Disney parks begin phased reopening Friday after Hurricane Ian
Walt Disney World Resort will begin a phased reopening Friday after enduring Hurricane Ian this week.
Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm Thursday morning as it roared through central Florida, dumping record amounts of rain on the Orlando area. With the cyclone on the Atlantic Ocean, Disney hopes to return to normal.
“While the theme parks and many operating areas remain closed to guests today, we expect the weather to improve this evening. Walt Disney World Resort will resume theme park and Disney Springs operations from phased manner starting Friday, September 30,” Disney wrote in a Twitter post. update.
Friday’s Cirque du Soleil Drawn to Life show at 5:30 p.m. has been rescheduled for 8 p.m. Hours of operation will be updated later Thursday at DisneyWorld.com/Weather.
Universal Orlando Resort also plans to reopen on Fridayincluding its Halloween Horror Nights event.
Ian could cost Disney millions, with a consultant telling Florida Politics the number could be as high as $75 million. That’s two full days of closures at its Florida resorts.
Ian hit the barrier islands of southwest Florida on Wednesday as a near-Category 5 hurricane, bringing winds of 155 mph and storm surge up to 18 feet in some areas. There is no official death toll yet, but some local officials fear it could be in the hundreds. Images from the ground show the remains of the quarters and the governor. Ron DeSantis described the rising waters as a “biblical” storm surge.
Almost a quarter of utility customers across the state are without power, according to the Florida Public Service Commission. In Orange County, about 37% were without power.
There, the precipitation was not the two feet that were projected. However, the average rainfall across the county was 8 to 12 inches, with 16 inches in some areas.
“The worst of the storm is over,” Orange County mayor said jerry deming said Thursday noon press conference. “However, we continue to have downed trees and flooded roads, with some power lines as well. This means that it is not time for our residents to resume normal social activities or leave their homes.
Disney plans to support relief efforts and will announce plans “soon.”
“We are seeing the impacts of Hurricane Ian across Florida and thinking of our neighbors in Central Florida and across the state,” Disney said.
Tropical Storm Ian is now off the Atlantic coast with winds of 65 mph. The cyclone is expected to revert to a hurricane and hit South Carolina.
“We thank our first responders and community leaders for their courageous efforts in preparing for and managing the impact of the storm,” Disney said. “To our cast members in Florida and South Carolina, thank you for selflessly caring for our guests.”
Disney has granted an automatic one-year extension to customers with partially used multi-day theme park tickets with a validity window affected by the closures. These will be valid until September 30, 2023 and customers must bring both a park reservation and a ticket valid for the same park on the same date.
Park closures due to bad weather are relatively rare.
In September 2017, Disney World closed for two full days due to Hurricane Irma – only the sixth closure at the time in the park’s history. Irma cost Disney World $100 million, the company revealed.
Disney World also closed early before Hurricane Dorian in September 2019.
However, the longest closure in Disney World history was due to the COVID-19 pandemic, when the parks closed for nearly four months in 2020. The closures hit the Walt Disney Co. portfolio, their costing billions as cinemas, parks and cruises stopped short.