Officials announced Friday that the Orlando theme parks and water parks would close its doors early on Saturday. They hoped to resume normal operations Tuesday, according to their website‘s full list of closures. However, sustained weather conditions or damage to the resort could result in further shut downs.
While the parks did experience high winds and rain, the power remained on throughout the storm, according to officials. They are currently assessing any damage.
This is the fifth time Disney World has closed since opening in 1971, all in anticipation of hurricanes. his marks the second straight year Disney World will shut its gates because of severe weather: Hurricane Matthew forced it to close last October.
Refunds and Exchanges
Disney’s hurricane policy fully refunds tickets when the National Hurricane Center declares a warning for the Orlando area or the traveler’s residence within seven days of the vacation date. However, it does not reimburse for third party expenses like air travel, car rentals and hotel stays.
The resort also posted an exchange and refund policy for special events that have been canceled due to Irma.
Full refunds will be available for ticket holders to Night of Joy at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which was scheduled for Saturday. Those slated to attend Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Saturday are allowed to exchange their tickets for future holiday events or receive a full refund.
Guests looking to redeem these offers should call 407-939-7818 or email Ticket.Inquiries@DisneyWorld.com before January 31, 2018.
Hotels on the Disney property have remained opened and continue to spread the magic. The resort shared photos of characters interacting with children during the shut down.
Cost of the Shut Down
John Janedis, an analyst at Jefferies, told Business Insider Disney World generates about $30 million in revenue each day. Closing for a day and a half for Hurricane Matthew cost the company about $40 million, according to Janedis.
He estimated that the shut down for Irma could cost Disney up to $90 million in lost revenue, not including any damages caused by the storm.
“During this time of the year, particularly with the Halloween events going on, literally millions of dollars can be lost,” Dennis Speigel, president of the International Theme Park Services consulting firm, told the Orlando Sentinel last year about the threat of hurricanes.
According to industry group Themed Entertainment Association’s annual report, more than 20 million people visited Disney World in 2016 and the resort employs 73,000 people.
Other Orlando Theme Parks
Disney World is just one of several theme parks in the Orlando area to shutter as a safety precaution. SeaWorld is also closing early on Saturday and will remain closed until Tuesday. The marine park posted a video to Facebook including details of their closure and the safety precautions they take for the animals in their care.
“We’re gonna keep them in their pools, have crews here around the clock throughout the storms and as long as it’s safe we’re going to come out and check on our animals and make sure they’re good,” explained a staff member.
The Orlando theme park has also received five bottle-nose dolphins from the Florida Keys who are taking refuge in the park. Smaller animals like baby manatees, otters, and birds have been relocated to more secure enclosures.
Universal Studios Orlando maintained a similar schedule, closing at 7 p.m. on Saturday and intending to re-open on Tuesday.
The Orlando Sentinel also reports that Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island, its water park, will be closed Saturday through Monday, as well as Legoland Florida.