Disney will close parks in its Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California, Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and Disneyland Paris following concerns about contributing to the spread of the novel coronavirus. The company will continue paying cast members (the company’s terminology for employees) during the closure.
“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 orders, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure beginning the morning of March 14th through the end of the month,” a statement reads. Disney World in Orlando and Disney Paris will close beginning March 15th.
Disney has faced mounting public pressure to close its parks in recent weeks as the coronavirus outbreak has grown into a global pandemic. On March 12th, California Governor Gavin Newsom told press that parks like Disneyland are exempt from the state’s ban on public gatherings because the “complexity of their unique circumstances requires additional conversation, a different kind of engagement in real time.” Other major public events, including SXSW in Austin and Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, were postponed or canceled due to coronavirus.
Pamela Hymel, chief medical officer for Disney parks, said in a statement just this week that Disney parks are exceptionally clean destinations, but acknowledged the company is keeping an eye on things.
“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 on March 10th. “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.”
There are more than 134,000 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, and extreme precautions are being taken to contain the spread as that number is expected to rise. More than 4,900 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Update March 12th, 8:25PM ET: Disney issued a statement announcing it will also close its parks in Disney World Resort in Orlando and Disneyland Paris. Parks will close beginning on Sunday March 15th, and stay closed through the end of the month. Part of the resorts will remain open, including retail and dining experiences at Disney World Resort. The hotels at Disney World Resort and Disney Paris will remain open for now, according to a statement from the company. The story and headline been updated to reflect these changes.