If you’ve been to Disney World before, chances are you faced at least one Florida torrential downpour that cleared to sunny skies minutes later (sometimes multiple times on the same day!).
But what do you do when a hurricane is headed to the Most Magical Place on Earth? Do you cancel your trip or make the most of it? We’re sharing six tips to help you plan for hurricane season in Disney World!
Pick a Disney Hotel Best Suited for Hurricanes
Hurricane season in Florida runs from June 1st through November 30th, with activity typically peaking around September. So if you’re planning a trip during that time, you may want to consider booking a Disney hotel with an ideal layout for hurricanes.
Rest assured, all of the Disney Resort hotels are equipped to weather the storm, but some of them are easier for you as a guest in the case of a hurricane making landfall.
A hurricane might not be the best time to try out the Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort or the Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, which often require extra uncovered walking to get back to common areas. Consider taking advantage of resorts built with indoor commutes to common areas like dining and shopping.
Most value and moderate resorts, like the All-Star Resorts and Disney’s Port Orleans Resort, are sprawled across the property which can create quite the challenge to navigate in a monsoon. These resorts may also have minimal or no covering between your room and the main gathering areas. So if you’re staying at Port Orleans, you may get soaked going over the river and through the woods to pick up beignets from Scat Cat’s Club – Cafe!
Several of the deluxe resorts like Disney’s Contemporary Resort and the Yacht and Beach Club Resorts are well connected and have indoor access to the lobbies and shops from most rooms.
If you aren’t ready to shovel out the extra cash for a deluxe resort, select suites in Disney’s All-Star Music and Disney’s Art of Animation Resorts have kitchenettes. This option gives you the choice to prep your own food and cut down on your trips across the resort in the middle of the storm.
This may come in handy if you have special dining needs, you’re traveling with a little one who eats on a specific schedule, or you just like the flexibility of having a backup plan.
Taper Your Expectations
We have braved many stormy days at Disney World and the silver lining is that they often make for lighter crowds! But if you’re visiting Disney close to when a hurricane is making landfall, you are risking your experience not being quite what you expected.
In many cases, outside rides like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Test Track, and Jungle Cruise will close down in bad weather. And in worse cases, Disney has closed down the parks to protect guests.
During past hurricanes that have required the parks to close, Disney World has reopened relatively quickly following the storm, and with minimal to no damage. So while a storm might keep you out of the parks temporarily, there’s a reasonable chance things will return to normal quickly.
You get to make the call of what is best for you and your family, but you may need to taper your Disney expectations if you’re visiting during the unpredictable hurricane season.
Pack the Essentials…and a Little Extra
Packing for Disney is an art of its own, and we admit we have made a lot of in-park purchases of essentials we forgot at home — but learn from our mistakes and prep! Prepare for rain and pack an extra pair (if not THREE pairs) of shoes for everyone in your family (squishy wet shoes are no joke!).
Chances are it WILL rain, especially when visiting during a hurricane, and you don’t want to have to slip on a pair of already-soaked shoes before you head to the parks. That can be a day-ruiner in and of itself, and a brand new set of blisters just waiting to happen.
If you have little ones, it is never a bad idea (even when it’s NOT raining) to throw one of their spare pairs in your park bag because nothing can end a day faster than “Mom, I have blisters” or “Dad, my feet hurt!”
In that same vein, go ahead and double or triple up on socks and underwear in your suitcase, and consider packing a few extra outfits just in case. Again, don’t be like us and be forced to wash out your underwear in the sink of the hotel!! It’s not a good look — but it happens. So save yourself the trouble and bring extra.
Light, quick-drying clothes can also be a game-changer to add to your park bag. Jeans and wet skin can tear you to shreds, so stick to softer blends and consider packing an anti-chafing gel, powder, or cream — whatever your preferred method is. Add it on before the chafing starts and you can also use it on your feet in a pinch to prevent blisters. (But moleskin has been our savior more than once!)
If you don’t want to make a pit stop back at the hotel midday, pack a rain jacket or poncho and roll up a little bundle of clothes (or just socks) for you or your family as well. You’ll be amazed at how dry socks can change your whole mood post-downpour.
If a hurricane is strong enough, your Disney hotel may request guests stay in their rooms to ride out the storm. So prep by packing snacks, hitting up the nearest fast food spot in your resort before things get bad, getting food and groceries delivered in advance, or grabbing some essentials in the parks for your time in your room in case you’re hunkered down for a day or two.
Be Familiar With Disney World’s Hurricane Policy
Disney’s website states, “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 reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Disney Resort hotel packages and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney. Most room-only and vacation packages can be modified, or cancelled online, including changes to travel dates.”
But if you took advantage of a special offer, you may not be able to apply that same offer to your rescheduled vacation. Depending on availability, you might not be able to reserve the same accommodations.
So if you booked the perfect Savanna view room at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge with a great room discount, if you reschedule and a similar offer isn’t running at the time, you may have to adjust your plans to compensate!
Get Trip Insurance
In the instance of a hurricane, Disney will generally work with you to cancel or reschedule, but you still may be bound to flight cancelation fees. If you’re traveling during hurricane season, it might make sense to grab trip insurance on your flights and any other bookings.
Disney offers travel insurance for a fee for vacation packages booked through their website, but read the fine print before you purchase — not everything is always covered!
Don’t forget to write down or screenshot all of your plans and confirmation numbers and keep them close in case you need to cancel or reschedule. Save yourself the headache and have some sort of backup plan in case things go sideways!
Book With a Travel Agent
We already rave about planning a Disney World trip with an authorized travel agent like Small World Vacations because they’re FREE and they can save you a lot of trouble — especially if your plans go awry (thank you, hurricanes). Do you really want to sit on the phone for hours trying to get through to reschedule your trip if you don’t have to?
So why not work with a travel agent who will make the phone calls, reservations, and cancelations, and do all the planning legwork for you? Sounds like a pretty good plan to us!
Hurricane season is here in Disney World, but with planning and clear expectations, it doesn’t have to sound as scary as it does! Keep in mind that while Florida is no stranger to hurricanes, Disney World has faced a very small number and made it out the other side relatively unscathed so far. So even if one happens to hit during your vacation, there’s still plenty of room to make the best of it or work around it.
Your trip might not be exactly how you originally pictured, but grab some snacks (and some extra dry socks) and make the most of it!
Need more tips on how to survive hurricane season? Check out this DFB Video:
Have you visited Disney during hurricane season? Let us know your tips in the comments below!