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Furloughed Disney Workers Start Returning Ahead of Reopening

Walt Disney World plans to bring back thousands of its furloughed workers over the next few weeks, and may need to move some of those employees around to replace its college interns, says a union leader.

Eric Clinton, who leads Local 362, gave his union members an update earlier this week and shared some details online.

During June, all Disney full-time attractions and custodian workers, and a large number of part-timers, will be called back to work.

Union members who work at the company’s water parks, which have no immediate plans to reopen, as well as vacation planners and others at closed Disney properties, will have the option to transfer to other jobs where there are shortages.

Disney Vacation Club hotels and Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground are reopening June 22, and the theme parks will follow in July.

“With a focus on the health and wellness of our cast members and guests, we have worked with the unions on a thoughtful plan to bring thousands of our existing cast members back to work as soon as possible in a safe and responsible way,” Disney spokeswoman Andrea Finger said.

Clinton added that Disney is also in need of employees to clean around ride queues and to take positions that maintain social distancing in the lines, as guests await temperature checks to enter the theme parks.

The company has no plans to bring back seasonal workers or to resume the Disney College Program immediately, according to the union.

“If anyone thinks that college program workers are coming back anytime soon, they are mistaken,” Clinton said.

In addition, the international workers from Epcot’s World Showcase who returned home will be temporarily replaced by domestic workers, Clinton said.

However, Disney hopes to eventually bring them back.

Employees will also staff Spaceship Earth, the ride inside Epcot’s globe, since the ride’s renovation has been postponed indefinitely and it will remain open.

Clinton also explained that features such as Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, an outdoor musical held at Hollywood Studios, may not be allowed to continue for at least a while.

Meanwhile, other rides may need to be closed at times for cleaning

“Disney has not shared those details with us,” Clinton said. “What we do know is there’s going to be a massive need for attractions workers across property. … There’s going to be a lot of work that needs to be done.”

The company previously announced it is temporarily eliminating parades, character meet-and-greets and fireworks at its parks.

Workers will undergo temperature checks at work; they will be sent home if they have fevers, but will receive paid time off while they quarantine, Clinton emphasized.

The Magic and Animal kingdoms will reopen July 11, while Epcot and Hollywood Studios reopen July 15.

Disney’s competitors are opening earlier. Universal Orlando theme parks will be back up and running on Friday, and SeaWorld Orlando gets back in action June 11.