Sometimes things can go wrong in Disney World that are completely out of your control.
Rides can break down, the weather can complicate your day, you can miss your transportation, or find that your favorite snack has gotten more expensive. So, we’re here to talk about the big issues you can encounter in Disney World, and what to do if they happen.
Sure, we all want to picture our Disney World vacation going super smooth without an issue in the world. BUT…sorry guys, that’s just not that realistic. While we might want to all think Disney World exists in a bubble and that real problems don’t or CAN’T happen there, they totally do. While you might be busy worrying about how long it will take you to ride a bus from A to B or when the best time of day to hop in a certain line might be, you might be sleeping on some of the bigger issues you could potentially encounter in Disney World. Spoiler: these are (within reason) 100% out of your control.
The Skyliner has crashed a few times in Disney World. The first time was in October of 2019, right after the Skyliner had opened. Gondolas crashed into each other causing a pile-up at the Riviera Resort station and the entire line from EPCOT to Caribbean Beach was shut down.
People were stuck hanging in the air for up to THREE hours, some guests had to be evacuated by emergency vehicles, and 3 people were taken to the hospital (although there were no reported injuries from the incident). The crash caused the Skyliner to close for a few days, leaving a whole (BRAND NEW) mode of transportation unavailable for many Disney guests.
The second crash was in April of this year, when two gondolas collided AGAIN, this time at the Hollywood Studios station. Some glass was shattered, but thankfully, no one was injured and guests were only stuck in gondolas for about 45 minutes this time (still not great, but better than 3 hours!). The crash shut down the transportation system for a couple of hours, but was quick to start up again.
The third and most recent crash was in June of 2021 when Skyliner gondolas ran into each other at the EPCOT Skyliner station, causing guests to be stuck on the line for about 30 minutes. No one was injured in the incident.
Keep in mind when we say “crashed into each other” we don’t mean like a high-speed pile-up you might see on the highway. The crashes resulted in very minor damage in the long run. During each of these incidents, guests were given compensation to make up for the situations, and it usually depended on the “level” of emergency or evacuation.
For example, after the crash from 2019, guests said they were given two $50 Disney gift cards and two Disney World park hopper tickets as well as cold water. After the June crash, guests reported they were given cold water, a $25 Disney gift card, a free umbrella (because some left theirs on the Skyliner), and passes to EPCOT for the evening.
If you do get stuck on the Skyliner, don’t fret! There are emergency kits underneath your seats that have a few packets of drinking water, cool packs, a pencil and notepad, a whistle, a glow stick, and a few blue cups (called emesis bags. You can use your imagination to decipher their purpose!). It’s good to know you have some supplies if you get stuck, but the emergency kits could definitely be better!
If the Skyliner is closed due to an incident, or because of bad weather, Disney won’t leave you hanging (see what we did there). They will provide another method of transportation for you — usually the buses.
If you’re in Hollywood Studios or EPCOT, you can take a Friendship Boat between the two parks. The Friendship Boats leave from the International Gateway in EPCOT and to the left of the entrance of Hollywood Studios when you’re exiting. They make stops at Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Disney Yacht Club Resort, Disney Beach Club Resort, and Disney BoardWalk Resort, so you can also use the boats to go to one of these hotels!
Just be aware that it takes about 30 minutes to get from park to park with the hotel stops (sometimes a good deal longer), so the direct bus between parks is sometimes quicker. You can also use the walking path between the two parks, which takes about 20 minutes.
Rides Shutting Down
Another major issue that can mess up your day in Disney is when rides go down. It is common for rides to experience downtime due to things like weather, technical difficulties, or power outages, but it can still be a huge inconvenience for guests.
It’s a huge bummer if you waited to go on a big ride til the very end of the day so the wait time would be lower, and then find out it’s closed when you go to get in line! It’s also super annoying if you’re already waiting in line when a ride goes down, leaving you to wonder how long it will be until they can get things moving again, or even having to exit the queue.
Be prepared for rides possibly being down temporarily while you’re in the parks. Usually the closures won’t last long, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes rides could be down for an ENTIRE day! Make sure to keep checking the My Disney Experience app to see if the ride opens up again.
Also, try to be adaptable and don’t let it ruin your day — there are still so many fun things you can do in the parks! You can use your new free time to maybe go on an attraction for a second time, which could be seen as a BONUS ride for the day!
And if you get stuck on a ride, don’t worry! Sit tight (because it could be a while) and Cast Members will inform you on what to do next. Rides usually have ways for guests to be safely evacuated off of the attraction. If you are evacuated, you may even get a look at what’s going on “behind the scenes” while you’re exiting! It’s a fun little treat to see how the ride works, or what it looks like with the lights on!
If you have to get off the ride or out of a queue, you also may be given a FastPass to come back later that day to make up for your experience. Or sometimes, you’re even given a FastPass for almost ANY ride in the park! It’s not a guarantee, but since FastPass+ isn’t being offered at Disney World right now, it’s pretty much one of the ONLY ways you’ll get to skip a line (we see you, silver lining!).
Yep, even Disney World loses power occasionally! This can happen during severe storms, like it did recently when we were told by a Cast Member that there had been a power surge that shut down rides in ALL FOUR parks temporarily!
It can also happen for no apparent reason at all! At least not one that Disney is going to tell us about. Recently, part of Animal Kingdom lost power, basically shutting down half of the park. Rides and restaurants were closed down for a while, but most did reopen.
Then it happened AGAIN at Animal Kingdom a few days later, closing down all but two rides! Everything did reopen later that day.
If the power does go out while you’re in Disney World, don’t stress out, it shouldn’t last super long. Disney generates a TON of its own power on-site (much of it is solar to boot!) and they have round-the-clock staff to get things back up and running!
With being located in Central Florida, rain is almost a guarantee in Disney World. Especially in the summer, thunderstorms are pretty much a daily occurrence, and they’re not always on the forecast, so it’s good to be prepared!
They usually happen in the afternoon, so bring rain gear like ponchos, rain jackets, umbrellas, waterproof shoes, etc. A change of clothes isn’t a bad idea either! Although, if you’re staying on property, you could always go back to your room to dry off if you need to.
Make sure to check the weather forecast while you’re packing for your trip AND throughout your trip, because Florida weather is notoriously unpredictable and things can change quickly! Get a good weather app that will give you minute-by-minute radar updates. You DO NOT want to get in a 60-minute line for Test Track when there’s a storm predicted to hit in an hour!
These storms can be absolute DOWNPOURS sometimes, so it’s good to find a place where you can take shelter, like inside a store or even a quick-service dining spot with covered outdoor seating. They also can just be scattered storms that last less than half an hour! We’ve literally stood in one part of a park in torrential rain, looked at our weather app and it’s JUST ONE tiny rain cloud over the small section of park we were standing in (lucky us!). Bracing for rain and being prepared at all times will go far.
Florida is also no stranger to hurricanes! Hurricane season is from June to November, with the peak being in August to October (keep this in mind when booking your trip!). This year, experts are predicting an above-average amount of activity for hurricane season.
Despite the closures we just experienced due to the pandemic, Disney rarely closes. BUT when they do, it’s usually because of a hurricane. In fact, Disney World has only unexpectedly closed down 9 times in history, and 7 of those times were due to an incoming hurricane.
It’s rare for a hurricane to actually hit Central Florida, but hurricanes off the coast can bring bands of severe storms with them that do reach Disney World. Luckily, Disney resorts are very well equipped to handle the storms! In fact, as of 2009, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration certified Disney World as basically one of the safest places to be during a storm.
Cast Members will ask you to stay inside your room while the storm is hitting and the resorts will make sure there is enough food, water, and other supplies. Usually activities will be set up like movie marathons or characters can be brought into the lobbies to meet guests! Basically, Disney will do everything they can to take care of you in the event of inclement weather.
Also, keep hurricane season in mind when booking your resort, we like to stay in resorts where you can access the lobby from your room without having to walk outside! Resorts like Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort or the Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs are not the best choice during a hurricane since you have to walk outside to get to the main building. Actually, MOST Disney World resorts have a fair amount of uncovered outdoor walking with the exception of a few Deluxe resorts. BUT, something to keep in the back of your mind when booking.
Usually hurricanes will only shut down the parks for a day or two. Also, make sure to check out Disney World’s hurricane policy to see about refunds and cancellations in the event of a hurricane!
Another issue to consider at Disney World is extreme heat. Florida is HOT — it’s called the Sunshine State for a reason. During the summer especially, temperatures regularly reach the 90s+ and the humidity is INTENSE.
Make sure you prepare for the heat by bringing fans, wearing clothes that will keep you cool, and wearing sunscreen. Take breaks in the shade or in the AC inside restaurants and stores. You can also take a break in the middle of the day (when it’s hottest) and go relax in your hotel room or take a dip in the pool.
Remember to HYDRATE. It is so important to keep drinking water throughout the day, especially if you’re also drinking alcohol! You can get free cups of water from almost any quick-service dining location and there are also water fountains throughout Disney property. Do NOT underestimate the heat, we don’t want you to pass out while you’re in line for Splash Mountain! (Though if you DO feel the heat catching up with you, head to First Aid in any of the parks — they’re well equipped to help!)
Those are the BIG issues you may encounter while in Walt Disney World. We hope this helps prepare you for what could happen during your vacation and we encourage you to stay flexible and open-minded when things go wrong, don’t let it ruin your day! As always, stay tuned to DFB for all the Disney news and updates.
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Have you ever experienced any of these big issues in Disney World? Let us know in the comments!