UPDATE 5:40 P.M. PST: Walt Disney World in Orlando WILL be following the lead of its California sister site and closing down for the rest of the month. In addition, the new announcement includes similar news about Disneyland Paris and the Disney Cruise Lines. Here’s the complete statement:
“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. 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.”
UPDATE 4:58 P.M. PST: Universal Studios has now joined Disney in shutting its doors. In a statement on Thursday, a spokesperson shared:
“The health and safety of our team members and guests is always our top priority. Out of an abundance of caution and in response to the guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health, Universal Studios Hollywood will temporarily close beginning Saturday, March 14. The theme park anticipates reopening on March 28 as we continue to monitor the situation. We will provide timely updates as conditions evolve.”
Two weeks. We can only hope all this will blow over by then…
Still no word from Disney World in Orlando, btw.
We were really starting to wonder if Disney was taking the coronavirus seriously or what!
While on the studio side, upcoming blockbusters Mulan and Black Widow are some of the only movies coming out in the next month which haven’t been delayed, and when it comes to the parks, well… things were starting to look awfully shady.
On Thursday California governor Gavin Newsom ordered the cancelation or postponement of all gatherings over 250 people — including movie premieres, sporting events, and concerts. However, casinos and theme parks were exempted from the ban. When asked why, Newsom said he “had a conversation with (Disney executive chairman) Bob Iger yesterday” after which the decision was made:
“We’ve been meeting with leaders of those respective industries. The complexity of their unique circumstance requires additional conversation, different kind of engagement, and in real time, we’re in those conversations and engagement… The reason we didn’t do it is because of the complexity of their unique circumstances, but I assure you, we are moving quickly and effectively toward a resolution in those spaces.”
That answer raised quite a few eyebrows; it sounded almost like Disney had convinced the government to let them stay open!
However, very shortly afterward, Disney announced they would indeed be shutting down their Anaheim parks, both Disneyland and California Adventure, saying in a carefully worded statement:
“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.”
They said hotels would stay open through the weekend to give guests time to make travel arrangements elsewhere.
The Mouse House also saved a little face by promising to pay their employees throughout the shutdown, which will last at least two and a half weeks — but honestly who knows how much longer?? As the statement said:
“We will monitor the ongoing situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies.”
Not-so-fun fact: this is only the 4th time in history Disneyland has shut down; previous times include after the John F. Kennedy assassination in 1963, the Northridge earthquake in 1994, and after the September 11 attacks in 2001.
[Image via WENN/Avalon.]