ORLANDO, Fla. – Disney will close its company-owned stores at Disney Springs starting Tuesday, and all Disney-owned hotels at Walt Disney World will shut down Friday out of an “abundance of caution” as concerns persist about the spread of coronavirus.
Disney made the announcement early Monday after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended late Sunday that large gatherings of 50 or more people should be avoided for eight weeks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
It’s not known if other shops or restaurants not owned by Disney will close at Disney Springs.
Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Legoland announced last week that all of its respective parks will be closed, starting Monday, through the end of the month. The decision marks the longest closures ever for the theme parks, which have previously shut down for hurricanes and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Later on Monday, Universal Orlando announced it is closing CityWalk and its hotels.
Some guests went to the parks Sunday before they closed.
“We went to the parks,” tourist John Byron said. “We had the opportunity to go through our entire stay, which was a weeklong stay."
When Byron heard the news that the company was shutting down the parks, he didn’t realize more closures at the resort were underway.
“It worries me that they feel the need to be that aggressive, but I think, you know, it’s fine. I think it’s probably a good thing good precaution to take,” Byron said.
Anthony Itzo, of Sarasota, who got off the Disney Dream on Monday morning, said he and his family are relieved their vacation went smooth despite all the theme park closures.
“We we were the last ship to leave,” Itzo said.
As of Monday morning, Universal’s resort hotels, along with CityWalk, remained open.
Several smaller attractions, including FunSpot and ICON Park Orlando, also plan to remain open.
Josh D’Amaro, president of Walt Disney World Resort, released a statement about the “unusual few days” the resort has seen.
It’s an understatement to say that it has been an unusual few days at Walt Disney World Resort. Yesterday, we closed our theme parks through the end of the month to do our part to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus here in Central Florida. We will also close Disney Springs by the end of the day today while working on ramping down our hotels.
It’s not like anything our community has faced before and our focus has been on the safety and well-being of our Guests, Cast Members and their families as well as our neighbors.
As I reflect on the events of the past several days, I feel tremendous gratitude. First, I’m grateful to our Cast Members for the way they rose to this challenge -- not only in preparing for this closure, but also in continuing to deliver unforgettable experiences for our Guests and each other. We look forward to making magic for Guests again soon.
I want to acknowledge our hardworking college, culinary and exchange program participants. We made the difficult decision to suspend these programs, based on guidance from leading health agencies as these participants live in dorm-like housing here at our Resort. We believe it’s the right thing to do and is consistent with the way college and university programs are prioritizing social distancing. We are actively working with each individual to help them get home, including finding the right solution to each of their unique circumstances.
I’m also grateful to live in a community where our civic leaders are focused on protecting our fellow residents. I want to share how proud Walt Disney World is to be part of the Central Florida family. These are unique times, and we’re all working through this together.
As you can imagine, closing our resort so quickly leaves us with a great deal of extra food. To help other Central Floridians in need during this time, Walt Disney World Resort will donate excess food inventory like fresh salads, greens and hot items to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. This donation is part of our ongoing Disney Harvest program, which collects and distributes enough food each year to provide one million meals to people in need, and this donation will help to further support the important work Second Harvest is doing in our community during this time.
Like all of you, we will continue to actively manage through this issue.
‘May Walt Disney World bring joy and inspiration and new knowledge to all who come to this happy place...’ That was our wish when we first opened in 1971, and that will be our wish when we open our parks again.
Stay safe and healthy. We’ll see you soon.
With respect, Josh
Walt Disney World Resort"