Disneyland, Disney World to close amid coronavirus concerns

Christopher Palmeri and David R. Baker

Walt Disney Co. is closing its theme parks in Florida, California and Paris in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and will suspend all new cruise departures starting Saturday.

The closings in Florida and France followed a decision earlier Thursday to shutter the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The entertainment giant acted after California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order banning gatherings of more than 250 people.

“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,” Disney said in an email. The cruise suspension will run through month’s end.

Visitors walk toward Sleeping Beauty's Castle in the background at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. on Jan. 22, 2015.

The action means a big chunk of Disney’s business is going offline just weeks before spring-break revelers typically pack its parks and hotels. The company’s TV business is losing a key source of programming and ads with the virus-related shutdown of professional sports. And the movie business has been hurt, with release of the potential blockbuster “Mulan” put off indefinitely.

Hotels at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice, the company said. Retail and dining complexes, Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and Disney Village at Disneyland Paris, will remain open, too.

Company hotels in California will remain open until Monday, Disney said, and its Downtown Disney shopping area will be available to the public. The company will continue to pay park employees during the closure.

Domestic 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.

“Disney made the right call in the interest of public health and agreed to shut down their California parks,” Newsom said in a statement.

Guests watch a show near a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista on  Jan. 9, 2019.

Disney, the world’s largest theme-park operator, has already closed its parks in Asia. The company’s Shanghai resort had a limited opening of some non-theme-park operations this week.

The entertainment giant isn’t alone in shuttering theme parks. Universal Studios Hollywood is also closing on Saturday.

Disney said there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus at Disneyland, which is located in Anaheim, California.

Although Disneyland occasionally closes because it reaches capacity, it’s rare for the park to shut down entirely.

Disneyland Paris had previously suspended parades and character meet-and-greets. Three Disneyland Paris employees tested positive for the virus.