On Tuesday, Universal Studios said it would extend the date to reopen theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando amid the novel coronavirus outbreak. When the parks closed their doors on March 14, the plan was to reopen on April 1. But that date was pushed to April 19.
The Walt Disney Co., whose North American parks closed the same weekend as those of Universal Studios, has been mum on whether its April 1 reopening date will also be pushed, which will likely be the case under new states’ orders.
Currently, the state of California is under a stay-at-home order from Gov. Gavin Newsom, which means all non-essential businesses must close their doors. Disney had already closed its parks when the order was put into place on March 19. Previously, when Newsom offered “guidance” that all gatherings of more than 250 people should be postponed or canceled to prevent the spread of coronavirus, he noted that Disneyland, casinos, card rooms, theaters and other large parks were allowed to remain open.
Disney and Universal Studios made the decision to close anyway on the same day the governor said they were exempt: March 12. It is assumed Disneyland would not be allowed to reopen under the current state order. The governor’s office could not be reached for comment and, as of Thursday afternoon, Disney has given no indication of its plan for its parks.
In Orlando, the earliest Disney World would be allowed to reopen is 11 p.m. on April 9 under the Orange County stay-at-home order. Orange County officials confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel that Disney is included in the order.
For the moment, the website for Disneyland states the parks will be closed through March 31, which has been the message since March 12: “While there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort to date, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California’s executive order, and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we have closed Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, from March 14 through Tuesday, March 31, 2020, as currently scheduled.” The website for Walt Disney World also has a similar message.
Universal Studios made its announcement to push back reopening nearly a week after Jeffrey Ghazarian, a 34-year-old California man who died of complications due to the coronavirus, reportedly visited the Florida park (along with Disney World) days before he became ill.
“Our thoughts are with this gentleman and his family. As is always the case, we will take our guidance from local health officials,” Alyson Lundell, spokeswoman for Universal Orlando, told The Hollywood Reporter on March 19.
A Disney spokesperson said at the time, “We offer our deepest condolences to the family of Mr. Ghazarian. We continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and remain in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance.”