Disney theme parks are closing world wide through the end of the month to prevent the spread of COVID-19, popularly known as novel coronavirus. Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and Disneyland Paris, along with Disney Cruise Line, will join Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland in temporarily shutting down.

The decision follows a slew of similar closures and cancellations in the twenty four hours after the World Health Organization officially declare COVID-19 to be a global pandemic.

"We will monitor the ongoing situation and follow the advice and guidance of federal and state officials and health agencies," said a March 12 a statement on the Disneyland website. Downtown Disney at Disneyland, an area full of shopping and restaurants, will remain open for the time being.

Travel News - disneyland
This is only the fourth time in Disneyland's history that the park has closed © Getty Images / Lonely Planet

Disneyland and California Adventure in Anaheim will be closed from the morning of March 14th, while Walt Disney World in Orlando and Disneyland Paris will close at the end of the day on Sunday, March 15th. Disney Cruise Lines will no longer be departing as of Saturday, March 14th until April. Meanwhile, guests at Hotels of Disneyland Resort have until March 16th before lodging follows suit to give time for visitors to make arrangements home, or find an alternative. 

"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," said the statement. "We anticipate heavy call volume over the next several days and appreciate guests’ patience as we work hard to respond to all inquiries." 

The closures in OrlandoAnaheim, and Paris mean nearly every Disney theme park is now closed due to COVID-19. The first parks to temporarily close their gates were Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland, which announced their closures a little over a month and a half ago, followed by Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, and Universal Studios Japan.

Abigail Disney, the grand niece of Walt Disney, on Thursday posted to Twitter of the closures, writing, "This is heartbreaking, but it's the right thing to do."

Hong Kong Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland has also been closed since late January due to the spread of coronavirus ©501room/Shutterstock

This is one of only a handful of occasions when Disney has opted to close its famous theme parks. Other large-scale events that have prompted Disney theme parks to close have included the September 11th attacks in the United States, and the tsunami that struck Japan after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake in 2011. It's extremely rare for multiple Disney parks to be closed simultaneously, and on such indefinite terms. But Disney isn't alone in taking a proactive approach amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Numerous conferences, concerts, and other large gatherings have been mothballed as COVID-19 transmissions have increased worldwide, prompting hashtags like #canceleverything to trend on Twitter. Popular tech and media conference SXSW was cancelled by the City of Austin on March 6th, a week ahead of its slated start date, while the trendy spring music festival Coachella has been postponed until October. Even the famous lights of the Broadway theater district are going dark as of March 12 at 5PM until April 12th as per New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's ban on gatherings larger than 500 people. 

There is good news, however, for restless travelers and summer vacation hopefuls. As rates of transmission have eased in China and the number of recovered increases, Shanghai Disney has tentatively resumed operations as of March 9th, including "a limited number of shopping, dining, and recreational experiences available in Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel" under shortened hours and limited capacity – though the bulk of the park does remain closed for now.

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news here.

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