The park had been expecting a banner holiday season as China prepared to celebrate the new Year of the Rat (or the Mouse). But after authorities confirmed that the virus had been found in every province in China except two, Disney joined other public facilities nationwide in closing its doors.
The Walt Disney Co. is preparing to close its Shanghai Disney Resort in response to the growing outbreak of coronavirus currently sweeping China.
As of Friday afternoon, local time, China’s National Health Commission had confirmed 875 cases of coronavirus infection nationwide, with 26 deaths. Most troubling, all but two of the country’s 31 provinces and municipalities had reported cases of the virus, suggesting that Beijing’s belated but now aggressive measures to contain the infection were falling short.
Disney said Friday that it would be joining public facilities across China, including the nation’s 70,000 cinemas and the Forbidden City in Beijing, in closing its gates. Public health officials have urged citizens to avoid congregating in crowded public spaces. Disney said it would close the theme park and facilities surrounding it on Saturday.
“We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and be in close contact with the local government,” Disney said in a statement on its website and posted across social media. “We will announce the reopening date upon confirmation,” it added.
The public health crisis in China has already dealt a hammer blow to the Beijing film industry, forcing studios to cancel the release of their biggest movies during the most popular moviegoing week of the year. The Disney closure arguably marks the first moment when the virus has had a significant impact on a U.S. entertainment firm. The Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, is China’s busiest travel and vacation period, and the holiday has delivered big attendance numbers to Disney’s Shanghai park in years past.
Shanghai Disneyland had planned several special attractions to draw in guests to celebrate the traditional family holiday with some Western entertainment. Mickey, Minnie and the other Disney characters were outfitted in special Spring Festival costumes crafted by Chinese designer Guo Pei, while special red and gold lanterns were hung to line the roads and alleys of Mickey Avenue. The park also created an extra-impressive fireworks display to explode over the compound every night of Spring Festival. The show will to be accompanied by an underscore of traditional Chinese music narrated by Mickey himself.
Read Disney’s full statement below:
In response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety of our guests and Cast, Shanghai Disney Resort is temporarily closing Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown including Walt Disney Grand Theatre and Wishing Star Park, starting January 25, 2020. We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and be in close contact with the local government, and we will announce the reopening date upon confirmation.
Shanghai Disney Resort will assist in the refund for guests who have purchased tickets for admission to Shanghai Disneyland, have booked a resort hotel, or have booked tickets for Beauty and the Beast Mandarin Production through the original ticket purchase channel, and we will introduce the detailed procedure and guidelines via the resort’s official platforms as soon as possible.
We wish our guests a healthy and happy Spring Festival!