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Disney World, Universal Orlando, Airports, and Others Issue Updates About Closures Related to Hurricane Idalia

hurricane idalia from space
Credit: NASA/Canva

Idalia continues its path toward the west coast and panhandle of Florida, and millions of Floridians are making plans to evacuate the area. Additionally, millions of people in Florida are in the state on vacation, and the impending storm could affect Florida’s airports, as well as the many tourist destinations in the state, and the very nature of the situation is an ever-evolving one.

Hurricane Idalia, Hurricane Franklin put on powerful show as seen from space

Credit: NOAA/NASA

Tropical storms and hurricanes are nothing new to Florida residents, but some tourists in Florida might be less experienced in riding out storms of this magnitude. Late August and early to mid-September are historically the most active weeks of the six-month Atlantic Hurricane season, which begins June 1 and runs through November 30.

Idalia on a Direct Path for Florida

Right on schedule, Idalia became a Category 1 hurricane on Tuesday morning and has made her presence known. As of the time of this publication, she is forecast to rapidly intensify to a Category 3 storm before eventually making 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.

Idalia: Dangerous Storm Surge and Flash Flooding

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.

Closures at (and Announcements From) Disney World, Universal Studios, and other Tourist Locations*

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. (Updated Tuesday, August 29)

On Tuesday morning, MCO posted an announcement to X, formerly Twitter, telling passengers the following:

“Our airport is open and operational. We continue to monitor the status of Hurricane #Idalia – we do not foresee any significant impact to our operations at this time. If operational changes occur, we’ll post about it. Please check with your airline in regards to your flight.”

Orlando Sanford International Airport

As of Tuesday morning, Orlando Sanford International Airport has still made no announcements regarding closures or delays related to Idalia. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the airport’s official website for updates by clicking here.

Orlando Sanford International Airport (SFB) | Sanford, FL | 31264

Credit: Orlando Sanford Airport

SunRail Services

On Monday, SunRail Services announced it would suspend services on Tuesday and would “begin working to prepare the corridor and render it safe prior to the impending storm.” On Tuesday morning at 5:30 a.m., however, SunRail announced that “SunRail Service is suspended until further notice due to the impending storm” and encouraged passengers to “receive alerts directly on your phone with the updated SunRail App.”

Team Florida | SunRail

Credit: SunRail

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.

magi kingdom mickey and minnie bronze sculptures

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.

Disney World further posted an announcement for guests staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground:

As we continue to monitor the weather, we are asking that all Fort Wilderness Guests remove and stow all outside items, including tents and décor, and take in camper awnings by 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 29. If you’d like to depart early or discuss alternate options for your vacation, please contact us at (407) 939-2744.

Universal Orlando Resort

Universal Orlando has made no posts on its official website since Monday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. ET, at which time the Resort announced that “at this time, park operations and hours are continuing as normal. We are closely monitoring the weather. Please check back for updates.”

On Bringing the World of Harry Potter to Life in… Florida ‹ Literary Hub

Credit: Literary Hub

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

SeaWorld Orlando Resort

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 close at noon on Tuesday, 8/29, and remain closed on Wednesday, 8/30. Weather permitting, Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens plans to reopen on Thursday, 8/31.

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

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!