Traveling to Walt Disney World During Hurricane Season

According to the National Hurricane Center (part of the National Weather Service), the Atlantic hurricane season starts on June 1 and ends on November 30 every year. This corresponds with some of the highest crowd levels for guests visiting Disney World. On the surface that looks like a bad thing, however, if you look a little deeper into the information, it's not that big of a deal, since not many hurricanes track straight through Central Florida. In fact, since 1859, only 28 hurricane (Category 1-5) storm tracks go through Central Florida at all.

But what about Disney and hurricanes?! What if there is a hurricane warning that happens to pop up right before your trip?! If you've booked through Walt Disney Travel Company, you're in luck: The Disney policy is that, if the National Hurricane Center issues a warning for either the Orlando area OR your home area, you can call in advance and reschedule or cancel your DTC "Magic Your Way" vacation package and room-only reservations that have been booked directly through Disney without any fees. This only applies to stuff booked straight through Disney. Anything booked outside of Disney (airline tickets, hotels, car rentals, etc) doesn't count, and you have to look up your options directly through them. Check with your travel agent, if you have used one, to see what they can help you with. The Disney hurricane policy also applies to Disney's Vero Beach Resort or Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort. There are some restrictions for group bookings or special packages that you should look into, if those situations apply to you.

Walt Disney Travel Company PackagesKnow Your Walt Disney Travel Cancellation Policy

But what about hurricanes that hit while you're at Disney? Keeping in mind that this is a real rarity, Disney has five stages of foul weather preparedness the cast members go through. Disney has been known to close the parks only a scant handful of times and that has been when hurricane impact is impending within 12-24 at the resort. At that point they close all of the parks for the safety of their patrons and staff, but that does not mean that Disney Magic blows away. In fact, many reports by Cast Members and Disney Guests have shown that Disney takes extra effort to make the time Magical for their guests staying on property.

Characters and entertainers make trips to the Walt Disney World resort hotels for special meet-n-greet and photo opportunities; Cast members have special events in the resort lobbies, and in-room Disney movie marathons. I've also read that resort staff takes extreme efforts to make sure that all of their guests have all the information about what's going on through multiple filers during the day and streaming information to the Disney Resort Channel on the TV. All of the reports that I read (even from people who ended up in WDW for more than one hurricane) said that they never felt like anything was out of control and that all of the cast members did a great job of making the unusual event as comfortable as possible.

Occasionally you can find guest video footage from their Disney Hurricane trip posted on YouTube. My favorite Disney hurricane video is the footage from David Manning's 2004 trip during Hurricane Charile. He did an excellent job of documenting several stages of cast members preparing for the incoming storm as well as his experience during the storm, and its aftermath. Our thanks to David for documenting his experience.

As you can see, just because a hurricane at Walt Disney World is rare, and Disney does a great job in preparing that doesn't mean it's not serious. There is always the possibility that something could happen when you get close to your trip. If you're flying in from another area of the country that has frequent storm traffic as well you can always be looking at flights being delayed or even canceled. If you're traveling by air, or if you have pre-paid anything, it's always wise to invest in travel insurance. Travel insurance is fairly inexpensive for the peace of mind that you won't lose your whole investment if you have to delay your trip.

Don't let the threat of hurricane weather stop you from hitting the parks this season! If something happens, Disney is ready to make the unexpected Magical even when it's a hurricane.

Want to chat about hurricanes in Disney some more? Head on over to the forums where people are talking!

Thanks so much to Geordon V. for this informative guest post. If you would like to learn more about packing your travel bags to be prepared visit his blog Hurricane Dad for a more details.

alicemouse wrote on Thu, 07/10/2014 - 15:26:

alicemouse's picture

In August 2012, we were in WDW for 4 days during a tropical storm that was traveling across Central Florida. It really wasn't all that bad. We woke up to a pretty severe downpour one morning, so we delayed our arrival at EPCOT by an hour. Our bus driver was hilarious and really lightened the mood for everyone by cracking ridiculously corny rain jokes the whole way. We went first to Soarin' and LwtL and then had lunch at Sunshine Seasons. By the time we left the Land pavilion, the rain had stopped.

It rained again while we were waiting for the bus at DTD that night and to of the CM's who were tending the bus loading area were performing skits for us--singnin' in the rain, stuff like that.

The following day, we got caught in a cloudburst twice at DHS, but it was really not a big deal. There was no lightning, so it was kind of fun splashing around and it was still hot (you know, August), so we dried off very quickly.

I'm not a huge fan of being caught in a downpour, but I'd rather a rainy day at Disney than a sunny day at home!

Liz Watson wrote on Thu, 07/10/2014 - 23:22:

Liz Watson's picture

we were in WDW the first time it ever closed for a hurricane during Floyd!!!snd it really wasn't that bad .. opened up later in the day

Kristen K. wrote on Fri, 07/11/2014 - 10:55:

Kristen K.'s picture

I've told Geordon many a time that if we every move to Florida and a Hurricane is coming, we're headed to Disney.

Donna wrote on Sun, 08/30/2015 - 22:28:

Donna's picture

Our first-ever trip to Disney World in 1999...we had to hang out a couple of days in the Florida panhandle (we were driving from Texas) because of an impending hurricane. We called the fine folks at Disney World and were told to take our time and get there whenever it was determined the danger was past. Happily, we had some extra vacation time! We got there two or three days later...everything was ready for us and we started to have a wonderful time. We were camping at Fort Wilderness Resort and Campgrounds. The day we visited EPCOT, Disney World decided to evacuate Fort Wilderness because of an incoming tropical storm! They put us up in Coronado Springs Resort and told us to sleep late the next morning because the parks would probably be closed. I peeked through the curtains of our room next morning and saw bright sunshine...the tropical storm had bypassed Orlando. We were told that since Disney moved us to Coronado Springs, we were welcome to stay there for the duration of our trip! Fabulous customer service and a genuine concern for their guests. A great memory of a great first trip!

Lisa wrote on Wed, 10/05/2016 - 17:35:

Lisa's picture

I am a Florida resident who lives less than a block from the Gulf of Mexico. My evacuation plan is simple, I book a couple of nights at Walt Disney World. I stay on property as they are highly prepared! Takes the anxiety out of a hurricane!

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