Where things stand with Florida theme parks, cruise ships and more as Ian makes landfall
Published Wednesday, September 28, 2022 11:23AM EDT Last Updated Wednesday, September 28, 2022 10:02PM EDT
With life-threatening Hurricane Ian making landfall in southwest Florida on Wednesday afternoon, residents have been bracing for impact. That includes the operators of the state's popular theme parks.
Here's a status report of where things stand as of 6:45 p.m. ET Wednesday with various major theme parks, along with other sites of interest to tourists:
BUSCH GARDENS (TAMPA)
The vulnerable Tampa Bay Area was on high alert.
As a result, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay said it would be closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
"Due to the projected path of Hurricane Ian, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay has enacted its Named Storm Policy... Precautions are in place following the parks' comprehensive weather preparedness plan to ensure the safety of our animals and ambassadors during this time," the park announced on its website.
"All admission tickets have been extended through December 31," the park said. Also, "annual Pass members' guest tickets with an expiration date of Sept. 30 will be extended through Oct. 16."
DISCOVERY COVE (ORLANDO)
The all-inclusive day resort with animal encounters and tropical aquatic settings is also closing on Wednesday and Thursday.
The parks said it "will reschedule or refund reservations booked online or from the call center. We will not apply any cancellation or change fees for this service." You can call 407-513-4600 to find out more.
DISNEY WORLD (ORLANDO)
Walt Disney World's four big theme parks, Typhoon Lagoon water park and miniature golf spots will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, according to Disney's website.
Disney Springs, a shopping, dining and entertainment area, will be closed on Wednesday as well.
"We anticipate Disney Springs will be closed on Thursday, Sept. 29, and we will provide updates as we continue to track the storm," Disney's website said.
"We are monitoring weather conditions so we can make timely decisions for the safety of our Cast and Guests, including when it's safe for Cast to return to the site to prepare for reopening," Disney said in a statement to CNN on Tuesday.
Disney said people staying at its resort hotels must check in by 3 p.m. Wednesday, and no check-ins will be accepted on Thursday. Guests should arrive no earlier than 3 p.m. Friday for check-in.
"Guests may reschedule their trip or cancel their stay with us; any customary cancellation fees will be waived," Disney said.
"Walt Disney World Transportation has temporarily stopped operating and will begin again once the storm has passed, subject to safety conditions," Disney said on its website Wednesday afternoon.
UNIVERSAL RESORT (ORLANDO)
Universal Orlando Resort, including CityWalk, will close on Wednesday and Thursday, the park said in an email to CNN Travel on Tuesday afternoon.
The park said it expects to reopen on Friday as conditions permit.
"Our hotels are currently at full capacity and will remain operational as they focus on taking care of our guests," Universal said.
Also, the Halloween Horror Nights event at Universal Studios Florida will be canceled Wednesday and Thursday. The also plan to reopen that on Friday, conditions permitting. Click here for more information and FAQs from Universal.
LEGOLAND (WINTER HAVEN)
LEGOLAND Florida Resort will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, according to an email sent to CNN Travel on Tuesday.
This closure includes LEGOLAND Florida Theme Park, LEGOLAND Water Park and Peppa Pig Theme Park.
"During this time the resort's hotels will remain open to guests with existing reservations. The safety of our guests and employees is our top priority as we monitor the impact of the storm in our area," said the resort.
Park tickets for Wednesday, September 28, through Sunday, October 2, will be automatically extended through December 31, 2022, LEGOLAND said.
People can rebook vacation stays without penalty once the park's call center reopens. Guests with questions about the resort's hurricane policy can click here.
SeaWorld Orlando will be closed Wednesday and Thursday.
"We are taking all necessary precautions -- including the implementation of our comprehensive weather preparedness plan -- to keep guests, employees, and animals safe," SeaWorld spokesperson Carl Hensley told CNN in a statement Tuesday.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTRE VISITOR COMPLEX
NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Merritt Island will be closed Wednesday and Thursday. Reopening will take place after the facility undergoes a thorough property assessment, according to the center's website.
ICON PARK (ORLANDO)
The Wheel at Icon Park and Carousel on The Promenade closed Tuesday, according to the attraction's website. Park officials will announce the reopening schedule on the website.
CRAYOLA EXPERIENCE (ORLANDO)
The popular children attraction will be closed Wednesday and Thursday due to the hurricane. Reopening details will be posted on this website.
Florida ports have very active cruise schedules. Here's the status of some of those ships' routes:
Norwegian Cruise Line: The company canceled its 10-day sailing of the Norwegian Getaway, which was scheduled to depart Thursday from Port Canaveral.
The company also changed ports on the 8-day sailing of Norwegian Sky, which left Miami on Sunday, the cruise line tells CNN. Instead of its scheduled Western Caribbean stops, the ship will now make stops in the Eastern Caribbean.
"The safety and security of our guests and crew is always our number one priority," the cruise line said. Shore excursions booked through the cruise line in affected ports will be refunded to guests' onboard accounts.
MSC: The company has changed course on at least one of their ships and is monitoring the possibility of changing others, a spokesperson tells CNN. The MSC Seashore, which was originally scheduled to be in the Western Caribbean has been rerouted to ports in the Eastern Caribbean.
The cruise line is also monitoring the MSC Divinia, which left Port Canaveral on a four-night sailing to Nassau and the Ocean City Marine Reserve on Sunday. MSC says both cruise ports are outside of Ian's projected path, but advised passengers before leaving that conditions could prevent the ship from returning on Thursday. The cruise line says if there is a delay in their return, the cruise will be extended at no additional cost to guests.
The cruise line does not expect Ian to impact the MSC Seashore, which is set to depart from the Port of Miami on Saturday, October 1.
Carnival Cruise Line: The company announced changes to its scheduled in an email to CNN Travel late Tuesday afternoon. With the ports of Tampa Bay and Jacksonville closed, the following upcoming sailings have been cancelled:
- Carnival Paradise: Four-day cruise from Tampa on Thursday.
- Carnival Elation: Four-day cruise from Jacksonville on Thursday.
- Carnival Liberty: Three-day cruise from Port Canaveral on Friday.
Guests will receive a full refund and a 25 per cent future cruise credit, Carnival said.
The following ships have changes in their schedules and ports of call to bypass the storm and its effects: Carnival Liberty, Carnival Horizon, Carnival Sunrise, Carnival Paradise, Carnival Elation, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Glory.
Click here to see the specific changes in itinerary for each ship.
NATIONAL AND STATE PARKS
Everglades National Park in South Florida was closed on Wednesday. "After the storm passes, staff will assess park conditions to determine when it is safe to reopen," the park's website said.
All National Park Service employees were evacuated from the Dry Tortugas National Park, on the western end of the Florida Keys in the Gulf of Mexico, before the approach of Hurricane Ian, according to NPS spokesperson Allyson Gantt. No employees will be riding out the storm.
As of Wednesday evening, more than 100 Florida state parks were closed, including Alafia River State Park (Hillsborough County), Bahia Honda State Park (Monroe County), Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park (Collier County), Don Pedro Island State Park (Charlotte County), Lake Manatee State Park (Manatee County) and Rainbow Springs State Park (Marian County).
Check here for a full list of closed state parks as well as camping and cabin closures at other state parks that are currently open otherwise.
Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens: Officials announced both the zoo and the botanical gardens will be closed starting Wednesday through at least Friday. "Our priority is the safety of our animals, staff and patrons. We are following our protocols, & closely monitoring the storm," the zoo said in Twitter post on its official account.
ZooTampa at Lowry Park: The attraction shuttered its doors beginning Tuesday through Thursday, it said on its website.
Brevard Zoo: The zoo in Melbourne will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, with plans to reopen Friday barring any damage. "Boo at the Zoo is also still set to kick off this weekend," the zoo said in a Twitter post on its verified account.