Disney World Parks Closing Early Over Hurricane Matthew

By Jack Phillips, Epoch Times
October 6, 2016 2:19 pm Last Updated: October 6, 2016 3:45 pm

Disney World announced it is closing early on Thursday and will remain closed Friday ahead of Hurricane Matthew, a powerful Category 4 storm that is bearing down on Florida.

The park will close at 5 p.m. local time, Walt Disney World said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The closures include Disney Springs, miniature golf courses, ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, as well as water parks and theme parks.

It’s unclear if the theme park will be opened on Saturday.

Disney has already evacuated its Fort Wilderness campground. Thursday night’s Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom has been canceled.

“We are currently taking precautions for the safety of our Guests and will continue providing updates as the situation evolves,” Disney said on its website, adding that cancellation fees will be waived for all guests.

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Disney World Parks Closing Early Over Hurricane MatthewHurricane Matthew Closes in on Florida With 140 Mph Winds

Northbound traffic on Interstate 95 flows northbound through Viera, FL., on Oct. 5, 2016.(Craig Bailey/Florida Today via AP)
Northbound traffic on Interstate 95 flows northbound through Viera, FL., on Oct. 5, 2016.(Craig Bailey/Florida Today via AP)

SeaWorld announced on Wednesday it would close down its three theme and water parks for Thursday and would stay closed Friday. Universal Orlando said its theme parks will be closed Friday and on Thursday, and will close early at 5 p.m.

Disney World has only closed four times in its history due to a hurricane.

On Thursday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a grave warning about Hurricane Matthew’s approach. The storm has reportedly been strengthening as it approaches the eastern part of Florida.

The National Hurricane Center 2 p.m. update on Hurricane Matthew (NOAA)
The National Hurricane Center 2 p.m. update on Hurricane Matthew (NOAA)

“This is serious. … If you need to evacuate and you haven’t, evacuate. This storm will kill you. Time is running out. We don’t have that much time left,” Scott said to people living in evacuation zones.

Hundreds of thousands of Floridians have been evacuated, and another 1.5 million have been urged to flee. “Protecting lives remains our number one priority and that is why I have now activated over half of the National Guard who will play a big role in important life-saving missions,” Gov. Scott said in a release on Thursday, saying that 3,500 members of the National Guard have been activated. 

According to the National Hurricane Center, Matthew packs winds of 140 mph. At least 100 people have been killed by the storm in the Caribbean, namely in impoverished Haiti, reported The New York Times.

“Extremely dangerous, life-threatening weather conditions are forecast in the next 24 hours,” the National Weather Service said early on Thursday afternoon. “Airborne debris lofted by extreme winds will be capable of breaching structures, unprotected windows and vehicles.”

Parts of South Carolina and the Georgia coastline were also evacuated. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said that about 175,000 people had evacuated, but she added that wasn’t enough, the Times reported.