- Disney theme parks in Orlando will shut down Saturday as Hurricane Irma is expected to hit the hardest come Sunday
- The announcement comes as the fifth time in history Walt Disney World parks have closed since first opening nearly 45 years ago
- Most of the attractions will remain closed through Monday and possibly later
- A spokesman for the Universal Orlando Resort told the Orlando Sentinel visitors are encouraged to reschedule planned trips to the parks and ask for refunds
- Disney has encouraged guests staying at resorts to seek other accommodations
Several Disney theme parks in Orlando will shut down Saturday as the brunt of Hurricane Irma is expected to swoop the Sunshine State this weekend.
The announcement was made to the company’s official website, and counts as the fifth time in history the resorts officially closed since Walt Disney World first opened nearly 45 years ago.
Parks that will close include: Universal Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom Park, Fort Wilderness, Blizzard Beach, Hollywood Studios, Disney Springs, Epcot and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
Hurricane Irma is driving toward Florida passing the eastern end of Cuba as Hurricane Katia (L) is also seen in this satellite image taken at 1737 EDT (2137 GMT) on September 8, 2017
Several Disney theme parks in Orlando will shut down Saturday as the brunt of Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Florida the worst this weekend
The closings are the fifth time in history the resorts officially shut down since Walt Disney World first opened nearly 45 years ago
Parks like Universal Studios, Typhoon Lagoon, Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom Park are closing
Other parks said to be shutting down are Legoland, SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Discovery Cove, Aquatica Orlando and Adventure Island.
Most of the attractions will remain closed through Monday and later depending on weather conditions.
A spokesman for the Universal Orlando Resort told the Orlando Sentinel in an email that visitors are encouraged to reschedule planned trips to the parks and ask for refunds.
‘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 told the newspaper.
This Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Virgin Gorda’s Leverick Bay in the British Virgin Islands
Flagler street in the heart of downtown is empty as people boarded up their business and now await the arrival of Hurricane Irma on September 8, 2017 in Miami, Florida
This Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo shows boats washed ashore in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands
This Thursday, Sept. 8, 2017 photo shows storm damage in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands
Disney has encouraged guests staying at resorts to seek other accommodations.
DISNEY PARKS HAVE ONLY SHUT DOWN A HANDFUL OF TIMES IN ALL OF HISTORY
Walt Disney theme parks evacuated in 2001 following the September 11 attack due to national safety concerns, particularly in places with large crowds
The parks also shut down twice in 1999 for Category 4 Hurricanes Frances and Floyd which ravaged areas of Florida
The theme park closed for Category 3 Hurricane Jean in 2004 which was said to be the deadliest of its season
Back in October, the resort also closed in preparation for Category 5 Hurricane Matthew
‘We cannot guarantee resort amenities or access to electricity during severe weather,’ Schroder 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,’ according to the Sentinel.
Officials at SeaWorld in Florida have also issued emergency plans for the weekend.
‘We’re providing support and temporary housing for animals from other zoological facilities in coastal areas expected to have greater impact,’ SeaWorld’s statement read.
‘Guests are encouraged to check our websites and follow our social media channels for more updates.’
Hurricane Irma was initially downgraded from Category 5 to Category 4 early Friday, but as of Friday evening, it was predicted to hit as Category 5.
Irma scraped Cuba’s northern coast Friday on a course toward Florida
It left in its wake a ravaged string of Caribbean resort islands strewn with splintered lumber, corrugated metal and broken concrete
It is only the fourth time ever a Category 5 has hit U.S. mainland.
The hurricane was traveling west at 12 mph and located 345 miles southeast of Miami at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
‘Obviously Hurricane Irma continues to be a threat that is going to devastate the United States,’ Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), said at a press conference Friday.
‘We’re going to have a couple rough days.’
The hurricane has been predicted again as Category 5. It was initially Category 4
It is only be the fourth time ever a Category 5 hit U.S. mainland
Courtesy: Daily Mail Online