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Photo Credit: Disney Photo Snapper

NEWS: After Irma Disney World Begins to Dig Out, Assess Damage

As Hurricane Irma approached the State of Florida, many eyes were fixed on Disney World. What wasn’t a surprise was that Disney World was well prepared. What was a surprise was the track of the storm. Now that the worst of Irma has passed and tropical storm forced winds move out of Central Florida, the process of damage assessment and clean up begins. More details below.





 

The expected northwest track of Irma occurred much later than expected and brought the eye straight through central Florida including a direct hit on Disney World by the eastern half of the eye wall. Reports from around Orange County (the county that Disney World is in) are that damage from Irma exceeds that of Hurricane Charley, which caused widespread devastation. We live north of Disney World and received the same part of the storm shortly after it moved through Disney. We can tell you the wind and rain was unlike anything we’ve ever seen. There were dozens of tornado warnings with some confirmed tornados moving through the area.

We had the opportunity this morning to speak with Lee Cockerell, former Executive Vice President of Disney World and resident of Central Florida. According to Mr. Cockerell, there are no reports out of Disney World of any significant damage. This isn’t a surprise, according to Cockerell. “We are very well prepared for these types of events. We run drills several times a year so everyone knows exactly what to do.”

The preparation for a hurricane begins in May when grounds crews focus on removing any branches or other items that could cause damage during a hurricane. Prior to storm arrival cast members know exactly what needs to be tied down or brought inside. The real magic happens during and right after the hurricane passes.

During a hurricane such as Irma, approximately 5,000 cast members will stay on property. In addition to hotel staff, cast members on stand by for clean-up spend the night in the parks. Cots are set up in the Magic Kingdom tunnels and other buildings around property, and board games and the like are on hand while cast members wait for the storm to pass. As soon as is safe, those cast members descend upon the parks to clean up and get set for the reopening the following day. If we haven’t said it recently, THANK YOU amazing cast members. Your commitment to excellence is inspiring and we love you.

Disney World was hit by the worst part of the storm and received over 9 inches of rainfall. Amazingly, Disney World never lost power. This is largely because all power lines on property are below ground and Disney World generates roughly 30% of their own power. While not yet official, folks we spoke to early this morning said there is no reason to believe Disney World won’t be back to normal operations Tuesday, September 12.

There are many reports out of Disney World that the resorts were a great place to be for the duration of the storm. Restaurants were open and most if not all services were available. For example, Boma at Animal Kingdom lodge was open and serving guests at a reduced rate of $20 per person. Over at the Dolphin, guest played bingo called by none other than Kristen Bell, voice star of Frozen, who is in town filming. Disney World is very well prepared to host guests during a hurricane and the Disney Resort became the world’s most awesome shelter for many Florida residents fleeing mandatory evacuation zones. Mr. Cockerell commented, “The building requirements for us were so strict, there probably isn’t a safer place to be during a hurricane than Disney World.”

As a reminder, all parks, Disney Springs and other public areas remain closed until Tuesday morning. There is currently a mandatory curfew for Orange County including Disney World until 6 pm. As soon as possible we hope to be able to be able to able to make it to Disney World property to bring you photos of any damage that may have occurred. If you are staying at Disney World we’d love to see your pictures of how things look on property. Please message us on our Facebook page.

For Disney World operational updates, click here.





 

Disney’s Hurricane Policy

Disney has a Hurricane Policy in place. Here is the official 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.

If you need to cancel a reservation due to a hurricane you need to be aware of the rescheduling policy. Here is the policy:

Disney cannot guarantee availability of similar accommodations for the new travel dates. All amounts you paid to Disney for rooms, theme park tickets, dining plans and other Disney products and services will be applied toward your new reservation.

Any discounts or special offers applicable to your original confirmed vacation will not apply to the rescheduled vacation travel dates. You are responsible for applicable package pricing for the new vacation dates.

See the related article below for more information on hurricanes at Disney World. We pray for the safety everyone who will be affected by the storm.

To view photos from around Disney World property click here.

RELATED ARTICLE: Hurricanes and Disney World – What You Need to Know

by Chad and Cindy N

Central Florida is no stranger to severe weather. Being the lightning strike capital of the world, those that live in central Florida have come to expect the afternoon thundershower as a normal part of life. But what about when the weather turns really nasty and a hurricane is barreling toward Disney World? Knowing how good Disney is at the smallest of details, it’s not surprising that Disney World has plenty of safety procedures in place for guests and cast members alike during such a weather event. Here is what you need to know about hurricanes and Disney World.

1 – Hurricane Season in Central Florida

The hurricane season begins June 1 and runs through November 30. Usually a hurricane in June or July is rare, but it can happen. Hurricanes in August and September are more likely. And while the likelihood decreases, hurricanes in October and November are possible. Most recently in October 2016, Hurricane Matthew impacted Disney World operations.

2 – Past Closings at Disney World

It is rare, but hurricanes have prompted closures at Disney World. Disney World, Universal and Sea World all closed for the first time ever in 1999 as Hurricane Floyd threatened Florida in September of that year. The storm changed course and did not impact the area. In 2004, the big three closed during a string of hurricanes: Charley (August), Frances (September) and Jeanne (September). Frances caused the most problems and closed several attractions for two days. Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios (at that time MGM Studios) closed for three days. Charley only affected the parks for one day. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 closed Disney World for one evening and a full day because of the threat to the Orlando area in early October.




 

3 – Cancellation Policy During a Hurricane

Disney has a Hurricane Policy in place. Here is the official 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.

4 – Rescheduling Policy

If you need to cancel a reservation due to a hurricane you need to be aware of the rescheduling policy. Here is the policy:

We cannot guarantee availability of similar accommodations for the new travel dates. All amounts you paid to Disney for rooms, theme park tickets, dining plans and other Disney products and services will be applied toward your new reservation.

Any discounts or special offers applicable to your original confirmed vacation will not apply to the rescheduled vacation travel dates. You are responsible for applicable package pricing for the new vacation dates.

5 – Riding Out the Storm in Disney World

What if you happen to already be on property when a hurricane is approaching or affecting Disney World operations? If you are able to get out of a storm, it’s not only the safest option, but will also reduce the strain on limited resources. However, with hundreds of thousands of visitors in Orlando at any given time, many of whom have flown in, what if you are unable to leave? When the State of Florida declares a state of emergency officials begin working to ensure Disaster Relief Centers are manned by professionals ready to offer services as needed. In the most extreme and unlikely situation, guests would be evacuated off Disney property to these secure locations. The more likely scenario would be guests waiting out the storm in their Disney Resort.

As hurricanes approach, the resorts prepare for handling guests in the event of a direct hit. Disney World will have supplies and personnel on hand to ensure guests have adequate supplies such as bottled water and food in the event of power outages. In the days ahead of the storm, guests might prepare ahead of time by purchasing their own packaged food and bottled water for their own peace of mind. Disney World has always kept the safety of their guests a top priority, and during a hurricane, that doesn’t change. Be assured that Disney will do all that it can for their guests.

6 – Cinderella’s Castle will be Dismantled Prior to the Storm

Just kidding. This is a complete (though persistent) myth. The myth started with the circulation of a famous photo of the castle being constructed with the entire top spire being lifted into place with a crane. It didn’t take long for the hurricane rumor to start. While the spires on the castle can be removed, it takes several days and a large crane to do so, neither of which is practical when a hurricane is quickly approaching. Instead the castle was built to withstand winds of over 110 mph with a 600-ton steel frame and 10-inch concrete walls. It’s definitely not going anywhere during a hurricane.



For a no obligation, FREE Quote on a Disney vacation package, please contact our travel partner Magical Vacation Planner at 407-442-0227 (407-442-0215 for Spanish). You can also request a FREE quote online by Clicking HERE.




 

Photo Credit: Disney Photo Snapper

About Chad & Cindy N

Chad and Cindy met during their college days and both being huge Disney fans, it was a match made in heaven. They took their first family vacation to Disney World in 2004. Chad had gone as a child, but this would be Cindy’s first trip-a trip which she had dreamed of since she was a little girl. The trip was magical and began a Disney obsession that hasn’t stopped since. They traveled back year after year, sometimes many times a year. They watched their three kids grow up at Disney and inherit the same love of Disney. In 2010, their dream of living in Orlando became a reality. With Disney World as their backyard playground, they enjoyed even more time in the parks. Friends and family soon made them their go-to-people for Disney advice. With their love of Disney and desire to share that love and knowledge they gleaned over the years, they decided to launch DisneyLists.com in August of 2015. They still can’t believe how lucky they are to have such an amazing opportunity and will continue to share Disney with anyone who will listen!