Disney Slides After Shanghai Disneyland Closed to Contin Coronavirus

Disney will close its Shanghai Disneyland park, during the busiest travel season of the year.to contain coronavirus.

Walt Disney  (DIS) - Get Report shares slipped lower Friday after the world's biggest theme park operator closed its Shanghai park in order to help prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Shanghai Disney Resort will be closed as of Saturday, the company said, without offering a date for its re-opening. The decision to shut the park falls amid the nation's Lunar New Year celebrations, typically the largest travel and leisure season of the year in the world's biggest economy, as the virus continues to spread. 

"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" the company said in a statement posted on its website. "We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and ... announce the reopening date upon confirmation."

Disney shares were marked 0.90% lower in early trading Friday to change hands at $140.92 each, a move that would extend the stock's six-month decline to around 4.8%,

Shanghai Disneyland, which opened in 2016, had as many as 11 million visitors the following year, making it one the company's top ten global attractions. Attendance has waned since, but the company noted its its fourth quarter earnings report that higher ticket prices had helped offset that decline, with the park contributing to worldwide themepark revenues of $26.225 billion over its 2019 fiscal year. 

The World Health Organisation said Thursday that the coronavirus outbreak, which was first recorded in the central industrial city of Wuhan late last year, has infected some 900 people, but has not yet risen to the level of a global health emergency.

"Make no mistake, though, this is an emergency in China. But it has not yet become a global health emergency. It may yet become one," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus Tedros during a press conference in Geneva late Thursday. "I wish to reiterate that the fact I am not declaring a (global emergency) today should not be taken as a sign that WHO does not think the situation is serious, or that we are not taking it seriously,"

China, for its part, has locked down travel in two major cities, and restricted movements from ten more, in an effort to contain the virus during the busy New Year holidays, which have kept financial closed for the day and for the balance of next week.