How America’s biggest theme parks are responding to coronavirus

Various theme parks across the country have been closing their doors in response to the spread of the coronavirus, which the World Health Organization (WHO) classified as a pandemic on March 11. The spread of and prevention efforts over COVID-19 have forced high-profile cancellations, such as South by Southwest, Coachella, and the Electronic Entertainment Expo, along with various major movie delays.

After the WHO announcement, California Governor Gavin Newsom called for the banning of public gatherings of 250 or more, putting pressure on Disneyland to make a formal move. Despite previous, ambiguous plans, Disney officially closed its California locations on March 14, with the the Florida parks closing their doors on March 15.

The Disney resorts are just a few of the many theme parks across the country, where thousands of guests flock to each and every day. While some, like Universal Studios, have also made the call to shut doors, others are keeping the parks open or still readying for an upcoming tourist season. We’ll update this story as new information emerges.

Disney announced that its locations in Florida would close on Sunday, March 15 through the end of March. This includes Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios.

Update (March 16): Disney is shutting down all of its stores and dining locations in both Downtown Disney and Disney Springs starting March 17. Additionally, all Disney-owned and operated hotels will be closed starting March 20, to give guests time to make alternate accommodations.

Disney’s California locations, including Disneyland and California Adventure, closed their doors on March 14 through the end of the month. Disney has stated that they will work with guests when it comes to rebooking and will also provide hotel refunds to those with rooms booked during the closure period.

Update (March 16): Disney is shutting down all of its stores and dining locations in both Downtown Disney and Disney Springs starting March 17. Additionally, all Disney-owned and operated hotels will be closed starting March 20, to give guests time to make alternate accommodations.

All Universal Studios locations in the United States — Universal Studios Orlando, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, and Universal Studios Hollywood — will temporarily close. Universal Studios Hollywood will close on March 14 with plans to tentatively reopen on March 28. Florida locations will shut doors on March 15. Dining and retail locations at Universal’s Citywalk in Orlando will remain open, as will hotels.

Update (March 16): SeaWorld announced it would close parks starting March 16 through the end of the month. Animal caretakers will continue to look after the animals in the parks.

“The health and safety of our guests, ambassadors and animals are our top priorities,” reads a blog post. “Our parks employ experienced health and safety teams and have protocols to follow high sanitary and cleanliness standards in line with the CDC recommendations.”

Update (March 16): Owned and operated by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, both Busch Gardens locations are now closed till the end of the month.

Coronavirus/COVID-19: What you need to know

The spread of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, has unfortunately been characterized by an abundance of misinformation about the virus and xenophobia pertaining to its origins. To help educate our readership, we’ve compiled helpful explanations from our sibling sites The Verge and Vox.com. You can find answers to the most common questions in the links below:

Everything you need to know about the coronavirus

Coronavirus: News and updates on new cases and its spread

9 questions about the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak, answered

Of all the parks that fall under the vast Cedar Fair umbrella, only Knott’s Berry Farm is open year-round. On March 13, Cedar Fair announced that Knott’s Berry Farm will be closed until the end of the month, beginning March 14.

The other locations (Cedar Point, California’s Great Adventure, Canada’s Wonderland, Carowinds, Dorney Park & Wildwater Kingdom, Gilroy Gardens, King’s Dominion, King’s Island, Michigan’s Adventure, Valleyfair, and Worlds of Fun), which open their doors starting in late March and throughout the spring, are scheduled to continue opening as usual. A letter from CEO Robert Zimmerman states the following:

All Cedar Fair properties intend to welcome guests in accordance with our published schedules, and we continue to implement preventive measures as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as our own health and hygiene protocols. All our parks and resorts have high standards of cleanliness, which assists with illness prevention.

Update (March 16): Six Flags announced that its two open locations in California, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom and Six Flags Magic Mountain, would close their doors till the end of the month.

Six Flags president and CEO Mike Spanos previously released a statement addressing concerns about COVID-19.

“We are taking several actions to help you feel confident about your health and safety while you are in our parks. We have significantly enhanced our cleaning and sanitation efforts on all guest and employee touch points; additionally, we are providing an abundance of anti-bacterial soap in all hand-washing stations, and have placed dozens of alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout all areas of the parks,” reads the statement. “Finally, we are frequently cleaning and disinfecting all ride vehicles, queue lines, restrooms, food locations, and employee break areas.”

Update (March 16): Hershey has closed its Hershey’s Chocolate World locations in NYC and Philadelphia.

The Pennsylvania-based theme park intends to open its doors as usual on April 4. A letter from president and CEO John Lawn reads:

As part of our commitment to your health and well-being, we are carefully monitoring the COVID-19 situation with regular updates and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, as well as additional government agencies and health care providers. We are also working closely with our partners throughout the amusement park, entertainment and lodging industries.

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