Idalia is feverishly making tracks toward the west coast and panhandle of the Sunshine State, and millions of tourists in Florida are likely in for one disappointment after another. Florida residents and visitors to the Sunshine State can nearly set their respective watches by it–“it” being the peak of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, which begins on June 1 and runs through November 30 annually.
Every part of the pesky, troublesome, and sometimes deadly hurricane season is unpredictable. In fact, there are only two things that residents and tourists can count on when it comes to Atlantic hurricanes: the peak of the season falls around September 10, and September is historically known as the roughest hurdle of the six-month season.
Idalia Makes Tracks for Florida
Right on schedule, Tropical Storm Idalia has made her presence known. As of the time of this publication, she is forecast to become a major Category 3 hurricane before she makes landfall on Wednesday in Florida. According to the National Weather Service, Idalia could potentially bring “life-threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds and scattered flash and urban flooding” along Florida’s west coast and the Florida Panhandle as early as Tuesday.
Shortly after 11:00 p.m. ET on Monday evening, the National Hurricane Center issued an update, noting that Idalia could become a hurricane “at any time.”
Idalia: Danger Lurks Everywhere
Hurricanes can be dangerous no matter where they make landfall, but when the location of a tropical cyclone’s landfall is home to large numbers of people, the devastation can understandably be far greater, as is the case in the state of Florida.
- storm surge and storm tide
- heavy rainfall and inland flooding
- high winds
- rip currents
Residents and tourists in the path of a hurricane should stay up-to-date on the latest weather developments, per Ready.gov, and be sure to do the following:
- Pay attention to emergency information and alerts.
- If you live in a mandatory evacuation zone and local officials tell you to evacuate, do so immediately.
- Determine how best to protect yourself from high winds and flooding.
- Take refuge in a designated storm shelter or an interior room for high winds.
- Go to the highest level of the building if you are trapped by flooding. Do not climb into a closed attic. You may become trapped by rising flood water.
- Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn around–don’t drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Disney World, Universal Studios, & Orlando Area Closures*
Not only is the state of Florida home to more than 22 million residents, but it also serves as a temporary home to more than 130 million tourists annually. Because of the unpredictability of hurricanes, many tourists don’t cancel their trips to the Sunshine State, even when a tropical storm or hurricane is in the forecast. Because of this, beaches, coastal cities, and Central Florida tend to be very populated, even during the Atlantic Hurricane season–populated with tourists who may not be as hurricane-ready as their Florida-resident counterparts.
And while it’s disappointing to learn that one of the state’s major tourist destinations (or major airports) is closed to guests because of the threat of an impending hurricane, the closures often result in fewer incidences of injuries and loss of life.
As of the time of this publication, the following list details closures, delays, and/or statements from the major theme park resorts in Central Florida, as well as other locations in the area, in regard to Idalia. We will continue to update our readers on changes and additional information on this list as it becomes available.
Statement from MCO regarding Idalia:
Orlando International Airport is open and operational while we continue to monitor Tropical Storm Idalia. A friendly reminder that with safety in mind, delays/cancellations are likely to occur with heavy rainfall and gusty winds to tropical storm force in the area. Please check directly with your airline for any updates in regard to your flight. For general airport delays, please visit https://nasstatus.faa.gov/.
A statement from SunRail Services:
SunRail services will be suspended on Tuesday, 8/29, as SunRail will begin working to prepare the corridor and render it safe prior to the impending storm. For more information on how SunRail prepares for severe weather, visit . bit.ly/3sohi0y
At this time, Disney World has posted no announcements about plans to close. This includes Disney Springs, Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon, and Disney World Resort hotels. At this time, all guest areas at Disney World are open and operational.
Per the Disney World Resort’s official website:
Walt Disney World Resort is currently 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. For Guests looking to modify or cancel their Disney Resort hotel reservations, please visit DisneyWorld.com/Plans.
SeaWorld Orlando Resort has no posted announcements about closures due to Idalia at any of its guest locations at this time. The Resort is even offering special ticket deals for Tuesday, August 29.
The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens will be closing at noon on Tuesday, 8/29, and will remain closed on Wednesday, 8/30. The current plan is to reopen on Thursday, August 31, weather permitting.
Multiple state parks in Florida are closed in response to Idalia. Per the official Florida State Parks website:
We are monitoring Tropical Storm Idalia, located near the Yucatan Peninsula and Cuba. Effective August 28, 2023, to help ensure the safety of visitors and staff, Florida State Parks is monitoring Tropical Storm Idalia. The following parks have been affected by the storm: (Click on the specific park web page link for details and the latest information related to Idalia.
- Alafia River State Park (Hillsborough County)
- Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park (Leon County)
- Allen David Broussard Catfish Creek Preserve State Park (Polk County)
- Anclote Key Preserve State Park (Pasco, Pinellas counties)
- Bald Point State Park (Franklin County)
- Big Shoals State Park (Columbia, Hamilton counties)
- Caladesi Island State Park (Pinellas County)
- Cedar Key Museum State Park (Levy County)
- Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve (Levy County)
- Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park (Charlotte, Lee counties)
- Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park (Hillsborough County)
- Collier-Seminole State Park (Collier County)
- Colt Creek State Park (Polk County)
- Crystal River Archaeological State Park (Citrus County)
- Crystal River Preserve State Park (Citrus, Levy counties)
- Dade Battlefield Historic State Park (Sumter County)
- Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park (Collier County)
- Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park (Alachua County)
- Don Pedro Island State Park (Charlotte County)
- Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park (Franklin County)
- Dudley Farm Historic State Park (Alachua County)
- Econfina River State Park (Taylor County)
- Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park (Wakulla County)
- Egmont Key State Park (Hillsborough County)
- Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Citrus County)
- Estero Bay Preserve State Park (Lee County)
- Fanning Springs State Park (Levy County)
- Forest Capital Museum State Park (Taylor County
- Fort Cooper State Park (Citrus County)
- Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail (Alachua County).
- Gasparilla Island State Park (Lee County)
- General James A. Van Fleet State Trail (Lake, Polk, Sumter counties)
- Hillsborough River State Park (Hillsborough County)
- Honeymoon Island State Park (Pinellas County)
- Ichetucknee Springs State Park (Columbia, Suwanee counties)
- Ichetucknee Trace (Columbia County)
- John Gorrie Museum State Park (Franklin County)
- Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park (Manatee County)
- Koreshan State Park (Lee County)
- Lafayette Blue Springs State Park (Lafayette County)
- Lake Griffin State Park (Lake County)
- Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park (Leon County)
- Lake Kissimmee State Park (Polk County)
- Lake Louisa State Park (Lake County)
- Lake Manatee State Park (Manatee County)
- Lake Talquin State Park (Leon County)
- Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park (Jefferson County)
- Little Manatee River State Park (Hillsborough County)
- Lovers Key State Park (Lee County)
- Lower Wekiva River Preserve State Park (Lake, Seminole counties)
- Madira Bickel Mound Archaeological State Park (Manatee County)
- Madison Blue Springs State Park (Madison County)
- Manatee Springs State Park (Levy, Dixie counties)
- Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway (Citrus, Levy, Marion, Putnam counties)
- Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park (Alachua County)
- Mound Key Archeological State Park (Lee County)
- Myakka River State Park (Manatee, Sarasota counties)
- Natural Bridge Battlefield Historic State Park (Leon County)
- Nature Coast State Trail (Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy counties)
- Ochlockonee River State Park (Wakulla County)
- O’Leno State Park (Alachua and Columbia counties)
- Olustee Battlefield Historic State Park (Baker County)
- Orman House Historic State Park (Franklin County)
- Oscar Scherer State Park (Sarasota County)
- Paynes Creek Historic State Park (Hardee County)
- Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park (Alachua County)
- Price’s Scrub State Park (Marion County)
- Rainbow Spring State Park (Marion County)
- River Rise Preserve State Park (Alachua, Columbia counties)
- Ruth B. Kirby Gilchrist Blue Springs State Park (Gilchrist County)
- San Felasco Hammock Preserve State Park (Alachua County)
- San Marcos de Apalache Historic State Park (Wakulla County)
- Silver Springs State Park (Marion County)
- Skyway Fishing Pier State Park (Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas counties)
- South Fork State Park (Manatee County)
- St. Marks River Preserve State Park (Jefferson, Leon counties)
- Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park (Hamilton County)
- Stump Pass Beach State Park (Charlotte County)
- Suwannee River State Park (Hamilton, Madison, Suwannee counties)
- Suwannee River Wilderness Trail (Dixie, Hamilton, Lafayette, Suwannee counties)
- Tallahassee-St. Marks Historic Railroad State Trail (Leon, Wakulla counties)
- Terra Ceia Preserve State Park (Manatee County)
- Torreya State Park (Jackson, Gadsden, Liberty counties)
- Troy Springs State Park (Lafayette County)
- Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park (Levy County)
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (Hernando County)
- Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park (Pasco County)
- Wes Skiles Peacock Springs State Park (Suwannee County)
- Wingate Creek State Park (Manatee County)
- Withlacoochee State Trail (Citrus, Hernando, Pasco counties)
- Ybor City Museum State Park (Hillsborough County)
- Yulee Sugar Mill Ruins Historic State Park (Citrus County)
For more information, please visit floridastateparks.org/StormUpdates.
*As the current weather situation is a quickly evolving one, we will update this information as news about changes and additional closures becomes available.