Here’s What It Was Like To Be At Disney World During Hurricane Ian
The theme park advised all hotel guests to shelter in place until the storm passed.
As Hurricane Ian (now Tropical Storm Ian) made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, Walt Disney World staff, cast members, and attendees all had their eye on the storm. As the Category 4 hurricane began to barrel through, guests at Walt Disney World were told to leave the parks and, if they were staying on-site, to shelter in place.
This meant that thousands of people were stuck in their Disney World hotel rooms unsure when they’d exactly be able to go home or back into the parks — or where their next meal would come from.
Walt Disney World Resort decided to close its castle gates Wednesday and Thursday in order to wait out the storm and then assess any damage done. The resort also suspended new hotel reservations through Oct. 2.
Along with advising current hotel guests to stay put, they also encouraged guests to eat and drink before going back to their hotels — ostensibly because the park wasn’t really sure what would happen next.
“Guests are strongly encouraged to enjoy food and beverage offerings at the parks and Disney Springs before returning to their Resort hotels. Dining options for Guests staying in our Resort hotels will vary, and in some cases may be very limited,” a statement on the WDW site read.
One could assume that being stuck inside a hotel during a hurricane or tropical storm is a recipe for disaster, but let’s remember that these guests are “stuck” in the happiest place on earth. Even during a hurricane, Disney managed to pull a few tricks out of its sleeves.
Cast members threw a dance party with the Country Bears, brought in Goofy, Mickey and Chip and Dale to watch a movie with young hotel guests, and even got Daisy and Goofy to get a game of bingo going with a group of guests.
Disney made sure to keep guests entertained all day at the resort hotels including activities like “Name That Disney Tune, a stuffed animal parade, and an indoor camping experience alongside a screening of The Lion King.”
Mother Nature may be strong, but Disney magic put up a fight.
Though it seemed like Disney cast members wanted guest to fill up on food before heading to the parks (maybe because hotel food would need to be rationed?), Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offered a full menu of food along, including slashed prices of just $7 for a sandwich and $6 for a kid’s PB&J. At Disney World — those are cheap prices. However, since the food was such a hot commodity — hotel guests did have to wait in majorly long lines at the food court.
As for the conditions of the Disney World parks and hotels themselves, so far, there has been some light flooding and minimal damage reported.
Some people wait their whole lives to go to Disney World, and for many, they only have the opportunity to go one time. It really says a lot about the culture and staff at Disney to try and make lemonade out of lemons.
One Twitter user put it best, “Honestly what Disney World is doing for the families that are either stuck or riding out the hurricane in their resorts is very heart warming. Showing movies, chilling with the characters, and doing activities? So sweet.”
Let’s hope the Disney employees were treated fairly, too — but from the looks of it everyone was able to stay safe and weather the storm, even with a few expected kinks.