Disney World, Universal Orlando, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex close ahead of Hurricane Ian

The Cheetah Hunt roller coaster runs without passengers at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on June 10, 2020.

As Hurricane Ian churns closer, Florida's theme parks are hurriedly preparing for its arrival.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, just miles from where the hurricane was previously expected to make landfall, was the first park to shutter ahead of the storm on Tuesday. Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and LEGOLAND Florida followed suit Wednesday.

"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 bracing for Hurricane Ian and what guests should know.

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The Cheetah Hunt roller coaster runs without passengers at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on June 10, 2020.
The Cheetah Hunt roller coaster runs without passengers at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay on June 10, 2020.

Busch Gardens

"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, including penguins, lions and giraffes.

In an email to annual pass holders, Busch Gardens said all tickets for canceled 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 can email BGA.GuestInformation@seaworld.com.

Disney World

Disney World has rarely closed for severe weather in its five decades of operation, but all four of its main theme parks will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. Guests who have not used any portion of tickets intended for those days are directed to contact Disney to modify their travel plans. Guests with partially used multi-day theme park tickets will be able to use their remaining ticket days through Sept. 30, 2023.

Guests who had tickets for Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Thursday will automatically receive refunds within seven business days if they booked through Disney. Guest who booked through travel agents or other parties should reach out to those providers.

Disney Springs will also be closed Wednesday and likely remain closed Thursday.

"We are monitoring weather conditions so we can make timely decisions for the safety of our cast and guests, including when it's safe for cast to return to the site to prepare for reopening," Disney Parks tweeted late Tuesday afternoon.

Additionally, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon water park and its Winter Summerland and Fantasia Gardens miniature golf courses will close Wednesday and Thursday. Disney's Blizzard Beach water park was already closed.

Several resort accommodations will also be closed Wednesday through Friday.

  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

  • Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

  • Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

  • Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyages beginning Tuesday and Thursday have also been canceled.

Guests staying at other Disney resort hotels will need to shelter in place for the duration of the storm. Guests arriving Wednesday will need to check in by 3 p.m. No check ins will be allowed Thursday or before 3 p.m. Friday. Guests who would like to reschedule or cancel resort stays impacted by the storm may do so without penalty.

Universal Orlando

Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal's Volcano Bay water park and CityWalk will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. Halloween Horror Nights are canceled Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Universal Orlando plans to reopen Friday "as conditions permit."

In the meantime, the resort told USA TODAY, "Our hotels are currently at full capacity and will remain operational as they focus on taking care of our guests."

Guests who have not yet arrived and booked travel through Universal may reschedule or cancel their trips by calling 877-801-9720, per the resort's severe weather policy. Guests who booked through third parties are directed to make arrangements through them.

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SeaWorld Orlando

SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.

"We are taking all necessary precautions – including the implementation of our comprehensive weather preparedness plan – to keep guests, employees and animals safe," the park said in a statement to USA TODAY.

All tickets for Wednesday and Thursday have been extended through the end of the year. Annual pass member guest tickets expiring Sept. 30 through Oct. 2 have been extended through Oct. 16.


LEGOLAND Florida, LEGOLAND Water Park and Peppa Pig Theme Park will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. Hotel guests with existing reservations will be allowed to stay, according to the resort's website.

The resort told USA TODAY any park tickets dated for Wednesday through Sunday will automatically be extended through the end of the year, and vacation stays for canceled dates may be rebooked without penalty. Details on the resort's hurricane policy can be found at legoland.com/hurricane.

For more information, guests can email LLF.Experience@LEGOLAND.com or call 888-690-5346 once the resort's call center reopens. That is also closed due to the hurricane.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Though not a theme park, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a popular destination for many tourists on Florida's Space Coast. It too will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. Reopening timing will be decided after a thorough assessment of the property.

"The safety of our guests and crewmembers is our top priority," Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex said in a statement, adding that the latest details can be found on its website.

Guests who purchased tickets for Wednesday or Thursday directly from the Kennedy Space Center will be automatically refunded. Anyone who booked through third parties should contact those service providers.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Disney World, Universal, Busch Gardens close ahead of Hurricane Ian