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Hurricane Dorian’s expected impact for Walt Disney World

DIsney Contemporary Resort

If you plan to be in Florida after Sunday morning, it’s time to get serious about preparation for Hurricane Dorian. If you’re staying at Walt Disney World now is a good time to familiarize yourself with the Disney Vacation Hurricane Policy too.

Here is the current projected path of Dorian. As you can see the five day forecast has most of Florida in the potential impact cone.

Update: August 30, 2019 8AM NOAA Hurricane Center 5 day forecast

It’s Friday morning and here’s the latest Dorian forecast from the NOAA. The storm has slowed down some which means Labor Day Weekend is still a good time to get out to the parks once you’re done preparing your home for the storm because the entirety of the Florida Peninsula is still in the potential impact zone for Hurricane and/or tropical force winds. Dorian’s forecast path has moved south, but it looks like it will turn north and go right up the middle of the state, that means everyone will be impacted. It’s also likely that there will be coastal and inland flooding. Follow your favorite local news channel for the latest information.

NOAA Hurricane Dorian Forecast Cone

Disney’s guest relations has said that the Walt Disney World resort and theme parks are currently operating as normal, but that they’re keeping an eye on forecasts and will update on social media and the Disney Parks Blog when they are ready to announce closures.

What to do if you’re at Disney or have a Disney vacation already booked for this week.

If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center within 7 days of your arrival date AND you booked your vacation via the Walt Disney Travel Company (confer with your travel agent if you’re not sure) you can call and ask to reschedule or cancel your trip without any cancellation or change fees from Disney’s side.

Air travel is more complicated and depends a lot on the policies of the airline you’re booked with. If you didn’t book via The Walt Disney Travel Company, such as an off-site stay or group rate, this policy does not apply and you should check with your travel agent.

Disney generally tries to be pretty accommodating here. But there are limits as to what they can do in terms of finding you the same hotel and rates for when you’re able to reschedule your travel.

Preparation suggestions:

  • Pick a local news channel and download the app to your phone. It will have regular updates as to the storm status and its expected landfall and path.
  • Experts say you should have food and water to last 3 to 5 days, even if you’re staying in a hotel. Your hotel may have some food, but I wouldn’t count on it.
  • It might be a good idea to have an external battery for your mobile devices as you can’t be sure you’ll have power to charge them.
  • If you’re staying at a hotel with an inner hallway, we suggest purchasing a few of those glow sticks your crack and they illuminate on their own. You might need one to evacuate if the power is out.
  • Follow hotel instructions and play it safe. Don’t go outside in the storm. Keep shades and curtains closed and stay away from windows.
  • Pack your bags ahead of time in case you have to leave in a hurry. Keep one bag with all your ID, medicines, and other essentials close by.
  • The cable may go out at some point in the storm, so have some playing cards or other games handy to pass the time.
  • Have an out of town contact who will be able to communicate with your friends and family who aren’t in the hurricane’s path. You won’t be wanting to make 20 calls once the storm has blown through. Make one text and let your contact update everyone else.

For Disney’s part, and other local theme parks, they’ll be running through their severe weather preparedness checklist. This includes things like making sure things that might blow away in a storm are tied and/or bolted down securely.

Tree of Life

If past behavior is any guide, Disney and other local theme parks will try to stay open as long as they can before conditions deteriorate. If the parks do have to close, Disney has been known to send vans of entertainment staffers, including some costumed characters, out to the hotels to entertain guests who are stuck in the hotel.

Since may people try to get out of town early before a storm hits, you might find the crowds at the parks very light in the days right before and after a storm.

During a hurricane, Disney’s parks are generally closed. Once the hurricane passes, Disney sends out their teams of engineers to assess the safety and readiness of the theme parks to handle guests. If things are good, Disney will generally open at least one theme park the day after a hurricane. It may take a day or two more to open all four parks (especially Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

Finally, and after safety the next most important, remember that all the cast members you encounter before, during and after the storm are there to work and keep guests safe and entertained. Often they’ve left their own families behind to come and help Disney’s guests get through the storm. Be sure to give them a lot of thoughtful praise.

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