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Hurricane Matthew and Theme Park Closures in Orlando: Here's What You Need to Know (Updated)

Barring any dramatic last-minute track shifts, it looks like the Orlando area is going to be hit by Hurricane Matthew in just a few hours. And as you might expect, this will have a massive impact on all of Central Florida's theme parks, with reduced hours, closures, cancellations and more going into effect beginning today.

Here’s a rundown of how all of the Central Florida theme parks are handling this emergency situation as of early Thursday morning:

1. Walt Disney World

While we already went over the various preparations that Walt Disney World is making to get the resort ready for this impending category 4 storm, some specific details have been confirmed about what guests who are already at the resort can expect both today and tomorrow: 

UPDATE: Thursday 11:30AM: Walt Disney World theme parks as well as Disney Springs and the ESPN Wide World of Sports are closing Thursday at 5:00PM and will remain closed until Saturday, October 8. 

  • Guest at the Fort Wilderness Campground are under a mandatory evacuation and must be checked out by 11:00AM today. Guests who request alternate accomodations at Walt Disney World are being relocated to other resorts, but specific requests are not guaranteed. 
  • Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Thursday has been cancelled, and guests who had purchased tickets can get a refund or a ticket for another date. The Magic Kingdom is currently scheduled to still close at 7:00PM, when the party would have originally begun. Friday's event is still on the schedule, but Disney may elect to cancel it if conditions are still dangerous. 
  • Blizzard Beach water park is closed Thursday and Friday
  • Typhoon Lagoon water park is closed Friday
  • The Characters in Flight balloon at Disney Springs is closed now through Sunday, October 8th. 
  • The Spirit of Aloha at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort and the and Hoop De Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness have been cancelled for both Thursday and Friday evening. Guests are being refunded and will have a chance to re-book. 
  • Select weekend events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex have been canceled, including the 2016 Disney Cross Country Classic and Baseball Canada’s Friday and Saturday games and practices

As of right now Walt Disney World's four theme parks are currently scheduled to operate for normal operating hours on Thursday and Friday, but Walt Disney World has said that they are monitoring the situation closely and will make a decision about when to close the theme parks later today. Based on what we're hearing we'd imagine a early close will probably be announced in the very near future as the storm approaches early this evening. 

2.  SeaWorld Orlando 

Image: Brian , Flickr (license)

SeaWorld Orlando will be closing early Thursday at 2:00PM, and Discovery Cove will be closing as soon as the final dolphin swim of the day takes place early in the afternoon. Neither of these parks will be open at all Friday in the wake of this storm. SeaWorld’s water park Aquatica will be closed on both Thursday and Friday. A decision about Saturday operation for all three of these parks will be made when any damage incurred from this storm has been assesed.

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News reports are coming in that Orlando International Airport is shutting down at 8:00 pm and that Universal Studios/IOA and CityWalk are closing this afternoon and will remain closed tomorrow.

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