Coronavirus: Disneyland, Disney World parks close in California, Florida, Paris due to pandemic

Disneyland closes for the fourth time ever due to coronavirus.
Minnie Mouse during the new Magic Happens Parade at Disneyland Anaheim on February 27. Photo credit: Getty

Walt Disney will close its theme parks in California and Florida and its resort in Paris from this weekend through to the end of the month over the global outbreak of coronavirus.

Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures starting on Saturday through to the end of the month.

"We are proceeding with the closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort, beginning at the close of business on Sunday, March 15, through the end of the month," the company said in a statement.

Disney earlier had said that its Disneyland and California Adventure theme parks in Southern California would be closed from Saturday.

The hotels at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice, the company added.

The company's theme parks in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo remain closed after being shuttered earlier this year in response to the coronavirus outbreak, which started in China.

Disney's stock ended down 13 percent, on a day when Wall Street's major indexes all slumped about 10 percent.

No cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, have been reported at the parks in Anaheim, California, a company representative said in a statement. The announcement coincided with statewide restrictions on public gatherings ordered by California Governor Gavin Newsom.

Comcast's Universal Studios theme park near Los Angeles will also close on Saturday with plans to reopen on March 28, the company said.

Newsom ordered a statewide ban on most non-essential gatherings of more than 250 people, including sporting events, business conferences and concerts, but his directive exempted casinos and theatres, as well as theme and amusement parks.

Disney said it decided to voluntarily close its Southern California parks "in the best interest of our guests and employees" after reviewing Newsom's directive.

There have been 198 coronavirus cases documented in California, including four deaths, Newsom said.

Disney-run hotels in Anaheim will remain open through Monday to give guests time to make travel arrangements, the company said. Disney will pay its employees during the shutdown and refund payments for hotel bookings, it added.

Located about 48km south of Los Angeles, the two Disney parks drew 28.6 million visitors in 2018, according to the Themed Entertainment Association.

After Disney's announcement, S&P revised Disney's credit outlook to negative from stable, citing event cancellations and travel restrictions due to the coronavirus.

"The negative outlook on Disney reflects the increased uncertainty around the extent of the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the global economy," S&P said.

It is unusual for Disney to close its theme parks. Brief shutdowns have occurred due to hurricanes and following the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.