Tropical Storm Nicole made landfall just south of Vero Beach, Florida early Thursday as a Category 1 hurricane, before weakening back to a tropical storm.
Florida’s biggest theme parks quickly pivoted ahead of Nicole’s arrival, shuffling operating plans for the safety of guests and employees.
Many travelers who waited out the storm in Orlando-area hotel rooms will be able to hit the parks.
Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort and LEGOLAND Florida all announced plans to open late Thursday, though some experiences may be unavailable at each resort.
SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens will remain closed.
Here’s what visitors should know.
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When will Disney World open?
Disney World reopened in phases Thursday afternoon after closing all four theme parks early on Wednesday.
- Magic Kingdom opened at noon and will close to regular guests at 6 p.m. ahead of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
- EPCOT and Disney’s Animal Kingdom will both open at 1 p.m.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios opened at 2 p.m. Fantasmic!, which just returned to the park, will not be offered Thursday.
- Disney Springs opened at noon.
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park and mini golf locations will be closed Thursday. Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park isn’t scheduled to open for the season until Nov. 13.
- The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyage set for Thursday is canceled.
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa are expected to reopen Thursday. Guests at both had to leave Wednesday afternoon.
- Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue performances at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground remain canceled Thursday.
- Until further notice, Disney is not enforcing its cancellation policy for dining or Enchanting Extras like Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Guests who prepaid for those experiences will have their reservations canceled and automatically refunded.
According to Disney World’s severe weather policy, when the National Hurricane Center issues a hurricane warning within 7 days of a guest’s scheduled arrival, vacation packages or hotel reservations booked directly through Disney may be canceled or rescheduled without penalty fees.
Additionally, guests who weren’t able to use all the dates of their multi-day tickets due to Hurricane Nicole will have their expiration dates for the unused portion of their tickets automatically extended until Sept. 20, 2023.
When will Universal open?
Universal Orlando Resort began a “phased and delayed reopening” Thursday.
Universal Studios Florida and Universal CityWalk are open “with limited experiences for Universal Orlando hotel guests only,” Universal said on Twitter. Universal’s Islands of Adventure also reopened in a limited capacity for hotel guests at 3 p.m. Volcano Bay is still closed.
Universal Orlando Resort will fully reopen for all visitors with normal hours on Friday.
According to Universal’s severe weather policy, guests who booked vacation packages, hotel reservations or theme park tickets directly through Universal may cancel or reschedule without penalty if the National Hurricane Center issues a tropical storm or hurricane warning or a state of emergency is declared for the Orlando area within seven days of their scheduled arrival. A state of emergency has already been declared.
Other Florida attraction closings
SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, which are all part of the same family, will remain closed Thursday with plans to reopen Friday. Guests who had tickets for Thursday will be able to use them through Dec. 31, 2022.
LEGOLAND Florida and Peppa Pig Theme Park opened late at noon on Thursday. LEGOLAND Water Park will be closed.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will remain closed Thursday. It was also closed Wednesday. The visitor complex plans to reopen at 9 a.m. Friday after a thorough safety inspection. Guests who had reservations for Wednesday or Thursday will be automatically refunded within one billing cycle.