted not unique to this one company as this has been a trend nationwide so how can it be justified that revenues have increase yet wages have not met that

      • Allison

        Thanks, friends. I really appreciate y’all understanding what I’m trying to articulate!! I love, love, love the Walt Disney Company and the cast members that work there. But I am just saying–the outrage among the cast is really overdone. Even when I was a CM people complained about hours, blamed me (CP) for taking their hours away from them…but nobody is entitled to the 40+ hours a week they want. You’re entitled to what you were guaranteed when you were hired. That’s 30 hours a week if you’re full time. Always has been. And in a corporation that employs hundreds of thousands of people… It HAS to work that way. Yes, minimum wage was created to help people along who have low skills and need an income, BUT may I remind you all that (based on my observation, I may be mistaken!) most CMs don’t get paid minimum wage anyways… Minimum wage in FL is $8.05/hr. I got paid $9/hr and now (at least cp pay) is up to $10/hr.

        If you’re not happy with your job or your pay, good news is that you have the power to change it! But don’t bash the company and say they don’t have your best interest in mind… it doesn’t revolve around you. :)

        • Actually, cms are getting paid $9.50/hour. The raise has never appeared. And while CPs are getting 10 hour days because their pay is subsidized and high rent taken out, others are only getting 32 hours. Pt are getting 1 day if that. There are many people in Orlando area who have little education and no job skills. These are the people who are housekeepers, custodians, food and beverage. I work with a mix of people; some like that, some retired who are trying to stay busy, some who are working for the benefits, and some who lost a lot like a pension in the recession and have to work now.

  5. Jake

    Cuts should be done on those upper management staff, like managers/general managers, so that they can feel what it is like to have hours and pay cuts. To much money is given to them and they do not do asmuch work as the low end folks. Maybe then they can have the money needed to finish their lovely Shanghai project.

    • Victoria

      Actually managers and general managers at Disney don’t make as much as you think they do. They usually end up working 60+ hours a week and make in the high 30’s – low 40’s a year

      • Ryan S

        GSMs in particular… Very low salary for very long hours. If you do the math on what GSMs make hourly, it’s terrible. But that’s also Disney’s fault for having a bazillion GSMs.

    • Ryan S

      Or Disney could do what they’ve been doing… And replace their upper level, high-paying administrative positions with immigrants on H1-B Visas!

  6. Cast4Life

    Older cast remembers: Euro Disney, Gulf War, ABC acquisition/slump, ESPN acquisition, 9/11, College Program numbers exploding (CP’s are the scourge of the full time hourly!), Movie slump, Cruise Line coming online, Hong Kong, Year of a Million Dreams (each park wasn’t budgeted for that daily Magic).
    We’ve been there and done that.. Nothing new.. The weaker will separate and the rest of us will fill the gap.. Maybe we can purge the bad attitudes, again! ;o]

    • SafariGuide

      Lets hope! We just got 100 new CR and FT at Kilimanjaro getting ready for Nighttime, but we’ve been seeing these cuts. Some of us are only working 1 day next week (Me included) but I’m waiting for the pissy CPs and other CRs to leave so we can pick up their slack. It’s going to happen. Always does. Just this year it’s happening more than usual. It’ll get better around April/June.

  7. Bob

    Everything about this is 1000% true. Some cast members getting 0 hours. Its tough times, but seems to only effects lower level hourly cast members. Meanwhile the higher ups dont even flinch. Its ironic that hardest workers, the ones that make everything tick, are the ones that suffer.

      • Ryan S

        You could completely take away Igers salary and it wouldn’t even put a dent in anything compared to how much they can make shaving CM hours.

        That’s also a very low salary for a CEO of a company the size and power of Disney.

  8. Mike S.

    You all know that ESPN, ABC, and all the existing parks, including Paris and Hong Kong are making a profit, right? Divisions which are making less money this year than last year aren’t ‘draining’ anything… they’re still adding to the pot. They understandably are causes for concern, but it’s not DOOM!-time.

    That being said, Shanghai is indeed a drain, because it’s still building and not taking in operating revenue. But that’s the nature of a capital investment project. The money is borrowed from somewhere. While there may be a financial wall internally between movie studios and parks, the Shanghai project can easily ‘borrow’ money from the studios at a much cheaper rate than going to the banks. They don’t have to squeeze all the other parks for every operating dollar, that would be crazy, and I doubt the Disney folks are that crazy. Especially when they’re pouring billions… literally billions… more into their parks for upgrades.

  9. What a mistake this is. Vacationers in China visit the Disney franchises in the US because they want to leave the city and awful air pollution. Disney is like paradise for them!

  10. D Johns

    ESPN and fears of cord cutting have the cowardly institutional investors dumping stock. Even though record profits this quarter they have cut and run and thus Disney stock has fallen off a cliff. So now of course the top level execs want to protect their own interest too and the best way to do that is cut from the bottom up. Sad but true in all public companies especially when the top level management are the ones that ultimately always benefit in the end.

  11. Shanghai Disneyland is only beginning to be a disaster. The trouble they had with guests in Hong Kong when it first opened are going to be seen tenfold in mainland China. Ticket prices keep rising, and the service is going down. While Universal keeps doing everything right, half-assing it seems to be the MO in Disney Parks. There are without a doubt a lot of good people still working on the Parks but even they are jumping ship…

    • Ryan S

      That’s a good point about guests. Working in travel industry for years, Chinese tourists are some of the absolute worst when it comes to habits and manners. Maybe it will workout for the natives, but I can’t imagine an outsider visiting that park.

  12. j

    Tom Coreless is clueless and flat out wrong. Disney schmucks like Tom think they know but they don’t, lol. Too many Disney park fools expecting to get something FREE or Comp’d – always with their hand (or magic band, lol) out. And we watch and laugh.

  13. risadawn

    “Many have voiced concerns over the cuts and that they may have to look for work elsewhere in order to pay their bills.” Ummm… YEAH! Disney doesn’t pay people enough to be making cuts to their front line cast! This is ridiculous. They need to find the money somewhere else or start figuring out how to stop spending so much on the the Shanghai project.

  14. Brian

    As much as I love Disney and have my whole life they really are not doing what is best for the guest just for the stock holders. Most people that know much about the entertainment business in Orlando know that Universal is beating Disney at there own game. They are building new attractions three times faster than disney.

    • andrew

      Beating them in what way? Disney has 70+% of the market share in Orlando compared to about 23% for Universal and Disney is having record profits in the Parks. Universal dropped some amazing themed environments with Harry Potter and Transformers which is 100% a clone of Spiderman and they’ll be getting two more clones from USH, what is beating Disney there?

    • Erin

      Universal produces new rides at a faster pace because they produce the same ripped three times with different themes. Next time you ride transformers, close your eyes and think of Spider-Man. Same ride, different movie. That is not innovation, something Disney takes the time to do.

    • Alex

      It’s not a rumor, as of last week everyone I work with has seen their schedules gutted (going from working 5 days a week to working 1 or 2 short shifts). And they’re supplementing their part time and full time labor with the cheaper college program cast members giving them 40+ hours a week because they don’t have to pay them the same rate they are obligated to pay ordinary cast members. These cuts are coming after an incredibly profitable quarter where profits far exceeded projections. Many are upset because they killed us during the holidays giving us so many hours that we could barely see our families and now we’re left out to dry until they suddenly need more staff for the summer

  15. Mark

    Really odd that most the people comenting have missed the bigger issue. Namely that once again the overly ambitious egosuits at corporate have miscalculated and mismanaged thier new foriegn Wonderland and the loyal domestic chumps have to pay for it.

  16. Donald Rignola

    Well things like this happen with ALL COMPANIES everywhere. Adjustments have to be made. Bad decisions are made and that decision cost too much and adjustments are needed. Or perhaps we would rather Disney go bankrupt and kill all the jobs provided by them? It has to be done for whatever reasons that provoked this. Hope it works out for the best with all involved.

  17. Marianne Zappala

    I started purchasing shares in Walt Disney through their brokerage firm. How will that be effected. I always thought that this was a great company to not only work for but invest in because I am a fan of the Parks! I have been to Florida and California and loved every moment spent there with my Granddaughters!

    • Eddie

      Probably, Marianne, you should have done your homework. Disney is trading more or less in line with its earnings and there’s not a lot of upside to the stock right now. The good news of park attendance and Star Wars have already been factored in. What analysts are looking at now is how Disney will manage to top itself next year, whether park attendance is going to be impacted by construction of Star Wars land and of such major cutbacks, and whether media networks earnings can withstand the pressure of falling ad revenue in the cable markets and the effect of “unbundling.” Personally, I wouldn’t have bought now, though you may see some upside over the next several months — unless there is indeed a major delay in Shanghai. Much depends a lot on how the next Marvel movies do and whether Rogue One does well, but even more depends on things like the advertising market in network and cable television.

  18. Alaina

    Sources tbh??? I’ve reached out to a few CMs who have all denied this article’s validity. I’m not going to trust anonymous “inside sources” until I see an official statement from Disney. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    • Sanrewi

      Take it from someone that works with the company hours are getting cute like crazy. And Disney is still hiring people like crazy makes no sense.

  19. Sanrwi

    The question is why are they still hiring so many new cast members of hours are getting cut? Every week we have about 3-5 new hires at the location I work at. Makes obsolutely no sense but then again Disney never does

    • SafariGuide

      We literally just got 100 new cast members. Mostly transfers from other places, but still. Why cut hours but still hire? It’s ridiculous.

    • SafariGuide

      Here’s the thing. These cut’s have absolutely nothing, and I mean NOTHING, to do with Shanghai. That’s a whole separate thing. In the past Disney has cut hours and positions like clockwork. Happens literally every year around this time, and then it picks back up in March around Spring Break. The only reason this is getting news is because A: there’s so much stuff happening right now Globally (Global meaning WDPR), and B: The management and structure reorg that every area of every park is going through. Yes, it sucks, but once enough people quit (they always do) our hours will go back to normal. It’s a little heavier on the time cuts right now because of the reorg and the new attractions being added, but once Night time Safaris and Rivers of Light open, it’ll sort itself out. We just picked up 50 part time and 50 full time CMs. We’re not really worried about it, but a storm is coming, and the worst is yet to come. It won’t affect cast members really, just financial stuff, which they can’t cite Shanghai for. Disney screwed themselves, but they’ll dig themselves out. They always do. At least they don’t really lay off their regular cast members, and when they do, they get a lawsuit. They don’t want those so we’re safe. Come mid March and beginning of April, this should get better. Hakuna Matata.

  20. Natalie

    I am sure that there are other cuts that can be made that would not have an overall impact in the guest and their experience.
    I think Shanghai was a bad decision personally. Their economy has had too much growth that past history proves time and time again that speed kills!
    Anyway, the decisions that were made that Impact WDW, especially during peak season, will be noticed by guests!
    I am confident that other opportunities exist that can be reviewed to improve operating income without reducing labor hours, cutting shows, etc.!

  21. I appear to be an odd man out here, as I am not nor ever have been a Cast Member. I am an activist in Anaheim, watching my city do a downward spiral into a slum entirely lacking in basic maintenance, because we have become overly reliant upon tourism as the “economic engine” with no plan in place for down years when tourism tanks (because our enemies have stopped hating us and threatening to low stuff up, right?) but my work as a government watchdog gives me a perspective I hope some here will find helpful.

    The debate here appears to have turned to “why don’t they get better jobs” and “tourism was never expected to pay enough to raise a family,” and once upon a time I agreed with that position. However, at least here in Anaheim, I have watched dumbfounded as our City Council repeatedly subsidizes the tourism industry and ONLY the tourism industry. NO EFFORT is being put into developing better paying jobs in areas like manufacturing, where once upon a time people DID make enough to care for a family. When tourism is the only industry hiring, because it is the only industry that has been encouraged in any way by the powers that be, you get a job in tourism in desperation and pray you can get enough hours to make the rent. Why don’t they get better jobs? Because there ARE no other jobs in a city where tourism has become the holy grail, and let’s face it, our elected leaders don’t support tourism because it does a great job of supporting residents, they promote tourism because tourism funds their campaigns.

    So I don’t know about the dynamics of Florida, but in Anaheim, local taxpayers fund all kinds of insane goodies to underwrite tourism, insisting we get these huge benefits while ignoring the cost to get those benefits, claiming Disney rocks as the largest employer in the region, while failing to calculate whether those are part time or full time jobs, and oh yes, the State of California reimbursed Disney with tax credits for “creating jobs” when they expanded Cars Land and DCA do-over, as if Disney was not going to hire cast members to cover those positions, right? So this is why people are stuck in a low wage industry not intended to support them full time, because there isn’t anything else to turn to, no other industry gets that kind of publicly funded lovin’ from elected officials. The absence of other opportunity keeps those workers “down on the farm” so to speak, which in turn keeps wages artificially depressed, as those desperate for any job are far less likely to demand higher pay for the job they are able to score at Disney or one of the satellite employers that feeds from Disney.

    Welcome to reality, Anaheim style.

  22. Sorry, but according to The orlando Sentinel which is a little more reliable than a blogger. this is a reach by trying to link shortening hours to Shanghai.

    The shortening hours is probably due to many attractions closing for updates, refurbs and the star wars and other expansions. they have to give the workers from the closing attractions hours somewhere, so they shorten everyone’s hours to give the people who’s attractions have closed some hours.

    Shanghai disney is a joint venture between WDC and the Chinese govt. disney is not taking the hits over the Chinese Govt. sorry.

  23. Here we go with the controversy that always happens when Walt Disney Imagineering focuses outside of the US by twisting up
    the last words of Disneyland’s Dedication Plaque and Walt`s words about Disneyland being
    ” a source of joy and inspiration to all the world . ” But they don`t want to adhere to the other things that Walt said
    like about there not being another Disneyland and here we are just under 49 Years into Walt Disney’s Afterlife and
    they are turning some of the things that Walt really wanted into a lie by making 4 other Disneylands in the world
    and it at times puts American Jobs and Theme Parks at risk especially when so many things are closing to be changed or updated and this is going to lead into some upset people in the parks during peak season this spring break or summer , etc .
    because there will be that much less to do here in the Disney Theme Parks in America until the time that everything gets done .

  24. Cynthia Christopher

    Not surprised, in speaking with a friend who is working on that project in Shanghai, he said the government there is a bear to work with and they are always adding fees and sometimes confiscating things that could add to the budget exponentially.

  25. Tia

    So, I guess their employees who get paid barely anything at all to live will now have to have their hours cut which will really help their paychecks…..Way to go Disney!! I’m so glad you take care of your employees….Like when you forced some employees in I.T. to train their replacements.

  26. christennhc

    I have a hard time imagining that they would cut character meets though, because they are such a people eater for the crowds. So, it’s likely they are cutting the characters that haven’t been getting the big crowds and exchanging them for a new character to move the crowds around. They change up the characters EVERY year. They rotate through to keep things fresh. You can search on google and see how many changes they have made to the line up over the years.

    Back up or parade dancers where there is a large crowd could easily drop a person or two, and not visually lose the effect and save them hours though.

  27. Jim K

    All companies trim staff hours and some positions in off-season not profitable area’s….when is this breaking news?? If they did not do this they would not be a efficient company able to provide the optimum experience your getting in all the new investments going on at these very parks. This has nothing to do with China Disney, when is a blog made into some official scoop!!

  28. theresa

    personally, if the shanghai park is costing so much money -SCRAP the project and take the loss. Leave Disney World and Disneyland ALONE!

  29. Unfortunately your miss-informed on how the parks operating budgets are handled. Shanghai’s budget is controlled by Disneyland International who oversees all the foreign parks along with their partners, OLC, Shanghai Shendi Group, ect.

    US Parks and Resorts have have there own discrete budget and is not co-mingled with DLI’s budget.

    Frankly your “sources” are wrong about this connection.

    • andrew

      National news outlets are reporting this based on this article……frankly his sources are probably right.

      The overall budgets still all come together under Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Worldwide, Inc. for all of the resorts.

    • Eddie

      That’s a sweet theory, Mark, but the fact is, Disney Parks are really facing a big financial problem, and the cost overruns in Shanghai, the disastrous numbers in Hong Kong and the continuing mess in Paris take their tolls. But let’s say you’re right. Then help us understand why, in a year that Disney has just reported RECORD attendance at its parks, they need to make these cuts?

  30. Munchack

    The website Disneyleaks predicted that Shanghai Disneyland was way behind schedule and over budget in the summer of last year. What took you guys so long to catch up in the news cycle?

  31. Marco

    Pls give us some information about construction progress in shanghai – many people planning a trip like me are now confused if they can hold the opening date …

  32. Jim K

    This company is creating jobs with all their New Attractions and Franchises at their parks. They Own Stars Wars, Indiana Jones, Marvel, the Muppets and some Wizard of Oz rights which they spent good money for and now can provide new attractions and characters through out the resort. The Disney China project is on Schedule with ticket sales coming in March. People lined up for blocks during a promotional event for the park. The money spent on the park comes from their acquired capital and investments over the years it does not come out of profits made for the current year.

  33. Eddie

    How’s this for an idea: Cut back Iger and Staggs to 32 hours a week — and only pay them for that. In total compensation, Iger makes around $22,115 an hour. Eight hours a week at 52 weeks a year saves Disney $9.2 million. In base compensation, Staggs makes a measly $961 an hour. That would only save Disney about $400,000 a year, but still — $9.6 million could be put to good use, and this way Iger and Staggs would stand in solidarity with their fellow cast members, something I’m SURE they would like to do.

  34. Connerd

    There are certainly some well informed cast members who list decades worth of events that affect Walt Disney’s cash flow and attendance, who explain what full time employees think of the College Program participants and the real life problem of a livable minimum wage that affects all of the United States. I commend you.

    There are a few items that I did not see mentioned and these are capital expenditures, CapEx, which are funds used by a company to acquire or upgrade physical assets such as property, industrial buildings or equipment. CapEx will be amortized over several years versus the labor budget that is scaled up and down based on business needs but both require cash-flow management.

    1. The billion dollar Disney MagicBand project and the annual upkeep for that. Note Shanghai Disneyland will rely on guest’s mobile phone apps verus MagicBands.
    2. The cost of Avatar and Rivers of Light for Animal Kingdom and the Frozen overlay for Norway’s pavilion in Epcot’s world showcase.
    3. The cost of Disney Springs (shopping, dining and entertainment center). Competitors produce E ticket attractions. Disney produces shopping malls.

    I think Shanghai Disneyland will pay dividends in ten to twenty years when Disney’s intellectual property is ingrained in Chinese kids. Imagineering needed someone like Bob Weis to get it in shape. The cost and lead times for Imagineering projects was not competitive. I’m not sure if that was Bruce Vaugn’s or Jay Rasulo’s fault but both are leaving the company. Look at the speed and cost that Universal can produce attractions at.

  35. Jim K

    I’m left of left of Eddie!! We all know the little guy gets the short end of the stick in life and it’s caused by the imposed money system!! I believe in true freedom from systems, in free land, food and water!! But since life is not fair you have to find ways around the system!! This article has a headline that is going after one particular company in a biased way!! You heard one of the employees Harry above say here that they get Healthcare, a Pension, and Higher than Minimum wage without having to go to an office or corporate setting.

    • andrew

      I hope that is a joke but if it isn’t even he admitted about Disneyland that it is a business and the harsh reality is that it costs money to expand and grow.

      • Debbie

        Yes but Walt was about the people. He opened Disney for a safe and reasonable place for people to take there families for a good time. Now a days most families can’t afford to take a vacation at Disney, it is too expensive. They are replacing a lot of there workers by offering college students jobs in the college program and they barely make enough for there room and board let alone food. I feel that the men and women that work for Buena Vista Construction are essential personnel, They are the ones that make everything look so real and keep the fantasy in Disney and they seem to have been the hardest hit by this layoff

  36. Tim

    It really does not matter to the cast members that have been selected for layoff or hours cut as to what division’s bottom line is being bolstered.

    I was a week away from committing to a week long WDW vacation for my family. It had already lost some of the “Magic” with the extend of construction within Disney’s property. Now with news of larger crowds, higher prices, and less cast members, it’s time to reconsider the true value we would be getting for our vacation time and money.

  37. Poor Walt

    Who thought opening another park in China was going to be a good idea? Yes, I know there’s a billion people there, but it is a communist country which doesn’t allow its citizens to have Internet ( amount many other things). Until a few years ago they regulated how many children you can have and before that, female babies were aborted. They are a large reason why the US has lost jobs and had/ has a struggling economy.

    Imagine trying to get little things done there… No / limited internet, no safety, no child labor laws. Etc.. What a mess and what a terrible idea. I’m actually surprised more Americans aren’t outraged by Disney opening and profiting ( or trying to) in a communist country! Another example of Disneys greed and their finance team making decisions and not bothering to get their PR depts input. Sad.

  38. Rhonda

    In my opinion Diseny needs to let each park pay for itself. And if it can’t shut the park down. Being all over the world has to be a financial drain. I pray for myself and my fellow cast members that hours pick up. So far this hasn’t affected my hours. Thank God for the union.

  39. MDW

    Fascinating Read.

    As to Shanghai, of course the costs are soaring. As it’s in China, the odds that this continues are about 100%.

    Contrary to what most understand about foreign enterprise and ‘investment’, funds allocated to Shanghai are sunk and will continue to sink as part of a calculated risk that TWDC has taken over decades of consideration. As a junior-partner in the Shanghai venture, Disney is likely having every single penny (fen) of their proposed plans scrutinized and doubted by the Chinese majority. It must be very painful. I’m sure the discussions go all the way down to the kind of cups they use in the QSR establishments.

    What may surprise some is that I suspect revenue from the gate and any other streams within China will likely never be repatriated and any profit comes of it will likely not be realized in the USA for decades to come (if ever.)

    As a guy who did business in China for the last five years, (and studied it my whole life) I have learned this one maxim: “When you do business in China, you are doing business FOR China.” That’s not Disney’s fault. They know exactly what they are doing- and they know it’s going to be hard.

    Many years ago, there were probably plenty of misty-eyed leaders attending historical banquets when these deals began to be discussed. I like to imagine the trades that had to be made to get this to work: (The following hypothetical examines only ONE of the countless threads that could be pulled on this tapestry…)

    China: Hey, Disney, if you invest over $3B as a minority shareholder in a face-giving stimulus project bound to excite everyone about Pudong, give local, municipal and even national government figures (mostly from Shanghai) foreign legitimacy, we’ll exempt you from the nation-wide limit of 20 foreign release spots/year that we offer foreign studios; and we will also lift the restrictions on foreign TV program pertaining to materials produced off-shore.

    (Off stage, Disney checks with lawyers and makes sure they aren’t violating FCPA)

    Disney: Hey, that’s cool. You mean we can release all our Marvel movies in China’s fastest growing theatre and licensing market; we can get access to your internet media platforms as well as television; all the while using the Park to promote not only our movies, but to establish a continued IP foothold in China for decades to come?

    China: Well, sort of. We can’t be transparent to you about the box office revenue; and we’ll probably find a way to obfuscate the gate revenue and locally extort you while we hold quality, safety and security hostage… but, Yes- in a nutshell, that’s a deal.

    (Off stage, Disney checks with lawyers again to make sure they aren’t violating FCPA)

    Disney: OK, so we probably won’t make a ton on the park and we can’t re-patriate the funds very easily; but does this also mean we can look awesome to international investors and board members; while we maintain a fixed presence in China that mandates our publicly held yet state-owned enterprise Shendi protects us since their face is on the line too?

    China: Well, sort of. We will have a special arrangement of blaming Disney publicly for anything that goes wrong but protecting you privately, kind of like we have with other foreign companies.

    (Off stage, Disney hires the bravest soul alive to act as the Disney face for Shanghai Disney Resort. He and his family begin going to church on a regular basis and giving to charity out of the stark fear that such an assignment would bring.)

    Disney: Oh, okay. Cool. Let’s do it.

    (11 years later: Shanghai Disney Resort opens)

    And in classic Walt Disney style, the Park will stand as a model to reinforce the work of the Studios- just as it was intended to be from 1955 – only now it will work that way in spades in China. It won’t work in a way most non-international business people recognize, but it will work.

    All of that said, a budget over-run in Shanghai likely has nothing (if ANYTHING at all) to do with cuts made in other constituent LOBs (to include other parks.) I don’t really care about the so-called reliability of the source. The report demonstrates an egregious ignorance of how things work in this big world. At any rate as to Shanghai — I hope it’s a wildly successful opening. Long after it’s over, we’ll actually never know if it was. But our brothers and sisters in China need access to the beauty Disney offers.

    As to management practices domestically, I’m not at all qualified to say. I admit that I have noticed a revenue-or-die mentality that has measurably reduced the quality in the parks — uncleanliness, over-burdened cast attitudes, and several legacy-offending and counterintuitive decisions seem to be the rule not the exception. But I have heard of this ebb and flow within the parks before. I’m not worried.

    Sadly, I’ve heard young CMs suggest quite often, “If Disney doesn’t care about me or even this place, neither do I.” That actually stunned me until I heard it for about the 30th time. And to place that concern in relief, I’ve heard no shortage of guests (those who speak English anyway) wonder out loud, ‘What happened to this place?!” In spite of that- still not worried.

    Hopefully George can turn this around, but he’s clearly up against some very significant obstacles — NONE of which includes Shanghai. There is something else kind of cancerous going on. Don’t know what it is. But it’s not pretty. Hope it sorts itself out soon. I think it will.

    To blame macro-strategic decisions made 11 years ago on current operational issues is an indication of intellectual dishonesty. We can say what we want about “corporate” leadership, but these are smart and good people. They do have the best interests of the company in mind; but I also believe they love their people. I believe they may make mistakes but I don’t believe they are dishonest.

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