Disney, other Orlando-area theme parks now closed for at least 2 weeks

Disney World hotels & shops at Disney Springs now also set to shut down

ORLANDO, Fla. – In what is expected to be the longest closure of its kind, central Florida’s major theme parks shut their gates Sunday night with no plans to allow visitors back for at least two weeks.

Disney, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld and Legoland plan to remain closed through the end of the month to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Disney also announced early Monday that its company owned stores at Disney Springs would close on Tuesday and that all Disney-owned hotels at Walt Disney World would shut down on Friday.

The drastic measure comes as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommended late Sunday that large gatherings of 50 or more people should be avoided for eight weeks.

At the time of this publication, theme park operators had not yet announced extending the scheduled closures.

"We've been planning this for six to eight months," Tony Baden said of his family's trip to Central Florida.

The group arrived here from Ohio Sunday morning knowing the theme parks they planned to visit would be closed.

“Now we’re going to the beaches. We have a really nice resort,” said Patty Bostleman.

Despite their disappointment, they would not get to visit attractions such as Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Transformers: The Ride at Universal Studios, the family understands the health concerns that prompted the theme park closures.

“We get it. Completely,” said Baden. “And we’re doing everything we can as far as trying to keep safe, sanitizing, and keeping the kids clean.”

J.T. Thomas, a restaurant employee who works at a shopping plaza across from Walt Disney World, said he's already noticed a considerable drop in traffic driving by the street corner where he waves a sign for his business.

“There’s usually a lot more people just walking, heading up to Disney Springs. You see tourists going up and down all day,” said Thomas. “(Now), no traffic. No people.”

Universal has said its resort hotels along with CityWalk would remain open.

Several smaller attractions, including FunSpot and ICON Park Orlando plan to remain open for now.

About the Author:

Emmy Award-winning investigative reporter Mike DeForest has been covering Central Florida news for more than two decades. Mike joined News 6 just as Florida officials began counting hanging chads in the aftermath of the 2000 presidential election. Since then, he has covered some of the biggest news events in Central Florida.