Disney, Universal, Six Flags and SeaWorld close parks to stem coronavirus transmission

Key Points
  • Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure will close starting Saturday, March 14 until April.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood also will close on Saturday. It anticipates reopening on March 28. 
  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom told Californians to cancel or postpone events involving more than 250 people.
Disneyland & California Adventure closing till April
Disneyland & California Adventure closing till April

Theme parks around the world have shuttered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

On Thursday, Disney and Universal announced that U.S.-based parks in California and Florida would shuttered in March out of an abundance of caution.

Six Flags parks in Maryland, California and Georgia have also temporarily shuttered and SeaWorld is closing all of its parks — SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Adventure Island — for the rest of the month, as well.

The move comes as state and local officials begin to put restrictions on large gatherings in order to stem the spread of COVID-19. 

Earlier this week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom advised residents of the Golden State to cancel or postpone events involving more than 250 people. This prompted Universal Studios Hollywood, Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure to close starting Saturday, March 14. 

Initially, Newsom had said that large parks like Disneyland would not be included in the ban on large gatherings. Talks with the companies resulted in the announcements. 

Previously, Disney parks in Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai have shuttered temporarily. Disney also shuttered Disneyland Paris on Thursday and suspends it's cruise line.

The hotels at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open, the company said. Retail and dining complexes, Disney Springs at Walt Disney World and Disney Village at Disneyland Paris, will also stay open.

The hotels at Disneyland Resort will close after Monday, March 16. Downtown Disney, a local shopping area, will remain open, the company said. 

Disney will continue to pay cast members while the park is closed. It anticipates keeping the parks closed until April.

Universal Studios expects to reopen on March 28.

The entire Disney Parks, Resorts and Consumer Products segment has around 177,000 cast members, this includes people who work in its theme parks and at retail locations like the Disney Store.

It is currently unclear how many employees are being affected at Universal, SeaWorld and Six Flags.

Visitors attend Disney California Adventure theme park on February 25, 2020 in Anaheim, California. Bob Iger, who was CEO of Disney since 2005, is being replaced by Bob Chapek, who previously ran the company's parks, experiences and products division.
David McNew

In February, Disney had said the closure of its Hong Kong and Shanghai parks would likely deal a $175 million blow to the company's operating income, if the parks remained closed for two months. It is likely that loss will be much greater now that Tokyo Disneyland and the two California parks have closed.

While Shanghai's Disney Town, a shopping center, has reopened, the park has not. 

Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC. It owns Universal Studios Hollywood.

Correction: Disneyland and Disney's California Adventure will close starting Saturday, March 14 until April. An earlier headline incorrectly described the time period.