What Happens at Walt Disney World in a Hurricane?

If you are visiting Walt Disney World in storm season, you may experience the threat or reality of a hurricane. Walt Disney World has had to close due to a hurricane in the past. However, Disney management always aims to give one day’s notice where possible.

Disney will update the weather updates page if a hurricane is heading to Florida. This webpage provides real-time information and updates.

Closing Walt Disney World Theme Parks in a Hurricane

Walt Disney World has an entire team dedicated to monitoring the weather. This team and Disney management make decisions about the theme parks due to the weather.

Remember, Disney never wants to close Walt Disney World. Instead, the decision to do so is always based on the health and safety of guests and staff.

Past closures of Walt Disney World due to hurricanes have all been a little different. However, Disney will always aim to give guests as much notice as possible.

Cancelling a Trip to Disney World Because of a Hurricane

Walt Disney World has a severe weather policy to help guests cancel or reschedule due to a hurricane.

Disney’s severe weather policy states that you can change or cancel your reservation if the National Hurricane Center issues a hurricane warning for the Orlando area or your home within seven days of your arrival date.

This policy only applies to:

  • Walt Disney Travel Company hotel packages
  • Walt Disney World room-only reservations

This policy does not apply to:

  • Special events (Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party etc.)
  • Dining experiences
  • Walt Disney World theme park tickets & vacations booked with third-party suppliers.

For third-party bookings, you will need to read the terms and conditions of your booking. Alternatively, you may need to make a claim against your travel insurance.

Staying at a Walt Disney World Resort During a Hurricane

If you are staying in a Walt Disney World Resort in a hurricane, a cast member will inform you about the hotel’s standard procedure. This information update is typically done in three ways:

  1. A4 letter under your hotel door
  2. My Disney Experience
  3. Email

You may get a small notification telling you Disney are aware of the situation up to 7 days in advance. However, given that storms can change, detailed updates are often not given until two nights before the hurricane is set to make landfall.

If you are at a Walt Disney World Resort during a hurricane, you will be asked to remain inside the hotel.

Guests will be provided with extra activities wherever possible, including movies and games. If the weather worsens, you’ll be asked to return to your room. In emergencies, you’ll need to gather in a large enclosed space without windows.

The procedure for each Walt Disney World Resort is different and has changed over time. It’s therefore vital you read all the information that Disney provides.

Before and After a Hurricane at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World will continue to operate before or after a hurricane, wherever it is safe to do so. However, not all rides and attractions at Disney World may be in operation.

Outdoor rides and attractions that close due to rain are often closed for health and safety. These ride closures can often increase wait times for other available rides in the park.

Should You Cancel or Reschedule a Trip to Disney World Because of a Hurricane?

If a hurricane is due to make landfall during your trip to Walt Disney World, then you will have to decide if you want to:

  • Go to Walt Disney World – if it’s still possible
  • Cancel your trip altogether
  • Reschedule your trip

Depending on how you’ve booked your vacation, the decision is not always in your control. In 2019, my trip to Walt Disney World was cancelled by the tour operator as the result of an impending hurricane. I couldn’t have gone even if I wanted to.

Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

  • How soon your trip is: The strength and route of a hurricane can change significantly as it approaches Florida.
  • Cancelled & rescheduled flights: Getting in and out of Florida before or after a hurricane can be difficult.
  • The closure of rides & attractions: While the Disney theme parks may remain open, rides within the park may be closed due to the weather.
  • Health & Safety: Hurricanes can be deadly. As such, you’ll want to consider the health and safety of your family when traveling in severe weather conditions.
  • Length of your vacation: If your Disney vacation is only a few days, its entirety could be taken up by a hurricane or hurricane conditions.

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