The Force is now with Disney World but the weather isnt

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Force is strong with Disney and Star Wars, but it may be no match for Hurricane Dorian.Expected to make landfall in Florida early next week, 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, the day the Star Wars land opened, visitors waited for hours to get on the Star Wars land’s “Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run” ride under blue skies and a bright sun.But the weather was expected to deteriorate each day as Dorian approaches.As of 11 a.m. EDT Friday the storm was just 1 mile per hour below the 111 mph (178 kph) threshold for becoming a major hurricane. Meteorologists expect it to become a major storm later in the day and keep growing until it becomes a Category 4 intense hurricane.Dorian is forecast to hit southern Florida with winds around 140 mph late Monday or early Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. There’s increasing talk among experts about the possibility, still unlikely, of a Category 5 storm with winds of 155 mph or more.“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.Disneyland in California also opened a Star Wars land earlier this summer, and that too had smaller crowds than expected.In an earnings report earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger said that some people had stayed away from Disneyland out fear there would be huge crowds at the Star Wars land. That contributed to a 3% dip in attendance at U.S parks for the third quarter.The Star Wars land wasn’t the only thing opening this week at Disney World.The resort was kicking off its beloved annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival on Thursday and its annual Mickey’s Not-so-Scary Halloween Party is revving up.Before Hurricane Dorian started menacing Florida, 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 cancelled our plans,” Armesto 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.Disney World’s policy says that if a hurricane warning is issued within seven days of a planned vacation, the guest can reschedule or cancel. Armesto said she had no problems with that, though there was a tinge of regret with the character breakfast since she had stayed up until 2 a.m. one night trying to land a hard-to-get reservation with the classic characters.An inquiry to Disney World about the number of cancellations or change requests this week wasn’t answered.Ben Cline, his wife, Jen, and their two grade-school-age children were ending their Florida vacation to head back to North Carolina a little bit earlier than planned on Saturday because of the hurricane.“We don’t want to be caught travelling,” he said.But the family managed to get into the Star Wars land in the wee hours Thursday by arriving at Disney’s Hollywood Studios by 3:45 a.m. They said the visit was worth it, despite the prospect of getting stuck in traffic with people fleeing Florida ahead of the storm.“It’s amazing! The details of it are out of this world, literally,” Cline said. “It’s certainly worth coming down for.”__Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at Schneider, The Associated Press read more

Annan targets landmines ecological damage in call to curb wars impact

“Landmines, booby-traps and other improvised explosive devices aggravate and prolong the horrendous consequences of armed conflict, threatening our societies and future generations,” he said in a message to a meeting in Geneva of the Parties to the Amended Protocol II to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.“Both during and after hostilities, they kill indiscriminately and maim vulnerable civilians, especially women and children. They cause excessive, yet random, suffering of combatants. They endanger the lives of peacekeepers and humanitarian-aid workers, and hamper the repatriation and reintegration of refugees and internally displaced persons. And they impede post-conflict reconstruction,” he added. In the message, delivered by UN Deputy Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament Tim Caughley, Mr. Annan stressed the importance of exchanging information on how to better protect civilians. “I urge you to also consider how to promote universal adherence to the Protocol, and strongly appeal to those countries that have not yet ratified this instrument to do so as soon as possible,” he said. In another message, marking the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, Mr. Annan cited the oil spill from a Lebanese power station resulting from this summer’s Israeli-Hizbollah war in calling for steps to ensure that international accords on war and armed conflict cover deliberate and unintentional damage to the environment.“Parties engaged in hostilities have a responsibility to observe international rules and agreements, such as the Geneva Conventions, that govern the conduct of war,” Mr. Annan said. “Some of these rules, such as a prohibition of the deliberate destruction of agricultural land, have an environmental emphasis. But, by and large, the environmental consequences of war are overlooked by contemporary laws,” he added.“It is high time that we review international agreements related to war and armed conflict to ensure that they also cover deliberate and unintentional damage to the environment.”The past year has provided “yet another tragic example,” he said, noting that 15,000 tons of fuel oil from the Jiyyeh power station south of Beirut was released during the Israeli-Hizbollah conflict, affecting 150 kilometres of the Lebanese and Syrian coast, polluting beaches and coastal waters and damaging fishing and tourism operations.In recent years, an increasing number of Governments have asked the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) to conduct post-conflict environmental assessments and a team is currently assessing the environmental impact of the conflict in Lebanon, while others are working closely with the Governments of Sudan and Iraq.“In Sudan, UNEP’s preliminary findings indicate widespread and severe environmental degradation in much of the country, especially related to desertification and deforestation. In Darfur, environmental degradation, resource competition and regional climate change are major underlying causes of food insecurity and conflict,” Mr. Annan said.“In Iraq, the draining of the marshlands of the Euphrates/Tigris Delta during the 1980s and 1990s provides a classic example of the deliberate targeting of an ecosystem to achieve political and military ends,” he added, noting that UNEP is helping the Iraqi Government to restore the marshlands.“On this International Day, let us recognize the threat that war poses to the foundation of all our sustainable development objectives – and let us pledge to do more about it,” he concluded. read more