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In a rare move, Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando will shut down this week, in preparation for landfall by Hurricane Ian, which is expected to make landfall on the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane.
Both Disney World and Universal Orlando say that they will close on Wednesday, Sept. 28, and Thursday, Sept. 29, due to Ian, with tentative plans to reopen Sept. 30. At least some of the hotels operated by the companies will continue to be open to accommodate travelers who are staying at the resorts.
“We are monitoring the weather conditions so that we can make timely decisions for the safety of our cast and guests, including when it is safe for cast to return to the site to prepare for reopening,” Disney Parks said in a statement.
It is extremely rare for the theme parks to close.
Most notably, the COVID-19 pandemic kept the Disney and Universal parks closed for months, though they eventually reopened at reduced capacity in the summer of 2020. However, hurricanes have occasionally forced closures, with the most recent ones taking place in 2019 due to Hurricane Dorian.
Even a short closure can have a significant impact on the bottom lines for both companies. Theme parks have been seen as a growth area even amid the current economic turmoil, with demand for outstripping supply.
Shutting down for two days not only wipes out all ticket sales, but food and beverage sales, merchandise sales and other ancillary revenue. Based on prior shutdowns, the revenue impact could hit nine figures.
As many as 100 movie theaters in various parts of the state, including in the Orlando and Tampa areas, are also closing as a precaution. Temporary cinema closures are more common when an area is threatened by a hurricane.
Pamela McClintock contributed to this report.
Sept. 26, 5:13: Updated with movie theater closures.
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