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Disney and Universal close theme parks as coronavirus pandemic continues

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Disney has announced the closure of its remaining theme parks as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with Universal also announcing the closure of its US parks.

For Disney, this means that Walt Disney World in Orlando, Disneyland in California and Disneyland Paris will close down, shuttering all 11 of Disney's theme parks worldwide. In addition, the company has also announced the suspension of any new departures on the Disney Cruise Line until at least the end of March.

"In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Paris Resort, beginning at the close of business on Sunday, March 15, through the end of the month," said a Disney statement, which was followed by the announcement of the closure of Disneyland California.

Remaining open will be Disney's hotels at Disney World and Disneyland Paris. In Shanghai – the first Disney park to close – the resort has partially resumed operations, with a limited number of shopping, dining, and recreational experiences available in Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.

The most recent edition of the TEA/AECOM Theme Index shows combined Disney attendance at 157.3 million visitors a year. Disney's parks represent a significant share of the company's overall revenue, with its Parks, Experiences and Products division generating US$26bn in 2019 – 37 per cent of the company's overall revenue.

"Walt Disney will pay its cast members during the closure period," said the statement. "We will continue to stay in close contact with appropriate officials and health experts."

Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort will also close. Universal's Japanese theme park was already shut as a result of the outbreak. Universal Singapore remains open.

Universal represents the second-largest theme park operator in the world, with 50 million people coming through its doors each year. For Universal's parent company Comcast, this represents earnings of US$5.9bn a year.

"Out of an abundance of caution and to assist with our nation's preventative efforts, Universal Orlando Resort will temporarily close its theme parks," said a statement from the operator. We anticipate being closed through the end of March but will continue to evaluate the situation."

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Disney has announced the closure of its remaining theme parks as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with Universal also announcing the closure of its US parks.
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