Theme parks are some of the most popular tourist destinations. Places like Walt Disney World and Disneyland welcome millions of guests from all over the world every year. Of course, when you're trying to stop the spread of a global pandemic, theme parks can be a potentially dangerous place for exactly that reason. There are now few places on Earth that have not been impacted by COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, and that includes the homes of some popular theme parks from Disney, Universal and more.
If you're somebody who planned a theme park vacation for the next few weeks, or was considering going on one in the next few months, here's a run down of what each major park is doing in response to the Coronavirus, and just how long they expect to see business impacted as a result.
Walt Disney World
Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom is the single most popular theme park destination in the world, and the larger resort sees upwards of 50,000 guests from all global corners every single day. That means a lot of people to potentially inconvenience with a closure, but under the circumstances, there's not much else that could be done. If you happen to be at Walt Disney World as of this writing, you can still enjoy a couple more days of the parks. It will close according to the normal schedule on Sunday March 15. Originally the park announced plans to reopen April 1, but now the park is closed indefinitely, with no set opening date.
Originally, Disney announced that all Walt Disney World hotels, as well as Disney Springs, would remain open during the park closure This certainly wouldn't be enough for guests whose vacations had not started, but for those making arrangements to get home, at least they'd still have places to stay and food to eat. However, it has now been announced that all the Disney World hotels will be closing as of March 20.
In California, the coronavirus has been a problem to the point that the governor has asked for all public gatherings of 250 people or more to cease. Disneyland Resort decided to abide by that suggestion, and following a final day of normal business on Friday, March 13. As with Walt Disney World, the original plan to reopen April one has been put on hold.
Unlike Walt Disney World, hotels at Disneyland Resort will not remain open. They will be staying open for a couple of extra days until Monday, March 16, but only so that existing guests can make other arrangements. Downtown Disney, the resort's retail and dining facilities, are closed as well. As with Walt Disney World, refunds will be available to guests who had trips planned, or the resort will work with guests to get their plans changed to future dates if that's what you want.
Universal Orlando Resort/Universal Studios Hollywood
Universal has theme parks in Orlando and Southern California right alongside Disney, so it's not shocking that similar closures are happening there. Universal Orlando Resort is following a plan identical to that of Walt Disney World. The parks will remain open through Sunday March 15, and will then close down. The resort hotels and the Universal CityWalk will remain open. However, even events planned for the final weekend have changed. Universal Orlando's annual Mardi Gras celebration was supposed to include concerts from All-American Rejects and Diana Ross, and will instead see shows from Flo Rida on Saturday and Sugar Ray on Sunday. The rest of the Mardi Gras celebration has been cancelled.
Universal Studios Hollywood, like Disneyland, is open on Friday, March 13, but will close down after that. The anticipated reopening date was March 28, a couple days earlier than the rest of the theme parks. However, a new date of April 20 was announced at the end of March. Universal CityWalk is also closed. None of the hotels near Universal Studios Hollywood are owned by the park, but the two closest and most commonly used hotels for guests, the Sheraton Universal Hotel and the Hilton Los Angeles/Universal City, are both allowing for room cancellations up to 24 hours before check-in, even for rooms that were booked under no-cancellation policies.
While not as big a name as Disney or Universal, Six Flags runs significantly more parks across the country than either of the two major names. Some of the parks are open year round, and others have yet to actually open for seasonal operation. However, the coronovirus threat has caused all parks to either close, beginning March 14, or to delay opening until at least mid-May.
And A Few Other Theme Parks
There are honestly too many theme parks and amusement parks in the U.S. to list, but we'll try. Here's the closure situation with a number of other theme parks around the country not previously mentioned:
LEGOLand : Closed until further notice
Knott's Berry Farm: Closed until mid-May
Sea World/Busch Gardens (All Parks): Closed until further notice
Cedar Fair: Parks closed/openings delayed until mid-May
Dollywood: Opening delayed
Certainly if you had a amusement park vacation planned or were considering something like that for spring break, it sucks that all that fun has been taken away. At times like this, nothing sounds more appealing than losing yourself in the artificial reality of a place like Disneyland or Walt Disney World. At the same time, the closures are better for the population as a whole, and hopefully none of the parks will be closed any longer than the couple of weeks that are currently scheduled.
Still, if you have a trip already planned after April, you'll want to keep checking, as it's possible that closures will go on longer than currently expected. The good news is that all the parks are being quite flexible when it comes to cancellation or rescheduling, so if that still happens, at least you won't be out the investment.