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

By Kate Gibson

/ MoneyWatch

Florida coast braces for Hurricane Dorian

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.

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"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.

Devastating images show Dorian ravaging the Bahamas

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.

First published on September 3, 2019 / 11:59 AM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

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