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How Disney and other Florida theme parks are handling threat of Hurricane Dorian

Guests watch a show near a statue of

Guests watch a show near a statue of Walt Disney and Micky Mouse in front of the Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  Photo Credit: AP/John Raoux

Walt Disney World theme parks in Florida will close Tuesday afternoon in anticipation of strong winds and heavy rain from the fringes of Hurricane Dorian.

The decision came late Monday afternoon as officials announced that Orlando International Airport would stop operations at 2 a.m. Tuesday. The Category 4 storm stalled over the northwestern Bahamas for much of Monday, devastating Grand Bahama Island. Dorian was expected to make a 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 statement from the airport said. "A slight fluctuation westward by the storm could bring those tropical storm winds to all of Orange County."

The county, which includes Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, was under a tropical storm warning late Monday.

Disney said in an online update Monday afternoon that Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom will close at 2 p.m., while Magic Kingdom and Epcot will close at 3 p.m. A reopening time has not yet been announced. Disney attracted large crowds over Labor Day Weekend for the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, a long-awaited new area of Hollywood Studios.

Other areas on the resort complex, including Disney Springs, miniature golf courses, and the Typhoon Lagoon water park, close at 3 p.m. Tuesday. ESPN Wide World of Sports and the Blizzard Beach water park will be closed, and an after-hours special event at Animal Kingdom is canceled.

Universal Orlando Resort said in an update Monday night that its two theme parks, Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, would open on schedule Tuesday. The Volcano Bay water park will be closed. Park officials have not yet decided whether to close early.

Other Central Florida sites were closing Tuesday altogether. SeaWorld Orlando will be closed all day. Legoland Florida, further inland in Winter Haven, said it would be closed Tuesday but expected to reopen Wednesday depending on the storm's track. Polk County, where Legoland is located, is under a tropical storm watch.

Kennedy Space Center, east of Orlando on the coast, said its visitor complex would be closed Tuesday and Wednesday. The visitor complex was also closed Sunday and Monday, according to Florida Today. The county where the center is located is under a hurricane warning.

Orlando airport officials urged travelers to get flight updates from their airlines and to arrange for places to stay, adding in capital letters that "ORLANDO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IS NOT A SHELTER."

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