Things have been changing quite a bit all over Disney World, and it seems like more change is constantly on the way.
Recently, we’ve seen Disney change part of its mask policy as it relates to outdoor photos and we’ve seen things like self-service drink stations become available again. In terms of what’s coming in the future, we’ve heard a bit about the modified version of a popular show that will be returning this summer. And when it comes to Cast Members — it seems like things are changing too with more jobs becoming available. So what’s going on and what could it all mean?
Furloughs and Layoffs
Last year, due to the park closures, many Cast Members were furloughed. The furloughs impacted thousands of Cast Members, and Disney warned its Cast Members to prepare for these furloughs to be for an extended period of time.
When Disney World first reopened, Disney started calling back Cast Members to its hotels and restaurants, and eventually thousands of Cast Members were called back to work in various roles throughout the Resort.
But, others became part of the 32,000 Cast Members, primarily in the Disney Parks, that were laid off. This included many performers and other staff from fan-favorite shows, entertainers of all kinds, and more.
Click here to read more about how you can help Cast Members who may have been furloughed or laid off.
What’s Happened Since Then and Going On Now?
Since Disney World first reopened, a LOT of things have changed. Capacity has gone from 25% to 35%, more hotels have reopened, more restaurants have reopened, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park has reopened, and we’ve seen some seriously BIG crowds in the parks on some days. And, in some ways, we’ve seen some changes that indicate things are sort-of returning to “normal.”
With lots of guests visiting and more places for those people to go and stay, comes the need for more Cast Members.
Over time we’ve seen some more Cast Members get called back to the parks. But, recently, we actually saw Disney announce that they are opening up additional applications to hire more Cast Members in the Attractions, Custodial, Merchandise, and Quick-Service Foods Departments in both the parks and resorts, on what appears to be a part-time basis.
And Disney’s not the only one hiring for positions in the Resort. The Patina Restaurant Group is hiring for spots at their various Disney World restaurant locations and even offering a signing bonus for many roles. We even saw Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ announce a job fair back in March.
What Does It All Mean?
Basically, it seems like Disney and other companies that own restaurants in Disney World have been doing a decent amount of hiring recently. What could it all mean?
From what we understand, Disney has not yet called back all of their furloughed employees. It’s unclear what the exact terms of the furloughs were, but in August of last year they did warn some employees that the furloughs could last for much longer.
So what could Disney’s new hiring mean for those still on furlough? Does it mean furloughed employees may have fewer opportunities to work at Disney in the future as these other roles get filled by other part-time workers? It’s unclear.
Some of the positions, at least the ones that Disney is hiring for directly, also appear to be part-time. It’s possible that Disney is focusing on hiring more part-time workers rather than full-time roles for potential financial reasons or otherwise.
There are also a number of Cast Members that previously worked at one location in Disney World and have been called back, but they have been transferred to another location or position. Because some of these Cast Members are shifting around and going to different places, that may also leave certain openings in other places, particularly if those Cast Members decide to stay in their new roles rather than return to their old ones once their old ones become available. Disney may also be hiring for positions that became empty due to those shifts.
According to AllEars.net, one union representing Disney employees had previously negotiated that unionized employees that got laid off would “retain their employment, their seniority, rate of pay including any scheduled increases, and the right to return back to previous job with the Company until October 1, 2022.” Employees who were not part of this union or another union the was potentially able to negotiate similar terms would not have had these protections. Thus, those employees would have been fully laid off. Disney may now be hiring for some of those positions that were left empty by those layoffs.
In other words, Disney Cast Members that were fully laid off (not just placed on furlough) would need to re-apply for these new positions to get hired once more as they wouldn’t have any protections in terms of a “guaranteed” future return to their role.
What about College Program Cast Members? Normally, participants in the College Program work in the Attractions, Custodial, Merchandise, and Quick-Service Foods Departments. And some of these positions are whatDisney is hiring for. While Disney has said that they hope to resume the college program in 2021, we haven’t heard any updates about that. Disney could be hiring right now for roles that normally the College Program Cast Members would fill, at least until the College Program becomes available again.
These hiring posts could also signal that there is a higher demand from guests wanting to visit the parks, and (like we mentioned before) more guests generally means more Cast Members may be needed to ensure things run smoothly. Back in February, Disney’s CEO Bob Chapek noted that Disney has ample demand for its parks. And at least based on some of the days we’ve been there, that seems to be true.
We have seen Park Passes filling up for later in the year, including some reservations for dates all the way into NOVEMBER! It seems people are starting to plan and book their future trips, and perhaps Disney is anticipating those increases in crowds.
Disney could also be anticipating an increase in crowds coming this summer. Based on some of what we’ve seen, it looks like Disney World could be VERY crowded this summer, which is fairly typical for the parks since the summer is when many kids are off of school and families decide to go on vacation. Disney could be seeing this trend, watching their availability for Park Passes filling up, and then planning ahead in terms of hiring enough Cast Members to handle the crowds.
More things are also opening up around Disney World, and when those things open they require Cast Members to be there to get them running. For example, this summer Disney’s Beach Club Resort, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s BoardWalk Inn, AND Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort are all set to reopen.
When those reopen, and when guests begin to stay at them again, Disney will need a whole host of Cast Members to take care of the guests there. That could be a part of the reason behind some of these hires.
And with more individuals becoming eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and more people potentially actually becoming fully vaccinated, more guests may be feeling comfortable enough again to return to the theme parks. Again, this could result in more crowds and a greater need for Cast Members.
Very recently, the Orange County, Florida Mayor also announced that social distancing in Orange County (where part of Disney World is located) may be reduced from 6 feet to 3 feet (effective immediately). The Mayor noted that this change could cause theme parks to increase their capacity.
While we still haven’t seen Disney make any changes in terms of their distancing guidelines or capacity limits, it’s possible that we will see changes made in the future.
That could mean Disney may need even more Cast Members to handle the crowds.
Click here to see the changes that have been announced for Orange County, Florida in terms of its mask and distancing guidelines.
Not to mention Disney knows it’s got its 50th Anniversary celebrations starting later this year, and Park Passes have already started to sell out for the start of the anniversary (so yeah, things are going to be busy)!
Overall, it seems that as the park experience for guests becomes more “normal,” the need for Cast Members likely increases, leading to more potential jobs becoming available.
Only time will tell how things change and develop in Disney World with the crowd levels, guest demand, and more. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more updates on this situation and any other Disney news and let you know about it!
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When are you planning to visit Disney World next? Tell us in the comments.