There are some scary things in Disney World that are sure to send a chill up your spine, like hitchhiking ghosts (we’re not convinced that they don’t actually follow us home sometimes), free-falling elevators, and villainous encounters. But then there are some ACTUALLY scary things that can happen while you’re in the parks that can pluck you right out of the magic and send you into a panic.
Disney World might be The Most Magical Place on Earth, but it’s still real-life folks, which means that real-life problems can happen (yes, even in Magic Kingdom). To make sure your vacation is as smooth and stress-free as possible, it’s best to be prepared for a few possible emergencies before you visit. So, from losing your keys, being separated from your group, or experiencing a medical emergency, we’re taking a look at 8 genuinely frightening things that can happen in Disney World and how you should deal with them.
Losing Your Keys, Wallet, Phone, Etc.
We’re pretty sure that part of the human experience is losing something important at the very moment you need it most. Whether it’s your keys as you’re rushing out the door for work or your wallet as you approach the check-out line at the grocery store, it’s just something that happens to everyone. And, it can happen in Disney World, too.
Our reporters are in the parks all the time, and they’ve had their fair share of lost items. Once, a reporter accidentally threw away her wallet after she’d set it on a tray for lunch! Another time, a reporter left her wallet at a Joffrey’s kiosk and didn’t realize it for FOUR HOURS. Other reporters have lost phones, wallets, and accessories during rides.
So what do you do when you realize you’re missing a very important item?
First thing, you should immediately go back to the place where you think you lost the item. Do not pass go, do not collect $200, head STRAIGHT back to see if the item is still there. Often, Cast Members in the area will hold on to lost items for a while before sending them on to Guest Relations or Lost and Found, and this is the easiest time to get your item back.
If it’s been a couple of hours or if the Cast Members haven’t seen your lost item, find the nearest Guest Experience Team location (they usually have a blue umbrella over them) or visit the entrance of any park to find the main Guest Relations location.
When one of our reporters lost her wallet, a Cast Member told her to visit the Guest Experiences desk ASAP. It had already been lost for about 4 hours, but the Cast Members at that location still had her wallet and were able to return it to her before they sent it on to Lost and Found.
We’ve mentioned a couple of times that you’ll want to try to get to your lost item before it’s sent to Lost and Found. That’s because Disney World’s Lost and Found is MASSIVE. As you might expect, with so many people in the parks and hotels, a lot of things get lost every single day. There is an extensive system that documents all of the lost items, but it can take days for your item to be cataloged and even longer for it to be returned to you.
If you don’t make it to Guest Experiences in time and your item is sent to Lost and Found, all hope is not lost. Your first step is to fill out an online form to let Disney World know what you’re missing. They’ll keep you updated with text messages as Cast Members search for your item, and if they are able to locate that item, Disney will usually mail it back to you free of charge.
But, what if your ability to get home depends on finding that lost wallet because you need your ID to fly? It may be a bit of a hassle, but Guest Relations can help you file a report with Orange County, which will get you an official legal document that can get you onto a plane.
And, just like things inevitably get lost in Disney World, unfortunately, sometimes things also get stolen in Disney World. It’s a sad truth, but it does happen. If you have a Disney souvenir or merchandise item stolen, let Guest Relations know. Sometimes they can replace that item for you if you can prove your purchase. This isn’t a guarantee (since each situation will be different), but we’ve had it happen to us in the past. So be sure to hang on to your receipts!
Forgetting Where You Parked/Car Trouble
We’ve all been there — you’re heading out of the park after a long day of rides and snacks, when suddenly you panic. Where did you park your car? When you parked in the morning you were sure to note that you were in the last row, but forgot that there were still many more rows of cars to be parked after you. You scour the long lines of parked cars, but now it’s getting dark and all of the cars are starting to look the same.
Are you stuck in this vehicle purgatory, wandering the parking lot for all eternity? Luckily, you’re not.
You’re not the only one who has been so focused on getting to the parking tram before it leaves that you forgot to note what row you parked in! If you can’t find your car, flag down a parking Cast Member or security guard. They keep logs of how the parking lots are filled (remember how they told you where to park when you drove in?), so you’ll just need to know around what time you parked your car and they can take you on a ride down the rows that were parked during that time period to find your car.
Security guards can also walk you to your car or hotel if you’re nervous about walking alone in the evening.
Big crowds in Disney World can definitely be annoying, but sometimes other guests can become an actual problem. Whether people have had a little too much to drink in EPCOT’s World Showcase or get a little too riled up about some new merchandise item, there are times when other people are not fun or even safe to be around.
Although we’re in Disney World every day, we don’t often see seriously problematic guests. But if that situation does come up, you should alert a nearby Cast Member or security guard immediately.
Do not try to resolve the situation yourself. Cast Members are trained on what to do when these problems come up, so they will know the best course of action.
And, if there’s a very popular souvenir that guests are fighting over, don’t get involved. The item will probably be restocked later in the day or even added to Disney’s online store, shopDisney, in the near future.
With staffing shortages, inclement weather, and a lot of changes to travel lately, we’ve seen a higher-than-normal number of flights get canceled or delayed. So what happens if you’re in Disney World and your flight home gets canceled? Well, if you really need to get home and can’t take it as a sign from the universe that you should extend your Disney vacation, there are a few steps you can take to resolve the situation.
First, check out the cancelation policies for the airline you’re flying with. You may be entitled to a free ticket or a replacement flight, but it will depend on the airline. Most airlines handle these situations differently.
If you are able to rearrange your travel schedule with the airline, you’ll want to get in touch with the airline via their customer service phone number and try to book a new flight ASAP. The faster you get in touch, the more likely you are to get a flight at the time you need since many other passengers are probably trying to re-book their flights as well. Some airlines also enable you to book a new flight directly in their app, so consider checking there first — you might find that you’re able to book an earlier flight because you’ve beat out all the other people waiting on the phone or in line at customer service.
If you’re not able to get another flight on the same day, you may need to adjust your hotel reservations and other transportation plans. Talk with Cast Members at the front desk of the hotel you’re staying at if you need to extend your stay. Or simply give Disney a call.
And, if you used Mears Connect or another transportation service to get between Disney World and the airport, make sure you adjust your travel times with them so that you’re all set for your trip home.
You can cancel your Mears Connect reservation up to 24 hours before your trip with no cancellation fee. And, you can edit your trip (such as change the time) at any point (even within the 24 hours before your trip) with no additional fee.
Losing a Child
One of the scariest things that can happen in Disney World is losing a child in the crowds. And, at a time when it seems like there’s really no “slow” season in the parks anymore, it’s easy for little ones to accidentally slip away in the rush. If you find yourself facing this worst-case scenario, try not to panic and instead follow these steps.
First, stay where you are. It’s likely that your child is nearby and they will probably return to the last place they saw you once they realize you’re not beside them. If you have other adults in your group, send someone else to look while you remain in the same spot.
Next, catch the attention of a nearby Cast Member and tell them what happened. Cast Members are trained on what to do to help reunite families, and they’ll alert their supervisors and security right away. You’ll be asked to give them a description of your child (or show them a recent picture), and they’ll spread the word so that the rest of the Cast Members in the park are on the lookout.
When a Cast Member finds your child, they’ll let security know and then escort them to the Baby Care Center (if the child is younger than 10 years old) or Guest Relations (if the child is 10 years old or older). If you don’t know where those locations are, a Cast Member can take you to the correct spot once your child is found.
To help you avoid this situation though (or speed up the ability to find your little one), there are some things that you can do in advance to prepare. Before your trip, quiz your kids on your cellphone number so that they can give it to Cast Members and get in touch with you faster. You could also write it on a wristband for them to wear in the parks if they’re not old enough to remember. And, once you get to the parks, introduce your kids to a Cast Member and show them the oval name tag that all Cast Members wear. You can tell them to look for people with that name tag in case they get lost, which will help them find help faster.
Experiencing medical emergencies can be scary anywhere, and that’s true in Disney World as well. In fact, problems might even be more prevalent in the parks due to the extreme Florida heat and humidity which can lead to dehydration along with other factors that aren’t always part of everyday life. And, while it’s impossible to prepare for every possible situation that can occur, you can do your best to come to parks armed with everything you might need.
For example, make sure you have any medicine you’ll need throughout your vacation, and keep it with you if you’ll need it during the day. And, don’t forget to drink water! Quick Service Restaurants in the parks usually offer complimentary water cups if you ask (and sometimes they’re even out), so you can ask for a couple of cups whenever you might need it. And, if you really want to ensure that you don’t get dehydrated, bring a reusable water bottle along with you and fill it up with water from the free cups or stop by water fountains.
You’ll also want to avoid any rides or attractions that you know you shouldn’t go on if you have certain conditions or are prone to getting dizzy. You can find a list of warnings or restrictions for each Disney World attraction on the My Disney Experience app. Search for the ride and click “Accessibility & Other Information” to see the recommendations and warnings for guests.
And, since you can’t prepare for absolutely everything, familiarize yourself with the First Aid locations in each park. If an emergency situation were to arise, you’ll be better prepared to act quickly. Plus, you can also stop here if you end up needing any generic medicine like Tylenol, scratch yourself and need a bandaid, etc.
If an emergency does occur to someone in your group, notify a Cast Member as soon as possible. They’ll call 911, which means they’ll need information about the patient for the paramedics. Be prepared to provide the person’s name, age, some medical history, and other relevant facts.
You can also call 911 yourself, and your call will be forwarded to the paramedics. Let them know you’re in Disney World, and they’ll notify the correct responders. You’ll still want to see if you can locate a Cast Member though, as they are trained for these kinds of situations and can secure the area to keep other guests away and work efficiently to get you or your group member the help that’s needed as quickly as possible. They’re also able to help get things like a stretcher and other urgent care equipment from “backstage” quickly.
So, although you can visit a First Aid location if the situation isn’t urgent, don’t expect to have to visit one in order to receive help for emergencies. Cast Members can help you in any location and they’re people that you can rely on and trust when problems do arise.
Yes, fires have actually happened in Disney World. For example, there was once a small fire on the grounds of the Cinderella Castle and a few years ago the Maleficent float caught fire during the Festival of Fantasy Parade. Emergency responders were prompt, and the situation was resolved without anyone getting hurt in both of these situations.
So, while it’s not very likely that you’ll experience this during your visit, it’s important to know what you’ll need to do.
The biggest thing you’ll need to do is listen for directions. If you hear a fire alarm when you’re inside a building in Disney World, you should exit the building you’re in immediately and then look for Cast Members nearby for instructions. As we mentioned in the section on medical emergencies, Cast Members are trained for these situations and will know the safest exit route for you to take.
When the small fire happened at Cinderella Castle, guests were directed to safety away from the area and were held on Main Street, U.S.A. until the area was deemed safe again.
Now, there are some instances where a fire alarm doesn’t mean there is an actual fire. Just like apartment complexes or at home, Disney World hotels need to test their fire alarms periodically. If this is being done during your stay, you’ll find a sign in the lobby with details on the dates and times that the testing will be done so that you know when an alarm is a real emergency versus a test.
If you find yourself present during a situation where there is a real fire though, please be quick to follow instructions, as the Cast Members are prioritizing your safety.
Disney World is in Florida, which is known for some unexpected weather conditions. We’ve seen clear days turn to torrential downpours and then back to 80 degrees and sunny in a matter of hours. That’s why we always recommend bringing a poncho and umbrella with you to the parks, even if it doesn’t look like it’ll rain. But, sometimes the weather is a little more extreme than the afternoon rain shower or even thunderstorms.
It’s not uncommon for Central Florida to face some pretty extreme weather, including tornado watches and severe weather warnings — but, one of the most unpredictable weather patterns that you’ll need to look out for as your vacation approaches is hurricanes.
Hurricane season in the Orlando area is from June to November, with August to October being the highest risk of storms. And, it’s not uncommon for Disney to have some impacts from the looming storms. In fact, in Disney World’s history they have had to close 7 times for hurricanes.
If you truly want to avoid having to face hurricanes in Disney World, avoiding traveling during Hurricane Season is your best bet. But, considering the season lasts almost all of summer and a good portion of the fall, we’ve got a few tips that will help you set yourself up for the best possible scenario if you happen to be in Disney when a hurricane does approach.
First, see if you can speak with a Cast Member to learn how serious the situation is. Sometimes the threat isn’t immediate and you don’t need to find shelter or change your park plans. If you’re still able to go into the parks, check out some of our best tips for riding out the storm during your Disney World day.
We also suggest packing any essentials in plastic bags to protect them from water damage, bringing extra shoes and socks to prevent chafing, and being aware of nearby shelters in case the situation gets worse.
If the weather is so bad that the parks close down, you can talk with Cast Members at your resort to find the safest solution. In the most extreme weather, Disney World will ask guests to remain inside their hotel rooms. Cast Members will bring flashlights and pre-packaged meals for the guests in these situations. In some hotels, Disney also provided some extra entertainment like movie marathons or games.
This is where you can plan ahead if you know that you’ll be visiting Disney during hurricane season and stay at a hotel that doesn’t require you to walk outside to get to the lobby area or food. You may have to pay a bit of a higher price, but you’ll be thankful that you can access food and activities, and still be safe from the extreme weather.
In the past, we have also seen some Disney hotels add hurricane meal kits to their Quick Service restaurant menus, which usually include things like sandwiches or wraps, cookies, fruit and veggies, chips, and water. If you know that a storm could be headed your way, stock up on these meal kits so that you don’t find yourself hungry at the moment you need to shelter in place.
If you’re already in the parks when a hurricane hits, listen to instructions and announcements from Cast Members. You will likely be asked to take shelter inside, such as in an attraction, gift shop, or restaurant.
And, if the weather channels are predicting that a hurricane will be impacting Central Florida when you’re scheduled to visit Disney World, consider canceling your travel. 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 call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Disney Resort Hotel Package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.“ So, you can avoid the weather altogether and reschedule your trip for a time when you (hopefully) won’t have to face severe weather.
Do you have any tips for solving these scary problems in Disney World? Share them in the comments!