Orlando, March 13: Disney has announced that it was closing the Walt Disney World, its flagship theme park resort in Orlando, Florida, for nearly two weeks starting Sunday because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Throughout its nearly 50-year history, Walt Disney World has closed briefly because of looming hurricanes and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Orlando Sentinal said in a report on Thursday.
In a statement on Thursday night, the company said that in Orlando, the four theme parks will shut down by the end of Sunday, but the hotels and the Disney Springs shopping centre will remain open.
“In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of our theme parks,” Disney said in a statement.
“We will continue to stay in close contact with appropriate officials and health experts.”
The Disney Cruise Line is also suspending all new departures starting from Saturday.
Disney World theme park employees, which make up the largest workforce in Orlando, will continue to get paid.
Employees in other company divisions were asked to work remotely, the Orlando Sentinal quoted the statement as saying.
Shortly after Disney’s announcement, Universal also said on Thursday night that its theme parks were closing on Sunday most likely through the end of the month.
Universal hotels and Universal CityWalk will remain open.
SeaWorld Orlando does not have immediate plans to close and was monitoring the situation, spokeswoman Lori Cherry said late Thursday night.
Disney’s Thursday night announcement came on the heels of Disney parks being closed in Asia, said the Orlando Sentinal newspaper.
Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland have been out of operation since late January, and the two theme parks at Tokyo Disney resort have been shut since February 29.
On Thursday, Disneyland and Disneyland Paris were added to that list and by the end the day, so was Disney World, which means every Disney theme park on the planet will be shut down.