Though Walt Disney World is no stranger to tropical weather, this week Hurricane Matthew is making headlines as the first major hurricane to target Florida in nearly a decade, threatening to pound the resort with winds in excess of 50mph and very heavy rainfalls.
Now, while Walt Disney World has plenty of safeguards in place for guests staying on property during severe weather, the resort will be taking some additional measures over the next few days to ensure that if this storm does hit before the end of the week (which is looking all but certain according to current projections), the effects will be as minimal as possible.
1. Waiving cancellation fees due to storm activity
Right now, if you are planning to arrive at Walt Disney World in the next few days, you might be a little nervous, especially as air travel may be restricted due to the storm in the coming days. Fortunately, guests who contact Disney in the next week are now able to modify their plans without fear.
As is standard practice, now that a hurricane watch has been issued for all of central Florida, Walt Disney World is currently working with guests who have vacations booked between Wednesday, October 5 through Sunday, October 9, and is allowing those who need to either reschedule or cancel their trip due to weather to do so without having to pay the usual cancellation fee. Though there are some exceptions to this policy (if you booked a package with airfare for instance, you’ll need to talk to your airline as Disney can’t forgive other companies' fees, and if you change dates and upgrade from a moderate to a deluxe resort in the process, you'll still have to pay the difference) Disney is very accommodating to those who are understandably uneasy about traveling to central Florida when severe weather is in the forecast.
2. Theme park tie-down is happening now
With the aforementioned hurricane watch now in effect for Orange County, Walt Disney World has deployed a number of specialty-trained Cast Members to begin what is known as a park-wide “tie down” which essentially involves removing all loose items around the parks and hotels, including trash bins, tables, chairs and anything else not firmly attached to the ground, and storing them in a secure location where they won't be blown around by the wind. In addition, anything that is loose but attached to a building (like a hanging sign or banner) is being tied down and secured with rope and zip ties (which, as you might suspect, is where this process gets its name).
In addition, you'll probably see a scale back for in-park entertainment over the next few days (especially those that require any substantial props), as Disney will be putting away everything it can in preparation for the storm.