Disney has temporarily closed its California theme park — starting March 14 through the end of the month — because of the coronavirus outbreak. The move to shutter its park comes as the novel virus continues to rapidly spread across the country. Over the past week it has officially become a pandemic, with cases increasing in the U.S., Asia and across Europe.
Disneyland Resort hotels will remain open until March 16 so guests can make necessary travel accommodations.
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It’s only the fourth time in history that Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., has fully suspended operations. The other instances were the Sept. 11 attacks, the morning after JFK’s assassination and the Northridge earthquake.
Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., currently remains open.
“While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California’s executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month,” Disney said in a statement. “The Hotels of Disneyland Resort will remain open until Monday, March 16 to give guests the ability to make necessary travel arrangements; Downtown Disney will remain open. We will monitor the ongoing situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies. Disney will continue to pay cast members during this time.”
The company added, “Disneyland Resort will work with guests who wish to change or cancel their visits, and will provide refunds to those who have hotel bookings during this closure period.”
Disney was slow to close doors to its theme parks, despite cancellations of major entertainment industry events like South by Southwest and Coachella. The NBA suspended its season Wednesday night after a player tested positive for coronavirus.
But the theme park closure seemed inevitable after California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday called for gatherings with more than 250 people to be canceled or delayed in an effort to halt the transmission of the virus. Officials have also been encouraging “social distancing” of six feet per person.
Disney closed its parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong in January, and has also temporarily closed its parks in Tokyo as well. The Shanghai Disney Resort will reopen some shopping, dining and entertainment options on Monday, but the main theme park will remain shuttered. Disney reported that it could lose $280 million in revenues due to closures in Shanghai and Hong Kong alone.
In a newly issued press release Thursday afternoon, Newsom indicated that more them park closures would be coming soon.
“Late last night, California put out a new policy on mass gatherings and engaged in deep conversations with Disney and other companies about how to meet it. Using that policy, Disney made the right call in the interest of public health and agreed to shut down their California parks. Expect more announcements like this shortly.”
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