Universal Studios Hollywood Layoffs Disclosed As Theme Parks Await Reopening In California

Universal Studios Theme Park is closed as the coronavirus continues -March 14, 2020- Getty-H 2020
Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Six Flags says it will cut 240 full-time employees.

As theme parks await guidance from the state of California on reopening amid the pandemic, operators are undergoing multiple rounds of layoffs.

Since July 1, Universal Studios Hollywood has temporarily laid off at least 849 employees and permanently cut 1374 staffers in Los Angeles County, according to filings with California's Employment Development Department. And Six Flags, which runs Magic Mountain in Valencia, said on Tuesday that it would be laying off 240 employees at the company.

"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," a spokesman for Universal Studios told The Hollywood Reporter on Monday of the furloughed workers. "We remain hopeful that we will be able to welcome them back to work at some point in the future."

Universal Studios Hollywood's part-time hourly workers were furloughed back on May 3.

Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood have been shuttered since mid-March. However, both destinations' shopping and dining districts are open, allowed under current pandemic county tier guidelines.

On Oct. 12, Gov. Gavin Newsom said he was sending a team of his staffers to Florida to visit Walt Disney World and likely Universal Orlando for a firsthand account of how the theme parks are operating amid the pandemic. Both Orlando destinations reopened, albeit with a significantly caped capacity, over the summer.

Theme park operator Six Flags stated on Tuesday that it is "committed to reducing its full-time workforce by approximately 240 employees, or 10 percent, as part of its transformation productivity initiatives," according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Affected employees are being offered severance pay in accordance with Company policy or, if applicable, their employment agreements, as well as outplacement services. As a result, the Company expects to record employee severance costs of approximately $1.5 million in the third quarter of 2020 and approximately $3.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2020."

Those announcements came days after the California governor was heavily criticized for saying he was in "no hurry" to move forward with plans to reopen the SoCal theme parks. Amid the stalemate between theme parks and Newsom, Disney disclosed 28,000 layoffs and Disney chairman Bob Iger resigned from the state's economic coronavirus task force.

Disney CEO Bob Chapek noted Monday while a guest on CNBC, "It seems to me that the guidelines that are set up by the state of California are more stringent than any state across the country."