Universal Orlando laying off workers just two weeks after reopening

The cuts come after Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay reopened with reduced capacity and new safety measures.
Park guests arrive at the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Fla.
With attendance down and coronavirus cases rising, it could be years before some theme parks return to their pre-pandemic levels.Zack Wittman / Bloomberg via Getty Images

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By Ahiza García-Hodges

Universal Orlando has laid off a number of employees across various departments, including its parks and resorts division, a spokesperson confirmed on Wednesday.

The cuts come just weeks after Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s Volcano Bay reopened on June 5 with reduced capacity and new safety measures.

It's unclear exactly which departments and how many employees have been affected.

Comcast, the parent company of the parks and of NBC News, has taken a financial hit from the coronavirus pandemic. In April, Comcast reported first-quarter earnings for 2020 that showed theme park revenue had decreased 31.9 percent to $869 million, "primarily due to the closures ... as a result of COVID-19."

The theme park industry is one of the sectors most heavily impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Disney furloughed workers in April and has faced pushback on its plans to reopen theme parks across the country in mid-July.

SeaWorld Entertainment announced in late March that it would be temporarily furloughing over 90 percent of its employees, who would not receive compensation during the period.

Six Flags, which released first-quarter earnings in April, has seen a 20 percent decline in revenue due to the pandemic.

Universal's parks have been closed since mid-March, and with tourism still down, the industry could take years to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

"We have made the difficult decision to reduce our Parks & Resorts workforce across multiple locations and business units,” Universal Orlando spokesman Tom Schroder said in a statement. “This decision was not made lightly, but was necessary to prepare us for the future.”

Laid-off workers will receive severance pay, subsidized health benefits and professional reemployment help, Schroder said.

Claire Atkinson contributed.