All Major Anaheim Venues, Including Disneyland, To Temporarily Shutter Due To Coronavirus
By: Alicia Robinson
Date: March 12, 2020
“All of Anaheim’s major entertainment venues – Disneyland, Angel Stadium, the Honda Center and the city’s convention center – are expected to go dark in the coming hours or days in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The city announced Thursday, March 12, it will reschedule all events at its convention center through the end of March and delay the mayor’s State of the City address, which was set for March 23 at the City National Grove.
“In a short amount of time, the city and our partners have stepped up and taken decisive action,” Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu said in a statement.
“This is a temporary pause in the best interest of public health. The things that make Anaheim so great will be welcoming everyone back very soon.”
The city and its venues joined the cascade of local governments and organizations canceling or postponing large gatherings in response to Gov. Gavin Newsom’s directive not to hold events with more than 250 people.
Hockey games and the Big West basketball tournament at the Honda Center already have been canceled, and Major League Baseball officials said they’ll postpone the opening of the season by two weeks; the Angels home opener at their Anaheim stadium had been planned for April 3.
Disneyland, which saw 18.7 million visitors in 2018, will close Saturday through the end of the month along with California Adventure, according to an announcement on the Disney Parks Twitter account.
In a statement on Anaheim’s website, the city said it also is delaying all large and some smaller city events, including gatherings for seniors, who are potentially more vulnerable to the virus. Anaheim City Hall remains open, as do city libraries and community centers, but programs there are subject to change or cancellation.
Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster noted that Orange County currently has four confirmed cases and two presumed cases of COVID-19, the contagious respiratory disease caused by coronavirus, but, “We do want to stress with folks while this is an issue that is much bigger than Anaheim and we’re happy to play our part, this does not reflect any unique concern about Anaheim. This is a statewide issue.”
One issue Anaheim officials will be grappling with is the hit city revenues will take while visitors stay away. In this year’s budget, hotel taxes and sales taxes together were projected to total $263 million, making up more than two-thirds of Anaheim’s unrestricted revenues.
Cancellations and closures due to the public health emergency already have dealt a blow to some Anaheim businesses.
Chef Bruno Serato said his Anaheim White House restaurant saw hundreds of reservations disappear last week when the Natural Products Expo West, scheduled at the Anaheim Convention Center, was postponed. He’s also lost bookings for banquets connected to upcoming conventions and conferences that have been delayed.
It reminds Serato of the major losses the city’s tourism industry saw after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, which initially led to the grounding of all U.S. flights and made people cautious about travel for months afterward.
“I have to do what I did before, cut the crew – work with the minimum that we can,” he said.
Serato’s charity, Caterina’s Club, has continued serving free pasta meals to thousands of children at Boys & Girls Clubs around Southern California, but officials are playing that by ear.
Anaheim officials also expect to see an impact from the shutdowns, Lyster said, but it’s too early to gauge the size of expected losses.
The city does have “considerable” budget reserves, he said, and officials will discuss in coming weeks how to offset any drops in tourism-related revenue.
The city’s tourism bureau, Visit Anaheim, will be moving the convention center calendar around to squeeze in postponed events later in the year, CEO Jay Burress said.
“We’ve been through difficult things in the past, and our industry is sometimes the first to get hit and the first to rebound,” he said.
Serato said one bright spot has been the support of Orange County residents, who came out to dine after they heard about his woes with the natural products expo cancellation.
He’s put hand sanitizer out where people entering the restaurant can use it and is encouraging even more frequent hand washing for employees.
“If we all be careful, we can kill this virus before it does any more damage to us,” he said.”