Walt Disney World Hurricane Policy
From being a cast member at Disney, the one place I want to be during a hurricane (and always!) is Disney. Many local Florida residence book rooms here during storms. Disney has a solar farm for power, food they grow and breed (fish farm) at Epcot, and all the resources anyone could ever need at hand! The military base right at Shades of Green also provides piece of mind.
But for guests that have questions about the impact on their vacation plans, let’s get you the information! And for guests that will be arriving in the very near future, make sure if you are in the Harmony Barbershop, take a look at the chalkboard on the wall. Those names are not guests waiting for their appointments; those are all the names of the hurricanes that have blown through Florida. Watch for Irma’s name to be added!
Disney’s Hurricane Policy
If you booked your vacation via Disney or an authorized Disney travel agent, then you’re eligible for some protection. If the National Hurricane Center issues a warning for the Orlando area – or your place of residence – within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you can call to reschedule or cancel your vacation package and most room only reservations without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.
Please note that third party suppliers like airlines, hotels, car rental, and insurance companies have their own separate policies. Many do not offer refunds. Also keep in mind that Disney only reschedules like-for-like reservations. If your discount or room rate was not available for the rescheduled date, you may be asked to make up the difference in pricing.
For Disney’s part, in the past they’ve been pretty good about preparing for storms. They do their best to keep park operation interruptions limited and keep the parks open. That’s how they make money. But they will put safety first and won’t ask cast members to come in if conditions are dangerous. When hurricanes have struck in the past, Disney has done its best to clear the parks of debris and do damage assessments quickly. Often one or more of the parks is open the very next day.
If you happen to find yourself at a hotel in Orlando, on Disney property or not, I recommend being prepared with fully charged external batteries for your phones, extra water for each person, snacks for your room (you will be in your room while the storm blows by unable to safely leave), and some games or other activities. It might be worth packing some glow sticks with you.
If the hurricane is not a direct threat, you might encounter one of those rare occurrences when you have the parks to yourselves. However, if the conditions are stormy, Disney can make some inclement weather adjustments, such as shorter hours and closure of some attractions. Sometimes the storm fizzles out and we just get a lot of rain, but just because Mother Nature is making a mess of things, doesn’t mean you’ll have a less than magical time. It’s a good time to enjoy the indoor attractions, character meet and greets, dining, and even some Disney Springs fun. Just don a poncho and some shoes with socks (bring an extra pair with you if you’re worried about socks getting wet) and go forth.