Where things stand with Florida theme parks, cruise ships and more as Ian makes landfall

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, SeaWorld and LEGOLAND will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday.

ByForrest Brown, CNN, CNNWire
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
Hurricane causes massive travel disruptions, port closures
Tampa International Airport has suspended all operations as teams prepare for the storm and airlines like United have canceled flights in Florida.

As Hurricane Ian made landfall in western Cuba on Tuesday, Floridians were keeping an anxious eye on the storm that is expected to make landfall on Wednesday afternoon in Florida. That included the operators of the state's popular theme parks.

Here's a status report of where things stand as of 8:30 a.m. ET Wednesday with various major theme parks, along with other sites of interest to tourists:

Busch Gardens (Tampa)

Ian's path remains uncertain, but on Tuesday morning, the Tampa Bay Area seemed likely to be in the crosshairs.

As a result, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay said it will be closed on 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."

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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 +1 407-513-4600 to find out more.

Disney World (Orlando)

The Disney World's theme parks and water parks are set to close Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Hurricane Ian, according to a company statement Tuesday afternoon.

Disney Springs, a shopping, dining and entertainment area, will be closed on Thursday 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 said in the statement.

"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."

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.

LEGOLAND (Winter Haven)

LEGOLAND Florida Resort will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, according to an email sent to CNN Travel around noon ET 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)

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.

Cruise ships

Florida ports have very active cruise schedules. Here's the status of some of those ships' routes as of 8:15 p.m. ET Monday:

Norwegian Cruise Lines: The company changed five ports on the Norwegian Sky, which left Miami on Sunday, the cruise line tells CNN. The ship was scheduled to port in George Town, Grand Cayman; Roatan, Honduras; Harvest Caye, Belize; and Cozumel in the Western Caribbean and will now make stops in San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; Tortola, British Virgin Islands; and Nassau, Bahamas, to avoid the path of Ian.

"The safety and security of our guests and crew is always our number one priority. Due to the projected path of Hurricane Ian, Norwegian Sky's itinerary has been modified to the below. Guests who booked shore excursions in any of the affected ports through Norwegian Cruise Line will have their excursions refunded to their onboard account," a spokesperson for the cruise line said.

MSC: The company has changed course on at least one of their ships and 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.

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Carnival Cruise Lines: The company has made adjustments to two of its sailings.

The ship Carnival Ecstasy, which departed from Mobile, Alabama, on Monday for a six-day sailing will visit Progresso Mexico on Wednesday before vising Cozumel on Thursday. The change reorders the visits, as the ship was scheduled to visit Cozumel first, the cruise line tells CNN.

The Carnival Glory left New Orleans on Sunday for an eight-day sailing,and will now port in Mahogany Bay, Roatan, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. The ship's original itinerary was to visit Key West as well as Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas.

National and state parks

As of 11 a.m. ET Tuesday, Everglades National Park in South Florida remained opened. The National Park Service advised people to monitor the latest weather updates before heading to the park, a wilderness area without many evacuation routes.

As of 9:30 a.m. ET, dozens of Florida state parks were closed:

  • Alafia River State Park(Hillsborough County)
  • Anclote Key Preserve State Park (Pasco and Pinellas counties)
  • Bahia Honda State Park(Monroe County)
  • Caladesi Island State Park(Pinellas County)
  • Cayo Costa State Park(Lee County)
  • Charlotte Harbor Preserve State Park(Charlotte and Lee counties)
  • Cockroach Bay Preserve State Park(Hillsborough County)
  • Collier-Seminole State Park(Collier County)
  • Curry Hammock State Park(Monroe County)
  • Dade Battlefield Historic State Park (Sumter County)
  • Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park(Collier County)
  • Don Pedro Island State Park(Charlotte County)
  • Egmont Key State Park (Pinellas County)
  • Estero Bay Preserve State Park(Lee County)
  • Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park(Collier County)
  • Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park(Monroe County)
  • Gasparilla Island State Park(Lee County)
  • Highlands Hammock State Park (Hardee, Highlands counties)
  • Hillsborough River State Park(Hillsborough County)
  • Honeymoon Island State Park (Pinellas County)
  • Judah P. Benjamin Confederate Memorial at Gamble Plantation Historic State Park(Manatee County)
  • Koreshan State Park(Lee County)
  • Lake June-in-Winter Scrub State Park (Highlands County)
  • Lake Manatee State Park(Manatee County)
  • Little Manatee River State Park(Hillsborough County)
  • Long Key State Park(Monroe County)
  • Lovers Key State Park(Lee County)
  • Madira Bickel Mound Archaeological State Park(Manatee County)
  • Mound Key Archaeological State Park(Lee County).
  • Myakka River State Park(Manatee and Sarasota counties)
  • Oscar Scherer State Park(Sarasota County)
  • Paynes Creek Historic State Park (Hardee County)
  • Skyway Fishing Pier State Park (Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas counties)
  • South Fork State Park(Manatee County)
  • Stump Pass Beach State Park(Charlotte County)
  • Terra Ceia Preserve State Park(Manatee County)
  • Weeki Wachee Springs State Park (Hernando County)
  • Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park(Pasco County)
  • Wingate Creek State Park(Manatee County)
  • Ybor City Museum State Park(Hillsborough County)

Check here for updates and camping and cabin closures at other state parks that are currently open otherwise.

Tampa International Airport

Tourists in Florida hoping to use Tampa International Airport need to get there as soon as possible.

The airport will suspend all operations beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The closure will allow the airport to prepare the airfield, terminals and other places for the approaching hurricane.

The airport issued these reminders:

  • Passengers should check with their airlines for flight status updates. Those flying on Tuesday before the airport suspends operations are urged to arrive at least two hours before their flight.
  • TPA is not a designated storm shelter and does not have the resources to shelter people or vehicles during a storm. For a list of open shelters in Hillsborough County, click here.
  • To get the latest operational updates, follow @FlyTPA on Twitter.

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