Growing concerns and fears over the spread of the new virus in China known now as coronavirus is forcing the closure of Disney’s mega theme park in China during the Lunar New Year holidays.
Saying that the closure was “in response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak”, this announcement was made by Shanghai Disney Resort on its official website on Friday.
Refund for admission fees, hotel bookings and other pre-purchased entertainment tickets will be given to customers, said the resort. No timeline of the reopening of the park was however mentioned the company.
Till date, 26 people have died because of the virus while more than 800 cases of infection have been reported from all over the world.
The central Chinese city of Wuhan is the place where the first cases of the virus infection were first reported. Chinese authorities have imposed travel restrictions in at least 10 cities in central Hubei province which also includes Wuhan. Some or all major Lunar New Year celebrations have been cancelled by most major cities of China including Beijing to prevent the spread the virus – which has been confirmed to be transmittable through humans.
The $5.5 billion Shanghai resort was opened by Disney in 2016.
However China’s cost-conscious consumers have not been completely bowled over by the mega theme park. The ticketing policy and food and beverage prices of the theme park have been criticized on several occasions.
An increase in the revenues of the Shanghai resort for the fiscal fourth quarter was announced by Disney in November. But the company also said that compared to the same period a year earlier, there was lower attendance because of higher average ticket prices.
A series of events tailored for China’s Year of the Rat had been unveiled by the Shanghai Disney Resort just about two weeks ago. A “festive makeover” to usher in what it called the “Year of the Mouse” had also been completed by the theme park. In addition to adoring Mickey, Minnie and other Disney mascots with new outfits, the park had also drawn a set of new holiday festivities, new merchandise, Lunar New Year dining options.
Concerns over the new strain of virus – which is similar to the SARS virus that caused an endemic in Asia including China a decade ago, has also forced the closure of other popular tourist attractions such as the Forbidden City in Beijing.
And as more Chinese people choose to stay indoors and avoid crowded areas, more of the entertainment venues are set to get hit this Lunar New Year Holiday season.
The concerns of the spread of the virus has also resulted in the pulling down of the blockbuster movies that were set to release during China’s lucrative Lunar New Year holiday, reported the Chinese state news agency Xinhua. All seven Chinese movies that were scheduled to be screened at theaters during this weekend have either canceled or postponed by producers and distributors.
(Adapted from CNN.com)