Coronavirus fears have shut down two of the most popular tourist destinations in Southern California: Universal Studios Hollywood and the Disneyland Resort.
A spokesperson for the Walt Disney Company released a statement Thursday afternoon saying, “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”.
Up the road, rival park Universal echoed similar reasoning, “The health and safety of our team members and guests is always our top priority,” said a spokesperson for Universal Studios Hollywood. “Out of an abundance of caution and in response to the guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health, Universal Studios Hollywood will temporarily close beginning Saturday, March 14,” they added. “The theme park anticipates reopening on March 28 as we continue to monitor the situation.”
Disneyland will keep its hotels open until Monday, March 16 "to give guests the ability to make necessary travel arrangements." Park officials plan to work with guests looking to change or cancel visits and will provide refunds to those who have booked hotels during this new closure.
The closing of Disney's parks is a significant move. John Hodulik of UBS recently told the Wall Street Journal that estimates the two-day closure of the Florida park in 2017 following Hurricane Irma was a $100 million hit to Disney's operating profits.
Universal's Citywalk, a collection of shops and restaurants will remain open as will Disney Downtown which also features eateries and stores.
As of Thursday, there was no word yet of whether either company will close their Orlando theme parks as well.
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In Asia, both Hong Kong and Tokyo Disneyland remain closed amid the coronavirus outbreak. Shanghai Disney partially reopened earlier this week as new cases in China were reportedly on the decline. Todd Juenger of Bernstein told the Journal that if Disney's parks around the world closed for 45-days it could cost the company $2 billion.
This is the fourth time in its 65-year history that Disneyland has completely suspended its operations. Past events included 9/11, the Northridge earthquake, and the national day of mourning following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
The announcements come as the City of Los Angeles is putting an end to gatherings of more than 50 people on civic property and closing the doors of City Hall to the public over concerns from the coronavirus.