Hurricane Irma: How Disney World and other Florida theme parks are preparing for the storm

By Michelle Gant

Published September 07, 2017

Despite the growing threat of Hurricane Irma to the state of Florida, Disney World will remain open — for now.

As residents brace for the worst, the impending storm could lead to potential closures at a number of Orlando amusement parks, though none have elected to close as of Thursday. However, Universal Orlando, Sea World and Walt Disney World all have emergency protocols in place, including cancellation policies for guests affected by the weather, Travel and Leisure reports.

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At Universal Orlando, the park is operating on normal hours at this time as they monitor the weather, but guests can reschedule or seek refunds, park spokesman Tom Schroder 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,” Schroder said in an email to the Sentinel.

Sea World’s website notes that they are “closely monitoring the progress and track of Hurricane Irma” but currently have not made any adjustments to their operating schedule. They do have in place a “Peace of Mind” hurricane policy, offering to reschedule or refund any vacation package or individual park tickets booked directly through the park in the event of a storm. For anyone affected by same-day closures who have been at the park for less than five hours, Sea World offers Sunny Day Guarantee tickets if rides are closed for more than one hour.

Disney World, which has closed only four other times in anticipation of hurricanes since its opening in 1971, is “currently operating under normal conditions and continues to monitor the path of Hurricane Irma, according to their website. As part of their hurricane policy, Walt Disney World also notes that if a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area or your place of residence within seven days of your scheduled arrival date, you can reschedule or cancel without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney — so long as the tickets were issued through the resort and not a third party supplier.

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Just days after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, leaving devastating flooding and damage in its wake, Florida Governor Rick Scott is urging residents to comply with mandatory evacuations and prepare for the arrival of Irma — a Category 5 storm and the most potent Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever — which has already wreaked havoc on the Caribbean. Scott also declared a state of emergency in all 67 counties on Monday.

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