Disney World resorts back to pre-pandemic employment, executive says

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Walt Disney World celebrated the reopening of a hotel resort and a restaurant Tuesday, marching closer to being fully back to normal nearly a year and a half after the pandemic shut the region down.

Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort displayed new Moana-themed rooms, complete with beach decorations and images of the hero girl and her animal friends.

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Across the pond, the Grand Floridian opened its restaurant, Citricos, which sported a new Mary Poppins Returns theme and a matching classic menu.

This leaves four resort hotels still to open. The next will be the Animal Kingdom Lodge in August. The last will be Disney’s All Star Sports Resort, which is anticipated to open in December.

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However, executives with the company say employment is closer to pre-pandemic norms.

“We are actually on par with our pre-pandemic numbers, and we’re continuing to hire every single day,” Maribeth Bisienere, senior vice president of Walt Disney World Operations, said.

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Bisienere added that the parks and resorts expected to exceed the 2019 workforce numbers in the future.

A spokeswoman for the company said some upgrades and projects put on hold by the pandemic had resumed work, though she declined to give specifics.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.