Disney[f500link ignore=true]World and Universal Orlando theme parks are closing due to the impending arrival of Hurricane Irma, making their parent companies some of the biggest financial losers from the huge storm.</p> <p>[f500link]Disney has already taken the very rare step of closing its Walt Disney World Resort for the weekend, posting a message on the resort’s website that the huge theme park will be closed from Saturday morning with plans to reopen on Tuesday, Sept. 12. Comcast’s Universal Orlando theme park also said it will close on Sunday and Monday.
SeaWorld Orlando will also shut down for the storm, as will nearby parks Legoland Florida and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
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Disney, especially, rarely closes its Walt Disney World Resort for any reason, though inclement weather did force a brief closure when Hurricane Matthew struck the area last year. CNBC reported at the time that last year’s closure marked only the fourth time Disney had ever closed the park and resort since its opening in 1971, and every single time the company closed the park it has been due to the threat of a hurricane in the area.
Theme parks are big business for companies like Disney, which pulled in a whopping $16.9 billion in total revenue last year from its parks and resorts around the world. In an earnings call in February, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that closing the park for just one-and-a-half days for last year’s Hurricane Matthew dragged down the parent company’s quarterly revenue by roughly $40 million. The cost could be even greater this time around, with Disney World to be closed for roughly three days.
By all accounts, a direct hit on Florida by Hurricane Irma is expected to cause billions of dollars in damage (some estimates predict more than $200 billion in damage) while potentially claiming more lives. Financially, Florida’s tourism industry is already being hit hard, with those major theme parks typically contributing a large share of the state’s tourism revenue. That industry is also facing losses from cruise ship companies, including Disney’s own cruise line, canceling trips that were due to depart from Florida ports this weekend.