Universal Resort Orlando Faces Phased Reopening Amid Hurricane Ian Damage

Universal Studios has announced plans to reopen after Hurricane Ian unleashed 14 inches of rain and winds up to 60 mph in Orlando. There has been some damage, but the park will reopen in phases beginning Friday, Sept. 30. Photos and videos shared across social media displayed some areas of the park under several feet of water. Rides and attractions impacted include Incredible Hulk Coaster, with the lower tracks showing damage, which are normally suspended over the park's lagoon. After the flooding, the tracks were submerged in the lagoon.

Flood waters also impacted the resort's CityWalk and Portofino restaurant, which are adjacent to Double Tree by Hilton hotel and the I-4 Express near the park. A large hole blew in the side of the building that houses Jurassic Park River Adventure. Per park officials, there are continued "assessment and recovery efforts" as they plan a "phased reopen" but only for the guests of the resort's hotels who rode out the storm there. Which section of the parks will reopen first is not yet clear. 

Hurricane Ian left millions of southern Florida without electricity, drinking water, or inhabitable homes. Gov. Ron DeSantis said would recovery would be yearslong.

Florida residents who've suffered previous storms say Ian has been one of worst. Roads have been flooded, trees have fallen, and storefronts have been gutted. "The damage that was done has been historic," Mr. DeSantis said in a briefing on Sept. 29. "We've never seen a flood event like this. We've never seen a storm surge of this magnitude."

An official death toll has yet to be tallied. DeSantis said that "we absolutely expect" a number by end of day. Estimated deaths are said to be in the hundreds, as noted by callers who reported water rising in their homes. 

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The storm is now headed to the Carolinas. Georgia is also expected to get hit hard by rain and wind.