The world goes viral: The latest Covid-19 theme park news

March 14, 2020, 3:31 PM · Welcome to day three of our running news updates on the Covid-19 novel coronavirus and how it is affecting the global theme park and tourism industries.

The big news that resonates with many of us today was Walt Disney World's decision to dismiss its Disney College Program participants. Thousands of students from college across the country come to Disney each semester to work as cast members in the parks, often earning course credit and a "foot in the door" to begin a career with The Walt Disney Company.

With the theme parks closed through (at least) the end of the month, Disney has decided to send the college program students home rather than continue to house them through the shutdown. Disney told the Orlando Sentinel that it is marking the students' DCP work as complete, suggesting that they will not be recalled should the shutdown end before the semester finishes.

Given that this is about five percent of WDW's workforce and the next group of college program participants is not due until May, according to the Sentinel, this worries me a bit about Disney's plans for April.

Last night, Disneyland Paris abruptly announced that it would not reopen for the weekend, in spite of its previous announcement that its shutdown would begin Monday. Today, France announced that it is forcing the closure of all its restaurants in an effort to prevent the virus' spread in the nation. France without restaurants? Ratatouille weeps.

Also regarding Europe, America's travel ban on people who have visited the Schengen zone in the last 14 days from entering the country now has been extended to the United Kingdom and Ireland. That pretty much scuttles any flights between the US and anywhere in Europe for the time being. The UK is the biggest market outside North America for the Orlando theme parks, so if the flight ban continues after the parks reopen, then that's going to continue the hurt for the Orlando parks.

Here are some images from the President of Disneyland Resort, as Disneyland said good-bye to its guests for the final time this month last night.

View this post on Instagram

What an emotional night last night as we said goodnight to our guests. So appreciative of our loyal guests. We will miss you, and we can't wait to see you in a few weeks! And an enormous thanks to all of our Cast for all they are doing during this challenging time. #seeyourealsoon #disneyland #thankyou

A post shared by Rebecca Campbell (@rebeccacampbelldisneyland) on

Finally, rounding up he latest park closures, Six Flags Mexico, Dubai Parks Parks and Resorts, the Yas Island parks (Ferrari World and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi), and Rulantica at Europa Park all announced today that they will close until the end of the month.

But we will not be closing here at Theme Park Insider. Thank you for your continued readership and support during this stressful time. And your sharing our links on social media also helps us to keep going even when the parks are closed. Thank you!

Previous Covid-19 news updates: Friday and Thursday

Replies (3)

March 14, 2020 at 9:16 PM

I like how Campbell is being optimistic on "see you in a few weeks" as we all hope for the best even if fearing the worst. Just amazing how fast this all happened from "have to use sanitizers more" to full shutdown.

March 14, 2020 at 9:21 PM

Thank you, Robert, for keeping us all up to date and informed with everything that’s going on. This is the time for our wonderful theme park community to all pull together and keep the mood up. I had a holiday planned for April, but had already pretty much accepted that it would have to be rescheduled until next year, even before the U.K. was added to the flight restrictions. It’s obviously a huge bummer, as it has been 7 years since I was last in Orlando, but of course I understand why. I’m just telling myself that when I do get to go, there’ll be even more new rides and shows to experience.

March 15, 2020 at 5:33 PM

Some US states are now either closing Bars/Restraurants/Nightclubs, or requiring restaurants to reduce capacity.

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