As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to impact everything from sporting events to movie releases in the U.S., the happiest place on Earth is also taking a hit. On Thursday, March 12, Disneyland announced it would close because of coronavirus, while Disney World in Florida is still operational. For now, the parks are following health officials' guidelines, but if the coronavirus continues to spread, it's possible that Disney World will temporarily close, just as the parks in California, Shanghai, Tokyo, and Hong Kong have done.
California Governor Gavin Newsom and state health officials recommended canceling "gatherings of 250 or more people" across the state on Thursday due to coronavirus concerns, per the Los Angeles Times. While it initially seemed like Disneyland would remain open, by the afternoon, Disney had issued a statement announcing the park would close for only the fourth time in its history.
The statement read in part:
"While there have been no reported cases of COVID-19 at Disneyland Resort, after carefully reviewing the guidelines of the Governor of California's executive order and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure, beginning the morning of March 14 through the end of the month."
The resort's hotels will remain open until March 16 to give guests a chance to make travel arrangements. Disney also shared that cast members will be paid throughout the closure.
Even as Disney World remains open, COVID-19 could spark travelers to cancel or postpone upcoming spring break trips. Whether you're planning to visit Disney World soon, or you're wondering about the possibility of getting a refund for your Disneyland vacation, read on to find out how the parks are dealing with the coronavirus.
Will Disney World Close During The Coronavirus Outbreak?
There are currently no plans for Disney World to close, but it's important to remember that the outbreak is an ongoing situation. As the coronavirus has spread in Asia, the Shanghai, Tokyo, and Hong Kong Disney parks have also closed (although Shanghai Disney Resort began reopening some shops and restaurants on Monday).
On Tuesday, chief medical officer for Disney Parks Dr. Pamela Hymel issued a statement that read:
"As part of our commitment to the health and well-being of our cast, guests and the larger community, we are carefully monitoring the evolving coronavirus situation and are in regular contact with health agencies for information and guidance. Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort, are welcoming guests as usual and we continue to implement preventive measures in line with the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health agencies."
What Is Disney World Doing To Protect Visitors From Coronavirus?
The Disney Parks blog outlines the steps that Disney World and Disneyland are taking to keep visitors safe during the coronavirus outbreak. In her statement, Hymel shared the preventive measures that are being implemented, which she said includes "additional hand sanitizers throughout the park, increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection in high guest contact areas, and providing information about good hygiene practices and illness prevention to our guests and cast members."
In additions to those precautions, the park will continue to implement their usual procedures, per the website, including:
- Training for cast members.
- Frequent cleaning and disinfection of targeted areas.
- Providing easy access to handwashing facilities and hand sanitizers.
- Quick response to spills, trash, and other situations.
- End of day sanitation procedures for restrooms, kitchens, and other facilities.
- Frequent cleaning and “wash down” of outdoor locations, including walkways and queues.
Can I Get A Disney World/Disneyland Refund Because Of Coronavirus?
In addition to announcing that Disneyland will be closing due to the outbreak, Disney also reassured future guests that they will be working with them to change their visit date or cancel their vacations. "Disneyland Resort will work with guests who wish to change or cancel their visits, and will provide refunds to those who have hotel bookings during this closure period," per the statement.
Disney World hasn't shared whether it's updating its cancellation policy due to COVID-19, so it seems that the standard cancellation policy outlined on the website still applies. Guests who cancel their Disney hotel stay at least five days in advance of their arrival will receive a full refund. If you cancel with four days or less notice, you'll forfeit the first night's rate plus applicable tax.
Vacation packages should be canceled at least 30 days in advance to avoid a penalty — although given the extenuating circumstances, it would be worth reaching out to Disney World on a case by case basis. Additionally, one day passes can be used on a day other than the one you booked if your trip must be postponed. Tickets purchased in 2020 must be used before Dec. 30, 2021.
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here.