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The Category 5 storm – already blamed for as many as 13 deaths in the Caribbean – is packing sustained winds of 175 mph. According to the National Hurricane Center, Irma is moving towards the west-northwest at 16 mph on its way towards Miami where it is expected to be a Category 4 or 5 storm. Hurricane-force winds extend up to 70 miles from the center; tropical storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles.
“Everyone should prepare to evacuate,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said Thursday. “We don’t know where this storm is going. It could potentially devastate our state.”
Disney World closing for at least two days due to Hurricane Irma. Will shut down early Saturday, open Tuesday at the earliest.
To be more specific, most Disney World parks shutting down at 7 or 9 PM Saturday. So open most of the day. Then closed Sunday and Monday.
— Ben Fritz (@benfritz) September 8, 2017
Hurricane Irma has forced Central Florida attractions — including Walt Disney World’s four theme parks — to close their doors to guests for multiple days, starting Saturday evening.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks will close at 7 p.m. Saturday, 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 Saturday 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. Saturday, and they will not be open for business on Sunday or Monday.
Universal’s parks are closing at 7 p.m. Saturday, and will be fully closed Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday, the park anticipates normal operating hours, it said in a statement.
SeaWorld Orlando plans to close by 5 p.m. Saturday, pending further updates about the storm, and will remain closed on Sunday and Monday. Same goes for Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
Aquatica Orlando and Adventure Island water parks will be closed on Saturday through Monday. Discovery Cove, SeaWorld’s day resort, will be closed Sunday and Monday.
Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort also canceled some events, including Saturday portions of Christian music festivals Night of Joy and Rock the Universe. Disney also canceled the Sunday edition of its Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom.
Legoland Florida theme park and its water park in Winter Haven will be closed Saturday through Monday. All arriving Legoland Beach Retreat guests will be lodged at instead at Legoland Hotel.
Legoland said it was encouraging guests to seek other accommodations “as we cannot guarantee resort amenities or access to electricity during severe weather.” It said guests can reschedule trips and reservations without cancellation fees, and provided the county’s information hotline for shelters, which is 863-401-2234, or www.polk-county.net.
Orlando Eye, the observation wheel on International Drive, will be closed Saturday and not reopen until the storm passes, a spokeswoman said.
Orlando Science Center will be closed Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If Orange County and Seminole County schools remain closed, the science center will begin offering break camp for students in kindergarten through fifth grade on on Tuesday, safety and weather permitting. Call 407-514-2000 after 5 p.m. Monday to confirm if camp will be running.
The Orange County Regional History Center in downtown Orlando will be closed Saturday and Sunday.
Walt Disney World is closing its Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground by 2 p.m. Saturday, a spokeswoman said Thursday, as well as Treehouse Villas of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort. Guests will have the option to stay elsewhere on property.
Universal Orlando canceled Saturday’s portion of its two-night Rock the Universe event scheduled for this weekend, as well as a worship service Sunday, and moved today’s performances indoors. Saturday ticket holders can attend any night through Dec. 20 or get a refund.
Universal Orlando Resort visitors can reschedule or seek refunds, a spokesman said.
“We have an affirmative, no-questions-asked policy for guests who tell us they want to change plans or seek a refund because of a named storm involving the Orlando area or where they are traveling from,” Universal’s Tom Schroder said via email earlier this week.
Walt Disney World Resort policy allows people to reschedule or cancel their vacation packages and most room-only reservations without any fees if a hurricane warning is issued by National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area or a visitor’s residence within seven days of the traveler’s scheduled arrival, according to Disney’s website.
SeaWorld’s Florida parks are also rescheduling or refunding any vacation package or individual park tickets booked through SeaWorld Vacations, Busch Gardens Vacations, DiscoveryCove.com, SeaWorld.com, BuschGardens.com. It will not apply any cancellation or change fees for this service.
SeaWorld said it has a comprehensive weather preparedness plan, and security and zoological staff will remain on property in secure locations during the storm.
“We’re also providing support and temporary housing for animals from other zoological facilities in coastal areas expected to have greater impact. Guests are encouraged to check our websites and follow our social media channels for more updates,” SeaWorld’s statement said.