Orlando theme parks watching Hurricane Matthew

Posted | Contributed by Jeff

Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld are monitoring the path of Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm that made landfall in Haiti on Tuesday and shifted closer to Florida's east coast. The parks closed for the first time in their histories in 1999 as Hurricane Floyd approached. The storm ended up changing course. In 2004, they closed during a trio of hurricanes.

Read more from The Orlando Sentinel.

Jeff's avatar

It looks like winds will pick up late Thursday and peak on Friday morning, around 46 mph sustained. I've been in winds like that once, for tropical storm Fay when it landed near Ft. Myers, and while not super dangerous, I wouldn't really want to be driving around in it or be outside.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Since moving to Orlando in the summer of 2008, this seems to have the potential to be the most significant weather event we have had. There are rumblings around the office that we will be closed tomorrow, and almost certainly on Friday (which won't affect me as I work Sunday-Thursday, likely no snow day for me)

I went to the Publix on Lake Eola to pick up lunch today and I have never seen anything like it in person, even during the snow events up in Cleveland. Pushing and shoving over groceries was a thing.That said, it is a beautiful afternoon right now as I look out at the lake from my window.

Publix today truly reminded me of this:

Last edited by BrettV,


SeaWorld is the first in town to decide to do a half day tomorrow and close on Friday.

LEGOLAND had decided on that around 1, but didn't announce it until about 2-3pm like SW. Still surprised the only thing so far out of Disney and Universal is that the MK is opening at 8am in case they close earlier than planned.

Last edited by maXairMike,

Original BlueStreak64

I would think the parks would certainly want to look out for the well-being of their employees in addition to the guests' experience.
I mean who should drive from BFE to their job by 8a to work half a day then be sent home through god knows what weather? Guests can at least hole up in their resorts and hotels with apologies for any inconvenience.

Maybe everything will be taken in stride or maybe the storm won't hit as hard.

Given my time as a Disney Cast Member, they likely will not make any decisions until tomorrow morning. They want to make sure there is no chance of it missing the area before they make the call to close. There are undoubtedly plenty of plans already going on behind the scenes, but they will hesitate to make the call to close parks until absolutely necessary, which is in their best interest. A local park or event closing and then having the weather event not occur is an inconvenience, no question. But sending tens of thousands of Cast Members home and guests to their rooms only for the sun to shine would not be good.

rollergator's avatar

Got an email around 3:30 from the powers that be at UF - we're closed Friday.

I'm driving to Orlando in tomorrow AM, towards the storm - in the hopes of flying to Philly. Had to move the flights up a day. Some coaster thing going on up that way.

The Orlando area parks will probably all be closed on Friday unless the storm turns again...the last turn westward really is pointing it much more towards Daytona...if so, Saturday will probably be spent recovering from damage. One drawback of NOT having serious tropical storms for such a long time is there's a LOT of trees and limbs ready to go when serious wind and rain finally does hit...or so I've learned.

You still have Zoidberg.... You ALL have Zoidberg! (V) (;,,;) (V)

Jason Hammond's avatar

Directly from Universal's website:

Universal Orlando Resort™ is closely monitoring the weather and at this time there are no changes to our operating hours.

Updated: 10/5/16 4PM


884 Coasters, 34 States, 7 Countries
http://www.rollercoasterfreak.com My YouTube

Based on possibilities, I highly doubt Disney or Universal would take the liability to open tomorrow. I could see an early close today with plans to reopen for regular hours Saturday. That is what our office is doing.

Disney is closing.

And it looks like it will slam into Palm Beach, slightly north of where was first thought. Which means central Florida isn't far away. I'm sure they'll see the affects.

Jeff's avatar

WDW is at the far western edge of Orange County, and Orange County is enormous. It ends on the east 10 miles from the Indian River (which is the inner-inner river from the coast). Of course, warnings are issued for entire counties, so naturally OC has a hurricane warning. Interestingly though, Lake County, 6 miles or less from the edge of the Disney property, is only under a tropical storm warning, which comes with less wind. Right now, if you look at the hourly forecasts, Orlando proper shows 80 mph winds tomorrow morning, but Buena Vista only 50. I sure hope that sticks, because WDW is my neighborhood.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Good luck, I'll be thinking about all of you down there.

I saw the weather map and indeed the line between hurricane and tropical storm cuts right through Orlando.

I am in South Orange County in the Hunters Creek area. Should be an interesting next day and a half.

Jeff's avatar

Yikes, yeah, that's on the edge of really crappy. GKTW closed the village... and I'm not sure what that means. I assume they relocated families into sturdier resorts.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Vater's avatar

RCMAC said:
Good luck, I'll be thinking about all of you down there.

I swear to the good Lord, I read this...twice...as "I'll be drinking about all of you down there."

I probably will be. Stay safe, all of you.

Woke up with electricity, which I honestly hadn't expected. Looks like that slight move to the east was truly a life saver for the area.

Jeff's avatar

Yeah, my neighborhood is powered, apparently, and sustained wind is forecast at 38 mph. Looks like the eye is not touching Canaveral, it's just off shore. I think it weakened a little too.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

If I didn't have the news showing me the storm and the fact that the entire city is essentially shut down, I would have gone outside and just thought it was a rainy, windy Orlando day. Which is great news. We could be having a very different kind of day around here had this thing been further west.

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