Disneyland, Disney World, Universal Studios Hollywood to Close Due to Coronavirus

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The closures take effect Saturday.

Disneyland will shut down operations due to the coronavirus outbreak, The Walt Disney Co. said Thursday. The closure takes effect Saturday. Universal Studios Hollywood also said that it will be closing.

The drastic move arrives as total confirmed cases of coronavirus rise to 127,863 worldwide, with 1,323 in the U.S., per Johns Hopkins University's case tracker.

This marks only the fourth time Disneyland has closed since opening July 17, 1955 — after the 1994 Northridge earthquake the park was partially closed while it was inspected for damage, it was fully closed after the 9/11 attacks and fully closed again in 1963 for a national period of mourning after President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

"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.

It added, "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."

In a statement from The Walt Disney Company, a spokesperson said, "In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort, beginning at the close of business on Sunday, March 15, through the end of the month."

The company further noted, "Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning Saturday, March 14, through the end of the month. The Walt Disney Company will pay its cast members during that closure period.  The hotels at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice. The retail and dining complexes, Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and Disney Village at Disneyland Paris, will remain open. Domestic Walt Disney Company employees who are able to work from home are being asked to do so, including those at The Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Television, ESPN, Direct-to-Consumer, and Parks, Experiences and Products. We will continue to stay in close contact with appropriate officials and health experts."

The news came as something of a surprise as just hours prior, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Disneyland and other large theme parks were not required to comply with his order against large gatherings to counter the spread of the coronavirus. Newsom noted that he spoke Wednesday with Disney’s executive chairman, Bob Iger, about the situation.

"This is heartbreaking, but it's the right thing to do. I just hope they honor their obligations to their employees," Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Roy O. Disney, co-founder of The Walt Disney Co., said on social media. She is not part of the Walt Disney Co. 

Universal Studios Hollywood will be closed starting Saturday and the theme park anticipates reopening on March 28.

Earlier this week, Disney officials tried to ease the concerns of would-be park visitors. Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Disney Parks, said Disneyland and Walt Disney World were already exceptionally clean destinations, but more was being done in the wake of the growing pandemic.

“As part of our commitment to the health and well-being of our cast, guests and the larger community, we are carefully monitoring the evolving coronavirus situation and are in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance,” Hymel said Tuesday in a statement. 

Highlighting the usual cleanliness procedures of the parks, Hymel pointed out certain practices, which includes defined cycles for frequent cleaning and disinfection of targeted areas, access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizers, and end-of-day sanitation procedures for restroom, kitchen and other facilities.

Shanghai Disney Resort, Walt Disney Co.'s flagship theme park in China, reopened some restaurant and shopping establishments Monday, a tentative step toward the eventual reopening of the full park.

However, the theme park itself remains closed, which it has been since Jan. 25 due to the coronavirus outbreak. Hong Kong Disneyland closed around the same time, followed by both Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea near the end of February.

The Walt Disney Family Museum — which is not formally associated with The Walt Disney Co. — closed its doors this week after a relative of an employee tested positive for the coronavirus. On Thursday, the museum announced the employee, too, tested positive. It is unclear when the Presidio of San Francisco nonprofit, founded by the late Diane Disney Miller, will reopen.

As for Universal Studios Hollywood, spokesman Tom Schroder said the health and safety of guests and team members is their top priority for their parks.

"We are in frequent contact with health officials, our own health experts and others in our industry and we are closely monitoring the situation," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "We are communicating with our team members and reinforcing our best-practice health and hygiene procedures. We are also educating them on basic preventive measures."

Continued Schroder, "In addition, we are reviewing and enhancing our already aggressive cleaning protocols. And for the comfort and convenience of our guests, we are increasing the number of hand-sanitizer units in our parks. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and be ready to act as needed.

On Friday, SeaWorld announced it would close all parks from March 16 until at least the end of the month. 

Paramount Studio Tours also announced that "out of an abundance of caution for the health and safety of our guests, all studio tours are temporarily on hold." Sony Pictures Studio Tour has also suspended all tours. Warner Bros. also canceled tours. 

Legoland California is postponing its grand opening of The LEGO Movie World, as well as all previously scheduled media-related activities, over growing concerns of the new coronavirus outbreak, a spokesperson confirmed to THR. "The health and safety of our guests and our staff is always our top priority and we are continuing to implement preventive measures in line with the recommendations of the CDC guidelines," the spokesperson shared. The San Diego amusement park is implementing its rainy day policy, while still planning on opening on Friday amid other theme parks closing. 

March 12, 3:25 p.m. Updated with Universal Studios Hollywood closing.
March 12, 5:18 p.m. Updated with statement from The Walt Disney Co.
March 12, 5:23 p.m. Updated with Paramount Studio Tours closing.
March 12, 6:03 p.m. Updated with Sony Studio Tours closing.
March 12, 6:37 p.m. Updated with statement from Legoland.