Hong Kong’s Disneyland is now closed until further notice due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak in mainland China, which also caused the indefinite closure of Shanghai Disneyland. This comes a day after authorities classified the crisis as an emergency.
For those unfamiliar with the region, this would also be the rough equivalent of Walt Disney World closing because of a virus outbreak in Brazil. In both cases, it’d be more about visitor demographics than proximity. Hong Kong is not part of mainland China, just as Brazil is not part of the United States. Both are separated by long flights, and northern Brazil to Orlando is nearly the same average trip duration as Wuhan to Hong Kong Disneyland.
To continue the WDW analogy, this would also be the equivalent of Walt Disney World not being open during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. The HKDL closure comes during the heart of the Lunar New Year holiday, which is one of Hong Kong Disneyland’s busiest weeks of the year…
As of right now, Hong Kong Disneyland has not set a date to reopen. However, the resort has released a statement on its website about the closures and refund policy:
“As a precautionary measure in line with prevention efforts taking place across Hong Kong, we are temporarily closing Hong Kong Disneyland Park starting from January 26, 2020 out of consideration for the health and safety of our Guests and Cast Members. The Hong Kong Disneyland Resort hotels will remain open. We are in close contact with health authorities and the government about the situation and will announce a reopening date once they determine it is advisable.
The Standard Park Ticket is valid for six months from the purchase date. If needed, Hong Kong Disneyland Resort will assist in the refund for Guests who have purchased tickets for admission to Hong Kong Disneyland park or have booked a resort hotel. For additional details, please click here or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The coronavirus originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in the Hubei province late last year and has spread to Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai, as well as to the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France and Canada.
The virus has infected at least 1,975 people and killed 56 people in mainland China, according to that nation’s National Health Commission. Chinese authorities have locked down Wuhan, shut down public transportation, and indefinitely closed many state-owned or sponsored businesses (including Shanghai Disneyland) in an unprecedented effort to contain the virus during the busy Lunar New Year travel period.
The United States has closed its consulate in Wuhan and was pulling out its diplomats. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed a third case, and says more U.S. patients are likely. However, the CDC also states that the current risk of local transmission is low.
Because of this, there is no cause for panic at this time. While it’s possible that China is not being fully transparent with the scope and scale of the coronavirus, the World Health Organization has declined to categorize the coronavirus as a global health emergency, as there is no evidence of human-to-human infection outside China.
On a semi-related note, don’t be concerned when you see Asian guests in the U.S. parks wearing surgical masks. For the most part, this is simply a precaution and is an incredibly common practice to protect the wearer from environmental viruses and everyone else from their mouth-borne germs.
These are common in all Asian countries we’ve visited, but they’re ubiquitous in Japan. Among the Japanese, these masks are viewed as a social courtesy. (If you have a cough or cold while visiting Japan, you should likewise consider wearing one.) In other words, there’s a good chance the guests you’re seeing are simply polite Japanese visitors.
Back in Hong Kong, Ocean Park also announced it would be closing indefinitely. This is the other top-tier theme park in Hong Kong located on the main island, which has something of a friendly rivalry with HKDL. This is another big blow for both parks, and to Hong Kong in general. Tourism is down over 40% year over year, with retail sales slumping by roughly 25%, per CNBC.
As popular tourist destinations, both Ocean Park and Hong Kong Disneyland have faced attendance woes over the last year-plus. Tensions with mainland China and the prodemocracy movement have taken a significant toll, especially as most mainland Chinese tour groups–a lucrative demographic for all Asian nations–are staying away from Hong Kong.
Ultimately, we would not let the coronavirus dissuade you from visiting Hong Kong Disneyland at some point later in 2020. Obviously, we would not visit in the immediate future, and would likely cancel any planned trip between now and at least mid-February 2020. At this point, the coronavirus situation only appears to be getting worse.
We’re planning on visiting Hong Kong Disneyland later this year when the new “Castle of Magical Dreams” is finished. We’re eager to see how this ‘biggified’ castle works (or doesn’t) in person, and also looking forward to seeing Mystic Point and Grizzly Gulch, plus the latest additions to the Marvel Land (we still haven’t done Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle!) and construction progress on Frozen Land.
We absolutely love this charming park, which is also home to two of our Top 10 New Disney Attractions of the Last Decade. We recommend Hong Kong Disneyland to anyone looking for a more intimate and laid back Disney theme park experience. (Plus some truly great hotels.)
We’ll likely split our time between the outlying Lantau Island (where Hong Kong Disneyland and Tian Tan Buddha are located) and Hong Kong Island or Kowloon. Exploring the city of Hong Kong is also high on our list. It’s a beautiful, ultra-modern city that also is brimming with traditional culture, great food, and welcoming people.
We love the street vendors, public parks, waterfront, and more. While we would not visit until the coronavirus is no longer an issue, we have zero hesitations about visiting due to the ongoing demonstrations in the city; we were in the city a few years ago during the Umbrella Movement and never felt unsafe or concerned. Suffice to say, we’re very excited to go back to Hong Kong.
What do you think of this news? Will the coronavirus cause you to postpone a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, or elsewhere in Asia? Are you hesitant to visit Hong Kong given the protests, or does the prodemocracy movement make you want to visit more? If you’ve visited the park, what do you like most about Hong Kong Disneyland? If you’ve never been to Hong Kong, what interests you most about the park? Anything else to add? Any questions? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!