All parks will be closed for at least two days.
After maintaining normal operations for as long as possible in anticipation of upcoming Hurricane Irma, Disney World has now officially announced closures for all four parks and two water parks, as well as Disney Springs.
Their statement reads:
“Based on the latest forecasts for Hurricane Irma and keeping safety top of mind, Walt Disney World Resort will be closing early on Saturday, September 9 and will remain closed through Monday, September 11. Resort hotels will remain open. We hope to resume normal operations on Tuesday, September 12. We will provide regular updates to our guests on all operational changes. Please continue to check this page for updates.”
The Hurricane Irma information section of Walt Disney World’s site also lays out specific closing times for each park, with the latest parks closing their gates at 9 p.m. on Saturday.
The more than two-day shutdown marks a significant closure for the happiest place on earth, which ceased operating for just one-and-a-half days last year during Hurricane Matthew. According to Business Insider, that closure cost the company about $40 million.
Both Disney and Universal have announced refund and rebooking policies for guests unable to visit because of the storm. Disney’s policy reads, “If 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 call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.”
Hurricane Irma, which has already been wreaking havoc in the Caribbean earlier this week, is now hurtling towards Florida. While the previously Category 5 storm has been reduced to a Category 4 before making landfall in the state, the Florida Keys and much of Southern Florida has already been evacuated. While Orlando has not been subject to voluntary or mandatory evacuation, the area and its theme parks are increasingly becoming a vulnerable target.
While Disney World has only closed 4 times before due to a hurricane, the resort is well equipped to deal with such a storm. The National Weather Service has considered Walt Disney World a StormReady Community in the past, making it a safer place than most for any guests who may be forced to ride out the storm at the parks.
According to CNN, Disney World also has a 215 person emergency response team that can be dispatched to the resort in 45 seconds or less.
Both Disney and Universal hope to resume regular operations on Tuesday.