Universal Studios Hollywood, along with other California theme parks, has been closed since March. The state has issued theme park reopening guidelines but they do not make reopening easy. Theme parks cannot open until their county reaches the lowest COVID-19 risk level.
Universal Studios Hollywood has had to reduce its workforce by almost 7,000 employees through furloughs, layoffs and cuts to work shifts. Some laid-off employees have found new jobs while others are struggling to make ends meet. The uncertainty of theme park reopening has led to depression and anxiety among those let go.
“Work was my escape. It was my outlet and I needed to do it,” said Priscilla Miranda, 30, a furloughed stage manager at Universal Studios Hollywood. “It was something that meant a lot for me. When it got taken away and I was home all the time, I got really depressed.”
Miranda was furloughed in May but, because of a glitch at the state Employment Development Department, did not receive unemployment checks until September. While waiting for the unemployment to kick in, she drained her savings account. “This was my career,” Miranda said. “It wasn’t just a job.”
She has now moved in with her parents in Rialto but she’s not ready to give up on her job at Universal Studios Hollywood. “I don’t want to feel like I’m giving up on it. It’s weird,” she said. “I feel like I would be a quitter if I turn away from it completely.”
Theme park workers continue to hold out hope that they’ll be able to return to work one day, but many have not found other jobs to hold them over until that day.
“The industry is really shut down as far as live entertainment goes,” said Rob Siminoski, a furloughed stage manager at Universal Studios Hollywood. Rob is now collecting unemployment checks and state funding for watching over his elderly mother.
Our hearts go out to those that have lost their job due to the pandemic closures. Hopefully, the theme parks can reopen soon and get people back to work.