A number of events had already been cancelled at Walt Disney World for this weekend as Hurricane Irma approaches Central Florida, but now, things have been upped a number of notches. On Friday afternoon, it was confirmed that the theme parks in Walt Disney World will close for the fifth time ever due to the impending storm and they are set to remain closed until all is safe for both guests and cast members.
Right before noon on Friday, a hurricane watch was put in place for many parts of Central Florida as Irma’s path now appears to be bringing it directly up the state, as reported by the Orlando Sentinel. Once that watch was put in place, the rumors started flying as to what WDW was going to do.
It has now been confirmed by cast members that Walt Disney World will indeed close its theme parks beginning at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The parks are going to remain closed through all of Sunday, Sept. 10, and all of Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.
The hope is to resume normal operations at Walt Disney World on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, but that remains to be seen. Cast members are also advising guests on property of the upcoming closures.
On Friday morning, Irma had shifted more west, which meant that Disney started getting their Hurricane Ride Out Team together. These are the cast members who will be there for the duration of the storm and help take care of guests and all their needs.
It was expected that this was coming as Disney was being proactive earlier this week with announcing the closure of Blizzard Beach. Now, the theme park closures move to all theme parks in WDW which include:
- Magic Kingdom
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Closing at 7 p.m. on Saturday
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Closing at 7 p.m. on Saturday
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Blizzard Beach
- ESPN Wide World of Sports
- Disney Springs
All nighttime shows and fireworks at all four parks have been cancelled on Saturday night as well.
Over the last couple of days, Disney had already announced a number of events were cancelled with Night of Joy’s event on Saturday night and Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Sunday evening. Some dining events such as Saturday’s “Spirit of Aloha” and “Highway in the Sky Dine Around” were already cancelled.
Universal Studios Florida has confirmed they will close all theme parks beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. They will remain closed on Sunday and Monday with normal operating hours expected to resume on Tuesday, Sept. 12, according to their official website.
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will be closing at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 9 and remaining closed through Monday. Aquatica Orlando, Adventure Island, and Discovery Cove will all be closed on Sunday and Monday.
Legoland Florida theme park and water park will be closed Saturday, Sept. 9, through Monday, Sept. 11.
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Cancellation fees are not being enforced on any dining reservations that guests will miss on Sept. 10 and 11, 2017. They are not requiring guests to cancel as they know that no-one will be able to make it in for those dining reservations.
No new dining reservations are able to be made at Walt Disney World on Sept. 10 and 11 either at this time.
“New dine reservations for September 10 and 11 are not available at this time as we monitor progress of Hurricane Irma. Effective immediately we will not be enforcing dine reservation cancelation policies so no need to cancel dine reservations through Monday September 11th.”
Walt Disney World does not close its theme parks often and last year during Hurricane Matthew was only the fourth time in history that it had happened. Hurricane Irma is simply bringing even more danger to Central Florida and those at Disney realize that this is a necessity for the safety of all guests and cast members. For those who had vacations planned this weekend, you can reach out to them to find out your options for refunds or rescheduling, but the parks will be closed.
[Featured Image by Danny Cox]