A day after California governor Gavin Newsom strongly suggested the state cancel any public events involving more than 250 people to quell the spread of coronavirus, the Walt Disney Company has announced they’ll close their California parks starting this Saturday, March 14. Parks and resorts represented $26.2 billion to Disney in the fiscal year of 2019.
The move comes after the company, along with California competitors Knotts Berry Farm and Universal Studios Hollywood, received criticism for being the exceptions to Newsom’s guidelines. Disneyland and Disney California Adventure will close on March 14 and remain closed until the end of the month. Disneyland hotels will shut down March 16 to allow existing guests to find new accommodations. Downtown Disney, the park’s shopping district, is said to “remain open.”
— Disney Parks News (@DisneyParksNews) March 12, 2020
In a statement released on the Disney Parks News Twitter account said: “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 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.”
This is just the fourth time the parks have closed down completely, and will represent the longest closure in their history. They closed November 25, 1963 as part of the national day of mourning for President John K. Kennedy, and in 1994 after the Northridge earthquake. The parks’ last closure was September 11th, 2001. All were single-day closures. The parks have been open seven days a week for several decades, originally being opened Monday through Friday.
Update: It has now been announced that the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, the Disney Cruise Line, as well as Disneyland Paris, will follow suit and close on March 14th with the goal of opening again at the end of the month. Walt Disney World has closed seven times since it’s opening day in the 1970s. Six of those times were for incoming hurricanes while the seventh was because of 9/11. This marks the first time Disneyland Paris or the Cruise line have been shut down for any length of time.
Guests with trips planned throughout the month of March can call the Walt Disney Travel Company for a refund of their tickets and accommodations.