This post will be updated [at least] twice daily with the 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. updates from the National Hurricane Center as well as any updates from the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando Resort, and SeaWorld.
Update 09/11/17 8:00 a.m.
Hurricane Irma has passed over the Orlando area, but with less impact than initially feared. However, winds up to 43 mph and gusts up to 69 mph are still being reported near downtown Orlando. Hurricane force winds still extend outward up to 60 miles from the eye of the storm, with tropical force winds extending up to 415 miles. Irma is expected to be downgraded to a tropical storm this morning. Nearly 60%, or 6 million, Florida homes and businesses across Florida are without power. In Central Florida, 750,000 were still without power as of this morning. That’s almost half of the homes and business in Central Florida. A flood watch and curfew are still in effect until Monday event with another 2-4 inches of rain are expected today. Guests staying at Walt Disney World are advised to continue to honor the curfew.
Update 09/10/17 11:00 p.m.:
Hurricane Irma has shifted its path once again and the eye of the storm is heading for Orlando with sustained winds of 100 mph. Orlando is on the northeast side of the store, which is where the worst weather is. Tropical storm force winds are extending 425 from the center of the storm. Tornadoes have been touching down all over the area and at least 50,000 people in the Orlando area are without power. Across Florida there are currently 3.4 million homes without power. There has been one fatality reported in the Orlando/Orange County area, when a woman driving on State Road 417 just before the 7:00 p.m. curfew went into effect hit a guardrail and was killed. Mayor Teresa Jacobs is advising residents to “please stay indoors. Stay in the safest place of your home until we get through this storm.”
Update 09/10/17 9:00 a.m.:
As expected, Hurricane Irma strengthened overnight back to a category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 135 as it made landfall in Key West. The storm has continued moving more to the west. As a result, projections for extreme wind in Central Florida have been slightly downgraded, with some projections calling for top wind speeds of 60 mph. The storm is also expected to pass earlier than initially thought, with Central Florida starting to see winds below 40 mph around 9:00 a.m. Monday morning. It is expected that the Disney/Orlando area will see rainfall totaling 15-20 inches over the next 24 hours. Tropical force winds will be felt in the area as early as noon today, with hurricane force winds arriving late this evening and early tomorrow morning. Also of great concern is the risk of tornadoes in the area. Tornado warnings have already been issued in some Central Florida counties, and that is expected to increase as the day goes on. Already, more than 1 million people are without power in South Florida and that number is expected to grow significantly as the storm progresses up the west coast of the state. Curfews have been issued for several Central Florida counties, including Orange County where the curfew begins at 7:00 p.m. Sunday and continues through 6:00 p.m. Monday.
Update 09/09/17 5:00 p.m.:
Hurricane Irma has begun turning towards the Florida Keys. The storm is just off the coast of Cuba with sustained winds of 125 mph. It is expected to intensify back to a category 4 hurricane before making landfall in Fort Meyers early tomorrow morning. The track of the storm has continued to shift to the west, and the Disney/Orlando area is no longer expected to have the eye of the storm pass over as previously thought. However, it does put this area in the north-east quadrant of the storm, where the strongest wind gusts and greatest potential for tornadoes exist. More than 7 million people in South Florida are currently under a mandatory evacuation order. Most of the businesses in the Central Florida area have closed in advance of the storm or will be closing soon.
Update 09/09/17 2:00 p.m.:
The National Weather Service issued a hurricane warning for Central Florida earlier today. Previously, the area was considered under a hurricane watch. Hurricane Irma was downgraded to a Category 3 storm this morning, but is expected to strengthen as it passes over warmer waters before making landfall in South Florida later this evening. Orlando is expecting tropical force winds starting mid-day Sunday, with winds intensifying to 60-80 mph overnight. Wind speeds are expected to peak around 3am Monday before dropping below 35 mph by Monday afternoon. While the storm’s path continues to track more to the west, the size of the storm is still encompassing most of the state.
At Walt Disney World, Cast Members are beginning to make preparations for the storm.
At Magic Kingdom, scrims have been taken down on Main Street USA. Throughout the park, signs and benches are being tied down or secured.
UPDATE 9/9/17 8:00 a.m.:
Hurricane Irma is back to being a category 4 hurricane, after briefly intensifying overnight. The storm track has shifted west, with landfall expected in the Naples/Fort Myers area of South Florida. This will put the Orlando/Disney area on the east side of the storm, which typically has the strongest winds, and is were the risk of tornado formation is the greatest. Local officials have said that tropical force winds should hit the Orlando/Disney area around 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, with winds in excess of 40mph. Hurricane force winds are expected overnight Sunday into Monday, with sustained winds in excess of 85mph and wind gusts up to 110mph. Orange County has issued a mandatory evacuation of all mobile home parks in the area. If you are in the Orlando/Disney area, you are urged to remain indoors after 12:00 p.m. Sunday until the storm passes on Monday. Today is the last day to make any preparations. If you are staying at a Disney or Orlando area resort, make sure you have enough food and water to sustain you and your family for 24 hours, as most food service locations will close during the storm.
In addition to the closures listed below in the last update, Walt Disney World has updated the transportation schedule for today. Disney Resort transportation from Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will end at 8:00 p.m. tonight. Disney Resort transportation from Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney Springs will end at 10:00 p.m. tonight.
Also, the Disney Reservation Center will be closed Sunday and Monday, but plans to resume normal operations when the storm has passed. The Reservation Center will operate as normal on Saturday.
UPDATE 9/8/17 5:00 p.m.:
Hurricane Irma remains at a Category 4 this afternoon with the winds picking back up to 155mph. The storm is moving West at 12mph. The track has fluctuated to the West a bit causing a storm surge watch for the Tampa Bay area that includes the Naples and Fort Myers areas. A hurricane warning has been extended northward to the East coast of Florida to the Sebastian Inlet and on the West coast as far North as Anna Maria Island. The storm is still expected to impact the Orlando area from Sunday evening through Monday morning.
The following closures are taking place at the Walt Disney World Resort due to Hurricane Irma:
Disney’s Blizzard Beach: Closed as of Friday, 9/8 – Monday, 9/11
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon: Closing Saturday 9/9 at 5:00 p.m. – Monday, 9/11
ESPN Wide World of Sports: Closed on Saturday, 9/9 – Monday, 9/11
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: Closing on Saturday, 9/9 at 7:00 p.m. – Monday, 9/11
The Saturday, 9/9 Rivers of Light performance is canceled.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios: Closing on Saturday, 9/9 at 7:00 p.m. – Monday, 9/11
The Saturday, 9/9 Fantasmic! and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular performances are canceled.
Epcot: Closing on Saturday, 9/9 at 9:00 p.m. – Monday, 9/11
The Saturday, 9/9 Illuminations Reflections of Earth performance is canceled.
Magic Kingdom: Closing early on Saturday, 9/9 at 9:00 p.m. – Monday, 9/11
The Saturday, 9/9 Happily Ever After fireworks performance is canceled.
Disney Springs: Closing on Saturday, 9/9 at 9:00 p.m. – Monday 9/11
La Nouba by Cirque du Soleil 9:00 p.m. show has been canceled for Saturday, Sept. 9.
— DisneyPhotoPass (@DisneyPhotoPass) September 8, 2017
On Saturday, all parks at the Universal Orlando Resort will close at 7:00 p.m. Rock The Universe has also been canceled as previously announced. Universal is scheduled to be closed all day Sunday as well as Monday. Universal also plans on resuming normal operating hours on Tuesday. All on-site hotels are currently at full capacity, and they will remain operational throughout the hurricane.
SeaWorld will be closing at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.
UPDATE 9/8/17 8:00 a.m.:
Hurricane Irma is now on a direct path to travel right through Central Florida according to both the Euro and US track models. Irma has been downgraded this morning to a Category 4 hurricane with wind speeds at 150mph. The storm is expected to make landfall in the Florida Keys Saturday night or early Sunday and if current projections are accurate. Local weather forecasts are predicting the storm to pass through the Orlando area as a Category 2 hurricane; calling for sustained 90 to 110 mph winds from Sunday evening through Monday morning with an estimated 18-20 inches of rain predicted. While the worst parts of the storm won’t be felt until Sunday and Monday, the rain from the storm will begin affecting the area on Saturday. Orlando is not currently under any evacuation order (either voluntary or mandatory).
As of 3:00 PM today, Port Canaveral will cease all operations and is closed until further notice.
All Florida public schools, colleges, and government offices have been ordered by Governor Rick Scott to close beginning today and remaining closed through Monday.
Disney’s Blizzard Beach will be closed Friday and Saturday. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon will remain open.
In order to prepare for Hurricane Irma’s arrival in Central Florida, the hours of operation for Disney’s Fantasia Gardens and Disney’s Winter Summerland miniature golf courses will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 9, 2017.
I-75 Florida to Georgia Southbound lanes have been reversed to all Northbound lanes to accommodate evacuation traffic. This currently applies to lanes in Georgia only. Stay tuned for updates.
Still heading to the Central Florida area for vacation? We recommend that you bring some food with you as there will not be much in the way of food service at the Disney Resort hotels. Take a look at “Non-Perishable Food That Travels Well in Your Suitcase” for some ideas.
UPDATE 9/7/17 5:00 p.m.:
Hurricane Irma still remains a very powerful category 5 storm. Winds are sustained at 175mph and moving West Northwest at 16mph. The National Hurricane Center has updated the track of the storm shifting it more to the west, increasing the impact to Central Florida. The new model has the eye of the storm going right through the center of the state and it’s likely to remain a category 3 as it passes over Orlando.
Orlando International Airport has announced that it will cease commercial airline operations at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Disney has stated that Fort Wilderness Cabins and Campground will close beginning Saturday afternoon. Performances of Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Review and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ have been canceled for Saturday, Sunday, and Monday.
Highway in the Sky Dine Around has been canceled for Saturday.
Disney’s Vero Beach Resort will close beginning at 2:00 p.m. on Friday.
Adventures by Disney has canceled their Backstage Magic for Friday, Monday, and Tuesday. They have also canceled the Gardens of the World tour for Tuesday.
Evacuation orders include 650,000 residents in Miami.
30 Georgia counties are under a state of emergency. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has ordered the mandatory evacuation of Savannah and other coastal areas as Hurricane Irma heads to Florida before possibly turning to the east coast of the U.S. The mandatory evacuation order covers all areas east of I-95, all of Chatham County, where Savannah is located, and some areas west of I-95 that could be impacted by potential storm surge from Irma. The mandatory evacuation order goes into effect on Saturday.
Jose is now a category 3, major hurricane with sustained winds at 120mph traveling West Northwest at 18mph.
UPDATE 9/7/17 8:00 a.m.:
Hurricane Irma’s “cone of concern” has shifted a bit bringing the likelihood of a stronger impact in the Central Florida area. The hurricane is expected to be over Central Florida at around 2:00 a.m. between Sunday night and Monday morning.
From the Walt Disney World website:
“If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area or for your place of residence within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.
If you have products and services provided by third-party suppliers included in your vacation such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or vacation insurance companies, you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers. The policy does not apply to certain special events or dining experiences.
This policy also applies to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort or Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in the event a hurricane warning is issued for those destinations.”
Disney is asking guests who are not arriving before September 13 to use their online Help Center or live chat at this time to allow Cast Members to focus on those with Hurricane Irma concerns.
Hurricane Jose’s winds are currently estimated at 90mph. Jose is currently located approximately 815 miles East of the Lesser Antilles and is moving toward the west-northwest at nearly 18 mph.
Hurricane Katia remains stationary and little overall motion is anticipated through late today, but the hurricane is forecast to turn southwestward and approach the coast within the watch area late Friday or early Saturday. Maximum sustained winds remain near 80mph with higher gusts. Some strengthening is forecast during the next 48 hours and Katia could be near major hurricane strength at landfall.
UPDATE 9/6/17 5:00 p.m.:
Hurricane Irma remains at a category 5 with sustained winds of up to 185 mph and moving west-northwest at 16 mph. The hurricane is now predicted to bring storm force winds to Miami at around 10:00 a.m. Sunday and into Central Florida sometime Sunday afternoon and into Monday.
Quickly strengthening Jose, following just behind Irma, has now become a hurricane. Winds are estimated at 75mph. Jose is moving toward the west-northwest at 16 mph.
After Hurricane Andrew hit Florida back in 1992, an anti-gouging law was passed to prevent price gouging on storm supplies such as plywood and gasoline. Anyone who suspects price gouging should report it by calling 1 (866) 9-NO-SCAM.
Hurricane Katia has now formed in the southwestern Gulf of Mexico. Katia is moving southeast near 3 mph. The state of Veracruz is under a hurricane watch.
UPDATE 9/6/17 11:00 a.m.:
Hurricane Irma’s track has shifted eastward. The Category 5 storm continues to have maximum sustained winds of 185 mph as it churns through the Caribbean islands. There is still uncertainty in exactly when and where Hurricane Irma will turn to the north. The models have the storm heading with an easterly track with the turn near Cuba or in the southern Bahamas which would take Irma along the east coast of Florida.
Tropical Storm Jose is getting closer to reaching hurricane stage.
Tropical Strom Katia in the Gulf of Mexico is now forecast to become a hurricane.
Driving home instead of waiting out the storm in Central Florida? Check out Florida 511 for traffic information and hurricane evacuation routes. All tolls have been suspended on all Florida roadways.
Staying at a Walt Disney World resort is possibly one of the safest places to be in Central Florida during a hurricane, but if you happen to be staying off-property and don’t necessarily trust where you are staying, here is the website where you can look for the Florida Shelters nearest to your location.
If you are heading to the Central Florida area for vacation, take a look at our “Preparing for Hurricane Irma at Walt Disney World” article.
UPDATE 9/6/17 8:00 a.m.:
Disney Cruise Line has canceled three cruises later this week and cut two in-progress cruises short.
Central Florida should expect tropical storm force winds topping out at 55mph sometime on Sunday into Monday based on the overnight changes to the storm. The National Hurricane Center does expect more changes to the path of the storm, and it is important to keep in mind that it’s still too early to predict where it will make landfall.
As of this morning, Disney has not issued travel waivers for Walt Disney World, nor have the airlines.
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This morning, as the nation watches Irma strengthen into a category 5 Hurricane, we want to make you aware of things you can do to prepare if you have a Disney vacation coming up this week. This story will be updated each time we receive an update from the National Weather Service.
— NHC Atlantic Ops (@NHC_Atlantic) September 5, 2017
With the storm looking like it may approach the United States closer to the end of this week, there have already been changes to Disney Cruise Line itineraries and here is what you can do if your plans include heading to Walt Disney World.
Last October, Hurricane Matthew affected several Disney Cruise Line vacations. Those who were at Walt Disney World at the time experienced the theme parks actually closing for a day-and-a-half, but guests were taken care of rather nicely.
First, there is a “Hurricane Policy” already in place for those visiting Walt Disney World if a hurricane warning is issued – from the official Disney website:
“If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area—or for your place of residence—within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.”
Flights, private transportation, and any other arrangements booked through a third-party will fall under the responsibility of the guest and not Disney. There haven’t been any reported changes to schedules at Walt Disney World as of the time of this story, but again, we will keep you informed as we hear anything.
It is extremely important to stay informed with all forecasts and the projected path of Hurricane Irma by following the National Weather Service. As of now, no schedule changes have been reported at Walt Disney World.
If the time comes that a hurricane warning is issued for dates during your trip, contact your travel agent, the Walt Disney Travel Company, or Disney Cruise Line to find out your options which can include the cancellation of your trip, rescheduling of your trip, and alternate or changed itineraries.
While the exact path of Hurricane Irma is still unknown at this point, it’s important that you stay alert and updated.