Disney World just announced it's closing for the fifth time ever! Here's what you need to know.

By Melissa Willets
Courtesy Walt Disney World

As Hurricane Irma barrels toward Florida, many folks are headed out of town, and some are already long gone. Meanwhile, just a few hours west in the vacation capital of Orlando, Disney World is preparing for a storm that could wreak havoc on the area… by staying open. Sort of.

Today, Friday, the happiest place on earth is allowing guests to enjoy the parks as usual. But tomorrow, that all changes. The park JUST updated its website to say that the theme parks WILL be closed starting Saturday, September 9 - Monday, September 11. They hope to resume normal operations on Tuesday, September 12.

These very unusual closings will affect Disney's Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Epcot, Disney Springs, and Magic Kingdom.

Meanwhile, resort hotels will remain open with the exceptions of the Fort Wilderness Campground and the Treehouse Villas at Saratoga Springs. So if you're at another resort hotel on vacation currently, you can watch movies, shop in the gift store, and eat, I guess. If you booked a dining reservation, it's being canceled automatically, and prepaid dining experiences will be refunded.

Several special events have been canceled, including Mickey's Not-So'[Scary Halloween Party on Sunday. See Disney's website for full details, including what you can do if you already bought a ticket to the event. In short, you can attend another Halloween party, or another special event like Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, or use the tickets for a one-day park pass to be used in the next two years; pretty generous if you ask me! Or, you can get a refund.

Meanwhile, if you already booked a vacation to Disney World for the upcoming weekend or week, you'll want to check out the House of Mouse's Hurricane Policy. The good news is you can reschedule your trip or even cancel it without penalty… as long as you booked it directly through Disney World. If you used a third party, you'll have to check with them to see what their policy is. That includes airline tickets. Ouch.

Most of the Orlando theme parks, including Universal Orlando, Sea World and Legoland, have their own closings, so check their websites for details.

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Incidentally, this is only the fifth time the park has closed in its 50-year history! We were there in 2016 just days after the closing for Hurricane Matthew. Not a leaf on a tree was out of place. Here's hoping Irma doesn't inflict too much damage in Orlando, or elsewhere, but more importantly, that everyone down in the Sunshine State stays safe!

Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger/mom. Find her on Facebook and Instagram where she chronicles her life momming under the influence. Of yoga.



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