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DVC Hurricane Policy, Does Disney Close for Hurricanes?

A hurricane sky over the Magic Kingdom skyline

Florida may be known as the sunshine state but hurricanes are just as synonymous with the name. We all love a Disney World vacation but the weather can be unpredictable. So how do you prepare? Does Disney stay open during hurricanes? What’s the DVC hurricane policy? If you thought the summer afternoon showers were bad, hurricanes come with other problems. However, Disney resort hotels are considered safe places to be and peak hurricane season is an economic time to visit. In September especially, temperatures are cooler and point charts present great rates. We’re diving into the DVC hurricane policy, defining basic storm terminology and hypothesizing when you’re most likely to have a hurricane interrupt your Disney World trip. We’ll be using hurricane and storm interchangeably here.

DVC Hurricane Policy Information

So what is the DVC hurricane policy? It’s good to know in case a hurricane books a trip to the area that aligns with yours. From the official DVC website:

“Disney Vacation Club Hurricane Policy Statement

Annually, from June 1 to November 30, in the event a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center of the Orlando area, Vero Beach area, Hilton Head Island, O’ahu or for the Member’s place of residence within 7 days before the scheduled arrival date, the Member may call Member Services at (800) 800-9800† or (407) 566-3800† prior to Check-in to cancel or reschedule, based upon availability, their Disney Vacation Club Resort reservation without any cancellation or modification penalty.

Note: This policy pertains to hurricane warnings only. Other weather advisory levels are handled on a case by case basis and Members should contact Member Services.”

Hurricane Watch vs Hurricane Warning in Florida

Hurricane Warnings are serious. You can think of it as a warning means–look out, it’s coming! Basically you’ve been warned it’s on the way. Hurricane Watches are a bit different. These are issued when an area could be impacted by a storm but it’s not yet certain.

The National Weather Service says, “A Hurricane Warning is issued when sustained winds of 64 kt (74 mph) or higher associated with a tropical cyclone are expected in 36 hours or less. These winds may be accompanied by storm surge, coastal flooding, and/or river flooding. A hurricane warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and exceptionally high waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force.”

A watch can be upgraded to a warning as the predicted path changes. With hurricane watch vs. hurricane warning, it’s still important to take both seriously.

A sign at the Polynesian resort that says Walt Disney World Resort is currently monitoring weather conditions
Informational signs are placed around DVC resorts during hurricanes like this one at Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows.

DVC Hurricane Rescheduling Policy

It’s good to know that DVC can be understanding and there is at least some case by case reviewing. From DVC:

What if I prefer to reschedule my vacation to a different date because of a hurricane warning? Will I be able to get my same accommodations?

If you are scheduled to arrive within seven (7) days of the hurricane warning, you may call Member Services prior to check-in to reschedule, based upon availability, without penalty. We cannot guarantee availability of similar accommodations for the new travel dates. The policy does not apply to certain special events and dining experiences.”

Disney World Hurricane Closure: Does Disney World close for hurricanes?

There are lots of jokes about how stubborn Disney World is about not closing. Floridians like to say you know it’s serious when Waffle House and Disney close. This is a testament to how dedicated Disney is to staying open, even when a natural disaster graces the state. Florida is a big state and a hurricane doesn’t indicate bad weather everywhere. Disney World officials watch very closely to determine the exact kind of impact a particular hurricane can have on their specific region. Some storms are much worse than others and Disney will stay open if it’s safely possible for the cast and guests.

Hurricane Season Dates: When is hurricane season in Orlando, Florida?

Hurricane season in Florida takes place from June 1st to November 30th. That means a massive storm could come at any point in that range. Some months are much less likely to have a hurricane.

However, August and September are peak hurricane season in Florida.

September is a very appealing month for those looking for the best spend on DVC points. The point charts always show September as a very cost effective time to visit. Hurricanes can make already low crowds even smaller as many people don’t want to tour the parks in the rain.

What happens if there is a hurricane while at Disney? What is Disney World like during a hurricane?

When a hurricane is mild or only a tropical storm by the time it gets to Orlando, the theme parks will probably stay open. When a category three or four hurricane makes landfall on either coast near Orlando and poses a greater risk, the theme parks will probably close. While the eye, the most dangerous part of the hurricane may not pass over the area, the outer bands of major hurricanes can still pose a threat. 

Local authorities will put a shelter in place order in affect when weather conditions are expected to become very dangerous. When that happens, Disney Cast Members must have enough time for the parks to close in order for them to make it home in time.

Hurricanes vary with the amount of rainfall. There are certain spaces at Disney World that struggle to drain during extensive showers. You might see Tomorrowland flood.

Disney Hurricane Crowds, Food and Entertainment

It’s common for people to cancel trips because of hurricanes or for flights to be cancelled or delayed. Because of this, you may experience much lower crowds at the parks. Keep in mind not everything will be open.

Even when the parks close Disney World resort hotels stay open, are safe and continue to provide necessary services as possible. For example, food will of course continue to be provided. The options will be different though! During an intense hurricane, Disney will have quick service meal boxes prepared for guests to purchase. Simple sandwiches, fruit and snacks can be expected. It’s nothing fancy.

When you’re staying in DVC rooms, you have more options for food with your own kitchen and refrigerator. The washer and dryer can really be helpful when you’re braving rainy hurricane days in the parks, too!

In the last few years, photos of characters in the lobby of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa circulated as they entertained guests during a hurricane. There are also Cast Member crews ready to inspect the parks and open them as soon as it becomes safe. Most closures for hurricanes are just a day or half day.

Magic Kingdom Rainy Day Cavalcade performers in rain jackets and rain boots
Magic Kingdom Rainy Day Cavalcade performers in rain jackets and rain boots.

Magic Kingdom Rainy Day Cavalcade

Parades and castle stage shows will not go on with rain. Instead you may see a surprise performance of the rainy day cavalcade. This is a sort of waterproofed parade where performers wear rain jackets and rain boots and characters ride by in vehicles. It’s not a full performance with dancing but the performers wave to the onlookers and cute music is played. It’s fun to see and something different and rare.

Disney World Hurricane Closures

Disney works really hard to provide the same magical experience all the time. It is possible for weather to close certain aspects of the parks. Rain is not as big of concern as lightning. It takes a lot for Disney World parks to close completely. It’s much more likely that they won’t close or that only parts of them will close. We do often see totally outdoor offerings like mini golf and water parks close with hurricanes though.

With Disney World hurricane closures, you may notice things like fountains, like the upside down one outside of the Imagination Pavilion, turned off. Characters with outdoor meeting spaces probably won’t meet at all. Any outdoor coasters will probably be down when weather is questionable.

Does Orlando Get Hurricanes?

Orlando does get hurricanes but far less intense than the coast gets. Beach towns are subject to storm surges, when a large amount of rain and pressure raises the sea level. Hurricanes usually lose power as they go over land. Even just an hour or two over to the middle of the state and hurricanes just aren’t as strong. Orlando usually gets one or two notable hurricanes each year. 

Visit DisneyVacationClub.com for the most up to date information on the DVC hurricane policy and other information you may need to know.

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DVC Resale Experts is an independent, licensed real estate broker with a team specializing in resale DVC. Our licensed real estate agents are former Disney Vacation Club Guides. That means you can expect pixie dusted service and helpful insight when buying or selling DVC with the Experts. If you have questions throughout the process, you can consult your professional. Get in touch today for next steps. You can also see our resale DVC listings for a look at what’s available right now. Don’t see what you’re wishing for? Join the DVC Resale Experts Buyer Wish List. An Expert will contact you when a contract that suits your vacation needs magically appears on the DVC resale market.

FAQs

Does Disney stay open during thunderstorms? Does Disney stay open when it rains?

Hurricanes can be like thunderstorms but with much stronger winds, higher risks of flooding and tornado warnings. Rain at Walt Disney World is a regular occurrence and the resort destination is prepared for it. Most attractions will still operate in light rain at Disney World parks. Expedition Everest in the rain is quite the experience! Heavier rain may affect outdoor attractions. Lightning, however, changes everything. It seems the standard operating procedure for lightning has varied over the years. After lightning strikes within a certain number of miles, a certain amount of time must pass before things can open again.

How long do hurricanes last in Orlando?

Most hurricanes lose a lot of strength by the time they hit the middle of the state where Orlando is located. You can expect a hurricane to bring a range of weather conditions in the one to three day range. There are sometimes slow moving storms or extra wide storms that stretch rain over a few days.

Where do Disney animals go during a hurricane?

Many of the animals stay put during hurricanes. While some find security in their covered spaces, others prefer to be free. When nature happens in the wild, wild animals don’t go indoors. It can actually be more stressful for animals who don’t ever go indoors to venture inside for the first time. So many animals at Disney World stay in the habitats they are familiar with and take cover the way they naturally would on their own. This is under Disney’s supervision of course. Specialized Cast Members are present and ready to assist the animals if needed.

Is Disney Safe During a Hurricane?

Disney resort hotels are commercially constructed within Florida’s carefully designed building codes. Even with major hurricanes, Disney hotels are among the safest places to go. As a resort guest, you are less likely to experience a power outage than others in the area. If the power does go out, you will get it back faster than others in the region. While hurricanes are one of the more predictable natural disasters, tornadoes are very unpredictable. Tornadoes are more common in Florida during hurricanes but still quite rare overall.

Disney Blogger Nicole and Disney CEO Bob Iger

Sparkly Nicole

Nicole is a native Floridian who attended the University of Central Florida and decided to call the land of theme parks home. She’s been sharing magical tips, tricks and Orlando travel and tourism favorites online for over a decade.

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