The 5 Times Disneyland Closed Unexpectedly, Explained

Written by Renée Borcas

January 24, 2021

It takes a lot to stop Disneyland from opening. Over its 65 years of operation, the park has only experienced six unscheduled closures. National crises and weather hazards are the main reasons that the castle has closed the gates, but did you know that a confrontation with the Yippies also caused the park to close up for the day in 1970? The fair and few closings of the park show their dedication to their business and serving their customers.

The Assassination of John F. Kennedy

The first time Disneyland unexpectedly closed down was for the national day of mourning following the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. According to Disney Parks Blog, Kennedy is only known to have visited Disneyland once in October 1959 when he was a senator.

An Anti-Vietnam War Riot

 
 
 
 
 
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On August 6, 1970, the Youth International Party, a countercultural free speech and anti-war movement, invaded Disneyland. Before the riot police arrived and closed down the park for the day, their members, commonly referred to as Yippies, raised a flag at City Hall and managed to take over Tom Sawyer Island.

A Winter Storm

Disneyland’s third closure in 24 years took place on December 16, 1987, due to a winter storm. The fierce snowstorm moved quickly across Southern California, reaching from Malibu to the extremities of the Mojave Desert. The Los Angeles Times reported that Disneyland did not see snow but did face rain and strong winds.

The September 11 Attacks

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The September 11 attacks on the United States resulted in nearly 3,000 deaths and sparked the country’s war on terror. Disney closed down their parks nationwide in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks on the United States. According to Disney Food Blog, the Disneyland reopened the next day with additional police, a K9 unit, and security screenings in place.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

 
 
 
 
 
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Disneyland closed on March 14, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That summer, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park announced plans to reopen in time for the 65th anniversary of Disneyland Resort, but these plans were delayed. Downtown Disney was able to reopen that summer, however, the California parks both remain closed until the magic returned on April 30, 2021.

Questionable: The Northridge Earthquake

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In the early hours of January 17, 1994 a 6.7 magnitude earthquake shook the San Fernando Valley. The Northridge Earthquake killed around 60 people, injured thousands, and resulted in over $20 billion in damage. There is debate as to whether the whole park was shut down due to the earthquake or whether rides were just temporarily closed, but either way it seems that safety checks occurred to ensure rides were secure.