Coronavirus US: Disney announces it’s closing California parks

Walt Disney Co announced Thursday that it is closing its parks in California due to the coronavirus pandemic as its stocks continue to sink following a leadership change announcement in February. 

Shares of Disney fell 13 percent on Thursday alone as the closure was announced.  

Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure will both shut their gates starting on Saturday morning and remain shuttered at least through the end of the month, the company said. 

The move comes as as leadership change leaves investors unsure of the company’s long term potential. After 15 years, Bob Iger announced the decision to step back and handed over the reins to Bob Chapek. 

Its stock has fallen 28% since the leadership change was announced. 

Disneyland will temporary close the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in response to the expanding threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Thursday

Disneyland will temporary close the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in response to the expanding threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Thursday

Disneyland will temporary close the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim in response to the expanding threat posed by the coronavirus pandemic, it was announced Thursday

The closure takes effect Saturday and lasts through the end of March

The closure takes effect Saturday and lasts through the end of March

The closure takes effect Saturday and lasts through the end of March

Disney stocks dropped by 13 percent on Thursday alone as the closure was announced

Disney stocks dropped by 13 percent on Thursday alone as the closure was announced

Disney stocks dropped by 13 percent on Thursday alone as the closure was announced

Disney said that there have been no reported cases of coronavirus at Disneyland Resort, but that the parks were being shut down in accordance with an executive order from California Governor Gavin Newsom banning large public gatherings. 

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are next door to each other in the Los Angeles suburb of Anaheim.  

It will only be the sixth time in history that Disneyland Park has made an unscheduled closure. 

The resort says hotels will remain open until Monday so guests can make travel arrangements. 

Previous unscheduled Disneyland closures 

Disneyland has previously had only five unscheduled closures:

  1. In 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
  2. August 7, 1970, due to an anti-Vietnam riot instigated by the Youth International Party. 
  3. December 16, 1987 due to a winter storm.
  4. In 1994, for inspection after the Northridge earthquake.
  5. In 2001, after the September 11 terror attacks.

California on Thursday joined Washington and Oregon in banning non-essential public gatherings of more than 250 people.

Newsom said smaller events could proceed, but only if attendees distance themselves from each other by at least six feet.    

‘Changing our actions for a short period of time will save the life of one or more people you know,’ Newsom said. 

‘The people in our lives who are most at risk – seniors and those with underlying health conditions – are depending on all of us to make the right choice.’ 

More than 1,770 coronavirus cases have been reported in the US as of Thursday morning, prompting the cancellation of festivals, conferences, political rallies and other events across the nation.

Disney’s move was just the latest high-profile closure as authorities raced against time to contain the spread of the deadly virus. 

It also spelled another large challenge for its new CEO Chapek. 

The coronavirus was already an issue when Chapek took over but has since become a pandemic as cases worldwide rise over 120,000. 

 ‘We’re always very conscious of disruptive elements, socioeconomic, social elements that could come in at any time and disrupt our business,’ Chapek said when he took over. 

‘But I think when you have the core assets that we’ve got, those franchises, the Disney brand, once again, we’ll sort of see our way through all those disruptive elements. Doesn’t mean that we won’t get surprised tomorrow, but we’ve got the strength to get through them all.’

The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure is seen in a file photo at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim

The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure is seen in a file photo at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim

The Little Mermaid – Ariel’s Undersea Adventure is seen in a file photo at Disney California Adventure Park in Anaheim

Latest figures in the United States as of 12am on Friday morning stand at 1,758 cases and 41 deaths

Latest figures in the United States as of 12am on Friday morning stand at 1,758 cases and 41 deaths

Latest figures in the United States as of 12am on Friday morning stand at 1,758 cases and 41 deaths

Across the country, the entertainment industry prepared for an unprecedented shutdown, canceling upcoming movies, suspending all Broadway performances and eliminating live audiences from television shows until it’s safe to welcome crowds back.

To accommodate calls for social distancing, Hollywood moved to pause the normal hum of TV productions and the bustle of red-carpet movie premieres. 

After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo banned gatherings of more than 500 people, Broadway theaters announced that they would close immediately and remain dark through April 12.

The closures amount to a nearly complete halting of the industry, from Lincoln Center to Hollywood, and the largest-scale shutdown of many of the country’s major arteries of culture.

The upcoming ‘A Quiet Place 2’ and the latest ‘Fast & Furious’ movie joined the many postponements that have erased much of the upcoming movie release calendar. The Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic and Carnegie Hall all canceled events through March 31.

The dawning awareness of the virus’ reach had already forced the cancellation or postponement of all major imminent events on the calendar, including the sprawling South by Southwest conference and festival in Austin, Texas and Hollywood’s annual movie expo CinemaCon, in Las Vegas.

Also shuttered were this month’s Kids Choice Awards in Los Angeles; the sunny California music festival Coachella, which was put off until October; and big television events like the NBA season, which was put on hiatus after a player tested positive for the virus. The NHL also suspended its season.

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