Hurricane Ian churns closer to the U.S., Florida’s theme parks are hurriedly preparing for its arrival.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is located just miles from the stretch of Florida’s Gulf Coast where Ian is expected to make landfall. So far, it’s the only theme park to close, but other precautionary measures are underway elsewhere, including at Walt Disney World, which announced other closures.
“Everything revolves around the safety of our guests and team members,” Universal Orlando Resort said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Here’s how Florida’s biggest theme parks are preparing for Hurricane Ian.
Live updates:Florida braces for ‘historic’ storm surge
Hurricane tracker:Where is Ian headed?
“To ensure the safety of our ambassadors, guests and animals as Hurricane Ian moves through Florida, Busch Gardens will be closed today, Sept. 27 through Thursday, Sept. 29,” the Tampa theme park posted on Twitter Tuesday.
The safari-inspired park houses a wide array of animals ranging from penguins to giraffes.
In an email to annual pass holders, Busch Gardens said all tickets for impacted dates would be automatically extended through the end of the year. And annual pass member guest tickets expiring Sept. 30 will be extended through Oct. 16. Guests with ticket questions may email BGA.GuestInformation@seaworld.com.
Disney World has rarely closed for severe weather in its five decades of operation. Currently, all four of its main theme parks and Disney Springs are operating under normal conditions, but Disney World says it’s preparing to “make necessary adjustments based on the latest information from the National Weather Service.”
“We continue to put the safety of our cast members and guests first and will share updates with you as we monitor Hurricane Ian,” the resort said in a special weather section of its website.
For now, it’s announced the temporary closure of Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park and both its Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens miniature golf courses on Wednesday and Thursday. Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park was already closed.
Several resort accommodations will also be closed from Wednesday through Friday. Guests with existing and upcoming reservations at the following locations are being contacted individually.
Additionally, reservations for the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness will be automatically canceled and refunded while the venue is closed. Guests with reservations for dining and other experiences across the resort will be allowed to cancel without penalty.
Disney already allows guests to modify park and resort reservations without penalty, though pricing may vary by date.
Universal Orlando Resort is operating as usual for now.
“We are closely monitoring the weather. We have plans and procedures for significant weather that are both time-proven and constantly updated,” Universal Orlando told USA TODAY.
Guests who still want to cancel or push back their trips can do so without penalty if they booked through Universal by calling 877-801-9720. Guests who booked through travel agents or third party sites are directed to reach out to those instead.
Universal Studios Hollywood vs. Florida:What’s the difference?
USA TODAY has reached out to SeaWorld Orlando and Legoland Florida Resort about their hurricane plans, which have not yet been shared online. Both destinations listed regular operating hours for the week on their websites.
SeaWorld Orlando did say Tuesday that it is rescheduling an announcement about a 2023 attraction due to the hurricane.