Universal Studios Hollywood coronavirus

Update – April 9, 2020: Today, Universal has announced that it is extending the closure of Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, as well as CityWalk at both locations, through at least May 31. The company will continue to pay its employees at 100% through April 19, but offered this update:

Beginning April 20, nearly all our team members will be paid at 80 percent of their pay – and we will ask them to adjust their work accordingly.  A small group of team members will be asked to continue working at 100 percent and will continue to be paid at that level.   We have also made the difficult decision that we will furlough our part-time hourly workers beginning May 3.  During this time, we will fully cover the cost of benefit plans for those team members who have them.  All of these team members remain in our thoughts – and, while we don’t yet know when, we look forward to returning them to work one day.

Our original article from March 12, 2020 continues below.

When Disneyland announced earlier today that it was closing its doors for just the fourth time in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Universal Studios Hollywood remained open. But now that park has announced its own closures due to COVID-19…though it may be trying to one-up Disney by planning to reopen a few days earlier than its biggest rival.

According to Variety, Universal Studios Hollywood will shut its gates on March 14, the same day that Disneyland and Disney California Adventure are temporarily closing up shop. But whereas Disney is aiming to reopen on April 1, 2020, Universal Studios Hollywood has announced that they’re targeting a March 28, 2020 reopening. It seems frivolous to think about corporate business decisions when folks are losing their lives because of this virus, but with the timing of this announcement, I can’t help but wonder if the people running Universal Studios Hollywood purposefully waited until Disney made its announcement about when they would reopen just so Universal could gain a competitive advantage by announcing that it would open a bit earlier.

“The health and safety of our team members and guests is always our top priority,” a Universal Studios spokesperson said this afternoon. “Out of an abundance of caution and in response to the guidance provided by the California Department of Public Health, Universal Studios Hollywood will temporarily close beginning Saturday, March 14. The theme park anticipates reopening on March 28 as we continue to monitor the situation. We will provide timely updates as conditions evolve.”

Earlier today, California Governor Gavin Newsom suggested that all gatherings of more than 250 people should be postponed or canceled to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus. Initially, he said that suggestion did not apply to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood, but, perhaps in the face of seemingly every other major event, festival, and sport closing down to protect public health, both parks ultimately took it upon themselves to announce that they will close their doors.

“Late last night, California put out a new policy on mass gatherings and engaged in deep conversations with Disney and other companies about how to meet it,” Newsom said. “Using that policy, Disney made the right call in the interest of public health and agreed to shut down their California parks. Expect more announcements like this shortly.”

Walt Disney World remains open in Florida, and Southern California theme parks like LEGO Land, SeaWorld San Diego, and Knott’s Berry Farm in Southern California also have yet to announce any closures…for now.

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