After closing Disney theme parks around the world indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Walt Disney Company is working to aid medical personnel on the front lines with highly sought-after supplies and also help out passholdiers in a time of dire financial straits.
Effective Sunday, Disney World and Disneyland will be waiving upcoming monthly payments for annual passholders while the parks are closed. Passholders who've paid for the year in full can get a partial refund for the closure period or have their passes extended for the number of days the parks are closed.
On Wednesday, the company announced the donation of more than 100,000 N95 masks to the hard-hit states of New York, California and Florida, in addition to the donation of 150,000 rain ponchos that will be distributed to hospitals in dire need by the nonprofit MedShare.
"The idea was inspired by nurses across the country who inventively found that rain ponchos can be an excellent way to protect their clothing and prolong the use of (Personal protective equipment), while also freeing up gowns when needed," Disney said in a statement on its website.
Disney Parks have contributed nearly $3M in "in-kind donations" since March, the company added, including the donation of more than 270 tons of food to food banks from several theme parks.
Disney Parks has a longstanding history of helping hospitals and communities, dating back to the 1930s, when Walt, himself, took Disney characters and animators on outreach visits," the statement added. "Sharing the magic of Disney continues today through contributions, collaborating with nonprofit organizations, in-kind gifts and employee volunteerism. These are some of the ways Disney brings positive, lasting change to communities around the world."
Read more about the supplies Disney Parks are donating to hospitals and communities around the world during this trying time – from medical supplies, to food: https://t.co/hmqx1ElzgL pic.twitter.com/y7muB5EAFp
— Disney Parks (@DisneyParks) April 1, 2020
On March 27, the Walt Disney Company announced that Disneyland and Disney World are going to stay closed "until further notice" over the "increasingly complex crisis."
Citing an "increasingly complex crisis," Disneyland and Disney World are going to stay closed "until further notice" due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Walt Disney Company said Friday.
The company's decision dashes hopes that the fabled theme parks would reopen by April, as had been previously announced. Last week, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood announced they were extending their closures through April 19.
For Disney, the concern was about making sure park-goers and employees aren't exposed to virus.
"While there is still much uncertainty with respect to the impacts of COVID-19, the safety and well-being of our guests and employees remains the Walt Disney Company’s top priority," the company said in a email statement. It said the decision was "in line with direction provided by health experts and government officials."
The closures came as the number of people infected by the coronavirus continues to grow in the U.S. despite efforts at social distancing, closure of dine-in restaurants and bars and rampant warnings to take precautions like frequent hand washing.
Disney said that employees at both the Anaheim, California, and Orlando, Florida, parks – "cast members" in Disney parlance – will be paid through April 18.
The Universal parks cited "current conditions" in announcing the extension of its parks until April 19.
In a joint statement to USA TODAY, the theme parks, which had previously said they would be closed for most of March, said they will remain closed through April 19 "as we continue to respond to current conditions and make the health and safety of team members and guests our top priority."
In addition to the theme parks, Universal CityWalk Orlando and Universal CityWalk Hollywood, the themed dining and shopping areas near each park's entry gates, will also remain closed. Universal Orlando Resort hotels have also temporarily suspended operations.
On March 19, California Governor Gavin Newsom put his state's 40 million residents under a shelter-in-place order.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency on March 9 and has since implemented additional measures such as closing bars and nightclubs for 30 days and requiring new arrivals from the New York metro area to self-quarantine for 14 days.
Contributing: Cydney Henderson, Bryan Alexander and Hannah Yasharoff, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Disney waives pass payments; donates 100,000 N95 masks