More than half of Walt Disney World employees will be furloughed Sunday

BAY LAKE, Fla. — More than half of Walt Disney World employees will stop getting paid by the company, with more than 40,000 employees being furloughed Sunday.

Channel 9’s Deanna Allbrittin spoke with an employee about her and her co-workers’ fears and when they think they will return to work.

Estefania Villadiego said she knew from her last day at work that she wouldn’t be back at the end of March as Disney originally said.

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But even though she saw a long furlough coming, she said she is stressed about being unemployed.

“I was freaking out. It was very, very scary,” she said.

Facing unemployment hasn’t been easy for Villadiego, especially because she knows Disney World, now empty, is usually the opposite of social distancing.

Villadiego said she believes it will be at least the end of the year before things are back to normal.

And it may be far beyond that before Disney is packed with people again.

Two weeks ago, a Wells Fargo analysis estimated the predicted recovery process for Disney World crowd attendance could take up to two years.

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Ninety percent of SeaWorld workers are already furloughed, and Universal has cut pay across the board by 20% through May 31.

With so many out of work, Villadiego finds it hard to imagine there will be many jobs available.

Without jobs, Villadiego worries she and thousands of other families will struggle with the meager benefits provided by Florida’s challenged unemployment system that has struggled to get claims filed.

“I don’t think you can survive with $275 a week. You know how much the rents are in Orlando?” Villadiego said.

Even for those who are getting help, it’s not clear how quickly they will be able to see money in their bank accounts.

Since March 15, the state has only paid out 5% of claims filed.