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.
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
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.”
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. pic.twitter.com/qB5nv6C2b8
— Orlando International Airport (@MCO) August 29, 2023
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.
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.”
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.
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 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.”
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.
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.