How will Hurricane Matthew affect the parks and cruise lines that call home here in Florida, here is what we know so far.
With Hurricane Matthew starting to impact us here in Florida, several of the Theme Parks have begun to implement operational changes and closures due to the severity of the storm. Here’s the list of current closures and operating schedules as we get them:
With Hurricane Matthew starting to impact us here in Florida, several of the Theme Parks have begun to implement operational changes and closures due to the severity of the storm.
Walt Disney World:
- ALL Walt Disney World Parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf courses and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will be closed on Friday. They are to reopen on Saturday. Hours are as Follow:
- Magic Kingdom: 8am-Midnight
- Epcot: 8am-10pm
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8am-8pm
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 8am-8:30pm Extra Magic Hours: 7am-8am
- Disney Springs: 10am-Midnight
- Disney’s Blizzard Beach: 10am-5pm
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon: 10am-5pm
- Miniature Golf Courses: 10am-11pm
- ESPN Wide World of Sports: 6:45am-3:30pm (No Events are Scheduled)
- EPCOT World Showcase will open at 11:00 AM on Saturday. Frozen Ever After will open at 8AM.
- Disney Springs will be reopening at 5pm Friday for Walt Disney World hotel guests only. A limited number of locations will be open.
- Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has been canceled for tonight, Friday, October 7, 2016. For re-booking, refunds and other options, please call (407) 939-7818 beginning at 9:00 AM Eastern Time on Monday, October 10, 2016. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campgrounds are closed now through Sunday. The Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ performances for Friday are canceled.
- The Spirit of Aloha dinner shows at the Disney Polynesian Village Resort will be canceled on Friday.
- Spa Locations including the La Vida Health Club at Disney’s Coronado Springs, Senses and both The Grand Floridan and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and both the Ship Shape Massage Salon and Fitness at Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club are closed will reopen on Saturday.
- Characters in Flight is be closed till Sunday.
- Select Weekend Events at the ESPN Wild World of Sports Complex have been canceled. The Disney Cross Country Classic ad Baseball Canada’s Friday and Saturday Games and Practices have been canceled.
- Walt Disney World is reportedly working with guests on cancellations, and waiving the cancellation fees.
Sea World Orlando:
- SeaWorld Orlando will operate from noon to 7 p.m on Saturday.
- Aquatica will open at noon and close at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
- Discovery Cove will resume normal operating hours on Saturday; visitors can check in beginning at 7:15 a.m.
- Universal Orlando and Citywalk will closed on Friday. Halloween Horror Nights is Canceled for Friday. Normal Operations resume on Saturday.
- Gatorland will be closed on Friday.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex:
- The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will be closed Friday. The Visitor Complex is anticipated to reopen Saturday at 9 am.
We will be OPEN Saturday, Oct. 8 and Sunday, Oct. 9 from 10am-8pm. Brick or Treat will take place as scheduled. We will remain closed today.
- LEGOLAND Hotel will be open to admit arriving guests. In the event that a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando, Fla., area or a guest’s place of residence within seven days of his or her scheduled arrival date, guests may call in advance to reschedule or cancel a LEGOLAND Hotel booking without any cancellation or change fees. In this case, guests also may reschedule any LEGOLAND Florida Theme Park or LEGOLAND Florida Water Park tickets booked through LEGOLAND directly, with no additional fees. If tickets were purchased through a third party, LEGOLAND cannot reschedule or cancel them. For assistance, please email LLF.Experience@LEGOLAND.com or call 1-877-350-5346 (toll-free).
- The event was supposed to take place on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Due to hurricane Matthew, the weekend has been canceled.
Busch Gardens Tampa:
- Currently Busch Gardens is scheduled to be open as usual on Friday.
The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye:
- The Coca-Cola Orlando Eye will be closed until weather conditions improve and it is safe to begin operations again.
Wet n’ Wild:
- Wet n’ Wild will remain close on Friday and will reopen on Saturday.
- ALL Parks will open at 6PM on Friday.
- Will reopen at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
- Opened at 2pm Friday.
List updated as of 2:45PM
As of the time of this publication Hurricane Matthew is a Category 3 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale with wind speeds of 115 miles per hour. By late Thursday and Friday, Matthew is expected to approach the east coast of Florida. It is difficult to know whether landfall will occur at this time. Regardless, Matthew is expected to be in proximity to Florida, and significant impacts are now likely for portions of the state, and a hurricane warning is in effect from north of Golden Beach to Sebastian Inlet, Florida. We have contacted throughout the past few day to the different Theme Parks and Cruise Lines that operate in the potential impact area.
Sea World Orlando said to us in a statement that as they closely monitor the progress and track of Hurricane Matthew they have a comprehensive weather preparedness plan to ensure the safety of their guests, ambassadors and animals. Sea World will also provide updates regarding potential changes to our operation on our website. If you can’t travel to Orlando due to Matthew impacting your travel, the parks will reschedule or refund any vacation package or individual park tickets booked through SeaWorld Vacations, Busch Gardens Vacations, their websites or the call center.
Universal Orlando hasn’t indicated publicly what their current plans are, but we do expect a statement from them later in the day. If you can’t travel to Orlando due to Matthew impacting your travel, you’ll be able to reschedule your vacation or receive a complete refund, but that only for on-site hotels. In most cases, the Park Tickets can be used at a later date. Universal asks that you call the same number that you used to book.
This morning the Walt Disney World Resort posted on their official website a statement that read that the “Walt Disney World Resort is currently operating under normal conditions as we continue to monitor Hurricane Matthew. Recent forecasts indicate that there could be rain and wind in the Central Florida area as early as Thursday evening, October 6, 2016. Please continue to monitor news outlets for the latest weather information.” The Walt Disney World Resort hurricane policy is for when a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area, or for your place of residence, within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may reschedule or cancel your vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly through Disney) without any cancellation fees. However select special events, and dining experiences are not eligible for a refund.
We’ve also talked to both Carnival Cruise Line and the Norwegian Cruise Line regarding what accommodations they are providing for their guests. Carnival Cruise Line has modified the itinerary of Carnival Pride’s seven-day cruise that departed from the Port of Baltimore on Sunday, Oct. 2. The voyage was originally scheduled to visit Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and Freeport, will now call at New York and Saint John, New Brunswick, with the ship heading north and maintaining a safe distance from the storm. Guests who sail on this voyage will receive a 25 percent future cruise discount and a $100 credit to their shipboard accounts.
Carnival Cruise Line has also modified the itinerary of Carnival Ecstasy’s six-day cruise that departed from the Port of Charleston on Sunday, Oct. 2. The voyage was originally scheduled to visit Freeport, Nassau and Half Moon Cay, will now include an extended call to Cozumel, Mexico, with the ship maintaining a safe distance from the storm. Guests who sail on this voyage will receive a 25 percent future cruise discount and a $50 credit to their shipboard accounts.
Norwegian Sky’s itinerary on the Norwegian Cruise line that departed October 3 from Miami, had been revised to now call on Key West on October 4 and Cozumel on October 5. Any further changes to the ship’s itinerary will be announced onboard, as they continue to track the storm’s progress. We will be contacting them later in the day for an updated statement for the Norwegian Sky and if they will go to any alternative port.
What will be affected for Attractions and the parks? Outdoor attractions at all of the theme parks will be closed in the event of inclement weather, specifically high winds and nearby lighting. All of the outdoor entertainment will be moved inside or cancelled. Indoor attractions however will remain open, including haunted houses at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights which continue to operate during severe weather. The only exception for the haunted houses at HHN to close is the occasional occurrence of a queue or house flooding.
Busch Gardens Tampa frequently closes due to severe weather due to their proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. However, its rare for the Central Florida theme parks to close. The Central Florida Parks only close if directly threatened by a hurricane. In 2004, Hurricane Charley caused the theme parks to close early one day and remain closed the following day and in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd caused the theme parks to open late.
All attractions in Central Florida are designed with the threat of a hurricane in mind. This means if worse came to fruition and the theme parks did close due to a direct threat of a hurricane, it’s unlikely for there to be a large amount of structural damage. The Parks would reopen shortly after this worst case scenario.
If Hurricane Matthew hits Orlando while you’re staying at one of Disney’s or Universal’s hotels, you may be asked to take shelter in your rooms. Historically during these storms, the staff has done an excellent job at keeping guests calm and informed of the current situation. They’ll ensure that everybody is fed and will put extra entertainment in place for guests. In extreme emergency situations, guests may be asked to gather in a large, enclosed space with no windows.
If you are in the path of the Matthew and need to know what you should get to be prepared or would like to learn more about Hurricane Preparedness, please visit Ready.gov for more information.
We will be updating this article throughout the day once we know more.
Stay tuned for more from Hurricane Matthew and the travel disruptions, and be sure to get social with us on Facebook and follow along with us on Twitter @BehindThrills for the latest updates!