Mother Nature is always unpredictable. Especially in Central Florida. One minute it could be 98 degrees with the sun’s heat leaning on you and the next minute it’s dark and dreary with rain and thunder in the area. Unfortunately, this part of the world is a hotbed for hurricanes, especially late Summer into early Fall. But what happens if you’re at Disney when one hits or is expected to hit? Do you stay or do you leave? That’s why we’re here…
Welcome to Believe Vacations’ Weekly Post where today, we’ll talk with you about Hurricanes at Disney. Remember our friend and agent Kim Haig? As a local, she knows all about hurricanes in Central Florida and even has experience with hurricanes at Disney. She was kind enough to answer a few questions that may help you make the decision to stay or leave Disney when there is a hurricane in the area.
Your own experiences
When is traditional hurricane season in Central Florida? Officially the season is June 1st-Nov 1st, however, we tend to see the most activity from August to early October
In your experience, what typically makes up the hurricanes that come through (more wind, more rain, flooding, etc.)? It varies depending on the intensity of the storm that is making landfall. By the time that most hurricanes are hitting the Disney area (ie, inland Florida), you’re usually mostly seeing wind and rain with some local flooding in low lying areas.
If you are at a resort, what do they do to ensure safety? Disney takes all of the normal “hurricane prep” type of precautions such as securing pool deck furniture or outdoor tables, etc. They have more than enough food to get guests through the storm and even have back up generators!
If you can’t go to the parks, do the resorts do anything special to keep the magic going? Yes! Resorts that have lobbies connecting to guest rooms (ie, you don’t have to go outside to get to the lobby) will often have group activities and entertainment and even random character interactions in the common areas as long as it is safe for groups to gather. Keep in mind that if you are in a resort that has external room doors you may need to stay in your room for an extended period of time while the storm blows through and it is safe enough for you to go outside again.
What would you recommend packing? Rain gear and extra changes of clothes, including shoes! Even before the eye of a storm comes through there will often be rain for a day or so before or after the heavy hitting part of the storm!
Why you should cancel or reschedule? If you don’t feel comfortable or the idea of potentially having to stay in your room for 24+ hours is a deal breaker, absolutely reschedule or cancel! Also, if your work or school schedule doesn’t allow for some flexibility, I would also recommend rescheduling. Often times, cancelled flights can take a few extra days to get rescheduled as the airports get back up and running!
What would you advise clients to do if they feel their trip may be hampered by a hurricane? Definitely consider travel insurance! This is the stress free answer to make sure you are covered! Also, Disney traditionally has a very generous cancellation policy when hurricanes are involved.
How soon would you tell your clients to make the decision to cancel/reschedule? Hurricanes are difficult to predict and can change last minute, however, I would err on the side of caution and make decisions 7 days in advance if possible.
Riding the Storm Out
Why should you stay? Disney is one of the safest places you can be during a storm. Many locals that live on the coast by me will actually head to Disney if there are evacuation orders on the coast!
What efforts do cast members take to keep their guests informed and safe both at resorts and at the parks? I have personally been in the parks for a staycation right before a storm hit. Cast Members were very accommodating to help guests check out early and/or extend their stay due to when they were able to fly out. There were signs in the lobby about the upcoming storm and advising guests to ask CMs for further information as needed.
If it’s simply just raining, what are places/attractions to keep dry at? If Orlando is just experiencing some heavy rain, consider focusing on indoor attractions and rides and taking in some extra performances. Disney Springs is another great option (movies, bowling, shopping!).
Do the parks modify hours of operation or limit the amount of guests…or business as usual? Guest numbers aren’t necessarily limited due to the storm, however, the parks may open late/close early depending on the timing of the storm’s arrival and how much damage needs to be fixed before reopening. At times, parks can be closed for an entire day or more.
What are some things that will keep the magic going? For the resorts with rooms and lobbies in the same building there are sometimes special character appearances or activities. At times I’ve heard of clients being moved from a value or moderate resort (they tend to have rooms with exterior doors) into the deluxe or villa resorts so that they can have a better experience. Obviously this is major pixie dust and not guaranteed!
Is Disney truly the best place to be during a hurricane?
YES! As I mentioned before, many coastal locals will evacuate TO Disney! Many “go crews” for power companies are also housed and staged there so that they can get up and go at a moments notice. Disney has the food, generators and manpower to take care of you!