Hurricane Matthew Closes Walt Disney World for the 4th Time in History

10/7/16: This story has been updated with the latest information regarding Walt Disney World closures and cancellations.

The governor of Florida has just told its citizens to flee as Hurricane Matthew bears down on the state. The storm has been blamed for the deaths of 100 people in Haiti and is expected to make landfall in Florida late Thursday. Walt Disney World has closed its parks for the fourth time since its opening.

“You need to leave. Evacuate, evacuate, evacuate,” Gov. Rick Scott of Florida told 1.5 million people living in evacuation zones on Thursday. President Obama has declared a state of emergency.

Walt Disney World has only been closed three times since opening in 1971 -- always in anticipation of hurricanes: Hurricane Floyd (1999); Hurricane Jeanne (2004); Hurricane Frances (2004). Their top wind speeds, respectively, were 155 mph, 120mph, and 145 mph. Hurricane Matthew's winds have reached speeds of up to 140 mph and strengthening.

A spokeswoman for Walt Disney World said on Thursday, "Based on the most recent forecasts for Hurricane Matthew, Walt Disney World theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf courses and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will all be closed today by 5 p.m., and will remain closed through Fri., Oct. 7."

"Extremely dangerous, life-threatening weather conditions are forecast in the next 24 hours," the National Weather Service warned Thursday afternoon. As of publication, Hurricane Matthew is classified as a Category 4 storm, reaching winds of up to 140 mph.

UPDATE: Walt Disney World has released updated information on closures and cancellations for Hurricane Matthew at its parks, reprinted below.

  • All 4 Walt Disney World theme parks are closed through Friday, October 7, 2016.
  • Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park is closed through Friday, October 7, 2016.
  • Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon water park is closed through Friday, October 7, 2016.
  • Disney Springs is closed through Friday, October 7, 2016. Characters in Flight at Disney Springs is closed through Sunday, October 9, 2016.
  • Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has been canceled for tonight, Friday, October 7, 2016. For re-booking, refunds and other options, please call (407) 939-7818 beginning at 9:00 AM Eastern Time on Monday, October 10, 2016. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.
  • Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground—including our Campsites and Cabins—is closed through Friday, October 7, 2016. All performances of Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Mickey's Backyard BBQ through that date have been canceled as well.
  • Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort has been canceled through Friday evening, October 7, 2016.
  • Select spa locations—including La Vida Health Club at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Senses - A Disney Spa at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Senses - A Disney Spa at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa and Ship Shape Massage Salon Fitness—are closed through Saturday, October 8, 2016.
  • Events scheduled through October 8, 2016 at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex—including the Disney Cross Country Classic 2016 and Baseball Canada National Team Fall Training sessions—have been canceled.

For guests currently staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, the park has advised that all guests stay indoors for the duration of the storm, and speak with Walt Disney Cast Members if they have any questions or safety concerns. Head over to Disney's hub for more information.

Eric Vilas-Boas is a writer and editor at Thrillist. Follow him on Twitter.