No one planning a vacation to Walt Disney World wants to think about what may happen if a hurricane is forecasted to hit the area during their trip. The chance of a major storm closing the resort is pretty low, but it’s not unprecedented: Seven hurricanes have closed Disney World’s parks either early or for full days since the resort opened in 1971. And with Hurricane Dorian threatening to hit Florida soon, anxious travelers are starting to wonder whether they’ll be packing up the kids and heading to Orlando at all.
The first thing you should know before you leave home is that Walt Disney World does have a hurricane cancellation policy — but it’s important to check out the details.
“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,” the policy reads.
This means you need to keep a close eye on the weather and get on the phone ASAP if there’s a hurricane warning. This policy only applies directly to your Walt Disney World reservation and theme park tickets, though. If you have booked a flight, rental car and other travel expenses, they aren’t covered in Disney’s hurricane cancellation policy. Travelers need to contact each reservation agent separately or have their travel agent get in touch with them.
Many places will work with travelers affected by pending hurricanes, but having travel insurance makes it easier to get your money back.
Walt Disney World does not guarantee guests can retain seasonal discounts or special offers when rescheduling a trip. However, when you call to cancel, you can work with guest relations, and they will try to assist you as much as possible by finding a similar deal, according to the FAQ on Disney’s hurricane policy.
But, what if you’re already at Walt Disney World and a hurricane is heading your way? The resort is well-prepared for storms. So if you can’t leave due to flight cancellations, you’ll be safe if you stay.
Tom Bricker of Disney Tourist Blog documented his stay at Walt Disney World during Hurricane Irma in 2017. While he and his family felt safe overall and said the “cast members” (as Disney calls their staffers) went out of their way to accommodate guests during a stressful time, Bricker recommended rescheduling a Disney trip rather than try to ride it out.
Whatever you decide to do, stay safe!
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