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Disney World, Legoland and other Orlando tourist parks close as Dorian nears Florida

Florida coast braces for Hurricane Dorian
  • Hurricane Dorian shut down tourism destinations across Florida, where Walt Disney World theme parks are battening down the hatches ahead of anticipated strong winds and heavy rains.
  • The storm prompted Orlando International Airport to cease operations early Tuesday, with the airport also urging travelers to find lodging elsewhere, saying it is "not a shelter."
  • Tropical storm conditions were forecast for Tuesday night and Wednesday in Orange County, Florida, where Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and reside.

Hurricane Dorian is no longer expected to make a direct hit in Florida, but the killer storm is still slamming tourism spending and travel in the Sunshine State.

Walt Disney World theme parks in Florida are closing Tuesday afternoon ahead of forecasted strong winds and heavy rain from the edges of Dorian. The approaching storm also prompted Orlando International Airport to halt operations as of 2 a.m. Tuesday.

The storm on Monday stalled over the northwestern Bahamas, causing havoc for Grand Bahama. A category 4 storm on Monday night, Dorian was expected to turn to the northwest by late Tuesday, then northeast by Wednesday night, according to the National Hurricane Center.

"Hurricane Dorian is dangerously close to the East Central Florida coast and sustained tropical force winds are forecasted to impact portions of Orange County as early as tomorrow afternoon. A slight fluctuation westward by the storm could bring those tropical storm winds to all of Orange County," according to an Orlando International Airport statement posted Monday.

Travelers were advised to find other forms of shelter, "because Orlando International Airport is not a shelter," the statement added.

Tropical storm conditions were forecast for Tuesday night and Wednesday in Orange County — home to Disney, Universal and SeaWorld theme parks, among many local tourist attractions.

In an online update, Disney said its Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom would shut at 2 p.m. Tuesday, with the Magic Kingdom and Epcot closing an hour later. Disney over the Labor Day weekend held its grand opening of its Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge attraction at Hollywood Studios.

Additional parts of the resort complex, including a miniature golf course and the Typhoon Lagoon water park were set to shutter at 3 p.m. Tuesday, and an after-hours special event at Animal Kingdom was canceled.

Other sites in central Florida were already closed for the day on Tuesday, including SeaWorld Orlando. Legoland Florida, which is further inland in Winter Haven, was also closed on Tuesday but said it anticipated being back in business on Wednesday, depending on weather conditions.

The hurricane prompted the Kennedy Space Center to cancel the "Searching for Skylab" annual screening on Sunday. Located on the coast east of Orlando, the visitor complex at the center was closed Tuesday and would remain so on Wednesday, it said.

Cruise control

While shortening and delaying vacations for some, the hurricane also meant extended cruises for other travelers.

Several cruise ports in Florida  were closed, including the Port of Miami and Port Canaveral, prompting some cruise lines to extend cruises a day or more or to land in New Orleans instead.

Scheduled to return to Port Canaveral on Wednesday, the Disney Dream is now expected to dock at the port on Thursday, the cruise line said Monday in an online update.

Norwegian Cruise Line's Breakaway had been scheduled to arrive Sunday at Port Miami, and is now slated to finish its trip in New Orleans Tuesday, where the Norwegian Sun was also set to arrive Tuesday, after ditching its planned return to Port Canaveral on Labor Day.

Carnival Cruise Line cancelled a Monday departure from Port Canaveral by its Carnival Liberty and delayed until Thursday the previously scheduled Monday sailing by the Carnival Elation from Port Canaveral. The Carnival Horizon's Monday departure from Miami was shortened to a two-day trip now slated to start on Thursday, Carnival said Tuesday.

The Royal Caribbean Cruise Line made like changes to its lineup, changing the schedules for seven vessels.

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