Shanghai Disneyland is closed indefinitely due to the coronavirus that has now killed 26 people in mainland China. The virus broke out in the Wuhan province and has infected over 800 people in addition to the fatalities. In this post, we’ll share details about the closure and what to expect if you’re planning a trip to Shanghai Disney Resort in the near future.
This resort-wide closure comes during the heart of China’s Lunar New Year holiday, which is typically Shanghai Disneyland’s busiest period. Last year, the park reached a capacity closure during the holiday due to heavy crowds. This would be the equivalent of Walt Disney World not being open during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Health authorities in China fear the infection rate could accelerate over the holiday, when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad to spend time with their families. Consequently, many businesses in the travel sector–including airlines, travel agencies, and hotel operators are on high alert or are closing as a proactive safety measure.
As of right now, Shanghai Disneyland has not set a date to reopen. However, Shanghai Disney Resort has released a statement on its website about the closures and refund policy.
“In response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety of our guests and Cast, Shanghai Disney Resort is temporarily closing Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown including Walt Disney Grand Theatre and Wishing Star Park, starting January 25, 2020. We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and be in close contact with the local government, and we will announce the reopening date upon confirmation.”
“Shanghai Disney Resort will assist in the refund for guests who have purchased tickets for admission to Shanghai Disneyland, have booked a resort hotel, or have booked tickets for Beauty and the Beast Mandarin Production through the original ticket purchase channel, and we will introduce the detailed procedure and guidelines via the resort’s official platforms as soon as possible.”
Wuhan and neighboring Huanggang–cities of 11 million people and 7 million people, respectively–are in total lockdown, with 5 other cities in China also having similar lockdowns. Public transportation has been shut down in at least 13 surrounding cities in Hubei Province, with a combined population of more than 33 million people, per a report in the state-run Global Times newspaper.
Hubei’s provincial governor Wang Xiaodong, stated that the crisis had “entered a critical stage” and called shutting down the city as a tough but necessary choice due to their responsibility to curb the spread of the epidemic to other places. Hubei has also announced the construction of a new 270,000-square foot hospital with 1,000 beds to help contain the virus.
The coronavirus has also had a significant impact on the travel & tourism and entertainment sectors in China. In addition to the closure of Shanghai Disneyland, Beijing’s largest amusement park, Happy Valley, has closed until further notice. Other major tourist destinations, including Beijing’s Forbidden City and sections of the Great Wall of China will also close, authorities said.
Many of China’s other amusement parks, zoos, and national museums will also be closed. Chinese media is also reporting that hotel occupancy rates in both Shanghai and Beijing–which are normally booked to full capacity months in advance during Lunar New Year–are at a fraction of their normal numbers.
The coronavirus outbreak has also prompted seven Chinese films that were set to premiere during the Lunar New Year holiday to postpone screenings. This comes as several chains are shutting down entirely until at least January 27, during what is typically the best week of the year at the Chinese box office.
Disney is not the only American brand in China taking preventive measures to ensure safety. Starbucks China has announced that all stores nationwide will be disinfecting every two hours and they will be closing all stores in Wuhuan and surrounding cities in Hubei Province until at least New Year’s Day per The Beijing News.
McDonald’s is doing likewise, and has “suspended business” in five cities near the center of the coronavirus outbreak, according to Reuters. It’s unclear how many restaurants will close, but McDonald’s has over 100 stores in the Hubei region that could be impacted.
Shanghai Disneyland is located on China’s east coast and is more than 800 km from Wuhan. This would be roughly the equivalent of Walt Disney World temporarily ceasing operations due to a virus outbreak in Atlanta. However, Wuhan is a major public transportation hub and sees large population flow during the Lunar New Year holiday. This poses great risks to the spread of the epidemic throughout China and beyond.
Due to this coinciding with a popular travel period, several coronavirus cases have already been reported outside of China. South Korea and Japan both confirmed their second cases Friday and Singapore confirmed its third. Cases have been detected in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore.
So far there is just one confirmed case of coronavirus in the United States–a patient who flew from China to Washington State earlier this week. However, new cases are being reported daily. Hopefully, the latest preventive measures will halt the further spread of the coronavirus.
The U.S. State Department official said that China’s response to stem and contain the coronavirus outbreak shows “positive signs” per ABC News. The official added that China has lacked transparency in the past and has is often more preoccupied with saving face publicly than admitting and treating the problem. Given the scale of China’s response in closing transportation and businesses, we can’t help but wonder if there’s more to this story.
The U.S. State Department has also issued a new travel advisory for the Hubei region, declaring it Level 4: Do Not Travel. This is the strongest of the four travel warning levels issued by the U.S. government, and puts the region on par with North Korea, Syria, and Iran. China itself remains on travel advisory Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution. This is due to arbitrary detentions and law enforcement concerns, including exit bans where U.S. citizens are prevented from leaving China (the most recent of which occurred just this week).
While the coronavirus is obviously concerning, our main hesitation to return to mainland China remains the previous travel advisory. The latest escalation in suppressing free speech abroad coupled with China’s treatment of Hong Kong, cultural genocide, and its growing list of human rights violations give us far more serious pause than the coronavirus. By contrast, we would not hesitate to visit Hong Kong Disneyland at any point in the near future.
What do you think of this news? Will the coronavirus cause you to postpone a trip to Shanghai Disneyland, or elsewhere in Asia? Are you hesitant to visit mainland China given the various ongoing issues? Any questions? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have in the comments below!