5:48 PM EST, December 23, 2010
The Walt Disney Co.'s theme-park division is eliminating almost a quarter of the jobs within its global business-development group, the unit charged within identifying future growth opportunities for Disney's $11 billion-a-year parks business.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will cut 14 jobs — including 11 in Orlando — from the roughly 65-person global development team.
Disney said the move is designed to eliminate some of the overlap created nearly two years ago when it merged business development with real-estate development as part of broader corporate restructuring. More than half of the jobs will be culled from the real-estate group, whose Disney World projects include Golden Oak, a luxury-home subdivision being built near the Magic Kingdom, and Flamingo Crossings, a long-stalled retail-and-lodging district aimed at budget travelers.
"This will enable us to better align our approach to business development across the segment, eliminate duplication of efforts, and streamline our decision-making," Disney World spokeswoman Andrea Finger said Thursday.
The unit's responsibilities include evaluating whether big-ticket capital projects — from potential theme-park attractions to new lines of business — would generate enough profit to justify construction or start-up costs.
The cuts reflect the growth constraints facing Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, particularly in the U.S., a maturing market with limited expansion opportunities. Disney is increasingly relying on newer ventures, such as its cruise-line and time-share businesses, and overseas markets, such its planned theme-park resort in Shanghai, China, to fuel growth in the parks division, which generated $10.8 billion in revenue last year.
As part of the latest restructuring, the head of the global development unit, Senior Vice President Doug McGuire will move from Orlando to Disney's Burbank, Calif., headquarters, bringing oversight of growth strategy more directly under Disney parks Chairman Tom Staggs. The move is also designed to ensure closer cooperation with Walt Disney Imagineering, the company's creative-design unit, which is based in Glendale, Calif.
Disney alerted employees whose jobs are being eliminated last week, though some will be offered other positions within the company. Among those expected to depart is Paul Noland, the senior vice president in charge of business development for Disney parks and the company's current representative on the board of directors of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions.
"All of the impacted cast members have been notified and have been offered the opportunity to work through Jan. 28," Finger said. "We will work with them to identify other opportunities within the company prior to that time."