Tourist destinations continue to shutter due to hurricanes Idalia and Franklin.
According to CBS News, Hurricane Franklin, the first major hurricane of the Atlantic season, was labeled a Category 4 with 140 mph maximum sustained winds Tuesday morning. It has already caused “life-threatening surf and rip current” along the southeastern coastline.
What to know about Hurricane Idalia
Radar imagery indicates the eye of Idalia made landfall along the coast of Florida’s Big Bend near Keaton Beach in Taylor County around 7:45 a.m. Wednesday. Idalia ranks among the 20 most powerful storms to land in Florida and the only Category 3 or higher storm to ever hit the Big Bend’s Apalachee Bay, USA Today reports.
There were over 260,000 power outages reported in Florida as of Wednesday morning. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency in 49 of the state’s 67 counties, in an area that stretches across the northern half of the state from the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic Coast.
How will hurricanes Idalia and Franklin affect Disney World and other theme parks?
Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios remain open under normal conditions as of Wednesday. According to a hurricane update on its website, Disney World is “closely monitoring the path of the projected weather” and will “continue to prioritize the safety” of guests and employees.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Winter Summerland Minature Golf and Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf have closed due to inclement weather.
If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area within seven days of a guest’s scheduled arrival date, they may reschedule or cancel their Walt Disney Travel Co. Disney Resort hotel packages and most room-only reservations (booked directly with Disney). There will be no cancellation or change fees, per the theme park’s FAQ page.
Customers who purchase Disney tickets through a third-party site will still be responsible for any non-refundable payments and cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers.
The policy also applies to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort and Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort if a hurricane warning is issued for those destinations, the site states.
Universal Orlando Resort‘s severe weather policy similarly offers penalty-free rebooking and cancellations for vacation packages, hotel stays and tickets booked directly through Universal in the event of a tropical storm, hurricane warning or state of emergency declaration within seven days of a guest’s arrival. For now, the resort is operating as usual and carefully watching the storm.
SeaWorld Orlando will open at noon Wednesday. However, the park has a Weather-or-Not Assurance policy in place for extreme weather, USA TODAY reports. It gives guests a 12-month return window if inclement weather causes the park to close early or adjust operating hours.
Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Adventure Island Water Park will both close early Tuesday at 3 p.m. Busch Gardens will remain closed Wednesday with plans to reopen Thursday. Adventure Island will stay closed through Thursday and plans to reopen Friday.
Are airports in Florida closed due to the hurricanes?
Tampa International Airport closed to all commercial airline traffic at 12:01 a.m. local time Tuesday and will remain closed until crews can assess any damage after the storm passes, with a tentative plan to reopen Thursday morning.
St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport closed at 3 p.m. Tuesday and plans to reopen at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
Southwest Florida International Airport near Ft. Myers and Jacksonville International Airport have not announced any closures, but the operators said they are monitoring the storm. Other major airports, including Miami International and Orlando International, have not announced possible impacts but are expected to be outside the storm’s central path.
Click here for a list of airlines offering travel waivers for passengers booked to fly to parts of Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas in the coming days.
How will hurricanes Idalia and Franklin affect Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head?
A hurricane warning has been issued across southern South Carolina, including Beaufort County, where Hilton Head Island is located. A coastal flood warning is in effect for northeastern South Carolina, including Horry County, where Myrtle Beach is located. Possible impacts include heavy rainfall, gusty winds, isolated tornadoes and some coastal flooding.
Hurricane Idalia is expected to impact South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Florida’s Atlantic coast Wednesday into Thursday, The New York Times reports.
What about other popular tourist destinations?
The USA TODAY storm tracker map highlights the projected path of Idalia but does not illustrate the full width of the storm or its impacts. At 7:45 a.m. ET Wednesday, Hurricane Idalia made landfall along Florida’s Big Bend as a Category 3 hurricane with sustained winds of 125 mph.
Idalia is forecast to remain a hurricane as it crosses into Georgia before it moves over the Carolina coastline Thursday, then out into the Atlantic, where its future path remains uncertain.
Major tourist destinations, such as Myrtle Beach, Hilton Head, Wilmington, Charleston and Savannah, are in the storm’s projected path.