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Disney World to reopen Friday as Hurricane Ian passes north

The resort, as well as Disney Springs, will reopen on a phased-in basis.
Crowds walk at the Magic Kingdom Park
Crowds walk at the Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Orange County, Fla., on June 1.Joseph Prezioso / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images file

Walt Disney World Resort will resume theme park operations on a phased-in basis starting Friday, the company said in a statement Thursday, as Hurricane Ian moves north.

The Disney Springs shopping area will also reopen tomorrow, the company said.

"We continue to closely monitor weather conditions as we assess the impact of Hurricane Ian on our property," the company said. "While theme parks and many operating areas remain closed to guests [Thursday], we anticipate weather conditions to improve this evening." 

Additional updates can be found on Disney's website.

The park and Disney Springs were closed Wednesday and Thursday as Hurricane Ian tore through Florida. Guests staying at a Disney resort were told to shelter in place.

Resort guests with a Friday check-in who are still planning to visit should now arrive no earlier than 3 p.m., the company said, adding that guests who arrive before 3 p.m. will not be able to check in, it said.

Follow along for NBC News' live coverage of Hurricane Ian

According to Disney’s hurricane policy, guests are also now eligible to call to reschedule or cancel Walt Disney Travel Company Disney resort hotel packages and most room-only reservations without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.

Partially used multi-day theme park tickets whose validity windows were impacted by park closures are now eligible to be used through Sept. 30, 2023, the company said.

The policy does not apply if a stay was not booked through the Walt Disney Travel Company.

According to The Points Guy travel blog, much of Disney World, including the landmark Cinderella Castle, is built to withstand hurricanes, and it is common for Floridians exposed to a hurricane elsewhere in the state to ride out the storm at the park.

Since opening in 1971, Disney World has only been forced to close eight times as a result of a hurricane, according to the unofficial Disney blog Inside the Magic. The most recent closure happened in 2019 as Hurricane Dorian approached.