Unfortunately, anyone planning a Walt Disney World vacation during certain times of the year – hurricane season – takes the risk of weather having an impact on their trip. You’ve planned. You’ve saved. You’ve counted down the days. Just when you are ready to start packing, the National Weather Hurricane Center issues a huge – all over the television and the news – warning! There is a hurricane warning for the Orlando area! What do you do? Who do you call? Do you stay home? Do you still go? The questions that stream out of your brain are endless. I have been in Orlando when a tropical storm hits. There is lots of rain – yes! There is a certain time of year when it feels like it rains constantly in Orlando. Will it ruin your vacation? Only if you let it. The odds of a full-blown hurricane closing down Walt Disney World for any length of time are slim.
We all know that because of the weather flights may be postponed or cancelled. Travelling by car may be scary and take much longer than anticipated. The best advice I can give would be to only worry about your transportation days. Once you are there, all will be fine! Through the years I have found that the worse part of making a decision regarding your vacation is usually the panic that takes over. You cancel or postpone your trip and 24 hours after the storm hits the sun is shining and you are looking a pictures of people all over Facebook walking down the middle of Main Street USA eating popcorn and having a blast!
Walt Disney World is far enough inland that storm surge is not an issue. By the time a hurricane moves its way inland it is a heavy storm, not a hurricane. Wind and heavy rain are the main issues of concern and if the wind is strong enough that there is a possibility of damage to any structures in the parks that could put guests in danger, they will close the parks. Will the parks remain closed for the entire length of your vacation – absolutely not! The parks will reopen as quickly and efficiently as possible. Sometimes within a matter of hours. You may be inconvenienced for a half day or even a full day but that’s about it. There are so many in-door things to do at Walt Disney World that reports of heavy rain should not be considered a reason to stay home. Only your transportation safety getting to Walt Disney World should be a main concern. There are storm preparedness guidelines in place to protect guests and property. Disney has been dealing with panicky guests for years when it comes to storms.
If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area (or for your place of residence for travel purposes) —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. But remember – If you have arrangements provided by third-party suppliers included in your vacation—such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or vacation insurance companies—you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers.
Keep in mind that if your current plans include a special package – such as free dining or a heavily discounted room rate – you may not receive those same special offers for your re-scheduled trip. Disney’s policy does not guarantee this and states you will only receive an identical offer if an identical special offer is available for your rescheduled vacation dates. All amounts you paid to the Walt Disney Travel Company for rooms, park tickets, dining plans and other Disney products and services will be applied toward your new reservation. Any discounts or special offers applicable to your original confirmed vacation may not apply to the rescheduled vacation travel dates. You are responsible for applicable package pricing for the new vacation dates. It is this policy you should keep in mind when making the decision to cancel or postpone your trip because of news reports of a tropical storm or hurricane since your re-scheduled vacation may cost you additional money.
When it comes to storm safety, Walt Disney World is in full and strict compliance with hurricane readiness standards. All guests in Disney resorts will receive status updates (usually under or on your door) of what’s going on, how operations will be affected, and what to do in case of an emergency. The in-room televisions will provide more information than you will ever want or need.
I have waited out many storms while at Walt Disney World and the best advice I can give is don’t cancel your trip. Only cancel and/or reschedule your departure if the storm will have a heavy impact on your travel days. There are many things you can do to get your family through a hurricane/tropical storm day at Walt Disney World.
- If it’s just rain – go to the parks! You won’t melt!
- Bring or buy ponchos or rain gear with you and take it to the parks with you. It will do you no good waiting for you back at your room.
- Umbrellas can be dangerous in winds with so many people around. Don’t try to use one. Get a rain hat!
- Pack extra socks and foot wear, you’ll want to start the day with your feet dry and it can often take a long time for sneakers to dry out.
- If you are in the parks, wait out the storm in a restaurant or shop. But remember to have patience. Those restaurants and shops will be crowded with all the other people trying to stay dry.
- Ride the rides – While others are waiting in restaurants & shops.
- Spend a day seeing a movie at the Downtown Disney AMC Theatre
- Most importantly though, stay inside if there is any lightning!
- Most of the resorts on property will offer activities to keep guests busy if it isn’t possible to get to the parks because of weather. Take advantage of those activities.
- Disney’s main concern is the safety of ALL guests. If they close a park or an area of a park it is done to keep everyone safe – not to ruin your vacation. Don’t try to go into a closed off area.
- Remember one thing – your vacation will only be ruined if you allow it to be ruined. A Florida storm will not last the full length of your stay so make the best of the hours you are inconvenienced and then go back to enjoying your stay.
- Also remember – Disney is not responsible for the weather! Don’t take it out on the Cast Members, don’t try to get something free – don’t be “THAT GUEST!”
Walt Disney World Resort Hurricane Guidelines can be found HERE.