Disney, Sea World among Orlando parks to announce early closing

Residents brace for Hurricane Matthew to make landfall


Tourists who flock to Orlando's major theme parks were disappointed Thursday when all of them closed early because of Hurricane Matthew and planned to stay shut down until Saturday.

"I never get time off," said Amber Klinkel, 25, of Battle Creek, Michigan, who was visiting the Universal park with her mother and younger sister. "I'm a little sad."

Universal and Walt Disney World both planned to close down at 5 p.m. Thursday, with SeaWorld shutting its gates at 2 p.m. The parks are among the most-visited tourist destinations in the world.

In a statement on its official park blog, Disney confirm that "Walt Disney World theme parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf courses, Water Parks and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will be closed Thursday at 5 p.m. and will remain closed through Friday, October 7, 2016 due to the latest forecasts for Hurricane Matthew."

The closure is a historic one for the Orlando park which has only closed down three times since opening in 1971. All closures were related to hurricane threats.  On 9/11, parks were evacuted but none were closed. 

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Anthony Leotta, who arrived Thursday from Long Island, New York, said he was going to try to get a refund at Universal. Leotta, who is visiting with his wife, said they are leaving on a cruise Sunday and will probably have just a single day at the theme park.

"I paid for three days at the park and I'm only going to be able to use one," Leotta said.

Carlos Rodriguez, who said he lives in New Jersey but didn't give a hometown, planned to do as much as possible at Universal before it closed Thursday.

"We will try not to walk away empty-handed," he said. "Can't blame them for a hurricane. But you can blame them for closing too early."