Florida Theme Park Announces Closure Following Hurricane Evacuation Order

in Theme Parks

haunted mansion storm

Credit: Mike Buchawiecki / Flickr

Hurricane Idalia is coming for Florida, and now, the theme parks in the surrounding area are starting to take precautions and shut down.

Sometimes, a hurricane does not even have to be in the vicinity to cause a shutdown; all it takes is the knowledge of its inevitable debut. Recently, we saw Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood both shut down early to take precautions from Hurricane Hilary.

In this cases, the hurricane ended up only being a tropical storm which was much less terrifying than what it could have been if the storm had not lost strength.

haunted mansion storm
Credit: Mike Buchawiecki / Flickr

Now, Floridians are in the driver’s seat for hurricane season, with Hurricane Idalia fast approaching.

CNN just reported, “Tropical Storm Idalia is expected to strengthen into a hurricane Monday and bring life-threatening and potentially catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding rainfall to Florida’s Gulf Coast starting Tuesday into Wednesday as a Category 3 storm.”

Concerns are now mounting around Idalia’s expected strength as it goes through rapid intensification, something it is forecast to do up until it makes landfall along Florida’s Big Bend – a natural, storm surge-prone divot along the coast stretching from Tampa to just south of Tallahassee. Up to 11 feet of storm surge was forecast there.

storm brewing at Walt Disney World
Credit: James Palmer / Flickr

The publication continued, “Mandatory and voluntary evacuations were issued for at least six counties along Florida’s Gulf Coast with less than 48 hours before the storm makes landfall, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis warned of many more to come.

“This is going to be a major impact,” DeSantis said during a Monday morning news conference, warning Floridians should expect Idalia to be a major hurricane – Category 3 or higher – at landfall.

With the location of this storm, there are certain Florida theme parks that are going to be severely at risk, including Busch Gardens Tampa. Now, the theme park has announced its closure plans to prep for the storm.

Front entrance to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay in Florida
Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

The website notes, “Due to the projected path of Tropical Storm Idalia, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has enacted its Named Storm Policy and will close at 3 p.m. Tuesday, August 29 and remain closed Wednesday, August 30. The park plans to reopen on Thursday, August 31. Precautions are in place following the parks’ comprehensive weather preparedness plan to ensure the safety of our animals and ambassadors during this time. If this affects your trip, be sure to review our Weather-or-Not Assurance and check back for more updates.”

Related: Florida Governor Ron DeSantis Halts Campaign, Returns to Florida to Make Statement

Scorpion, high-speed roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Busch Gardens Tampa has also been setting up for Howl-O-Scream, its Halloween event, which requires a ton of outdoor decor that may need to be properly protected before the storm arrives.

So far, Busch Gardens is the first Florida theme park to announce its closure.

Is Disney World Going to Close?

In Florida, one thing that is unfortunate about the state is that it is prone to hurricanes. When guests visit Disney World in the summer, especially from July to September, it will likely rain every day, which is not a huge deal as the storms in Florida leave as quickly as they appear. However, if you are in Disney World during a hurricane, the weather may not be what you expected for a theme park day.

Walt Disney World Resort as a whole is actually one of the safest places to be if you ever find yourself in Central Florida during a hurricane. Disney World Resorts are all built to withstand any storm and have backup power supplies to ensure that guests are always feeling immersed in the magic of the resort’s theme and not thinking about the terrible weather outside.

storm at walt disney world lightning striking cinderella castle
Credit: Reddit (@Its_a_secret2012)

They do this so well that many locals even book a stay at a Disney Resort when they know a bad hurricane is on the way. So, if you are visiting Disney World during hurricane season, rest assured that your Disney Resort hotel will keep you safe and warm if any bad storms hit Orlando during your trip.

Idalia is now forecast to become a major hurricane before it reaches the Gulf coast of Florida. The risk continues to increase for life-threatening storm surges and dangerous hurricane-force winds along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle beginning as early as late Tuesday.

Knowing this, it seems likely that there is a chance that the theme parks may shut down. We already predicted that Disney may have a closure in the near future, but now, it seems the storm is going to be strong enough that it may shut down Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort.

Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World Resort after a rainstorm
Credit: Brett Kiger on Flickr

As we mentioned, Disney World has not announced a closure as of yet. If the conditions outside become too dangerous for guests to ensure once the hurricane hits, then closures or early closures may be announced.

Disney World has only had to close six times due to hurricanes since opening in 1971. Below is a list of each hurricane closure recorded since Disney World opened:

  • Hurricane Floyd – 1999
  • Hurricane Charlie – 2004
  • Hurricane Francis – 2004
  • Hurricane Jeanne – 2004
  • Hurricane Matthew – 2016
  • Hurricane Irma – 2017
  • Hurricane Dorian – 2019
Tropical Storm Nicole 2022
Credit: Accuweather

Luckily, Cinderella Castle as a whole was also constructed to be able to withstand any hurricane. The Magic Kingdom centerpiece is made up of gypsum, plaster, and fiberglass, and contrary to what some may think, nothing needs to ever be removed from the castle during a hurricane, not even the spires! This is something we have seen proven with hurricane Dorian, hurricane Irma, hurricane Matthew, and many other tropical storms.

Would you still travel to Florida if you were heading on vacation during the first hurricane week of the season?

If you are looking to visit Walt Disney World Resort for a magical vacation, the Walt Disney World Website can be a great tool to begin planning your trip! You can begin exploring their theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT. You can also take a look at their water parks where you can splash around in the chill of Disney’s Blizzard Beach (alongside new Frozen characters, Anna, Elsa, Sven, and Kristoff), or hit the waves at Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon. When you get hungry or want to go shopping, Disney Springs is the place to be, especially with World of Disney there ready to help you pick up some souvenirs! You can also begin looking for your Disney World Resort! If you are looking to stay at a Deluxe monorail Resort like Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa or a Value Resort where you can hop on the Skyliner like Disney’s Pop Century Resort, it is always fun to begin looking for a room that would best suit you and your party. Plus, it has all the information you need to know on Disney Genie+ so that you will be ready to go on your My Disney Experience app once you download it! Click here to check it out today.


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