Will this hurricane close Disney and Universal or not?

September 2, 2019, 10:56 AM · Hurricane Dorian continues to lurk off the coast of Florida, slamming the Bahamas with powerful winds and storm surges. But Dorian is moving slower than the queue for a princess meet-and-greet, leaving Florida residents and theme park visitors to wonder when, where, and if it will hit Central Florida.

The National Hurricane Center's forecast map continues to chart Dorian moving parallel up the Florida coast, but updates seem to be moving the storm a bit closer to that coast. The Orlando area remains on the edge of the cone of uncertainty, with a hurricane warning now in effect for much of the state's Atlantic coast.

But as of Monday morning, the storm is crawling west at just one mile per hour. Maximum sustained winds have dropped from 185 to 155 mph, dropping the storm to Category 4 status. All anyone can do at this point is to prepare, then wait to see what happens.

As of now, both the Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando resorts remain in normal operation, though both resorts' management teams are monitoring the storm and preparing for a response, if that becomes necessary.

While it's business as usual for now at the theme parks, local cruise lines are responding to Dorian. The Disney Cruise Line is keeping the Disney Dream at sea for an extra day, as Dorian is expected to make Port Canaveral unavailable on Wednesday. DCL has cancelled the Dream's next scheduled sailing, as well. A rideout crew has been on Castaway Cay, which escaped hurricane-force winds, according to the company. Resident cast members have returned to their home following their retreat to storm shelters on the island yesterday.

The Orlando airport remains open, following the airport's decision to reverse its initial call to shut down this morning. But some flights have been cancelled and many visitors are choosing to stay away from the area, as evidenced by lower-than-usual wait times at many park attractions today.

If Dorian does turn north today, residents and visitors could expect heavy rain and strong winds in the Orlando area as the edge of the storm moves through the area tomorrow and Wednesday, with the strength of that rain and wind depending upon how far off the coast the storm's eye tracks. The more that Dorian holds to a west-bound path, the more likely that Orlando will get hurricane-force winds... and park closures.

Update: (5:30pm ET) Walt Disney World and the Orlando airport announce Tuesday closing times.

Replies (4)

September 2, 2019 at 11:45 AM

As a former Florida resident, I can attest that it was always a huge concern when a hurricane was hitting. My family lived in Jacksonville, which is on the upper coast so we got some impact of things like Andrew and always a worry a storm could shift direction so the majority hit us.

It can be a bad thing at times as too often, some residents are so used to storms coming and going that they underestimate how bad one can be. The best case is 2017 when Irma turned out to be far stronger than expected hitting Jacksonville and literally flooding the city. That was a wake-up call to how you can never be too prepared for these things.

September 2, 2019 at 12:51 PM

I've lost count of the number of stories I have heard over the years of people in Florida evacuating... only to have the storm turn in the direction that they were evacuating to.

These are often tough decisions with severe consequences. Best wishes to everyone going through this.

(And FWIW, I am booked on a flight to return to Orlando Thursday night. Oh boy.)

September 2, 2019 at 4:36 PM

And the first shoe drops: Disney to close early at 3 on Tuesday.

September 2, 2019 at 5:43 PM

Robert Niiles: that's the problem: Just as many times where folks think it's just going to be a light thing and it turns into a mess. It's a good reminder of how for all our supposed science smarts, nature can never be predicted.

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