Disney U.S. Parks to Consolidate Some Operations

LOS ANGELES, Feb 18 (Reuters) – Walt Disney Co said on Wednesday it will streamline some behind-the-scenes operations, including menu planning and ride design, at its two U.S. theme parks to try to offset the effects of the global economic downturn.

The reorganization is effective immediately and will result in new job cuts, but the company would not specify how many.

The changes to non-consumer facing services follow cost cutting measures across the company, including hundreds of jobs cut at Disney’s media networks and parks executive ranks.

Disney Parks Chairman Jay Rasulo said “economic realities” required the company to focus and streamline its operations in a way that “eliminates redundancies.”

Rasulo said that parks division managers were reviewing their operations and considering “appropriate changes” in coming weeks.

Earlier this month, Disney’s parks division reported a 24 percent drop in quarterly operating income and a 4 percent revenue decline in part due to slowing consumer spending.

The new organization calls for Walt Disney Imagineering, the parks’ engineering and design teams, to be consolidated into a single group that handles attractions for all parks.

The company also will create a single domestic group to handle behind-the-scenes services such as maintenance, menu planning and security, for Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Last month, Disney Parks and Resorts offered voluntary buyouts to 600 parks executives at the U.S. parks to trim its administrative costs as hotel bookings slipped at its parks.

The company received “a satisfactory response” to that offer but did not divulge the number of executive positions that would be eliminated.

Disney shares closed down 1.2 percent or 21 cents at $17.63 on Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange. Disney shares most recently traded that low in mid-2003. (Reporting by Gina Keating; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)

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