Walt Disney Co. this afternoon announced it will shut down Disneyland in California due to the continued spread of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Disneyland will close on Saturday, March 14, through the end of the month. Disney hotel guests have until Monday, March 16 to vacate. This marks just the fourth time in its history the park has closed.
“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,” the company 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 shutdown is not that much of a surprise given that California Gov. Gavin Newsom called for gatherings of 250 or more people to be canceled or delayed to slow down the spread of the virus. Also not a surprise given that such entities as the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and National Hockey League temporarily halted their seasons, and the NCAA Basketball Tournament was canceled outright for this year.
In 60 years, Disneyland closed just three previous times – the morning after the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, after the Northridge earthquake in 1994, and on the morning of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
Now all eyes turn to Disney World in Florida.
Disney closed its parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong in January and has also temporarily closed its parks in Japan as well. But Disney World in Orlando, Fla., is the crown jewel, drawing more visitors than any other theme park in the work. Closing the parks in Florida is the No. 1 item on the agenda for new Disney CEO Bob Chapek, who has had to wrestle with whether to close the park too soon at the height of the spring break season or close too late and risk being criticized for being too opportunistic.
Disney did not mention Disney World in its statement.
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