You should definitely expect rain at Walt Disney World in Florida, especially during the summer months, but what happens at Disney World during a hurricane?
Hurricane season runs from June through November in Florida so if you are planning on visiting during that time it is helpful to know what Disney’s policies are regarding a storm and what will happen to prepare for its arrival.
Having the technology to track the storms before they make landfall is incredibly helpful, but like most Floridians know, the predicted path is never certain and can change many, many times before actually reaching land. If there is an active storm ahead of your upcoming Disney trip, keep an eye on the reports but don’t act too quickly. Be sure to follow reliable weather sources to see what the experts are saying.
Updates for Hurricane Ian at Walt Disney World as of September 27, 2022
Given the latest projections, Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks will be closed on Wednesday, September 28th and Thursday, September 29th. Disney Springs will be closed on Wednesday, September 28th and anticipate it will also be closed on Thursday, September 29th.
Partially used multi-day theme park tickets with a usage window impacted by Hurricane Ian related park closures will automatically be extended to use the remaining entitlements through any date through September 30, 2023.
Disney will continue monitoring weather conditions in order to make timely decisions for the safety of cast members and guests, including when it’s safe for cast to return to the site to prepare for reopening.
- Disney Resort Hotels: Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, Copper Creek Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa, and the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will temporarily close Wednesday, September 28th through Friday, September 30th due to the weather. Guests with current and upcoming reservations will be contacted.
- For the safety of Guests and Cast Members, Guests must check in to their resorts on Sept. 28, by 3 p.m.
- Guests that are checked in by 3 p.m. Wednesday will be asked to shelter in place at their resort for the duration of the storm, this includes any resort-to-resort transfers
- Guests are strongly encouraged to enjoy food and beverage offerings at the parks and Disney Springs before returning to their Resort hotels.
- Dining options for Guests staying in Resort hotels will vary, and in some cases may be very limited. Where available, restaurants will accept walk-ups only; Guests will not need dining reservations.
- Characters will not be available in character dining locations on Wednesday and Thursday.
- The Grand Floridian Spa will close at noon Wednesday, Sept. 28.
- Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser voyages departing Tuesday, September 27th and Thursday, September 29th have been canceled due to the potential impact on the guest experience.
- Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon: Typhoon Lagoon will close temporarily Wednesday, September 28th and Thursday, September 29th. Disney’s Blizzard Beach is currently closed.
- Winter Summerland Miniature Golf and Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf: The miniature golf courses will also temporarily close Wednesday, September 28th and Thursday, September 29th.
- Reservations for Dining and Other Experiences: Effective immediately, Disney will not enforce cancelation policies until further notice for dining and other experiences such as Savi’s Workshop and Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.
- Performances of Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue have been canceled September 28th through September 30th. Guests with pre-paid reservations will be automatically canceled and refunded.
- Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom has been cancelled for Thursday, Sept. 29.
- Drawn to Life presented by Cirque du Soleil & Disney at Disney Springs will be cancelled on Wednesday, Sept. 28 and Thursday Sept 29.
- Walt Disney World Transportation will stop operating Tuesday night after Disney Springs and the Walt Disney World theme parks close.
- Limited Minnie Van and Mears taxi service will be offered to Walt Disney World resort Guests with existing breakfast reservations.
The reopening dates and timelines are tentative and subject to safety conditions.
Orlando International Airport announced that commercial operations will cease at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 28th. Travelers should contact their airlines directly in regards to specific flights. The airport is expected to open up commercial operations again sometime on Friday, September 30th.
If You Purchased Walt Disney World Vacation Packages and Room Only Reservations
If the National Hurricane Center issues a Hurricane Warning 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 Disney Resort hotel packages and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.
If you have services booked through third-party suppliers included in your vacation, such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or travel insurance companies, you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers. You should check with those suppliers directly for their policies. The policy does not apply to certain special events or dining experiences. Click here to view Walt Disney World’s Hurricane policy FAQs.
If your original booking included a discount or special offer, that offer may not be available if you choose to reschedule. Also be aware that the same accommodations you originally booked may not be available for the new dates you choose; it will depend on what is available. The total amount you paid towards your vacation package would be applied to your new reservation.
If You Purchased Walt Disney World Park Tickets
If Disney park tickets were purchased on their own and not part of a vacation package, they are usually non-refundable. You will need to call Guest Services in the event of a hurricane to see if they are able to refund your tickets or modify the dates you are able to use them.
Will Disney World Shut Down?
It is possible that the parks will be shut down if Orlando is in the path of the hurricane. Aside from the recent Covid-19 pandemic, Disney World also closed for several hurricanes in the past:
- Hurricane Floyd: September 15, 1999
- Hurricane Frances: September 4-5, 2004
- Hurricane Jeanne: September 26, 2004
- Hurricane Matthew: October 7, 2016
- Hurricane Irma: September 10-11, 2017
The parks could also close early or open late due to the weather from the storm to protect guests.
What to Expect If Disney Shuts Down While You’re There
If Disney World does shut down, the resorts would be on lock down and guests would need to remain at their hotel. Disney may even have special activities set up to keep everyone entertained such as trivia, movies, special character visits, etc.
If you’ll need to shelter in place at your Disney resort, you can be prepared by ordering supplies ahead of time to be delivered to you. In the past, Disney has also had hurricane meal kits available for guests to purchase. If you have the choice, I would highly recommend staying in a resort that has interior hallways with access to the main lobby area without having to go outside. Once Disney has announced a lockdown, you would not have access to those areas if you are in an exterior building.
Disney resorts are equipped for hurricanes and have been built to withstand them. If you are camping at Fort Wilderness, Disney will assist with finding other accommodations for you to safely get through the storm.
Disney will provide guests with frequent safety and operational updates via your in-room TV, the My Disney Experience app, and signage throughout your resort.
Impacts on Travel
Flights will likely be impacted by a hurricane. Be prepared for cancelations, delays, and crowded airports.
If you are driving to or from the Orlando area, traffic will be heavy with people from other parts of the state looking to evacuate to safer areas. Keep in mind how far you’ll be traveling as well since getting gas to fuel up could potentially be an issue.
Bring the Rain Gear
I always recommend bringing the rain gear because, well, it’s Florida and it rains. If you have a trip during a potential hurricane threat, it’s a must! Make sure you have the rain jackets or ponchos and umbrellas packed. Add in shoes that can withstand water too!
I hope this information about what happens at Disney during a hurricane is helpful if you find yourself traveling during Hurricane Season. Be smart and stay safe!