All central Florida theme parks announce reopening dates

September 12, 2017, 3:29 PM · The Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando theme parks reopened to the public today after being closed for more than two days due to Hurricane Irma. SeaWorld and other central Florida theme parks remained closed today, but now all area parks have announced their reopening dates.

SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa will reopen tomorrow, Sept. 13. In an effort to boost attendance during a normally slow period of the year — further slowed by the hurricane and resulting power losses to millions of homes and businesses throughout the state — the two parks are offering a buy-one, get-one-free ticket deal for tomorrow through Sunday.

The details:

The single-day ticket offers are valid for Florida residents only, and must be purchased and redeemed between Wednesday, September 13, 2017 and Sunday, September 17, 2017. Full price adult ticket at SeaWorld Orlando is $99.99 (single-day ticket) and second single-day ticket to SeaWorld Orlando is free. Full price adult ticket at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is $104.99 (single-day ticket) and second single-day ticket to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is free.

"Floridians have been through a lot this past week. We’re pleased that this offer lets families, friends and neighbors take a break and reconnect for the day," SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment CEO Joel Manby said in a statement.

Like many in the state, Legoland Florida had lost power following the storm but today announced that it will reopen as scheduled on Thursday, Sept. 14. Legoland had been scheduled to be closed on Tuesday and Wednesday this week due to its seasonal schedule. Legoland's water park remains closed until further notice.

Even though the parks are reopening, it remains to be seen when the area's tourism industry will fully recover. An estimated 10 million people have been left without power in the southeast by Irma, and the Orlando International Airport is just beginning to resume service today, with many thousands of people whose flights were cancelled looking to get home. The logistics of getting back up to speed for one of the world's most popular tourist destinations are daunting, and that's before considering the PR challenge of letting potential customers know that the state is back open for business.

That said, the parks appears to have escaped any significant damage beyond the "arbage" of fallen trees and fronds that littered the resorts after the storm and a few torn or fallen signs. Not everything is 100 percent around the parks, but mid-September isn't exactly an "all hands on deck, full capacity" time of year, anyway. Crews will get the power back to other local customers, the airlines eventually will sort out their flight schedules, and destinations' PR machines will crank up to entice people to come visit. SeaWorld's even getting a jump on that with its ticket deal.

If you are in Florida, please let us know how things are going.


Replies (8)

September 13, 2017 at 2:13 AM · Even though things get back to normal opening fairly quickly, is it likely to mean that it will be quieter than usual for some time ?
September 13, 2017 at 6:53 AM · I would expect crowds to return relatively quickly. With our own trip coming up in just over a month, I've been monitoring FP+ reservations and other crowd indicators, and at least October looks to be as busy or busier than normal. I think this week and next week may take a hit from locals staying home, but tourists are unlikely to cancel or delay trips. The EPCOT Food and Wine Festival has not altered its schedule, and the MNSSHP and HHN are going on as initially scheduled. None of the hard ticketed events have been cancelled beyond what was lost Sunday and Monday, though I believe there has been some relaxation of the cancellation policies because of the effects of Irma. Typically all of the hard-ticketed events have a no refunds/exchanges policy, but my understanding is that both Disney and Universal are making accommodations to guests that may be having trouble getting to the parks this week and weekend.
September 13, 2017 at 8:58 AM · Having attended Disney on Tuesday, the park was dead empty. You wouldn't have guessed it was a normal operating day as all rides were walk on. I even had a friend report that Avatar Flight of Passage was only 15 minutes on Tuesday. As power is restored to many Central Florida residents already, once the cleanup is complete, I would anticipate more of them making their way back to the parks. As for the tourists, once they are able to leave and the next batch are able to come in, they will also begin to populate the parks. I did notice a large number of tourists to Florida residents at the parks Tuesday due to many residents preoccupied with cleanup/lack of power; I would be too but I live in an Orlando Apartment, so I was ready to take advantage of the empty parks and low wait times!
September 13, 2017 at 9:18 AM · FWIW, I'm arriving tomorrow and have been trying to pick up some last minute ADRs and FPs for next week, but not much has opened up. If that's any indicator.

Would be pleasant if HHN queues are a little more manageable on Friday than a typical opening night though!

September 13, 2017 at 10:44 AM · I can see it slow but building back up fast as fall tourist season kicks up. Sure, some delays but it's still Orlando, hard to imagine it fading in tourism for a long period.
September 13, 2017 at 10:47 AM · Did just see a bit at Entertainment Weekly discussing it with photos of flooding and trees down at Epcot and such. It's mostly downed trees at the resorts but Disney crews working fast to clean them up. Again, should give kudos to the cast members sticking around to help the guests, that was a great job keeping things okay and guests calm in a hard time.
September 13, 2017 at 5:33 PM · Just got back from an after-work visit to Seaworld, and I was surprised how busy it was. Nothing crazy, but more people at the park tonight than last week. Still a huge amount of our friends from Europe.... I do envy how much vacation time those guys get !!!
.... and Russell I agree .. fastpass+ is really in demand in October. Trouble is, the hotel residents get 60 days, where as we locals only get 30 days ..... seems backwards to me !?!? ... :)
As a side note from my visit to Seaworld tonight .... it seems they are considering discontinuing the passholder dining plan for 2018. No definites, but "more than likely" .... pity, it's been a nice passholder perk this year.
September 14, 2017 at 3:55 AM · I guess people from abroad are tied in with vacation packages and will come anyway unless their flight is actually cancelled. Also, I guess if the parks were closed for a couple of days you then get a surge of people making up for lost time. I'm heading over to wdw for 2 weeks on 24 Sep. Yay ??. Makorider I only get 6 weeks leave per year - is that a lot hehe

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