You might have noticed there hasn’t been a Theme Park Bits column in the last week-plus here at /Film. I probably don’t need to tell you why; maybe it’s more accurate that I shouldn’t have to tell you why. As the coronavirus pandemic has all but closed the entirety of the world, it’s impacted many of the major entertainment hubs of the world, from sports to movie theaters to theme parks. Of course, because the Disney theme parks are spread across the world, not just the United States, the closures aren’t all universal.
Shanghai Disneyland, for example, partially reopened right at the same time when the coronavirus was beginning to have a clear impact in the United States. Of course, “partially reopened” here means “a limited number of shopping, dining, and recreational experiences”. So…not the actual park. That story from Deadline was posted on March 9, but as of March 20, nothing had changed. And in Tokyo Disneyland, while the park remains closed, there were recently spotted sightline balloons, implying that someone, somewhere, was doing work.
But the impact to the parks is indescribably massive. When W Disney World closed on March 15, they had a big goodbye party on Main Street, USA, with the park president Josh D’Amaro posing for pictures. To be clear, first of all, it’s both incredibly stupid and incredibly irresponsible to, in the middle of a worldwide pandemic, host a big party with lots of strangers getting close to each other. It’s also baffling to see people act like this is the end of an era, when the parks will no doubt at some point reopen. And yet, this party went on, even as Disney was immediately closing its College Program and stranding plenty of students to figure out how to get back home safely.
Of course, one of the hardest-hit industries from the pandemic is the restaurant business. And so, it’s been both sad and unsurprising to see layoffs and closures among some of the restaurants at Disney Springs. The employees at Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’ and Splitsville have lost their jobs, though those from Homecomin’ will at least get heh insurance paid through the end of April. It’s likely cold comfort, but better than nothing. It’s stated in that story that the restaurants hope to reopen once things calm down, but…y’know, who knows when the hell that will happen?
Understandably, among the things taking a pause are construction projects. W Disney World, ever-expanding in its 43 square miles of space, has plenty of projects in the pipeline, but they’re taking a break for now. What kind of projects are affected? Well, everything from the TRON Lightcycle attraction to the Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser hotel was in some form of construction. Those projects’ original arrival dates are now pushed back to who knows when.
Though the W Disney World celebration was tone-deaf, it was almost certainly a bigger concern to think of what might be happening aboard the Disney Cruise Line ships. The last such ship on the open ocean, the Disney Wonder, made dock in San Diego recently, and good news! No one had coronavirus symptoms. No jokes here – it’s a genuinely good thing that no one had symptoms, and that the ships are taking a break, through April 12.
Of course, who knows when the parks will be open again. California is essentially shut down for the next four weeks, and Governor Gavin Newsom has said he can imagine that shut down being doubled. In fraught times such as these, it’s especially frustrating that we can’t have escapism such as the theme parks to forget our troubles. For now, do what I’m doing: watch YouTube videos of theme-park rides, shows, and more. Listen to Disney theme-park background music. And most importantly: whoever you are, wherever you are, stay safe and hehy.
Police in Crowley, Louisiana have issued an apology for using the siren heard in “The Purge” to signal the 9pm local time curfew that has been put into effect in the city because of the coronavirus outbreak via NME. The curfew prohibits citizens from leaving their homes between the local hours of 9pm and 6am. The police department said the curfew went into place because the city is located in the state’s Acadia Parish, which has “received the worst rating for the rapid spread of the virus. It has been put into place in order to try and slow the spread.” Police are giving citations to people who violate the curfew. People traveling to or from work must have documentation from their employer.
An alarm used by police at the beginning of the month was the same alarm heard in “The Purge,” James DeMonaco’s 2013 horror thriller about a fictional America where for one night it becomes legal to commit any crimes, including murder, for a 12-hour period. The alarm in “The Purge” is heard to signal that the killing and crime sprees can begin. The first “Purge” film starred Ethan Hawke and launched a franchise that includes three follow-up movies and a series on USA Network.
Crowley Police chief Jimmy Broussard said in a statement to the local ABC news affiliate KATC that he was unaware the signal being used for the coronavirus curfew was the same signal heard in “The Purge.” The chief assured citizens that the “Purge” siren would not be used again. The siren caused enough of a stir that an additional statement was released by Acadia Parish sheriff K.P. Gibson.
“Last night a ‘Purge Siren’ was utilized by the Crowley Police Department as part of their starting curfew,” the statement said. “We have received numerous complaints with the belief that our agency was involved in this process. We were not involved in the use of the ‘Purge Siren’ and will not utilize any type of siren for this purpose. Calls regarding this matter should be directed to the Crowley Police and Chief Broussard and not the Acadia Parish Sheriff’s Office.”
Universal Pictures is scheduled to release the next “Purge” movie in theaters this summer, but the film is likely to be delayed because of the coronavirus. The studio was not involved in the Crowley police department’s use of “The Purge” siren.