Disneyland Opens to Crowds On Last Day Before Coronavirus Closure

Disneyland California - Getty - H 2020
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Doors opened to the park at 8 a.m. and guests were ready.

A long line of guests patiently waited to enter Disneyland one more time Friday before its temporary shutdown due to the coronavirus. 

The decision was made Thursday by the Walt Disney Co. to close its parks in North America and Paris out of an abundance of caution as the world grapples with the virus, which has caused panic buying, sporting events to cancel and many businesses to order their employees to work from home. 

"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 Thursday statement.

Still, according to pictures posted to social media and Disney's official park app, plenty of guests were not worried and wanted to spend one more day at the Anaheim destination — even in the rain. 

Doors opened to the park at 8 a.m. One guest shared a picture he took of the large line of those hoping to get in the virtual queue to ride the park's latest, greatest attraction: Rise of the Resistance in the Galaxy's Edge land. 

Nearly 30 minutes after the park opened, the longest waits were for Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run, also in Galaxy's Edge, which was at 40 minutes, and the Indiana Jones ride, at 45 minutes, according to the Disneyland app. 

By the afternoon, it appeared, according to the Disney app, that crowds had thinned somewhat, most wait times for rides being around 10 - 15 minutes. The longest wait at 1:30 p.m. was 30 minutes for Smugglers Run. 

Into the evening, ride times continued to be short. Around 8 p.m., no wait exceed 30 minutes, most were around 20 minutes. 

Before the decision was made to close the California park, Disney officials stressed they were doing all that could be done to prevent coronavirus spread. 

Dr. Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Disney Parks, said Disneyland and Walt Disney World are already exceptionally clean destinations, but more is 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. "Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort are welcoming guests as usual, and we continue to implement preventive measures in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies."

Highlighting the usual cleanliness procedures of the parks, Hymel pointed out certain practices, which include 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.

During the temporary closure, Disneyland will donate excess food inventory to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County, officials said. "Last year, the Disneyland Resort donated over 20,000 meals to Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County through the food donation program, and Disney VoluntEARS regularly volunteer there, supporting the mission of ending hunger," they company said in a media release. 

On Thursday, Universal Studios Hollywood also said it would be closing its park through the end of the month. 

8 p.m.: Updated for the evening. 

1:30 p.m.: Updated for the afternoon.