Walt Disney World Resort Closes in Preparation for Hurricane Irma

Early Saturday morning, Walt Disney World announced that it will be closing Saturday evening, Sunday, and Monday, “in anticipation of inclement weather associated with Hurricane Irma.”

Since its opening in 1971, the theme parks have ceased operations due to natural disaster only four times before.

Walt Disney World closed its “Blizzard Beach” park on Friday, with the rest of the park following after. The resort made its decision early Saturday, having already canceled several Saturday night events.

A statement from the resort’s website reads:

Based on the latest forecasts for Hurricane Irma and keeping safety top of mind, Walt Disney World Resort will be closed Sunday, September 10 and Monday, September 11. Resort hotels will remain open, though services and amenities will be adjusted. We hope to resume normal operations on Tuesday, September 12. We will provide regular updates to our guests on all operational changes.

Hurricane Irma’s center is expected to make landfall early Sunday morning.

In addition to Walt Disney World Resort, Sea World and Universal Studios have also announced that they will be closing due to expected devastation from hurricane Irma.

Cleveland.com reports

ORLANDO, Florida — In anticipation of Category 4 Hurricane Irma, Walt Disney World made the decision to close early Saturday, and to shut down Sunday and Monday — for only the fifth time since its opening in 1971.

[…] Disney has a specific hurricane policy, stating if a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center in the Orlando area or near your home within seven days of your scheduled arrival, you can reschedule or cancel without any fees, as long as the ticket was not purchased through a third party.

Other Orlando theme parks, such as Sea World, have similar policies.

Irma’s maximum sustained winds are still thrashing the Caribbean at 175 mph. Tropical storm-force winds, over 39 mph, could reach south Florida as early as 8 a.m., reaching central Florida, near Orlando, as early as 8 a.m. Sunday.

Hurricane Irma has already killed 23 people having devastated the Caribbean.

Orlando Sentinel reports:

Orlando International Airport was bustling with traffic shortly after 8 a.m. and operating normally. Passengers filled seats around departing gates as usual. Multiple inbound flights to Orlando were about half full. The airport is scheduled to close at 5 p.m.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks will close at 7 p.m. today, followed by Magic Kingdom and Epcot at 9 p.m. All four are expected to stay closed through Monday, Disney officials announced Friday afternoon.

Water park Typhoon Lagoon will close at 5 p.m. and will not operate Sunday or Monday. Blizzard Beach, which was closed Friday, also will be unavailable Sunday and Monday.

Saturday’s end-of-night finales at Disney parks, such as “Rivers of Light” show at Animal Kingdom and the “Happily Ever After” fireworks at Magic Kingdom, have also been pulled from the lineup.

Stores at Disney Springs will close by 9 p.m. and will not be open for business Sunday or Monday.

Although Walt Disney resort hotels should remain open, Oni Hartstein, an LA writer who remember last year’s Hurricane Mathew and its effect on the resort, recommends that guests in Orlando now stock up on food and water in advance.

Be safe everyone!