The Walt Disney World trip you have planned for is finally here, and just before arrival the dreaded word HURRICANE comes across the news. Don’t panic, you have options. With Disney being a mere 45 minutes from the east coast of Florida, there are many plans in place should this happen.

walt disney world hurricane

Hurricane Matthew is projected to impact Orlando. Be prepared. photo credit: ABC News Florida

I have not been to Walt Disney World during a hurricane watch or warning, but I do know a few friends that have been through this and shared a few tips with me. I can tell you from experience that Disney will not close during a tropical storm, but a hurricane can be a different story depending on the severity of the storm. The guests’ and cast members’ safety are priority one for Walt Disney World.

A hurricane is very unpredictable. On Monday the weather may tell you to brace for the worst and by Thursday it could be a little rain. This is where cancelling your trip may be a difficult decision. Disney does have a seven day cancellation policy with no penalty in the event of a hurricane.

Walt Disney World Official Hurricane Cancellation Policy

If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center 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 Magic Your Way vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.

If you have products and services provided by third-party suppliers included in your vacation—such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or vacation insurance companies—you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers. The policy does not apply to certain special events or dining experiences.

This policy also applies to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort or Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in the event a hurricane warning is issued for those destinations.

I spoke with a Disney reservation specialist and she said, “Disney will do everything they can to accommodate a guest changing their vacation dates, but cannot control room availability so the same resort may not be available”. She also noted that any special offer you may have booked with will not be available to re-book.

walt disney world hurricane

How to survive a hurricane at Walt Disney World photo credit: Jennifer Greene Last Minute Traveling Mom

Walt Disney World Hurricane Tips

You managed to make it to Walt Disney World and now you get to ride out a storm. What in the heck do you do to handle this? If you live in a hurricane or tropical storm area of the United States you know many of these preparations and they aren’t much different than if you were at home during a storm.

  • Listen to direction from Cast Members. They know the contingency plans in place and will help you ride out the storm in the best way possible.
  • Check room messages and notes, these will be important updates and notifications from Guest Services or Resort Management.
  • Keep phones and Ipads charged in case of power loss. You never know what a storm will do until it hits.
  • If you have a rental car head to the store and grab batteries, flashlights, and water. You can also UBER or cab it if you don’t have a car.
  • Once the storm hits please do not drive in it. Central Florida is low lying swamps and lakes, this could make for extremely dangerous conditions.
  • Be patient. Just because the storm has passed doesn’t mean everything will be up and running 100% just yet.
  • Fill the bathtub in your room with water, this way you can at least use the toilet.
  • If you are scheduled to leave on the day the storm hits you may need to plan to leave early or stay extra days. Again Walt Disney World will work on all of these changes with you.
  • Kids bored and resort has power, go to the arcade and let them burn off a bit of energy.
  • The activities committee will often bring the fun inside if it cannot be held poolside.

Traveling Mom Tip: All the power is buried underground at Walt Disney World. There should be no power outages. 

After the Storm

The winds are calm and the storm has passed. While it may be blue skies and warm breezes, keep in mind that the parks will need to be thoroughly searched for any issues. Disney won’t allow guests to enter until they give the all clear. On the plus side many attractions are indoors and should be given the all clear fairly quick. The outdoor attractions will take the brunt of the wind and rain. Please listen and take direction from cast members after the storm as well, they are genuinely making sure every guest is kept safe.

While this may not be the ideal way to spend your Disney vacation you can stay safe and ride out the storm.

Have you been in Walt Disney World during a hurricane?