The theme park industry is just something that could not cope in a COVID-19 world. These places that rely so much on large crowds of people, sometimes very much one on top of the other at times, were shuttered back in the spring. There has been a lot of debate about what a theme park in a COVID-19 world looks like, and while some parks have opened, both Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood have both had to remain closed. The state of California won't give them the signoffs they need to open the parks for complying with COVID-19 guidelines. That lead to a bunch of cast members at Disneyland getting laid off, and now we have some numbers out of Universal. According to Deadline, Universal Studios Hollywood has cut more than 1,300 jobs permanently and temporarily laid off 849 workers since July.
A rep for Universal was asked about the number of layoffs but didn't comment on them. They did provide a statement that said:
"Due to our park closure, we recently furloughed team members and provided the state with the required notification. We are maintaining health benefits for these impacted team members and covering the full cost until further notice. We remain hopeful that we will be able to welcome them back to work at some point in the future."
So at least Universal isn't cutting health benefits for the people who had health benefits during a pandemic, so that's good, I suppose. However, a lot of friends I know that have worked at theme parks do it part-time and maybe used those funds to pay for their healthcare through the ACA. These are also the people that would be let go when push comes to shove.
At the end of the day, working at a theme park like Disneyland or Universal is often a labor of love. It's a job, of course, but it's also something that people tend to do when they are very passionate about said park. So we extend our condolences to the 2200+ people who currently do not have jobs mere months before the holiday season.