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After slamming into the Bahamas -- where it took multiple lives -- Hurricane Dorian is now making its way toward the United States and possibly the vacation destinations of Orlando, Florida. Although it was unclear over the weekend how exactly Walt Disney World would choose to proceed in the face of the storm, threatening weather conditions due to Dorian have finally prompted changes at the park. Universal Studios however, is for the most part operating as usual, for now.
Walt Disney World has announced that it is adjusting its hours of operation and closing some parks beginning Tuesday, September 3. The Magic Kindom will operate from 8:00 AM (7:00 AM for Extra Magic Hours) to 3:00 PM and EPCOT will be open from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open from 8:00 AM (7:00 AM for Extra Magic Hours) to 2:00 PM and thus Disney After Hours at Animal Kingdom has been cancelled. Guest with tickets to that event can get a full refund or exchange their tickets for a variety of other events.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios will operate today from 9:00 AM (6:00 AM for Extra Magic Hours) to 2:00 PM. Outside of the four main parks, the Disney Springs shopping and dining district will be open from 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Winter Summerland Miniature Golf and Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf will all be open from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.
In addition to those adjusted hours, Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park and ESPN Wide World of Sports are both closed on September 3. Disney Resort hotels will remain open during this time, but Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will close beginning September 3 at 3:00 PM and will not reopen until it’s safe to do so. Guests at certain resorts may also be relocated to other resorts on property.
In its press release, Disney said that it is monitoring the storm’s progress and adjusting its operations accordingly, stressing its commitment to the safety of guests and its cast members. So for those closing out their summer with a Walt Disney World vacation, they’ll have to cut their days short on Tuesday if they are visiting the parks.
Disney isn’t the only theme park in Orlando though. Universal Orlando isn’t shutting its main parks down early on Tuesday. Universal Orlando has announced that Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure and Universal’s CityWalk will all open and operate as scheduled with normal hours today, September 3.
However, the water park, Universal’s Volcano Bay, will be closed. Like Disney, Universal is closely monitoring the storm and will offer updates about its operational status via its website and Twitter. While Disney and Universal will both operate today in some fashion SeaWorld in Orlando will be closed for the entire day.
There is no word from the Florida theme parks about September 4, but that information will presumably come as time goes on and the trajectory and severity of the storm can be gleaned with greater certainty. According to ABC News, Dorian is picking up speed and moving “dangerously close” to Florida and is expected to approach the eastern coastline of the Sunshine State Tuesday night through Wednesday evening.
For Walt Disney World, this hurricane puts a bit of a damper on the festivities. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge just opened at Hollywood Studios on Thursday and no doubt there are guests eager to experience that immersive new land. However, Hollywood Studios is still open, albeit with limited hours, and guests will still have the opportunity. Wait times have reportedly been down across Walt Disney World and Universal Studios as Florida braces for the storm.
Although riding the Astro Orbiter or Expedition Everest or Splash Mountain during a hurricane sounds like a gnarly way to turn an E-Ticket ride into a Z-Ticket ride, it’s probably not the best idea, and it seems many guests are taking the safer course of action.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest theme park news as the hurricane approaches.