As reported by Variety, Disney has decided to shut down its Disneyland park in California due to the state’s recommended ban on large public gatherings due to the COVID-19 virus. The California parks will remain closed until (at least) the end of March. In a statement, Disney noted that there have been no reported cases of the coronavirus at the park, but it decided that it was in “the best interest of our guests and employees” to close the park. This will go into effect on March 14, and Disneyland’s hotels will remain open until March 16 so anyone staying there can make alternate stay or travel arrangements. The company also adds that it “will continue to pay cast members during this time,” which is worth pointing out because it’s not necessarily a given.
This is just the fourth time Disneyland has enacted an all-day unscheduled closure since the park opened in 1955. The first was on Nov. 25, 1963, for the national day of mourning for President John F. Kennedy. The second on Jan. 17, 1994, after the Northridge earthquake. The third on Sept. 11, 2001.
Thursday’s announcement came shortly after California Governor Gavin Newsom admitted that certain businesses, specifically “casinos, card rooms, theaters,” and large theme parks were exempt from its ban on large public gatherings of over 250 people. That included large tourist destinations like Disneyland and Knotts Berry Farm, with Newsom saying that the “unique circumstances” of places like that required “additional conversations” about what to do, so keeping them open seemed like a craven desire just to make money even in the face of a global pandemic. Newsom also pointed out that the ban was more of a “strong recommendation” that couldn’t really be enforced, so he mostly seemed to be hoping that Californians would understand and adopt the recommendations anyway.
With Disneyland closed, though, we don’t have to trust that people will do the right thing, because—in a surprising move—Disney actually did the right thing. The company already closed its parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Japan, with Disney predicting that Shanghai and Hong Kong alone would account for losing $280 million in revenue. Closing Disneyland will most likely be similarly impactful.
Update: Universal Studios has also announced that it will be closing, beginning on March 14 and going until March 28. At least going off of the statement that Deadline has shared, there was no mention of employees still getting paid. There’s also no word on if Universal’s park in Florida will also be closed, as the statement only pertained to the California branch.