On this date in 2001, following the morning terrorist attacks on The Pentagon, New York City’s World Trade Center, and in the air over Pennsylvania, The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and The Disneyland Resort in California, close without incident.
All the resort hotels remain open and provide accommodations to guests who are unable to leave. Phone charges are suspended so that guests can reach family. (The closures marks only the second time Disneyland has locked its gates in its 56-year history due to a national tragedy. The first time followed the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963.)
At Disney World, Cast Members in all 4 parks are instructed to hold hands and form a human wall and gently (without touching guests) walk towards the hub of each park and eventually towards the exit. This calmly forces all guests out of the park. Security follows each human wall to make sure no one gets past.
At Disneyland Resort, food and beverage stations remain open at no charge for guests who are on property. AMC Theaters at Downtown Disney show free Disney films for stranded Resort guests. (Due to the time difference, the California theme parks have been able to close before any guest can enter.)
The Disney Stores close as well for the day as do Disney’s Broadway shows in New York and on the road. Michael Eisner releases a statement to Cast Members explaining the Disney closings. He ends his note with these words: “Finally let me say our company around the world will continue to operate in this sometimes violent world in which we live, offering products that reach to the higher and more positive side of the human equation.”