The 2021 hurricane season officially kicked off on June 1st, and with experts predicting above-average storm activity, there’s a chance that your upcoming Disney World vacation could include some inclement weather!
If you’re heading to Disney World between now and November, you’ll need to keep this in mind as a potential factor that could impact your vacation. In order to make things a little bit easier, we’ve compiled a list of action items you should consider taking in the event that a hurricane makes its way towards Central Florida the same time as you!
Pick your travel dates & hotel carefully.
The official hurricane season runs from June through November each year. If you are considering a fall vacation to Disney World, you may want to think about pushing your trip past November if you want to avoid the season entirely. While it’s unlikely that a hurricane will land in the Orlando area during your exact dates in Disney World, you can significantly decrease those odds by traveling outside of hurricane season altogether.
If avoiding the full hurricane season is not an option, then consider that the peak of hurricane season occurs between mid-August and late October, so you could most likely still enjoy a summer Disney vacation with just the afternoon rain showers instead of the threat of an imminent hurricane.
If a fall trip is the way to go for your family, then consider booking a hotel that is more suited to sit out a storm. For example, you may want to avoid hotels that involve a lot of walking outside or just a lot of walking in general (think of those sprawling hotels like Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort or even Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa that has a lot of outdoor space).
Some resorts to consider that minimize your exposure to the elements and walking outside among buildings are Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, or Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel. These resorts will help keep you dry, but may drain your wallet more than you planned. For a moderate option that will keep you drier (though you’ll still have to traverse some open walkways) take a look at Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter (when available), a smaller resort with much less distance among buildings.
This may go without saying, but you may also want to skip the Campgrounds at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, too.
Read over policies, including cancelation policies, with a fine-toothed comb.
Your worst-case scenario in the event of a hurricane might involve having to modify or cancel your reservations. In those situations, it’s important to understand exactly what policies you’re dealing with so you can get the best deal out of an otherwise very inconvenient predicament.
Disney World’s official hurricane policy states that “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.”
It continues on to say “If you have products and services provided by third-party suppliers included in your vacation—such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or travel insurance companies—you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers. The policy does not apply to certain special events or dining experiences.”
If you end up having to cancel or move your Disney trip to avoid a storm, make sure you also adjust or cancel any dining reservations that you’ve made to avoid fees.
In those situations, trip insurance might be a big benefit if you’re traveling during hurricane season.
Consider adding trip insurance.
Hurricane season may be the one time of year where vacation insurance may be a good idea for everyone to consider, especially if your travels bring you to Florida. Since third-party companies may not be covered by Disney’s hurricane policy, it may make sense to add trip insurance to your reservation if you plan on traveling during hurricane season. It could offer you peace of mind if you do wind up having to rebook flights.
Airfare is already a hassle in 2021, so having insurance could take some of the burden off if you need to rebook.
If a storm is in the forecast, lower those expectations.
If it looks like a major hurricane is headed towards Disney World, your best bet is to prepare for the worst and keep your schedule flexible.
Disney World has closed its theme parks early in the past during major hurricanes, and there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t continue to do so in the future to keep their guests and Cast Members safe. Even if the parks remain open through the storm, many of the rides and attractions will likely shut down for the day. But take heart, historically Disney World tends to reopen relatively quickly following the storm, and has often seen 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.
Keep an eye on the weather before and DURING your vacation.
Storms could change paths at any moment, so while a hurricane may be in the forecast ahead of your vacation, once you arrive, it may have moved off to sea, or at least away from Orlando. Or, on the flip side, a storm that seemed to be far away before your trip decided to make a turn and head in the path of Disney World.
Download the WeatherBug app to keep an eye on the weather patterns during your trip, and allow for notifications to be sent in the event that a hurricane warning is issued in the area!
Click here to read more about how to stay on top of all of the latest weather patterns in Disney World!
What to expect if you’re at Disney World DURING a hurricane.
If you find yourself at Disney World when a hurricane arrives, rest assured that a Walt Disney World hotel is one of the safest places you can be when a hurricane or tropical storm hits the Orlando, Florida area. Disney resorts are equipped to still have electricity, running water, and food. Cast Members will be there to assist guests with their every need. Disney generally does their best to create a bit of magic by bringing in characters and having fun games in the lobby.
If you’re staying at a resort where your room is not attached to lobby or on-site restaurants, then plan to stock up on some drinks and snacks from the resort gift shop. Think about grabbing a game or puzzle as well to help with some in-room entertainment. Things never seem quite so bad when you have a stash of Mickey-shaped treats on hand! Some resorts have started adding “Hurricane Meal Kits” to their menus, though the availability of these options vary from resort to resort, keep an eye on your resort’s Mobile Order menus for new options.
Pack for the weather!
Much of hurricane season falls in the summer months, when daily rainstorms are a normal occurrence. You’ll want to pack for heavy rainfall regardless (you never know when inclement weather could strike), but this is especially true if you’re traveling during hurricane season.
Buy ponchos ahead of time for much less money, pack extra socks and shoes, and have a game plan with your family in the event that it starts to downpour.
You get to make the call of what is best for you and your family, so you may need to taper your Disney expectations if you’re visiting during the unpredictable hurricane season.
We hope these tips were helpful for you to plan what to do in the event of a major hurricane before and during your vacation. Florida can see some wild weather throughout the year, but nothing can throw a monkey wrench into your travel plans quite like a hurricane. Keeping your plans as flexible as possible is going to likely be the most important thing you can do to make your Disney World vacation as smooth as can be!