Florida Disney cast members are now furloughed, but remain hopeful that they’ll return to work in the near future.
Walt Disney World President Josh D’Amaro sent an emotional letter to cast members days before the furlough:
It’s been a month since we made the very difficult decision to close Walt Disney World Resort until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. I hope you and your loved ones are remaining safe and healthy. All of us are thinking of you and appreciate your commitment to helping our community navigate this time. As you know, it takes all of us working together to get through this and get our community back together again.
I thought it was an appropriate time to connect and share an update about our efforts to safeguard our guests and Cast Members, as well as how we are working with many valued community partners to help people when they need it most and bring a sense of hope to the world around us.
Like our many businesses in our region and across the world, COVID-19 led all of us to look at our business closely and make decisions with our Cast Members’ interest being top of mind. Beginning Sunday, April 19, we will begin a temporary furlough for the majority of our workforce. This was not an easy decision by any means, but I can tell you we have our Cast Members best interests top of mind, including making certain they will continue to receive full healthcare benefits, with Disney paying both the company and the employee share of the premiums during the furlough period. Also, for those Cast Members currently enrolled in our education program called Disney Aspire, they will continue to have full access to this benefit, which enables them to gain higher education degrees and critical skills 100 percent free of any tuition cost.
Throughout this, I continue to be humbled and inspired by the spirit of our Cast Members – their passion and their dedication to keeping the Disney magic alive even while at home. I am also deeply grateful for our state and local civic leaders along with many community partners who have worked tirelessly on maintaining the safety and well-being of our Florida and Central Florida family. This spirit is truly moving. And of course, to those in the healthcare industry and to our first responders, our sincere gratitude cannot be measured. You are working around the clock, on the front lines, to help those with the illness recover and those not yet exposed stay safe. Thank you.
Here at Walt Disney World, along with other Disney teams across the country, we’ve been focused on how we can give in big and small ways. Right here in Orlando, we provided surplus unused food to Second Harvest Food Bank to distribute to food banks locally, masks and rain ponchos to healthcare workers throughout Florida, sweet treats to first responders and Easter flowers to bring joy to Osceola County senior residents in quarantine. I can assure you, we won’t stop there.
Someday soon, we will reopen to welcome our guests and our cast. Until then we will continue to take care of the special place we call Walt Disney World Resort. As we work towards that special day, I look forward to continuing to work alongside our strong Central Florida family and most importantly, I look forward to seeing you all again soon.
Take care of yourselves.
Walt Disney World Resort
Florida cast members will be auto-enrolled in the state’s unemployment database.