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13 Sep 2017

Disney commits US$2.5m to recovery effort as parks reopen following Hurricane Irma
BY Tom Anstey

Disney's properties were left relatively unscathed following the hurricane

Disney's properties were left relatively unscathed following the hurricane

As Disney reopens its Florida attractions following Hurricane Irma, the operator has announced that it is committing US$2.5m (€2.1m, £1.9m) toward recovery efforts stemming from the devastating storm.

In the wake of Irma, which is responsible for at least 16 deaths in Florida, many residents have been left without power for a number of days after the storm uprooted powerlines, trees and even homes.

The funds from Disney will be used to will help the response and recovery efforts of the American Red Cross, UNICEF, Save the Children, and other nonprofits. Additionally, eligible Disney employee donations to qualified organisations involved in the relief effort will be matched by the Disney Employee Matching Gifts programme.

“As millions of people now face the daunting challenge of putting their lives and communities back together in the wake of these historic hurricanes, they need our help,” said Disney chair and CEO, Bob Iger. “We’re donating US$2.5m to support relief and recovery efforts in response to Hurricane Irma. This is in addition to nearly US$16m (€13.4m, £12m) we raised after Hurricane Harvey to help ensure storm victims have the support needed to recover and rebuild.”

In addition to its donation, during the hurricane, Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line donated meals, provided storage for supplies and power-utility vehicles, donated bedding to shelters, and made rooms available for first responders. The operator says it will also be donating goods and services throughout the region as other needs are identified.

Disney’s four theme parks and Disney Springs reopened yesterday (12 September), while its two waterparks – Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon – remained closed. They reopen today.

Elsewhere other parks have restarted operations following the hurricane. Universal’s three parks reopened on Tuesday, with Friday’s (15 September) Halloween Horror Nights to begin as scheduled. SeaWorld reopens today, though Discovery Cove remains shut until further notice. At Legoland Florida, the theme park, waterpark, hotel and Beach Retreat will remain closed until power is restored. The Orlando Eye also remains closed, though the Merlin cluster’s Sea Life and Tussauds attractions are now open.

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