Disneyland announced today it will close in response to the coronavirus outbreak in California.
“In the best interest of our guests and employees, we are providing with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California adventure, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month,” a statement from Disney Parks read.
The statement noted that Hotels at the Disneyland resort will remain open until March 16 to allow guests to make travel arrangements and that Downtown Disney will remain open.
The coronavirus has swept across the Golden State – there are at least 184 coronavirus cases and 4 deaths related to the novel virus.
On Thursday, California Governor Gavin Newsom and state health officials urged residents in the Golden State to cancel gatherings of more than 250 people until the end of March.
Despite state health officials’ recommendations, Newsom’s advisory does not carry the force of the law – guidance on gatherings provided by the California health officials explicitly say that gatherings “should be postponed or canceled” across the entire state. The types of gatherings health officials recommended delaying included concerts, conferences, and professional, college, and school sporting events.
The guidance also noted that certain activities that are essential for life in the state must continue, adding that these recommendations apply to “essential public transportation, airport travel, or shopping at a store or mall.” However, it does not explicitly say whether theme parks are included in the essential or non-essential gatherings.
Disneyland is one of California’s largest employers with 31,000 workers, the Orange County Business Journal reported. A study by California State University-Fullerton credits Disneyland Resort with creating $8.5 billion in economic impact, which could have helped build a case to keep the Anaheim, California theme park open.
However, with an average of 50,000 visitors sprawling the park’s nearly 100 acres, it would blow past state health officials’ recommendations on large gatherings in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. At one point in December, the Disney park temporarily stopped selling daily tickets when it reached its capacity of 80,000, the L.A. Times reported.
Remaining open would also put the Disney’s cast members at risk – one employee claimed they’ve heard little response from management about the parks’ response to COVID-19, the Verge reported.
Knott’s Berry Farm, another theme park located in Buena Park, California, confirmed that it remained open today despite Newsom’s announcement on Wednesday.
A spokesperson told the LA Times that it “is aware of the new guidance issued by the state of California last night regarding large events based on the COVID-19 outbreak. Knott’s Berry Farm is open today as we understand and evaluate what this means for our park, our guests and our associates.”
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Tokyo Disney is the only other Disneyland resort location that has closed in the wake of the pandemic, USA Today reported.
The resort will remain open today and tomorrow – the LA Times noted that daily tickets to Disneyland were still available for purchase. And pictures on Instagram appeared to show individuals donning the Minnie Mouse ears with the iconic Disney castle looming in the background.
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A page on their Disney Parks website outlined its response to COVID-19, which include providing additional hand sanitizers throughout the park, increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high contact areas, and announcements on good hygiene practices and preventative actions.
“As part of our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our Cast Members, Guests and the larger community, we are carefully monitoring the situation and are in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance,” read a statement on the Disneyland website. “We continue to implement preventive measures in line with their recommendations and the input of our medical teams.”
WATCH: Disney announces summer opening of new California Adventures Avengers Campus (provided by KABC-TV)
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