The parks are a major driver of the company’s sprawling entertainment business: Disney generated more than $26 billion in sales at its Parks, Experiences and Products division in fiscal 2019, representing 37% of the company’s overall revenue. The closure comes at a moment of major transition for Disney. Just 16 days ago, Bob Iger stepped down as the company’s CEO, naming Bob Chapek as his replacement, whose previous role was chairman of Disney Parks. Disney ( shares have fallen more than 20% since the handover as the coronavirus forced the closing of theme parks, )delaying the release of “Mulan” and sapping ESPN of live sports.
In the announcement, Disney added that its hotels at Disney World and Disneyland Paris will remain open until further notice and that it will pay its cast members during the closure period. The company also said that it will suspend all new departures with the Disney Cruise Line starting Saturday through the end of the month.
The company urged its domestic employees at Walt Disney Studios, Walt Disney Television, ESPN and at its direct-to-consumer, parks and products divisions to work from home.
The sudden closure of Disney’s Florida and California parks is just the latest sign of a tourism industry in freefall. But it is also symbolic of how every element of American life is changing amid the pandemic.
“These parks are iconic brands etched in the culture of America and every childhood,” Trip Miller, a Disney shareholder and managing partner at Gullane Capital Partners, told CNN Business. “To close assets of this scale around the world would speak to the seldom seen seriousness of this health threat.”
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