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Updated: Hurricane Ian closes Busch Gardens, aquariums, zoo, cancels Tampa Bay area events

Many event organizers were still waiting to see where the storm turns before canceling plans later in the week.
The Florida Aquarium and its administrative offices will be closed effective at 3 p.m. Monday because of Hurricane Ian. Administrators have not decided when it will reopen.
The Florida Aquarium and its administrative offices will be closed effective at 3 p.m. Monday because of Hurricane Ian. Administrators have not decided when it will reopen. [ Times (2019) ]
Published Sep. 26|Updated Sep. 27

With Hurricane Ian churning off the coast, attractions and event planners across the Tampa Bay area are making decisions soon on whether to follow through with plans for the festivals, shows and fall gatherings that were planned for this weekend.

Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, Clearwater Aquarium and ZooTampa all announced they would be closing in preparation. On Monday, most others were saying they are in a wait-and-see mode to find out what the weekend will hold after the storm passes. If you have tickets or plans for any event this weekend, it’s best to check the event’s website or Facebook page before heading out.

Here are some of the events we do know about:

Busch Gardens: The Tampa theme park will be closed on Tuesday and remain closed through Thursday. Guests are encouraged to check their website and follow their social media channels for updates on park reopening. Admission tickets already purchased have been extended through Dec. 31.

The Florida Aquarium: The Tampa aquarium and its administrative offices will be closed starting at 3 p.m. today in preparation for the arrival of Hurricane Ian. A small group of essential personnel will remain to ensure the safety of the animals, aquarium officials said. “Our first priority is safety,” said Chief Operating Officer Andrew Wood. “We have secured the facility and taken all precautions to ensure the safety of our staff and animals.”

Administrators have not determined when it will reopen. Updates will be posted on the aquarium’s website at flaquarium.org and across social media channels.

ZooTampa at Lowry Park: The zoo will be closed Tuesday through Thursday, ZooTampa officials announced.

ZooTampa has a weather policy “which includes moving larger animals into their night houses, which are built to withstand major storms, and smaller mammals and birds into ancillary buildings,” the announcement said. The facility may also institute a storm team made up of animal care professionals, veterinary staff, maintenance and a safety team made up of EMTs and security personnel.

The zoo will post updates on park hours and operations on its website and social media channels.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium: The aquarium will be closed Tuesday through Thursday. “Preparations are underway to protect the health and safety of our animals and the staff on site,” aquarium officials said.

The Straz Center for the Performing Arts: The Straz Center will be closed Tuesday through Friday. Performances of the Straz produced “Avenue Q,” Opera Tampa’s “Spanish Nights” and Jobsite Theater’s “Picasso at the Lapin Agile” are affected by the closing. Weather permitting, shows will resume Saturday.

Mahaffey Theater: The St. Petersburg performing arts building will be closed starting Tuesday until further notice. “In the event we are unable to proceed with this weekend’s events, all ticketholders will be notified via email and event show pages will be updated with current information,” Mahaffey announced.

Piertoberfest: The German-style festival at the St. Pete Pier has been postponed. An exact date hasn’t been picked but is expected to be in October, a spokesperson said. Find updates and tickets at piertoberfest.com. $15, $75 VIP. Spa Beach Park, 600 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg.

SoHo Artwalk: Saturday’s SoHo Artwalk has been postponed. A new date and time is yet to be determined.

Scream-A-Geddon: The Halloween scare park in Dade City will be closed on Wednesday and Thursday. A spokesperson said they will assess reopening for the weekend after the storm passes. The haunted houses, set on 20 acres in the backwoods of Pasco County, are at 27839 Saint Joe Road. screamageddon.com.

Related: Scream-A-Geddon returns with backwoods scares
Actors emerge from a simulated farmhouse at the center of the Infected haunted house at Scream-A-Geddon in Dade City. The scare park will be closed Wednesday and Thursday because of Hurricane Ian.
Actors emerge from a simulated farmhouse at the center of the Infected haunted house at Scream-A-Geddon in Dade City. The scare park will be closed Wednesday and Thursday because of Hurricane Ian. [ Luis Santana ]

Tampa Bay Boat Show: The Tampa Bay Times has postponed the large boating event, which will showcase area boat dealers and manufacturers, with craft from yachts to cruisers, kayaks to standup paddle boards, along with multiple vendors for the latest in boating and fishing supplies and accessories. It was previously scheduled to take place Friday through Sunday at the Florida State Fairgrounds, 4800 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. Another date has not been announced. 727-893-8134.

Morean classes: The Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg has canceled classes at its facilities on Tuesday and Wednesday and said there will be makeup classes at the end of the session.

R.I.S.E. and Shine Breakfast: United Way Suncoast has postponed Tuesday’s inaugural R.I.S.E. and Shine Breakfast. More than 300 people were expected to gather at Armature Works to hear from United Way Worldwide CEO Angela Williams and United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff. Now the organization is working with Armature Works to find a new date, a spokesperson said.

“We recognize that the community’s focus needs to be on storm preparation, including preparing shelters, securing homes and stocking up on supplies,” Muroff said. The organization also announced it will suspend operations at its offices through Thursday, but team members will monitor calls remotely from their homes.

If the storm impacts its five-county region, United Way Suncoast also will work with partners to marshal volunteer support. For information, see unitedwaysuncoast.org

• • •

2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.

RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.

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PHONE IT IN: Use your smartphone to protect your data, documents and photos.

SELF-CARE: Protect your mental health during a hurricane.

• • •

Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change

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PART 3: Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it?

INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.

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