Thousands of salaried workers at Walt Disney World were asked Monday to cut their work week to 32 hours as the company stepped up cost-cutting efforts.
The move will mean 20 percent less in their paychecks for 7,400 workers at Disney's parks, hotels and administrative offices.
Disney also trimmed the hours of some attractions and restaurants and fired an unspecified number of contract workers.
The company's higher-paid employees join the ranks of the attraction's 40,000 hourly workers, who have seen their work schedules sharply reduced since the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., which devastated the tourism industry.
Also Monday, Disney fired an unspecified number of highly paid contract workers in its technology segment. The company would not confirm the estimates by other Disney employees that about 40 contract workers, some at the attraction for as long as five years were dismissed effective Oct. 19.
Disney spokeswoman Marilyn Waters said the reduced workweek was a way to "save some jobs" and that employees would be able to keep insurance and retirement benefits. Waters said the voluntary work reductions were "an opportunity" to employees "because some people would like to do that for lifestyle reasons." However, she said, if there weren't enough takers it would not automatically mean that some jobs would be abolished.
But that possibility was clearly implied. About 1,000 salaried Disney World workers were laid off before Sept. 11. They were caught up in cutbacks that included Disneyland in California.
The Monday offer of voluntary reductions was made only to Orlando-area workers, an indication that Disney World has been harder hit than Disneyland by the fallout from the terrorism attacks.
Even before Sept. 11, Orlando's attractions were having a bad year compared with Disneyland. In the third quarter that ended June 30, revenue for the California attraction rose about $100 million from the same period a year earlier, while Disney World's numbers fell by about that amount.
The disparity has much to do with the demographic differences in the two parks' markets: Disneyland draws huge attendance from a steady supply of West Coast visitors who drive there. Disney World relies heavily on tourists who fly in from the North, Midwest and overseas. Reduced airline schedules have hit hard at Disney World's so-called "destination" trade.
Among the cost-cutting measures Disney World has adopted are eliminating some live stage shows on certain days, such as Disney-MGM Studios' Beauty and the Beast.
And Monday it went further. At Epcot, most of the Future World section at the front of the park will be open for three hours less each day. The hours were trimmed to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., compared with 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
A handful of Future World attractions will remain open until 9 p.m.: the Spaceship Earth and Test Track rides, Honey I Shrunk the Kids show and Innoventions pavilion.
Epcot's World Showcase section, which consists largely of restaurants and shops representing nations throughout the world, will open an hour later -- at noon -- and still close at its usual 9 p.m.
"We still have more entertainment than guests can experience in a day," Waters said.