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For tourists, storm is Hurricane Who Shall Not Be Named

Emma Bassett, 24, of Middlesbrough, England, poses for a photograph at a Harry Potter area of Universal Studios Thursday, Oct. 6, 2016, in Orlando, Fla. The park is closing early today and will be closed all day tomorrow because of hurricane Matthew. She loves the park and all the Harry Potter attractions - but she didn't expect weather like this when she booked the trip. (AP Photo/Janelle Cogan)
October 06, 2016 - 3:14 PM

ORLANDO, Fla. - Voldemort couldn't stop Harry Potter, but Matthew did.

Three of the world's most popular tourist attractions, Universal Studios (home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter), Walt Disney World and SeaWorld all made a rare decision to close their theme parks Thursday ahead of Hurricane Matthew's arrival. Soggy tourists rushed to cram in a few more rides before their vacations ended, or tried to figure out how to pass the time instead.

"I never get time off," said Amber Klinkel, 25, of Battle Creek, Michigan, who was visiting the Universal Studios park with her mother and younger sister. "I'm a little sad."

Universal and Walt Disney World both closed at 5 p.m. Thursday, and SeaWorld shut its gates at 2 p.m. The parks are among the most-visited tourist destinations in the world.

Anthony Leotta, who arrived Thursday from Long Island, New York, said he was going to try to get a refund at Universal. Leotta, who is visiting with his wife, said they are leaving on a cruise Sunday and will probably have just a single day at the theme park.

"I paid for three days at the park and I'm only going to be able to use one," Leotta said.

Carlos Rodriguez, who said he lives in New Jersey but didn't give a hometown, planned to do as much as possible at Universal before it closed Thursday.

"We will try not to walk away empty-handed," he said. "Can't blame them for a hurricane. But you can blame them for closing too early."

The scenario was a bit unfamiliar for Emma Bassett, 24, of Middlesbrough, England, a self-described "massive Harry Potter fan" whose flight home was rescheduled.

"We're not used to stuff like this," she said. "You don't get hurricanes in England."

News from © The Associated Press, 2016
The Associated Press

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