AS Disney close their theme parks, with Disney World Orlando and Disneyland Paris shutting their doors yesterday, Brits have had their dream holidays ruined – and been left out of pocket.
Bride-to be and Disney-fan Jenniver Sullivan and her entire family were due to fly to Orlando today to get married, along with a visit to the park.
Her flights to the US were cancelled just before Jennifer and her fiancé could fly out – but her parents, sister and partner’s sister and niece had got an earlier flight and are now stranded in Orlando.
Jennifer had planned to travel with 16 other family members including her elderly grandparents and her nine-year-old daughter.
She told Sun Online Travel: "We booked our Orlando wedding in May last year. I woke up on Friday with the news that the Disney parks would close and then on Saturday we learned that our flights were cancelled.
"We were supposed to be staying at the Rosen Inn on International Drive and due to get married at Leu Gardens on Thursday.
"The reason we chose Orlando as our wedding destination was because we love Disney. My hen party was Disney-themed and I’ve seen every Disney film about 100 times. My daughter was so upset when we told her."
Disney is allowing guests to extend their tickets for a year, so guests can visit at a later date but for families like Jennifer, it will be impossible to revisit due to the cost of flights and accommodation.
She explained: "My mum, dad and sister and my partner’s sister and niece had gone out early, but they are getting a flight straight back home again since everything is cancelled. It’s so disappointing and I really hope that we can at least get refunded for everything."
Jennifer isn't the only one who has had her family holiday ruined – Lydia Malcolm and her relatives were almost half way through their holiday when the news broke about the parks closing.
She said: "We had 10 days left on our trip when we found out that the parks were closing and have found ourselves worrying about what to do for the rest of the time.
"Our park tickets were all pre-paid and non-refundable for cash so any other plans we make, we’ll have to dip into our holiday budget.
"Whist in Disney, we did feel like there had been little to no hype around COVID 19 no more than the usual hand washing facilities and no reminders to do so."
Lydia and her family decided to try and make the most out of their time in Orlando and tried to squeeze everything in on their last day of the parks being open.
She added: "We rushed around the Disney parks on the last day they were open and there was no soap in the dispensers, toilets were in distress and there were empty bottles of sanitiser at the exits of each park.
"It was very surreal. I know that travel to the US has now been suspended but we’ve heard nothing about our flight being brought forward. We’ll just have to wait and see."
As well as the American parks, Disneyland Paris also closed its doors a day earlier than announced on Saturday 14 March.
Jordan Browning and his wife Danielle were enjoying a break when the news broke.
He said: "If we had known Friday was our last day, we would have done a lot more. We were told they would close on the Sunday and were prepared for Saturday to be our last day, it was a shock to see the posters suddenly appear overnight at the hotel entrance – I was hoping it was a typo and they had got it wrong!
"As we walked towards the park we saw others returning with sad faces and security confirmed it closed due to government rules getting tighter."
"I saw someone propose in front of the locked gate. It looked like she said yes but with a tear in her eye. Staff were all being helpful and friendly, but it was sad.
"On our last day, all the shops were shut including the one in the hotel. Breakfast was closed as well as all restaurants. We were told we would be able to check out late as the park was shut but at the front desk they said we had to leave by 11am.
"Our train was leaving at 4.55pm so we literally had nowhere to go and so eventually staff managed to get us our hotel room until 3pm."
Other theme parks have also closed due to coronavirus – Universal Studios parks across the world have all closed their doors as well as Sea World and Busch Gardens.
Disneyland Hong Kong, Tokyo and Shanghai have been closed since last month.
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