BURBANK, Calif. -- The Walt Disney Co. said it will trim 4,000
full-time jobs from its worldwide workforce of 120,000 during the
next few months in response to a weakening U.S. economy that has
impacted its resorts, ABC-TV network and other holdings.
The company's largest job cut in its history is expected to
include some 1,200 of the 56,000 employees at Walt Disney World
Resort in Florida, according to a report in the Orlando
Employees who voluntarily resign will receive a better severance
package than those later selected to be downsized after volunteers
have been counted, according to the parent company.
Randy Garfield, executive vice president for sales and travel
operations at Walt Disney Parks & Resorts and president of the
Walt Disney Travel Co., said that reservations staffing levels
would be more than adequate to meet demand. Also, the level of
guest services and the guest experience will be unaffected,
regardless of any staffing cuts, he said.
Disney World's ongoing projects will continue as planned, he
said, such as the opening of Animal Kingdom Lodge in April; the
opening of phase one of the Pop Century Resort on Dec. 15, and a
yearlong, four-park celebration of Walt Disney's 100th birthday
starting Oct. 1.
The Walt Disney Travel Co., he said, is doing well and bookings
are even "ahead of forecasts."
However, Disney World, which is expected to post a modest
decrease in visitors this year, according to its president, Al
Weiss, is dependent on visitors from sources other than its tour
operation, Garfield said.
Thus, some "softness" in bookings is forecasted from "other
channels," Garfield said, which include the resident market, agents
(except AAA outlets where business remains strong), Disney's select
tour operators (which hold space at its Florida and California
hotels), and the international sector.
As for threatened airline strikes, Garfield said that Disney
would protect passengers booked on its air blocks, adding that
"there are contingency plans in place."