The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially runs June 1 through November 30. In 2018, it decided to start a little bit prematurely with Alberto, the first named storm showed up with over a week left in May. What does Hurricane Season mean if you’re planning a Walt Disney World vacation? Should you plan your trip for another time, or just hope and pray for the best?
Florida enjoyed a long break from any major storms, but that all changed in 2016 with Hurricane Matthew. Central Florida was mostly lucky that time, as the storm turned and didn’t leave behind too much damage in the area. Things were worse in 2017 with Hurricane Irma. Central Florida took a direct hit, in fact the eye of the storm passed directly over my house. (We had some damage, but it could have been so much worse.) Both Matthew and Irma had an effect at Walt Disney World, shutting down the parks and keeping on-property guests in their resorts. Again, it could have been worse, and many guests were thrilled with the care that they received at Walt Disney World during what could have been a terrifying experience.
My best advice if you’re traveling during Hurricane Season is to purchase travel insurance, just to be on the safe side. You don’t want to risk losing money if you decide to change your plans because a storm is approaching. This is especially important later in the season; Irma hit in September and Matthew in October. Walt Disney World does have a hurricane policy for resort guests. If the National Hurricane Center issues a Hurricane Warning for Orlando or the city that you’re traveling from within seven days of your trip, you can reschedule or cancel without any fees. You’ll need to call 407-939-7675, expect to have a hard time getting through. Please be patient. Remember that the Walt Disney World hurricane policy will not apply to your flights, rental car, or other non-Disney expenses.
If you’re at Walt Disney World and a storm is on the way, listen to what the Cast Members tell you. In Irma’s case it was recommended that anyone with a car head to the local stores to pick up snacks and such. Once the storm hits there will be instructions on what to do. For the most part you’ll probably wait it out in your room, or possibly head to a different part of your resort. Stay away from the windows. Disney will often have free movies for guests in their rooms to help pass the time. Once things calm down, there could be fun activities in the lobby. If you’re staying on property, please be extra nice to the Cast Members. They’re waiting out the storm there as well.
Even though Central Florida sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, there was minimal damage at Walt Disney World. One thing that warmed my heart was the pictures of guests the next day who were outdoors with the Cast Members, helping to pick up debris from the storm. Everyone pulled together.
Don’t let the fact that it’s Hurricane Season change when you want to travel. Keep an eye on the weather, especially when your trip grows closer. Hurricanes form with plenty of advance warning, so if a storm is predicted you’ll have time to decide what to do.