Walt Disney World

How Long Does Disney Close Rides for Lightning?

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Disney theme parks are world-renowned for their magical atmosphere and a myriad of thrilling attractions. However, even these enchanting destinations must bow to the laws of nature. One such circumstance is lightning, which can pose a safety risk to guests, particularly on outdoor rides. This article dives deep into the question, “How long does Disney close rides for lightning?”


Disney closes its outdoor rides when lightning is detected within ten miles of the park to ensure guest safety. The duration of these closures can vary, but they typically last for less than an hour or until the lightning threat has passed. Once the weather clears, the rides undergo a safety check before reopening to guests.

Disney’s Lightning Policy

Disney’s official policy on ride closure due to lightning is that all outdoor attractions will close when lightning is observed in the area. Specifically, when lightning occurs within ten miles of Disney World, all outdoor rides are shut down. This policy affects rides such as Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom. The policy is in place to ensure the safety of guests during severe weather conditions.

Monitoring and Responding to Lightning Storms

Disney implements a comprehensive system for monitoring and responding to lightning storms in their parks. This includes a combination of lightning detection systems, lightning rods, and safety protocols. Cast members keep a constant eye on the weather radar, and when lightning strikes within 10 miles of the parks, all outdoor rides and water rides are closed for the safety of the guests.

Disney’s parks are also equipped with lightning rods, often cleverly disguised as part of the building’s theme or as decorative elements. For example, the ear of a giant Mickey Mouse statue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is made of copper and acts as a strike termination device.

How Long Are Rides Closed?

The duration of ride closures due to lightning can vary. However, in most cases, unscheduled closures last for less than an hour or so. Once the lightning is out of range, the attractions are reopened. Most Disney World attractions, including outdoor ones, do not close simply for rain; they mainly close when there is lightning within a certain distance near Disney World.

Safety Measures During a Lightning Storm

When a lightning storm begins, Disney prioritizes the safety of its guests. If guests are already on a ride when a lightning storm begins, they are evacuated, and they may receive a pass allowing them to enter the fast lane of another attraction when the weather clears. In addition, guests are advised to seek shelter in indoor areas, such as ride queues, which are mostly located indoors.

Notifying Guests and Providing Alternatives

Guests are notified about ride closures due to lightning through various means, such as announcements, digital signage, and cast members or staff at the attraction entrances. During these times, guests can explore alternative activities, such as visiting indoor attractions, shows, or restaurants. Many theme parks, including Disney parks, have a variety of indoor attractions that remain operational during inclement weather.

If you have reserved a Lightning Lane for a ride that closes due to lightning, you will receive an “experience redemption,” which allows you to use the Lightning Lane for another attraction or the same attraction once it reopens.

Reopening Rides After a Lightning Storm

After a lightning storm, Disney takes several measures to ensure the safety of guests before reopening the rides. The rides undergo a reopening process and testing before they are deemed safe for guests to use again. Cast Members at Walt Disney World constantly monitor the weather radar to make informed decisions about ride closures and reopenings.

In conclusion, the duration of ride closures at Disney due to lightning can vary but typically last as long as the lightning threat persists in the vicinity of the park. Through constant monitoring of weather conditions, effective safety measures, and clear communication with guests, Disney ensures that even in unpredictable weather, the magic continues safely.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if I have a dining reservation during a lightning storm?

If you have a dining reservation at an indoor restaurant, you can still attend. However, if the restaurant is outdoor, it may close temporarily. Disney will notify you of any changes to your reservation.

Are the indoor rides safe during a lightning storm?

Yes, indoor rides are generally safe during a lightning storm. Disney’s buildings are equipped with lightning rods and other safety measures to protect guests and staff.

How does Disney notify guests about ride reopenings after a lightning storm?

Disney notifies guests about ride reopenings through various means, such as announcements, digital signage, and cast members at the attraction entrances.

What if I’m in a line for an outdoor ride when a lightning storm begins?

If you are in line for a ride when a lightning storm begins, Disney’s staff will evacuate the line and advise you to seek shelter in an indoor area.

What other safety measures does Disney take during a lightning storm?

Apart from closing outdoor attractions, Disney also advises guests to stay indoors and avoid open areas. Additionally, Disney’s parks are equipped with lightning rods to attract lightning away from guest areas.

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