With Hurricane Irma tracking towards Florida, the theme park has announced closures.
UPDATED Sep 8, 12:56 p.m. EDT
With Irma headed straight for Central Florida as a dangerous Category 4 storm this weekend, Universal Orlando Resort has announced the following closures:
"Our destination will close at 7pm on Saturday, Sept. 9. We will be fully closed on Sunday and Monday. We anticipate normal operating hours on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Our on-site hotels are currently at full capacity and will remain operational as they focus on taking care of our on-site guests. We will hold our Rock the Universe event at Universal Studios Florida tonight, Friday Sept. 8 and will welcome Saturday ticket-holders tonight as well. The event will be cancelled on Saturday night and Sunday morning."
As Hurricane Irma, now a powerful Category 5 storm, bears down on the Caribbean and makes its way toward Florida, residents are preparing for harsh conditions. Following Florida Governor Rick Scott’s declaration of a state of emergency in the area, evacuations have begun in the Florida Keys and southern parts of Florida. Inevitably, theme parks in Central Florida’s Orlando may be strongly impacted as well.
Although Disney World has not yet announced any official closures, what can Harry Potter-loving travelers expect at neighboring Universal Studios Orlando?
According to the Orlando Sentinel, both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure have closed for severe weather in the past, most recently for one full day last year during Hurricane Matthew. (Other area parks like Disney World and SeaWorld also closed their gates during this storm.) If predictions of the severity of the hurricane prove true in the coming days, it’s highly possible that the same action will be taken to protect guests against Irma.
Universal Orlando’s website lays out the park’s severe weather policy in full, which is in effect through Nov. 30, 2017.
“If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area or for your place of residence no more than 7 days before your scheduled arrival date,” the policy reads “you can call in advance to cancel or reschedule your Universal Parks and Resorts Vacations hotel accommodations and Universal Orlando theme park tickets without any cancellation or change fees imposed.”
Spokesman Tom Schroder also told the Orlando Sentinel: “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.”
Senior Director of Public Relations Alyson Lundell adds, "Our Park operations and hours are continuing as normal. At the same time, we are closely monitoring the weather. We have plans and procedures for serious weather that are both time-proven and constantly updated. Everything revolves around the safety of our guests and team members."
Regardless of upcoming closures, travelers in the Orlando area this week should proceed with caution.