What to know about Disney World, airport closures as Hurricane Idalia targets Florida

Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — As Hurricane Idalia makes its way towards Florida, one area at risk is the state’s huge tourism industry.

The storm is forecast to make landfall Wednesday morning in Florida’s Big Bend area, north of Tampa.

Idalia is expected to strengthen further as it nears the Sunshine State, possibly becoming a major Category 3 hurricane by Tuesday night.

Here is what to know about how the storm is impacting Florida’s major theme parks and airports.

Orlando International Airport remains open

Orlando International Airport, the state’s busiest airport, is open as of Tuesday morning.

The airport tweeted around 9 a.m. local time Tuesday that it remains “open and operational” and expects to stay that way.

“We do not foresee any significant impact to our operations at this time,” the tweet said.

Tampa International Airport closes ahead of storm

On the other side of the state, Tampa International Airport closed its operations as of 12:01 a.m. local time Tuesday due to Idalia.

The airport said in a statement Monday that it will remain closed “until it can assess any damages later in the week.”

“The closure will allow the Airport and its partners to prepare the airfield and terminals, including the securing of jet bridges, ground equipment and any remaining aircraft before Idalia’s expected landfall early Wednesday as a potential major hurricane,” the statement said.

Walt Disney World remains open ahead of Idalia

Walt Disney World Resort, located near Orlando, said that as of Tuesday, its resorts and theme parks are open and “operating under normal conditions.”

“We are closely monitoring the path of the projected weather as we continue to prioritize the safety of our Guests and Cast Members,” the resort said in a statement Tuesday morning.

The only Walt Disney World guests currently impacted by Hurricane Idalia are those staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground. The company is asking those guests to “remove and stow” outside items like decor, tents and camper awnings by 6 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

Guests may go online to modify or cancel their Disney Resort hotel reservations.

The company said it is currently waiving its change and cancellation fees for reservations with check-in dates between Aug. 28 and Sept. 4.

Under its hurricane cancellation policies, Walt Disney World states that if the National Hurricane Center issues a hurricane warning for either the Orlando area or where you live within seven days of your planned arrival date, you may reschedule or cancel most hotel room reservations without any change or cancellation fees.

Busch Gardens closes early due to Idalia

Busch Gardens, a Tampa-based theme park, is closing at 12 p.m., local time on Tuesday ahead of Idalia.

The theme park said it will also remain closed Wednesday and plans to reopen Thursday.

Universal Studios remains open

Universal Studios in Orlando said it is staying open but continuing to monitor the path of Hurricane Idalia.

“At this time, our park operations and hours are continuing as normal. We are closely monitoring the weather,” the resort said in a statement Monday.

Like Disney, Universal Orlando Resort’s severe weather policy states that if a state of emergency or a hurricane or tropical storm warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area or your place of residence, you can reschedule or cancel your Universal reservations with “no cancellation or change fees imposed.”

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