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FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, guests watch a show near a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Disney officials said Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, that the iconic Cinderella Castle would be renovated over the next several months. The most noticeable changes will be the addition of gold trim to most of the castle and the darkening of the blue hue on the castle's turrets. Work on the castle will last through the summer. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2019 photo, guests watch a show near a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Disney officials said Monday, Feb. 17, 2020, that the iconic Cinderella Castle would be renovated over the next several months. The most noticeable changes will be the addition of gold trim to most of the castle and the darkening of the blue hue on the castle's turrets. Work on the castle will last through the summer. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

APolitical

Universal Orlando, Walt Disney World theme parks to close through March

The tourism destination’s closure is the biggest yet in Florida.

Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort have announced they will close the rest of the month because of concerns over the new coronavirus outbreak.

The theme parks and their assorted properties are enormous drivers of tourism in Florida.

“In an abundance of caution and in the best interest of our guests and employees, we are proceeding with the closure of our theme parks at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida… beginning at the close of business on Sunday, March 15, through the end of the month,” reads a statement from the company.

Universal Orlando also was to close its theme parks beginning at the end of the day Sunday.

“We anticipate remaining closed through the end of March but will continue to evaluate the situation,” a statement from Universal said.

In addition, Disney said the “Disney Cruise Line will suspend all new departures beginning Saturday, March 14, through the end of the month.”

Disney employees will continue to be paid while the parts are closed. U.S. employees for the entire Walt Disney Company who are able to work at home have been asked to do so.

Hotels at the Walt Disney World Resort remain open until further notice, as does the Disney Springs at Walt Disney World complex.

The move comes hours after Disney announced it would close its California parks, Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure beginning Saturday.

In California, Disney will keep hotels open through March 16 to accommodate travel needs of guests.

The move there came in response to an executive order Thursday by California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordering cancellation of gatherings with 250 people or more.

The same day, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also took similar steps urging public and private events to shut down.

“I think taking proactive measures will help us flatten the curve of this as people get exposed,” DeSantis said.

Florida has seen 30 positive tests come back for COVID-19 coronavirus, according to the Florida Department of Health. That includes two Florida residents who have died.

Of the positive cases, 27 are Florida residents and three are from out of state. There are also five individuals tested positive outside the U.S. who have been repatriated to facilities here.

Notably, there have been no positive cases to date in the Orlando area, with positive tests coming in coastal areas.

 

 

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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