Tropical Storm Idalia is heading north toward Florida's west coast, where it is expected to strike as a major hurricane sometime Wednesday morning.
In advance of the storm's arrival, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay announced today that it will close at 3pm on Tuesday and remain closed Wednesday. While the storm's forecast cone has shifted northward throughout the day today as the storm has intensified, the Tampa Bay area remains at risk for significant rainfall and a storm surge.
Meanwhile, in Orlando, the changing forecast is helping mitigate concern that the parks in the area will have to close for the storm, too. Universal Orlando this afternoon issued a statement that it has not made any changes to its hours of operation this week, but that it is monitoring the storm. Walt Disney World also is watching the storm's forecast.
Busch Gardens and SeaWorld Orlando recently adopted a new, company-wide Weather-or-Not Assurance guarantee that assures a free return ticket if weather causes a reduction in operating hours or a more than 60-minute closure for attractions due to the weather. So I presume that means free returns for guests who do make it over to Busch Gardens on Tuesday.
Even if the storm's eye moves well north of Orlando, heavy rain and winds could hit the theme parks on Wednesday, so be careful should you have a trip planned for that day.
As regular Theme Park Insider readers might remember, I am in Orlando this week for a couple of press events, after flying here from Los Angeles. So this forecast gives me a very real chance to achieve the Hilary/Idalia, west coast/east coast tropical storm double this month.
So, as they say, I got that going for me... which is nice. (Actually, it's not nice at all - unless you live in a drought-stricken area that would like to hire my rain-attracting self for a personal appearance. Call me.)
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