Walt Disney World, fondly known as ‘The Happiest Place on Earth,’ is renowned for creating magical experiences for its guests, rain or shine. But what happens when Mother Nature decides to throw a curveball in the form of a hurricane? In this comprehensive guide, we delve into Disney World’s hurricane preparedness, the impact on its structures, operations, and employees, and how it recovers post-storm.
If a hurricane hits Disney World, the park has stringent building codes and structures designed to withstand intense hurricane conditions. Depending on the severity of the storm, the parks may temporarily shut down, but Disney World is well-prepared to handle such situations, offering extra activities at their hotels. Disney World communicates with guests through the My Disney Experience app, providing frequent safety updates. If a hurricane warning is issued within seven days of a guest’s planned arrival date, guests can cancel or reschedule their trip without any penalty. After a hurricane, Disney World’s Cast Members work swiftly to clean up the resort, usually within 48 hours.
Disney World’s Hurricane Preparedness
Disney World has stringent building codes and structures designed to withstand intense hurricane conditions. Iconic structures like Cinderella Castle and Spaceship Earth are built to handle hurricane conditions, ensuring the safety of guests and cast members. The entire Walt Disney World Resort adheres to EPCOT building codes, some of the most rigorous safety guidelines used globally.
Impact on Disney World’s Structures and Attractions
While hurricanes can cause some damage, such as fallen trees and debris, Disney World’s structures and attractions are built to endure. For instance, during Hurricane Irma in 2017, the most significant damage resulted from fallen trees and debris, minor structural damage, and a transformer explosion at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.
Operational Changes and Schedules
A hurricane can significantly alter Disney World’s operations and schedules. Depending on the severity of the storm, the parks may temporarily shut down. However, Disney World is well-prepared to handle such situations, offering extra activities at their hotels like trivia, movie marathons, dance parties, and character appearances. Disney’s Animal Kingdom, housing thousands of animals, moves its inhabitants to hurricane-proof pens and barns.
Emergency Protocols and Evacuation Procedures
Disney World’s emergency protocols and evacuation procedures are well-established. If the parks close due to a hurricane, guests are required to stay in their hotel rooms, where Disney ensures they have food options and organizes events in the hotel lobbies to keep them entertained.
Communication and Guest Management
Disney World communicates with guests through the My Disney Experience app or in-room phones or TVs, providing frequent safety updates. If a hurricane warning is issued within seven days of a guest’s planned arrival date, guests can cancel or reschedule their trip without any penalty.
Hurricane-related closures can have financial implications for Disney World, particularly if the parks need to close for several days. However, Disney World’s comprehensive hurricane policy and well-established emergency protocols help mitigate these impacts.
Handling Hurricanes: Past Examples
Disney World has handled several hurricanes since its opening in 1971, with only eight hurricane-related closures to date. These include Hurricane Floyd in 1999, Hurricane Charley, Frances, and Jeanne in 2004, Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Hurricane Irma in 2017, and Hurricane Ian in 2022.
Impact on Employees
Disney World’s Cast Members often work long hours during hurricanes to keep guests safe and entertained. They also participate in relief and recovery efforts post-hurricane through the Disney VoluntEARS program.
Recovery and Rebuilding
After a hurricane, Disney World’s Cast Members work swiftly to clean up the resort, usually within 48 hours. Disney also contributes to relief efforts, including assistance to Cast Members affected by the storm.
In the face of a hurricane, Disney World’s priority is the safety and well-being of its guests and Cast Members. With strong structures, comprehensive emergency protocols, and a dedicated team, Disney World is well-equipped to weather any storm. So, while hurricanes may temporarily disrupt the magic, rest assured that Disney World is prepared to handle these challenging situations with the utmost care and professionalism.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the EPCOT building code?
The EPCOT building code is a set of stringent safety guidelines that Disney World uses for its buildings and structures. It ensures that they are designed to withstand severe weather conditions, including hurricanes.
What is the Disney VoluntEARS program?
The Disney VoluntEARS program is a community service initiative by Disney, where Cast Members volunteer their time and effort to help with relief and recovery efforts post-hurricane. This includes tasks such as cleaning up debris and providing assistance to those affected by the storm.
How does Disney World communicate with guests during a hurricane?
Disney World communicates with guests through the My Disney Experience app or in-room phones or TVs. This includes providing frequent safety updates and information about any changes in park operations or schedules.
How does Disney World handle the animals in its Animal Kingdom during a hurricane?
During a hurricane, Disney’s Animal Kingdom moves its inhabitants to hurricane-proof pens and barns to ensure their safety.
How quickly does Disney World recover and reopen after a hurricane?
After a hurricane, Disney World typically recovers and reopens within 48 hours. This includes cleanup efforts and any necessary repairs or rebuilding.