ORLANDO (CBSMiami/AP) – Walt Disney World laid off 720 actors and singers on Wednesday since many of the theme parks’ live entertainment shows have gone dark due to the pandemic.
According to the Actors’ Equity Association, the labor union representing the performers, said only 60 Equity performers are working or returning to work at the theme park resort.
The performer layoffs were part of The Walt Disney Co.’s plans to eliminate 28,000 jobs in its parks division in California and Florida because of restrictions and costs from the pandemic. Two-thirds of the planned layoffs involve part-time workers.
“Our hearts go out to all the cast members at Walt Disney World,” said Kate Shindle, president of Actors’ Equity Association. “Disney has made it clear that our members would face work reductions since they announced layoffs of nearly 28,000 employees. That does not make this news any less painful.”
The union said the laid off performers would maintain their right to be recalled for job openings until the end of 2021.
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Walt Disney World is now allowing visitors to spend more time in its parks on Fridays and Saturdays.
According to the Disney calendar, the Magic Kingdom, which currently closes at 6 p.m. weekdays, will stay open until 8 p.m. on Friday and 9 p.m. on Saturday. Epcot, which is open until 7 p.m., will close at 9 p.m. on Friday and 10 p.m. on Saturday. Disney’s Animal Kingdom will stay open until 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Disney’s Hollywood Studios hours remain the same with the park closing at 7 p.m.
On Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis said during an appearance in central Florida that he has lobbied President Donald Trump to loosen travel restrictions from critical travel markets like Brazil and Europe, in hopes of jump-starting tourism into the state’s tourist attractions and beaches.
On Wednesday, Florida health officials confirmed 4,115 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing the statewide total since the pandemic began to 790,426. The state also confirmed 66 new deaths on Wednesday, bringing the death toll from COVID-19 to 16,775.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)