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Disney World, Universal Studios Issue Statements About Closing as Idalia Churns Toward Florida

map of florida with tropical storm idalia
Credit: Axios/Canva

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.

This year's Atlantic hurricane season could prove unpredictable

Credit: University of Miami

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.”

Video Captures Convective Bursts Within Idalia - Videos from The Weather Channel

Tropical Storm Idalia, evening of August 28/Credit: The Weather Channel

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
  • tornadoes

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.

welcome to florida sign

Credit: Becky Burkett

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.

Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport Hero Image

Credit: Orlando International Airport

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/.

Orlando Sanford International Airport

Orlando Sanford International Airport has made no announcements regarding closures or delays at this time. Visit the airport’s official website for updates by clicking here.

Airport Master Plan - Orlando Sanford International Airport

Credit: Orlando Sanford Airport

SunRail Services

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.

The Walt Disney World Resort

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.

disney world magic kingdom cinderella castle during daytime with visitors standing in front of castle

Credit: Becky Burkett

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.

Universal Orlando Resort

No closure announcements have been posted by Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, CityWalk, and Universal Resort hotels are open and operational.

SeaWorld Orlando Resort

Aquatica Rides & Slides - Florida Water Park | Aquatica Orlando

Credit: SeaWorld Orlando/Aquatica

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.

Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens | Today's Orlando

Credit: Today’s Orlando

Florida State Park Closures

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.

Caladesi Island State Park | Florida State Parks

Caladesi Island State Park/Credit: Florida State Parks

Van Fleet Trail: 29 miles of beauty by bike near Orlando

Credit: General James A. Van Fleet State Park

Silver Springs State Park | Florida State Parks

Silver Springs State Park/Credit: Florida State Parks

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.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!