With Hurricane Irma now a Category 5 hurricane and moving closer to Florida, visitors will be wondering if there is a chance that the Universal Orlando Resort will close because of the storm. While it’s still too early to tell if Irma will have a major impact on Central Florida, Universal Studios Florida and the Islands of Adventure theme parks have been closed because of a hurricane in the past. Just last year, the parks were closed for a day because of Hurricane Matthew.
Both parks are following regular operating hours at the moment. Spokesman Tom Schroder told the Orlando Sentinel that guests can reschedule or get refunds now without extra charges.
“We have an affirmative, no-questions-asked policy for guests who tell us they want to change plans or seek a refund because of a named storm involving the Orlando area or where they are traveling from,” Schroder told the Sentinel.
Like Disney World, Universal has a policy in place for hurricanes. It allows visitors to seek refunds if a Hurricane Warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area or a visitor’s place of residence. The policy only covers reservations made until November 30, 2017. Here is the policy:
At Universal Orlando Resort, we know how important your vacation is to you and your family. And while we can guarantee an incredible vacation experience here at Universal Orlando, we unfortunately can’t make any guarantees about the weather. If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area or for your place of residence no more than 7 days before your scheduled arrival date, you can call in advance to cancel or reschedule your Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations hotel accommodations and Universal Orlando theme park tickets without any cancellation or change fees imposed. Additional elements including air, car rental or other theme park tickets are separate and not part of this policy.
Although the latest projections don’t have Hurricane Irma hitting Florida until Sunday, Governor Rick Scott took a preemptive measure by declaring a State of Emergency on Monday. This will allow local governments to mobilize and begin preparations for the storm.
“In Florida, we always prepare for the worst and hope for the best and while the exact path of Irma is not absolutely known at this time, we cannot afford to not be prepared. This state of emergency allows our emergency management officials to act swiftly in the best interest of Floridians without the burden of bureaucracy or red tape.”
Florida residents can also use FloridaDisaster.org/GetAPlan to start planning and preparing for the storm. According to the latest public advisory from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the storm is 180 miles from Antigua and is moving at 14 mph. It has maximum sustained winds of 185 mph.
Last year, Universal closed its theme parks for Hurricane Matthew, which never actually made landfall in Florida. Like Disney, Universal closed early on October 6, 2016 and was closed completely for October 7. The parks were back up and running the following day.