The Walt Disney Company said Thursday that it would close several major parks, including its flagship resort in Florida, because of the coronavirus.
Disneyland, located in Anaheim, California, and its sister park, Disney California Adventure, were the first locations to announce the shutdowns, citing updated warning guidelines on gathering in public spaces from the state health department. It was only the third time in history that Disneyland closed its gates to guests.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Disneyland Resort spokesperson said:
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. The Hotels of Disneyland Resort will remain open until Monday, March 16 to give guests the ability to make necessary travel arrangements; Downtown Disney will remain open. We will monitor the ongoing situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies. Disney will continue to pay cast members during this time.
Disneyland Resort will work with guests who wish to change or cancel their visits, and will provide refunds to those who have hotel bookings during this closure period. Please contact The Walt Disney Travel Company for questions and cancellations at 714-520-5050.
A few hours later, the company said in a statement that "out of an abundance of caution" it would also close the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort, beginning on Sunday, through the end of the month.
Disney Cruise Line will also suspend all new departures on Saturday for the same amount of time. Hotels at the parks will remain open, however, as will the retail and dining complexes.
"We will continue to stay in close contact with appropriate officials and health experts," the statement said.
The parks' decisions came after California officials advised on Thursday that gatherings of more than 250 people should be postponed in order to help stop the spread of the virus — a practice known as social distancing.
But Gov. Gavin Newsom had said earlier on Thursday that Disneyland was not covered by that guidance due to "the complexity of their unique circumstances."
The governor said he had spoken by phone with Bob Iger, executive chair of the Walt Disney Company, to discuss the crisis.
The other two times Disneyland suspended operations were after President John F. Kennedy's assassination and the Sept. 11 attacks.
In 2014, a multistate outbreak of measles began at Disneyland, ultimately infecting 159 people in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
Universal Studios Hollywood also announced it would be closing its California theme park "out of an abundance of caution and in response to the guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health."
The closures will begin Saturday, with the theme park saying it anticipates reopening on March 28 "as we continue to monitor the situation."
The parks are the latest American attractions that have suspended or postponed operations amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, the National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, and the Association of Tennis Professionals suspended games. Major League Baseball also announced it would suspend the remainder of all spring training games and delay the opening day of the regular season by two weeks. A day earlier, the National Basketball Association announced its season would be suspended.
This is the third time Disneyland has closed. A previous version of this story misstated the number of closures.