Wildfires spreading west from Anaheim Hills have forced some evacuations in the area around Disneyland. Social media being what it is, of course there are rumors that Disneyland is closing or is in imminent danger from the wildfire. Much like the viral “photos” of Cinderella Castle being disassembled in advance of Hurricane Irma, this is false. (Last updated October 11, 2017.)
This wind-driven brush fire known as “Canyon Fire Two” started Monday morning at around 9 a.m., and quickly burned over 2,000 acres. As Canyon Fire 2 has moved quickly through the area, it has caused the evacuation of 1,000 homes in Anaheim Hills, Tustin, and Orange, with the eastbound 91 freeway closed near the 241 toll road. The Los Angeles Times and OC Register both are posting regular updates about the fire.
The fire has resulted in orange huge smoke plumes giving an apocalyptic color to the sky throughout Orange County, including over Disneyland. (Just check out the eerie sky in the photos below–nope, that’s not a crazy sunset!) Some guests have also noticed ash in their food, and local authorities in Orange County have been advising people to avoid unnecessary outdoor activity due to air quality. Despite that, it’s business as usual at Disneyland…
October 11, 2017 7 a.m. PDT: After spreading to 8,000 acres, Canyon Fire 2 is now over 40 percent contained as of Wednesday morning. All evacuation orders and road closures have been lifted, as lines of containment have been established on both the western and eastern edges of the fire. More favorable weather today should lead to further containment. Unless dramatic changes for the worse occur, operational impacts at Disneyland are now highly unlikely.
October 10, 2017 7 a.m. PDT: Over 7,500 acres have now burned, and the fire is 5% contained. Additionally, the NWS has issued a Red Flag Warning through this morning for Orange County (including Disneyland). Northeast winds expected to reach 15 to 25 mph and gusts to be around 35 mph. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a state of emergency for the California counties, including Orange, impacted by the fires.
Forecasters anticipate temperatures and winds dropping Wednesday, which should better allow firefighters to battle the blaze. Thus far, no changes have been made to the operating hours of Disneyland. At minimum, we anticipate the Disneyland fireworks to be canceled (when scheduled) every night that this wildfire continues.
Despite having a really wet winter and spring, we’ve had an abnormally high number of wildfires in California this year. At one point in September, there were simultaneously 19 large wildfires throughout California, including a brush fire that was being called the largest ever in Los Angeles.
However, just because there are wildfires in the area does not mean they necessarily pose a threat to Disneyland. In the late summer, there were wildfires to the north of us in Burbank and south of us in Camp Pendleton. Neither of these areas are particularly close to us, but due to the marine layer and wind, at various times we could smell the fires, and see a hazy orange sky as a result. We were always quite far from the evacuation areas, but could see/smell the fire, nonetheless.
Point-being, we would not rush to cancel a trip to Disneyland if you’re scheduled to visit soon. While we are in no way wildfire experts (and these are just as unpredictable as other natural disasters), the Santa Ana winds could shift tonight and cause the wildfire to die down, or head the other direction. As of right now, we recommend taking a wait and see approach. For the sake of locals whose homes are in danger, we’re hopeful that local firefighters will start to contain Canyon Fire 2 very soon.
Here are some photos & video of how Disneyland and Disney California Adventure look now: