- Disneyland announced on Thursday that it would close its gates on Saturday through the end of the month amid the coronavirus outbreak in California.
- Gov. Gavin Newsom recommended cancelling gatherings of more than 250 people but earlier said it would not apply to Disney’s park.
- Disneyland is one of California’s largest employers and has an average of 50,000 visitors each day.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Disneyland announced on Thursday that it would close on Saturday in response to the coronavirus outbreak in California.
“In the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month,” Disney Parks said in a statement.
The statement said that hotels at the Disneyland resort would remain open until Monday to allow guests to make travel arrangements and that Downtown Disney would remain open.
— Disney Parks News (@DisneyParksNews) March 12, 2020
It is only the fourth time in the park’s history that operations have been fully suspended, and the first time since 9/11.
The coronavirus has swept across the Golden State, which has reported at least 184 cases and four deaths.
On Wednesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom and state health officials urged cancelling large gatherings of more than 250 people until at least the end of March.
But the advisory is not a law. And on Thursday afternoon, before Disneyland’s announcement, Newsom said it didn’t apply to Disneyland and Universal Studios “because of the complexity of their unique circumstances.”
The California health officials’ guidance says gatherings like concerts, conferences, and sporting events “should be postponed or cancelled” across the state.
The guidance also noted that certain activities must continue, adding that the recommendations didn’t apply to “essential public transportation, airport travel, or shopping at a store or mall.” It did not specify whether theme parks were included in essential or non-essential gatherings.
Disneyland has an average of 50,000 visitors a day
Disneyland is one of California’s largest employers, with 31,000 workers. A 2019 California State University-Fullerton study commissioned by Disney’s parks division credited Disneyland with creating $US8.5 billion in economic impact, which could have made a case for keeping the theme park open.
However, with an average of 50,000 visitors a day sprawled across nearly 100 acres, Disneyland would blow past state health officials’ descriptions of large gatherings. At one point in December, the Disney park temporarily stopped selling daily tickets when it reached its capacity of about 80,000 people, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Remaining open could also put Disneyland’s cast members and employees at risk. One employee told The Verge earlier on Thursday that they’d heard little from management about the park’s response to the outbreak.
Knott’s Berry Farm, another theme park in Buena Park, was open on Thursday despite Newsom’s announcement on Wednesday.
A Knott’s Berry Farm representative told the Times it was “aware of the new guidance issued by the state of California last night regarding large events based on the COVID-19 outbreak,” adding that the park was open “as we understand and evaluate what this means for our park, our guests and our associates.”
Tokyo Disneyland also closed on Wednesday amid the pandemic,USA Today reported.
A page on the Disney Parks website outlined its earlier response to COVID-19, which included providing additional hand sanitizer throughout the park, increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high-contact areas, and announcing good hygiene practices and preventative actions.
“As part of our commitment to the health and wellbeing of our Cast Members, Guests, and the larger community, we are carefully monitoring the situation and are in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance,” a previous statement on the website said. “We continue to implement preventive measures in line with their recommendations and the input of our medical teams.”
This article has been updated.
- Read more:
- California banned gatherings of 250 people or more and said smaller ones should happen only if people stand 6 feet apart
- Where to buy toilet paper online during coronavirus-related shortages
- The US has reported 38 coronavirus deaths among more than 1,350 cases. Here’s what we know about the US patients.