All Disney Parks, Universal Studios Hollywood Close Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

  • All Disney Parks, Universal Studios Hollywood Close Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
    Universal Studios Hollywood expects to reopen on March 28, while Disneyland foresees opening its doors again at the end of the month. All Disney Parks, Universal Studios Hollywood Close Amid Coronavirus Pandemic
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 Disney is temporarily shuttering Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland Paris, beginning this Sunday and lasting through the end of the month, due to the coronavirus pandemic. It follows the news that Disneyland California and Universal Studios Hollywood are temporarily closing starting March 14 as well.

The announcement means all Disney parks worldwide will be closed by next week.

The Disney Cruise Line is also suspending all new departures beginning Saturday through the end of March. The Walt Disney Company will pay its cast members during that closure period.

The hotels at Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice, as will the retail and dining complexes, Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and Disney Village at Disneyland Paris.

Universal Studios Hollywood expects to reopen on March 28, while Disneyland foresees opening its doors again at the end of the month.

“The health and safety of our team members and guests is always our top priority,” said a Universal Studios spokesperson. “Out of an abundance of caution and in response to the guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health, Universal Studios Hollywood will temporarily close beginning Saturday, March 14. The theme park anticipates reopening on March 28 as we continue to monitor the situation. We will provide timely updates as conditions evolve.”

Disneyland Resort hotels will remain open until March 16 so guests can make necessary travel accommodations. Universal CityWalk remains open, as does Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

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 John F. Kennedy’s assassination and the Northridge earthquake.

“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, though Disneyland and other theme parks were exempted from that guidance. 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 shuttered 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 shut. Disney reported that it could lose $280 million in revenues due to closures in Shanghai and Hong Kong alone.

Disney heiress Abigail Disney, who has been critical of low wages for theme park employees, wrote Thursday on Twitter, “This is heartbreaking, but it’s the right thing to do. I just hope they honor their obligations to their employees.”

In a newly issued press release on Thursday afternoon, Newsom indicated that more theme 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,” he said. “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.”

Per the California Dept. of Public Health on Wednesday, the new guidance is as follows through the month of March:

The California Department of Public Health finds the following:
Large gatherings that include 250 people or more should be postponed or canceled.
This includes gatherings such as concerts, conferences, and professional, college, and school sporting events.
Smaller gatherings held in venues that do not allow social distancing of six feet per person should be postponed or canceled.
This includes gatherings in crowded auditoriums, rooms or other venues.
Gatherings of individuals who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 should be limited to no more than 10 people.
This includes gatherings such as those at retirement facilities, assisted living facilities, developmental homes, and support groups for people with health conditions.
A “gathering” is any event or convening that brings together people in a single room or single space at the same time, such as an auditorium, stadium, arena, large conference room, meeting hall, cafeteria, or any other indoor or outdoor space.
This applies to all non-essential professional, social, and community gatherings regardless of their sponsor.
Knott’s Berry Farm closed early Thursday due to inclement weather but otherwise remains open for business. A spokesperson said it is “aware of the new guidance issued by the State of California last night,” and “is open today as we understand and evaluate what this means for our park, our guests and our associates.”