Disney World, Universal Orlando among Florida theme parks closing ahead of Hurricane Ian

As Hurricane Ian approaches the US, Florida theme parks are preparing for its arrival.

Busch Gardens was the first park to close ahead of the storm, just miles from Tampa Bay, where the storm was expected to make landfall. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Legoland Florida will follow on Wednesday.

“Everything revolves around the safety of our guests and team members,” Universal Orlando Resort said in a statement to USA Today.

Here’s how Florida’s biggest theme parks are preparing for Hurricane Ian and what guests should know.

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Cheetah Hunt roller coaster runs without passengers on June 10, 2020 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Cheetah Hunt roller coaster runs without passengers on June 10, 2020 at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

Busch Gardens closes

“To ensure the safety of our ambassadors, guests and animals as Hurricane Ian moves through Florida, Busch Gardens will be closed today, September 27th through Thursday, September 29th,” the Tampa theme park posted on Twitter on Tuesday.

The safari-inspired park has many animals, including penguins, lions and giraffes.

In an email to annual pass holders, Busch Gardens said all tickets for the canceled dates will be automatically extended until the end of the year. And the validity of Annual Pass Member Guest tickets will be extended from September 30 to October 16. Guests with ticket questions can email BGA[email protected]

Disney World is closing

Disney World has rarely closed for severe weather in its five decades of operation, but all four of its main theme parks will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. Disney Springs will also be closed on Wednesday and will likely remain closed on Thursday.

“We are monitoring weather conditions so we can make timely decisions for the safety of our cast and guests, including when it is safe for the cast to return to the site in preparation for reopening,” Disney Parks tweeted Late Tuesday afternoon.

Additionally, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park and its Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens miniature golf courses will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park was already closed.

Many resort accommodations will be closed Wednesday through Friday. Guests with existing and prospective reservations are being contacted individually at the following locations.

  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

  • Copper Creek Villas and Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

  • Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

  • Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Star Wars: The Galactic Starcruiser trips starting Tuesday and Thursday have also been canceled.

Universal Orlando will close

Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Islands of Adventure, Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park and CityWalk will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. Halloween Horror Nights are canceled on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Universal Orlando plans to reopen Friday “as conditions permit.”

Meanwhile, the resort told USA TODAY, “Our hotels are currently at full capacity and will continue to operate as they focus on taking care of our guests.”

Guests who have not yet arrived and booked travel through Universal may reschedule or cancel their travel by calling 877-801-9720, in accordance with the resort’s severe weather policy. Guests who have booked through third parties are asked to make arrangements through them.

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SeaWorld Orlando is closing

SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

“We are taking all necessary precautions — including implementing our comprehensive weather preparedness plan — to keep guests, employees and animals safe,” the park said in a statement to USA Today.

All Wednesday and Thursday tickets have been extended until the end of the year. Annual guest member tickets expiring from September 30 to October 2 have been extended to October 16.

Legoland Florida will close

Legoland Florida, Legoland Water Park and Peppa Pig Theme Park will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. Hotel guests with existing reservations will be allowed to stay there, according to the resort’s website.

Wednesday through Sunday park tickets will automatically be extended through the end of the year, and vacation stays for canceled dates can be rebooked without penalty, the resort told USA TODAY. Details on the resort’s hurricane policy can be found at legoland.com/hurricane.

For more information, guests can email [email protected] or call the resort’s call center at 888-690-5346 when it reopens. That too is closed due to the storm.

This article originally appeared on USA Today: Disney World, Universal, Busch Gardens brace for Hurricane Ian

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