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Dorian force may rock Star Wars land at Disney World

Mike Cherico

Many are hoping "The Force" will be with Disneyland as Hurricane Dorian barrels towards Florida and the newly opened "Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge" themed land.

The category 3 storm, as of late afternoon Friday, may cost Disney World up to $90 million in lost revenue.

Dorian couldn’t come at a more inopportune time for Walt Disney World: It just opened “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge,” its most anticipated major new addition in decades. On Thursday, visitors waited for hours on opening day to get on the “Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run” ride under blue skies and bright sun for the first time ever.

The company promoted the opening via twitter on August 29.

On Friday, via twitter, the company said; "Walt Disney World Resort is operating as normal. We are monitoring the weather, as nothing is more important than safety. Check our website for updates" ...

The House of Mouse can't seem to catch a break. This may be the second rocky debut of "Star Wars" lands in a row for the theme park operator.

As reported by FOX Business, Disneyland in California was forced to cut workers hours this summer due to poor attendance after opening their own new Galaxy’s Edge.

HURRICANE DORIAN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

While Disney World will have an act of God to blame for the poor opening attendance, Disney CEO Bob Iger gave a more practical excuse, citing fear of crowds, for keeping "Star Wars" fans away from the Anaheim park when he poor park attendance reports to shareholders and investors on the company's last earnings call.

Either way, die-hard "Star Wars" fans may begin to suspect the dark side of the force is at work against Disney.

Hurricane Dorian is expected to strike southern Florida Monday morning with the force of a category 4 storm. Orlando, further up the coast and slightly inland, may only catch the storm at a category 1 level and not until Tuesday morning, say weather experts. But by that point, the damage may already be done.

Many park-goers and "Star Wars" lovers are already running from the storm and changing plans out of concern for safety. Before the threat of Hurricane Dorian, Jessica Armesto and her 1-year-old daughter, Mila, planned to go to the Halloween party and attend a breakfast with Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy at Disney World.

Instead, Armesto now plans to be sheltered at her mother’s hurricane-resistant house in Miami with a kitchen full of nonperishable foods in case the power goes out. “It felt like it was better to be safe than sorry so we canceled our plans,” Armesto told the AP.

“It is the perfect storm,” said Dennis Speigel, president of International Theme Park Services Inc., an Ohio-based consulting firm. “Here they’ve been waiting to open this — the attraction was delayed from the earlier part of the season — and they finally get situated to get it opened and they have a hurricane.”

In the long run, it may be just a blip for Disney, but the storm’s impact for the week could cost Disney $60 million to $90 million as locals stay away to make hurricane preparations and out-of-town tourists cancel their reservations, Speigel said.

During past hurricanes, Disney World in Florida has closed the gates to its four parks — Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Disney World hotels remained open, but the parks were closed briefly during Hurricane Irma in 2017 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.

On any given day, Disney World can host more than 300,000 visitors.

FOX Business' inquiries to Disney were not returned at the time of publication.

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The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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