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4 Things I Learned While Riding Out Hurricane Matthew at Walt Disney World

We all know that safety for guests is paramount at Walt Disney World. However, this becomes even more important during severe weather, when the resort goes into overdrive making sure to keep guests secure during potentially catastrophic conditions.

We recently found ourselves at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort while Hurricane Matthew was approaching Florida's east coast and got an up-close look at exactly what happens when the threat of a Category 4 hurricane is upon Walt Disney World, and it was definitely an enlightening experience! Here's everything we learned during our recent stay at the resort...

1. The tie-down happens swiftly and efficiently

You might already know all about the tie-down process, where Disney Cast Members prepare for a storm by removing lose objects around the resort and tying down anything that could become airborne in the event of high speed tropical-force winds. However, though you might have heard about theme park tie-down, seeing this practice in action gives you a whole new respect for what the dedicated Cast Members at Walt Disney World do to get the resort ready for an incoming storm. 

We arrived at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort around 3:00PM on Thursday October 6, (several hours before the storm was forecasted to hit) and at that time the outdoor pool bar was open, guests were playing in the pool, and there didn’t seem to be much happening around the Old Port Royale common area at the resort. However, after we checked in, we walked around this same area just two hours later around 5:00PM and found the bar boarded up, chairs folded and tied together, and trashcans lined up against the wall and lashed together with zip ties.

It is amazing how much of the resort was secured in just a few short hours, and though Central Florida didn’t get hit with the high winds that were in the original forecast for Hurricane Matthew (thanks to a very fortunate last minute shift in the storm’s path), Cast Members were definitely preparing for the worst, and got this hotel secure with astonishing speed and efficiency.

2. You'll know when you need to stay inside 

Just because the storm didn’t hit with the force initially predicted, that doesn’t mean that there were no dangerous periods. However, guests at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort were kept in the loop with regular phone messages about when common areas were shutting down for safety reasons, and advisories about guests staying in their rooms.

Fortunately, because of the aforementioned change in forecast, guests didn't have to hunker down in their rooms very long, but even though the weather improved much faster than was originally anticipated, Walt Disney World’s theme parks remained closed for the entirety of the day on Friday, October 7, 2016. However, that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t anything to do around the resort...

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There are 14 comments.

I have been in Disney during hurricanes and 9/11. I have always been amazed how well they manage it all... I just wish some people would be more patient and understanding under trying circumstances.

But they still had a helluva time getting everything back on line the next day.
I was at Magic Kingdom on Saturday, and the transportation situation was legitimately terrible. The monorail wasn't running the entire day, causing huge lines for buses and the ferry. Then the ferry stopped operating, and the only way to move to and from the MK was the on monorail resort line. Huge lines a lot of wasted time for thousands of guests.

I was there for several hurricanes (including a midday shutdown),the natural gas pipelone failure,and the ice storm of 1989. That was particularly fun since I was there with a 10 month old and a decidedly senior citizen.Rough conditions at the Caribbean food court.It was my husband's birthday and I stood in line for over an hour for celebratory cupcakes.Tempers grew short and I said some unDisneylike things when I couldn't retreat with the goodies because of dunderheads standing in the exit area.The line to see Santa was incredible.Stayed in 3 resorts in 4 days as we tried to get home but couldn't get past Gainesville.Staff patient.always had food available.

The only complaint I have was when we went to concierge and asked if we needed to get any supplies in, having. It experienced anything like this before, we were greeted with "why would you need anything, this is Disney!!
After having had an early dinner at Boma, reservations were honoured until around 7 I think, we returned to our hotel to go and have a drink to be greeted by the afore mentioned pandemonium at the food courts and a sign saying "get supplies in as everything will be closed"
We popped back to the 192 to a supermarket and got some bits as we were not going to queue for 3+ hours for a sandwich box, other than that, well prepared Disney!
There were no queues at AKL when we were there either, so could have easily got some supplies there, as clearly the messages about not being open didn't go out till late
Anyway, it was an experience lol

I noticed increased staff presence I called them Hurricane interference. They all had the same thing to say. "Safest place to be in a hurricane" answers were short and curt...all with a smile of course. "Parks will be open" wear a poncho. What I couldn't understand was they stated there would be entertainment in cafeteria area with movies and all. How the heck were we supposed to GET to the cafeteria from our room in the middle of a hurricane? We were half a mile from all of that...We felt it best to leave and drive back to KY Thursday a.m. Did not want to because we were supposed to stay til Saturday. But what they were telling us just didnt match what weather channel said.then there was checking out. We were not the only ones worried it took 2 hours to check out and they were less than enthusiastic to assist and generally unkind because of our choice to leave. We did get a small partial refund 3 weeks later and feel licky to get it.

the only thing I had a problem with during that storm was thinking that they knew the storm was coming so they should have stocked up on more milk and bread and other things that can keep people happy. they were NOT happy with the 12.99 sandwich box, my husband and I did not get one because we thought they were an outrageous price . Other wise I cannot complain about anything. I did not want anyone out and about when it was raining and so windy to take the chance on being hurt, but necessities especially for families with babies and small children should have been stocked up on

My husband and I were also at Caribbean Beach Resort during Hurricane Matthew and were very impressed with the way the curfew was handled. Thank God the storm didn't come inland. Disney cast members were awesome.

I was also at the resort during the threat of Matthew. I was pretty impressed at how the employees and most of the guests handled themselves. There were a few people who were less than civil as far as hoarding the food as it was being put out. But the employees had to have a very long, difficult day and they seemed to still smile and be as helpful as possible. I have to say, I wasn't the least bit scared and it was actually kind of an adventure. Disney has changed a bit in the 7 yrs since my last visit but they still do it all better than anyone else.

My family was also at Disney during this hurricane and this was definitely not our experience. We were at art of animation and we were not told of any of those free things. Our restaurant was utter choas and no comment St members were helpful. If asked a question they said I don't know and kept walking. We had to wait over two hours with no idea if we were in the right lines. It was crazy. I was very unhappy with how we were treated. I have even written Disney and have yet to get a response. Yes we always felt safe but we also felt very overcharged for boxed meals and extra nights. And like I said we were not told if anything extra that happened. Our messages told us to what was going on and to stay in until 5pm

I love Disney and wish I could have been there during the storm, Instead I was two hours northeast in St. Augustine as many of my friends lost everything they own to flooding. Be grateful that you were in the happiest place on earth.

We also were at the Caribbean during Matthew, although it seems we were at a different resort than the author. The only phone messages we got were to stay in our room, no message that things were opening up earlier than 5 p.m. we finally ventured over to Disney springs around 6 p.m and it was utter chaos. We left and ate our turkey sandwiches back in our room, how so many people got there so fast is amazing, we had a car and drove. We lost two table service meals because of this...a 3 hour wait for a restaurant is unacceptable. I feel Disney prepared their property, but missed the mark with their guests, especially those in the moderate priced resorts

I agree that we did not get all of the messages at CBR. We had originally been going to have to split hotels at Pop Century for 4 days and CBR for 2. With the mass exit from the resort that we had no idea about upon arrival on Wed. (We were on the way to our airport at 3am and were kind of out of touch with any news) we only had to stay at PC 1 night, thankfully. We had our luggage transferred to CBR and went right to Epcot. We did have a higher room with the move but it was worth it. We never saw our new room until after the parks closed. I would have liked to have been told at the park that the food service would be limited when we got back. And we were never informed about Disney Quest or even the arcade. It wasn't a big deal but we may have checked out Disney Quest. Oh well, it was still a great vacation.

We also stayed at CBR. I was disappointed that the information about park closings (earlier than expected for Thursday) and info about boxed lunches wasn't given to us until 12:00 on Thursday!!! We were already at Hollywood Studios by that time. So we missed the advice about needing to eat dinner at the park. We returned to our room about 5:30, to be hammered with VM's with instructions and info. We immediately headed down to Port Royale to purchase the ( very overpriced) boxed lunches, because PR had been emptied of every other morsel of non-perishable food and snacks. Then we learned the boxed lunches were sold out- only to return to PR at 8:00 (for the arcade) and learn boxed lunches were back. I stood in line for 2.5 hours for sandwiches!!!! There HAS to be a better way. Let people give an order to someone and tell us a time to come pick them up or something. Or better yet, deliver them to the rooms! Disney faced a major threat and challenge. But in my opinion, more preparation and more information EARLIER would have made me happy. Not one cast member acted like anything was amiss just the day before! Then Thursday comes and it's a mad scramble!!! Next time- we will just go home early.

Just once. My wife and I were down in Disney for our Honeymoon in 2010. Midway Mania was a new ride then, and we decided despite the long wait to jump on. When we got on the ride, it was a clear, perfect day. 2 hours later, we're what we think is getting close to the front of the line when suddenly, the line starts moving much quicker, and it's because we were being moved off the ride. Not sure what, something had happened (we thought we smelled some smoke), and the ride was being evacuated.

We were funneled right into one of the nastiest storms I've ever seen (and being from NJ, I've seen some nasty ones). People were crowded so tight in the stores, we couldn't even get an inch of protection. All covered space from the storm were crowded full.

The wife and I decided to make a run for the entrance and head back to the hotel. As we passed the giant sorcerer's hat we saw a cart get flipped over by the wind and thrown a good 20 feet before it was stopped by some palms. By the time we carefully made it to the entrance, the storm was already subsiding, but we were soaked from head to toe so we still decided to head back to the hotel.

My flip phone was in the bottom of my backpack, which was now filled with about 3" of water on the inside, which I'm still not sure how the water got into it because it was closed tight.

All said, we went back to the resort, dried off, and then went right back out again as by then it was all clear and just as perfect as it began.

That's Florida weather for ya'.


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