Disneyland in California announced that it will close its doors starting Saturday in response to the global coronavirus pandemic, adding that it plans to re-open at the end of March. The decision comes despite an exemption from Gov. Gavin Newsom who recently imposed a statewide ban on public gatherings of 250 or more people.
The Walt Disney Co. said in a statement Thursday afternoon that both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure will shut their doors while the Downtown Disney outdoor shopping and dining area will remain open. The Hotels of Disneyland Resort will remain open until Monday to give guests time to depart.
Disney said there have been no reported cases of coronavirus at the Anaheim resort. But the company said it decided to shut down the resort in order to act “in the best interest of our guests and employees.” Disney said it will pay cast members during the shutdown period.
Earlier in the day, Gov. Newsom said that he was granting an exemption to Disneyland from his public gatherings ban. The exemption also includes casinos run by tribal nations. Newsom said in a press conference Thursday that these venues present “unique” circumstances and require additional evaluation.
California has put out a new policy ending mass gatherings of 250+ people to slow the spread of coronavirus. We’ve been working with companies like Disney to meet it.@Disney has agreed to shut down their CA parks. Expect more to come… https://t.co/RlmTaFL2EK
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 12, 2020
Disneyland, which drew 18.3 million visits in 2018, has only shut down on three previous occasions, according to the New York Times: immediately after September 11, 200l; the Northridge earthquake in 1994; and in the aftermath of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
It remains unclear if Disney World Resort in Orlando will also shut down. As of Thursday, the Florida resort remains open to staff and the paying public.
“We are carefully monitoring the situation and are in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance,” the Orlando resort says on its official site. The resort said it has added additional hand sanitizers throughout the park and increased the frequency of cleaning and disinfection.
Disney shut down it parks in Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Tokyo earlier this year as the coronavirus spread from its origins in Wuhan, China.