Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld to Shut Down as Hurricane Matthew Approaches Florida

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Universal Studios Orlando

All three theme parks are shuttering until the storm passes.

With dangerous Hurricane Matthew approaching Florida's coastline, officials at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld say they'll be shutting down until the storm passes.

Disney officials said on the company's website Thursday afternoon that theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, the miniature golf course and the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex would close at 5 p.m. The theme park will remain closed through Friday.

Alyson Lundell, director of public relations for Universal Orlando, said in a statement that Universal Studios Florida, Universal's Islands of Adventure and Universal Citywalk would close at 5 p.m. and remain closed on Friday.

Earlier Thursday, SeaWorld announced on its website that the park would close at 2 p.m. and remain closed on Friday.

Meanwhile, airlines are canceling hundreds of flights.

The Fort Lauderdale airport shut down on Thursday morning, and farther north the Orlando airport expected to do the same by nighttime. Before 2 p.m. Eastern time, flight-tracking service FlightAware.com reported that 1,500 Thursday flights within the U.S. had been scrapped, with the largest numbers at Fort Lauderdale and Miami.

American Airlines, which has a major hub in Miami, was the hardest-hit carrier, followed by Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways. FlightAware said airlines had already canceled 1,300 more flights scheduled for Friday.

Delta Air Lines said cancellations were likely to spread to coastal Georgia and South Carolina on Saturday. Airlines often cancel flights before storms hit to prevent passengers from being stranded at airports and to keep their planes in position to recover after the bad weather passes.

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