The Way We Work Now

I Just Lost My Job at the Happiest Place on Earth

Disney laid off thousands of workers like me while they padded executives’ paychecks

Mai Tran
Published in
5 min readOct 15, 2020


Photo: Matt Stroshane/Walt Disney World Resort/Getty Images

The Way We Work Now is a series chronicling how people’s lives and careers have fundamentally changed because of the pandemic.

Kayla, who is in her twenties, worked at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, until she was furloughed in March. She spoke with Mai Tran about being one of the 28,000 Disney employees who were laid off at the same time that executives saw their paychecks bounce back to pre-Covid-19 levels.

I started out as an intern in the Disney College Program in 2018. It’s a very difficult program to get into, but I was fortunate to get accepted on my first try. I’ve been telling my parents since I was in the fifth grade that I was going to work at Disney someday. It was a dream of mine. Once I did the Disney College Program, I ended up sticking with the company and I’ve been with them ever since. I’ve had two different roles, as a lifeguard in the college program and as a seater and general teller at ’Ohana, at the Polynesian Resort.

I found out Disney was closing while I was at my shift at ’Ohana. They told our managers first, and once our shift ended, the managers had a…