Disneyland, California Adventure to temporarily close due to coronavirus threat

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- The Walt Disney Co. on Thursday announced the temporary closure of the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in response to the expanding threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The closure will go into effect on Saturday and last through the end of March. Downtown Disney will remain open.

There are currently six COVID-19 cases in Orange County, according to health officials.

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In a statement, a spokesperson for Disneyland Resort noted that there have been no reported cases of novel coronavirus at the popular tourist destination in Anaheim, adding that the decision to close was made "after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the governor of California's executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees."

Hotels at Disneyland Resort will stay open until Monday to give guests a chance to make travel arrangements.

Disneyland employs more than 30,000 people. Those workers will continue to be paid during the shutdown. Disneyland Resort says it will work with guests who wish to change or cancel their visits and provide refunds to those with hotel bookings in the closure period.

Disney author David Koenig says not counting weather-related closures, the theme parks have closed only three other times in 65 years.

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"There was the day after President Kennedy was shot, there was 9/11, and then there was a press day back in 2005 before the big media event for the 50th anniversary, and that's it. There's been nothing since," Koenig said.

The announcement comes the day after California health officials recommended the cancellation of gatherings of more than 250 people, including sporting events and business conferences.

Gov. Gavin Newsom described Disneyland as a "nation-state" environment with 1,000 people boarding rides every hour and attending shows, parades, and visiting hotels and restaurants.

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The governor said he had spoken to Bob Iger, Disney's executive chairman, as well as casino and theater leaders about the "complexity of their unique circumstances" which required a "different conversation."

Tokyo Disney Resort closed on Feb. 28 and is expected to remain shut down through March 15. Both the Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort were shut down in January due to the outbreak of the virus.

Meanwhile, Universal Studios in the San Fernando Valley will temporarily close starting Saturday, March 14 and is expected to reopen March 28. Knott's Berry Farm in Buena Park will also close beginning Saturday, March 14 and is expected to reopen in April.

Legoland in Carlsbad and SeaWorld in San Diego remain open.

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