4,000 Disney Employees Expected to Be Laid Off This Week, with More to Come

We’ve known big Disney layoffs were coming since Bob Iger announced in February that 7,000 roles were to be cut from across the company. But it’s still a shock when the layoffs actually arrive — and now they’re here.

Starting today, Disney will lay off 4,000 employees, with all notifications expected to be delivered to those whose roles are eliminated by Thursday. A smaller round of layoffs began in March. A third round will bring the company to 7,000 total by the beginning of summer.

Hourly, public-facing roles (or “cast members”) at the Disney Parks will not be affected, as the Parks remain overwhelmingly the biggest revenue stream for the company. But most other departments of the company will lose salaried roles, from Disney Entertainment, headquartered in Burbank, to ESPN, and corporate Disney Parks, Experiences, and Products roles in New York and Connecticut. Under previous CEO Bob Chapek last November, a targeted hiring freeze was instituted as well as a review of content and marketing spends as well as new limits on employee travel.

The move follows the general euphoria with which Hollywood, and Disney employees, greeted the ouster of Chapek in November, and the news that his predecessor Bob Iger, arguably the most successful CEO of The Walt Disney Co. since Walt himself, would return to the role. But a challenging business landscape faces the entire industry, and Iger found it necessary to steer Disney toward becoming a leaner, meaner company.

That meant reorganizing the company into just three segments: Disney Entertainment, ESPN, and Parks, Experiences, and Products. Gone was Chapek’s distribution group that would make summary decisions about the release of content without creatives’ input (yay!), but also gone would be 7,000 jobs (ouch).

A note to Disney Entertainment employees from executives Alan Bergman and Dana Walden reads as follows:


As you all know, a few weeks ago the company began notifying employees whose roles are impacted as part of our overall business realignment and cost-savings efforts. We wanted to share that notifications will continue in many areas of the company over the next several days. In addition, restructuring in various businesses will continue for the next couple of months, and we do anticipate there will be further impacts before the summer, as previously shared. Each team is in a different place in this process, and your leaders will be sharing more context for your group soon.

These are hard decisions and not ones we take lightly – but every decision has been made with considerable thought, and we are doing everything we can to make sure this process is conducted with respect and compassion. The senior leadership teams have been working diligently to define our future organization, and our biggest priority has been getting this right, rather than getting it done fast. We recognize that it has been a period of uncertainty and thank you all for your understanding and patience.

This is a time of transition for Disney, and these changes affect everyone, whether or not your role is impacted. We are committed to supporting you through this period and encourage you to reach out to your leader or HR partner with any questions or for guidance, as needed.

While we are confident that these efforts will better position us for the future, we realize this all takes a toll. We want to acknowledge the impact of this moment and simply reiterate our appreciation for all of you and the passion and dedication you’ve brought to the work we do every day. And for those who will be leaving the company, please know that your contributions are valued and appreciated – you have all played a meaningful role in making Disney what it is today.

With gratitude,

Alan & Dana

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