What to Expect when in a Hurricane at Disney World

Disney World is always a great place to vacation, no matter the time of year, but it’s important to plan ahead and become educated on what each season may bring when traveling to Orlando.  You may find it is the season for high crowd levels, severe weather, or even cold temperatures. If you have been to Orlando in the summer, you know that the summers are extremely hot and often require that you have packed a rain coat.  Rain is one thing when it only means a few gloomy hours and a bit of rain.  However, major rain or hurricane storms are another. The parks in Orlando are often right in the middle of major storms!

Florida’s official hurricane season is approximately 183 days long (beginning June 1st and ending November 30th), with the peak season being the August and September months. Since opening Walt Disney World in 1971, the parks have not had to close their gates often because of a hurricane.  However, they have had to for some hurricanes such as Floyd, Charley, Francis, Ivan, Jeanne, and Wilma.  The hurricane that caused the most damage to Disney World was Hurricane Charley.  This hurricane caused some structural damage to several attractions.

With so little park closures, you really need to be prepared if you see you might be vacationing in Orlando during a hurricane.

Here are some things to consider:

5. Know Your Cancellation Policy

If you find that your vacation might be interrupted by a hurricane, you might want to check the cancellation policy.  According to the official Walt Disney World website:  “f a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area—or for your place of residence—within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.”  Of course, this cancellation policy only applies to Disney and not to other travel suppliers such as the airlines, hotels not booked through Disney directly, car rental companies, etc.

4. Consider Trip Insurance

If you are overly worried about the timeframe you will be traveling and the weather you might have to endure, you could purchase trip insurance.  This can provide peace of mind.

3. Do Not Panic

If you hear you will be in Disney World during a hurricane, remember to not panic!  I have been in Disney World during a hurricane.  The park closed but there was plenty of available activities at the resorts.  The Cast Members were helpful in providing the data they had, when available.  Though it is not completely out of the realm of possibility that the resort area will be hit by a large hurricane, Disney is situated inland which removes issues such as tidal surges often caused by hurricanes.

2. The Closing of the Parks

Prepare for the possibility of the parks closing.  Should this occur, guests are asked to shelter at their resort for the duration of the storm. In the past, when the storm has reduced but the parks have not yet opened, the resorts included activities such as lobby games, character meet and greets, and movie marathons, etc.  In addition, the resorts are stocked for the additional need for providing meals at the resorts.

1. When the Parks Stay Open

If a hurricane is not a direct threat to the Walt Disney World Resort area, there is a good chance the parks will remain open.  However, even if you come to the parks on a day, it is possible that if the storm gets worse, you will be required to leave.  Disney World works hard to provide guests an appropriate amount of time to get from the parks to a safe location, meaning they will close hours before the threat occurs.  If the parks are open, expect it to be rainy.  Bring coats and hats that will make your day drier and more enjoyable.

The guest experience is of the utmost importance to Disney and they strive to exceed your expectations, regardless of whether or not the sun chooses to shine that day.  They will consider the guest’s safety first and provide assistance should danger be presented.

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