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Disneyland closing for third time in history as major theme parks shutter in response to coronavirus

(Washington Post illustration; iStock)

Disney and Universal Studios are closing several theme parks through the end of the month as fears mount that large gatherings will help spread the novel coronavirus.

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disneyland Paris Resort and two iconic Anaheim, Calif. attractions — Disneyland Park and Disneyland California Adventure — are all shutting down this weekend out of an “abundance of caution,” the Walt Disney Company announced Thursday. The properties had continued to draw enthusiastic crowds even as the coronavirus’s rising global toll stoked concern.

It was just the third such shutdown at Disneyland in history, which closed in 1963 after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and in 2001 due to the terror attacks of Sept. 11.

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Disney Cruise Line will also suspend departures starting Saturday through the end of March, the company said. Cast members will be paid during the closures, it added, and hotels at Disney World and Disneyland Paris will stay “open until further notice.” The company has asked domestic employees who are able to work from home to do so, it said.

Also closing this weekend are Universal Studios’ theme parks in Hollywood and Orlando, Calif., the company said Thursday.

California has barred mass gatherings to combat the coronavirus. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said Thursday that the new statewide measure concerning large events would not yet apply to casinos, theaters and large theme parks, explaining that those industries had raised enough “legitimate concerns” that officials would allow more time to discuss repercussions.

But Disney announced later in the day that it would close its two California parks despite having “no reported cases” of covid-19 there. Universal Studios Hollywood, too, said it was closing beginning on Saturday in accordance with the California officials’ recommendations.

The closures in Anaheim will start Saturday, Disney says, but Disneyland Resort hotels will stay open until Monday so that guests can make travel arrangements. The company said in a statement that it will “work with guests who wish to change or cancel their visits” and refund people who booked during the shutdown period.

Hannah Sampson contributed to this report.

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