Whether you make plans for a day, weekend, or month to visit your favorite amusement, theme, or water park, one thing you hope doesn’t interfere is Mother Nature. A light rain and dark clouds may keep the rides running, but lighting will force the park to temporarily close down those attractions. When a hurricane approaches, however, that may require a completely different plan of action to ensure not only the safety of park guests but the staff as well. With Hurricane Irma approaching South Florida, Florida’s most popular parks at Walt Disney World have already taken action. Disney’s top priority is the safety of its guests and cast members; taking proactive steps have allowed the company to be as prepared as possible. Here are five things the destination has taken in preparation for this massive hurricane.
Disney Cruise Lines Return to Port
The Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy cruise ships returned two days earlier [on September 7, 2017]. Guests were refunded the days they were short and offered a 25% discount on a future cruise. The Disney Dream actually made a round trip from Castaway Cay, out to sea, and then informed passengers that they were turning around and heading back Castaway Cay to pick up all cast members and families on the island. The island cat is safe as well. Once everyone is dropped off at Port Canaveral, the ships head out to sea to wait out the storm. September 8, 9, and 11 sailings have been cancelled. According to Disney Cruise Line, “While we always strive to deliver magical cruise vacations, nothing is more important to us than providing a safe experience for our guests and crew. We will continue to closely monitor Hurricane Irma and provide updates as necessary.”
Disney Closes Water Parks
Disney has announced that Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park will be closed September 8th and 9th, 2017. This would allow the water park plenty of time to gather up and secure all chairs and any other loose items that may take off due to high winds. This would also free up more cast members to help out with much needed preparations at other areas around the Walt Disney World Resort once the water parks have concluded securing everything prior to the storm.
Disney Springs Takes Precautions
Over at Disney Springs was the first operational impact that was enacted on September 6, 2017. Due to Hurricane Irma, the temporary closure was put in place for Characters In Flight, the Aerophile tethered balloon that hoists guests high into the air. Although severe weather is not forecast until later this weekend, crews will require extra time to secure the balloon.
Dry Parks Alter Schedule
Walt Disney World rarely shuts its gates; in fact, Disney World has only closed four times in anticipation of hurricanes since its opening in 1971. It appears that parks might be closing on Sunday and Monday. In fact, it looks like all Walt Disney World parks will close around 5pm on Saturday evening. The dining plans appear to have been cancelled for both days.
Halloween Party Gets Cancelled
Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party scheduled for September 10, 2017, has been cancelled. For enthusiasts who have never been, 95% percent of this event takes place outside and includes character meet-ups, an evening parade with lights and sound, a headless horseman galloping the streets, and fireworks. This would not be a pleasant experience for park guests or cast members if having to endure the strong rains and winds that Hurricane Irma is expected to bring.
Disney Secures Construction Areas
Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios today, park goers are in for a very special sneak thanks to Hurricane Irma. With all of the Star Wars and Toy Story Land construction areas and an area called Grand Avenue at the park, there usually is not much to see at the park. Typically, guests can stroll through the park but construction scrims are put up to hide the new magic that is being created by Disney Imagineers. A scrim is a type of fiber that is weaved into cloth. Disney often uses these to hide various construction projects. If still up, these scrims could act as sails during the hurricane with the potential to not only take down construction fences but work that has already been completed. With scrims removed, guests get a better view of the construction progress. If you are out here today, send us some pictures!
Resorts Begin Preparations
Resort guests could be taking shelter in the coming days. In fact, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground will be closing at 2pm on Saturday, September 9, 2017, in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. According to the message provided to guests, “Thank you for choosing Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground as your vacation destination. As you may be aware, Hurricane Irma is approaching Central Florida. In an abundance of caution and for the safety of our Guests and Cast Members, Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground will close on Saturday at 2:00 PM. We are encouraging all of Our campground Guests traveling with their own vehicles to depart as soon as possible so you can travel a safe distance from the area.”
Unlike a campground, other resorts at Disney are safer to be at during such a massive storm. Many resort employees are staying in the area to help support and assist guests who will remain on property during the storm. These cast members are known as being part of the Ride Out Crew! This crew is provided basic supplies to survive the storm and assist guests. They’ve been trained for these types of emergencies and will make the experience as easy and bearable as possible. According to the latest from Disney, “Resort hotels will remain open. We hope to resume normal operations on Tuesday, September 12. We will provide regular updates to our guests on all operational changes.”
UPDATE: Here is the latest closures from Disney!
|Disney Property||Closing Day (Time)||Estimated Reopening Date|
|Magic Kingdom||Sept 9, 2017 (9pm)||Sept 12, 2017|
|Epcot||Sept 9, 2017 (9pm)||Sept 12, 2017|
|Hollywood Studios||Sept 9, 2017 (7pm)||Sept 12, 2017|
|Animal Kingdom||Sept 9, 2017 (7pm)||Sept 12, 2017|
|Disney Springs||Sept 9, 2017 (9pm)||Sept 12, 2017|
|Blizzard Beach||Sept 8, 2017||Sept 12, 2017|
|Typhoon Lagoon||Sept 9, 2017 (5pm)||Sept 12, 2017|
|ESPN Wide World Of Sports||Sept 9, 2017||Sept 12, 2017|
|Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground||Sept 9, 2017 (2pm)||Sept 12, 2017|
|All Other Resorts||Open to Registered Guests||Not Applicable|
If you have plans to visit Walt Disney World in the coming week, be sure to check the Disney Parks website or mobile app for the latest updates from the park.
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