Our Experience with Hurricane Irma at Disney World
If you followed our updates on social media, you might know that we were stuck at Walt Disney World during Hurricane Irma. Many readers asked for us to share the experience, so I thought I’d recount the story of how we get stuck, Walt Disney World’s handling of the situation, and other details.
Being at Walt Disney World during Hurricane Irma was definitely a learning experience for us, and hopefully this is helpful for someone else in the future as intense storms occur with increasing regularity due to climate change. Be warned, the first page of this is me ranting about why you should cancel a Walt Disney World trip and complaining about Delta Airlines. If you want to skip my bellyaching and get to the actual hurricane report, jump ahead to Page 2.
I hesitated a bit before deciding to write this, because I’m concerned about how this might be perceived, and because of the takeaways readers might infer. Since I think there is value in sharing our experience, I’m going to do so, just with a number of caveats…
First and foremost, the safest place to be during a hurricane definitely is not Walt Disney World. If a hurricane is approaching Florida, there are 49 other states that are safer places to be. This may seem glib, but I think it’s important to underscore.
In the lead-up to Hurricane Irma, when we explained how we were effectively stranded here, I lost count of how many people told us that Walt Disney World was the safest place to be. Now, I realize that most of these people were well-intentioned, trying to be reassuring. I get, and appreciate, that.
However, I’ve noticed this sentiment online, and it has become pervasive in a sense that is not just reassuring for those lacking better options. It’s also used by those who don’t want to cancel vacations, and still want to head to Walt Disney World even when they could cancel and stay at home.
Whatever mental contortions people might attempt to justify traveling to Florida prior to a hurricane, Walt Disney World is not safer than Chicago, New York, etc., during a hurricane. It’s safer relative to coastal areas of Florida and apartment complexes in the area, but being in the path of a hurricane is never safer than not being in the path of a hurricane. Unless there’s also a Sharknado, and then nobody is safe.
To the extent that Walt Disney World is safer than other parts of Florida (and it certainly is), keep in mind that Floridians are often evacuating their residences to safer locations in Central Florida. Walt Disney World pulled a lot of its hotel inventory early in the week prior to the hurricane, with large blocks set aside for displaced Floridians–peopled truly in need of them.
I know that will not be enough to convince some people. Some people spend over a year planning their Walt Disney World trips, spending hundreds of hours reading blogs like this one, expending a ton of effort planning. It takes work to score an exceptional discount, the best ADRs, FastPass+, etc. I know it’s beyond disheartening to cancel and have all that time go down the drain.
My response there is that you’re not out all of the time you spent researching and planning. The primary fruit of all that planning is not a tangible itinerary, but the knowledge gained in the process. You can apply what you learned to any trip you take, whether it be during a hurricane or a month later. Actually, you could apply that knowledge better on the later trip, as not much planning info covers ‘what to do to have fun during a hurricane.’
When it comes to the ADRs, FastPass+, discounts, and so on, most of that can be rebooked. If the trip is a month down the road, perhaps you won’t get that Be Our Guest Restaurant or Frozen Ever After booking, but if you’d potentially miss those during the storm, what’s the difference? And really, how much is that coveted ADR worth? Some of the absolute best restaurants at Walt Disney World can be booked inside of a week and you never need a FastPass+ for Country Bear Jamboree.
When it comes to discounts, the economics still do not work in your favor. Since hurricanes primarily impact fall bookings, Free Dining is probably what most people do not want to forfeit. Depending upon the size of your party and resort, Free Dining works out to be about a 0-30% savings above and beyond other discounts you could’ve booked. (Factoring in the opportunity cost of another discount.)
If Walt Disney World’s theme parks, Disney Springs, and its resort restaurants are closed for 2 days of a 7 day trip, you have lost 29% of the trip. That is, unless your ideal vacation involves being stuck at a hotel.
As a result of Hurricane Irma, the parks and Disney Springs closed early one day and were closed entirely for 2 subsequent days. During that time, you are not able to do attractions, effectively use Disney Dining Plan credits, or experience anything beyond limited offers in your hotel. And that’s the best-case scenario.
The damage hurricanes can cause is unpredictable, and all it would have taken is a couple of strong gusts of wind during the storm to have caused additional damage in one or more of the parks, precluding that or those parks from reopening for another day or two. Suddenly, in addition to the two full days of closure, one or two of the parks are closed for additional days. During this time, capacity is reduced significantly, and guests are crammed into fewer parks, causing longer lines and heavier crowds.
Or, maybe there’s significant damage to Orlando International Airport, and flights are canceled for several days after the hurricane, and you are forced to extend your vacation and stay in Orlando. There’s a cost to that, too.
I think you get the point. I’m 1,000 words into this post and have spent a lot of time explaining why people should cancel their trips when a hurricane is forecast to impact Central Florida. To me, it seems like such a patently obvious, no-brainer decision. To each their own, I suppose.
With all of that said, I’ll cut to the chase here. Well, actually, not quite to the chase…to a few days before, as we tried to deal with Delta to avoid this whole scenario in the first place. Originally, our plan was to stay at Walt Disney World and do Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party before leaving on a Halloween on the High Seas cruise on Friday, then flying back to Los Angeles the following Monday.
That cruise was cancelled late Tuesday night. First thing on Wednesday, we called (or should I say, started calling) Delta to get our flight rebooked. At that point, all they had was Saturday evening–still a day in advance of Hurricane Irma’s projected Central Florida arrival–so we took it. We knew there was a chance the airport would close early, so we kept trying for other flights after getting that rebooked.
Our experience with Delta was frustrating and a bit embarrassing, actually. Normally, we are the savvy travelers who know the right things to do or we are persistent until catching the right break. We had three days to get our flight rescheduled. We made over a dozen calls to Delta, and yet, absolutely nothing.
Since the hurricane, I’ve replayed what we did in my head, wondering how things could’ve gone differently. If we had asked to speak to a manager on a particular call or been more tenacious when asking to be rebooked on a different airline, we could’ve gotten home. I’m convinced of this–I know Delta added flights and I have no doubt that people who called after us were able to get out. They just were luckier or savvier.
It is a bit concerning that this is the second consecutive trip with serious flight cancellation problems, and serious issues dealing with the airline (United & Lufthansa and now Delta) CSRs with obstinate attitudes. In our Norwegian Fjords Disney Cruise Report, I wrote that we had more cancelled flights on that trip than during our previous years of flying combined. Well, we ended up having just as many cancelled flights on this trip.
The cancellations are not Delta’s fault, but the response and customer recovery to said cancellations certainly was. Around half of the CSRs with whom we spoke before the trip didn’t even seem to care or realize that a hurricane was approaching Florida. Orlando was not originally on Delta’s list of airport waivers (for 2 days–despite the airport already having announced it would likely be closing), which was probably part of the problem.
Once our rescheduled flight was finally cancelled (hours after MCO announced it would be closing early), Delta messaged us with rescheduled flight info: they had rebooked us on a flight that would be occurring during the height of the storm, on a day MCO would be closed. I found some humor in this, figuring it was an automated thing and Delta’s system was just slow in updating, so I tweeted out a screenshot.
“Thanks” @delta lol pic.twitter.com/JfYUo4xSWr
– Tom Bricker (@Tom_Bricker) September 8, 2017
DL2057 was canceled due to the Hurricane Irma. Our passenger’s safety will ALWAYS be our #1 priority. *AFM
– Delta (@Delta) September 8, 2017
That exchange pretty much illustrates everything you need to know about how Delta bungled this. Believe me, I could write paragraphs more about specific face-palm encounters we had with them, but I’m guessing most people aren’t reading this for some diatribe about Delta.
Normally, after such an abysmal customer service experience, most people wouldn’t deal with said company again. If you’ve watched the news lately, you know this is sort of the MO of legacy U.S. air carriers. It’s not as if United and American Airlines have sterling reputations right about now.
Unfortunately, Delta has a lot of routes we like, they are investing a ton into LAX, they fly internationally, and are in a major code-sharing alliance. If we only flew domestic flights, we’d take our business to Southwest or JetBlue. In this situation, voting with our wallets simply isn’t feasible. Hooray industry consolidation with antitrust rubber-stamping from the Department of Justice! On Page 2, we’ll check into our hotel, do some hurricane prep, and then ride out the storm at Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. Click here to continue reading…
Hi Tom! I want to call out Tarah on her post. I totally agree with you. When we arrived at MCO we found out the hurricane was on the way. We had only booked 4 days in the park so we lost 2 days. We were staying at Caribbean Beach in a ground floor, corner, pirate room where the water was rising fast. We were in Epcot when we found out the parks were being close the next day. We went to Les Halles Boulangerie and stocked up on food that we thought would stay good for a few days. When we arrived back at our hotel a small bag containing some food items (cereal, milk, bars) had been left in the room. Food was totally unavailable the next day. On the second day we walked over to the main food area. They had a buffet set up. That was it. We lost 2 days of the Disney dining plan and we also had to fight to get our money back for the 2 days we lost in the park.
I’m sorry but the post is pure crap . I was there at the exact same time and exact same hurricane and I call bull shit on you statements . I stayed at the Yact club p retry much right where you stayed . We had an amazing experience and riding out hurricane Irma at Disney World was amazing . Disney was amazing . There was plenty ty of food and water and cheaper prices . I never once felt scared or in harms way . We got to walk on to e dry ride Saturday at the Magic Kingdom. We got dinner reservations at Be our guest and had a fabulous night at the Magic Kingdom . And just clarify . You are wrong Disney did NoT close early on Saturday night as my family was there at the Magic Kingdom until 9 pm . So please don’t give false statements in your post . Disney was only closed for Sunday and Monday and was fully operational as of that Tuesday . Orlando airport closed at 5 pm on Saturday . Just to correct your false statements. You should be ashamed for postering false statements . I think if someone is stuck in Florida they should evacuate to Disney World Asia IS the safest place to be during a hurricane in Florida. My family evacuated from Miami . If you discourage people from going you will be putting g people in danger . Shame on you . And also to clarify another comment you made that you clearly know nothing about . The staff at Disney during the hurricane were people who were specially signed up for their hurricane staff . They knew full well they would be working during a hurricane as they set this up at the beginning of each year . I asked . So please , if you are going to write a post , be accurate and don’t make statements you clearly don’t know the actual truth about . I experienced this exact hurricane in almost the exact location and you are wrong and make inaccurate statements .
I realize you wrote this coming on three years ago now, but you wrote your very rude post over two years after Tom first posted this article. Are you *very* sure you were there on the same dates he’s referring to?
No one mentioned Trip Insurance, When hurricane Sandy that hit more north, we were stuck at the Grand Floridan, not a bad place to be,,,and could not get home for 3 days. Grand Floridan hopped us around to a few different rooms, but accommodated us just fine. Of course we had to pay a lesser of a room fee. but Travel Insurance paid $400.00 a day for lodging and food. Would not think of not getting it, especially if you are booking during Hurricane season.
My daughter and I took her boys, ages 6 and 4, to WDW on 9/15 after the storm and stayed until 9/19. We had a wonderful time, the only big drawback from the storm was that the Jungle Cruise at MK was down while we were there, and I had really looked forward to seeing the boys enjoy it. Ironically, it opened back the morning we had to leave!
One other aggravation was having to make a long detour to get from the Africa side of AK to the Aisian section, dyecto a tree leaning over the walkway. Not a major issue, but I wondered why they hadn’t just taken the tree down.
We talked to many cast members about their experiences during the hurricane, and most reported little to no damage, and didn’t even lose power. Coming in on the Magical Express, and on property, it seemed to me that there was less damage in Orlando than what we had in Upstare SC when Irma brushed by us. We had a couple of trees down and broken limbs from that ingracious lady’s brief visit!
Thankful our trip was a success, but I would never go to FL intentionally if a hurricane was predicted. I saw the aftermath of Hurricane Camille in MS and that of Hugo in Charleston, and i don’t want to he anywhere near one!!!
My wife and I had a mandatory evacuation from Naples Fl . With most hotels in the areas within 130 miles radius of us without generators we chose Disney for safety and security it was a no brainer they would have food water and backup generators Disney took great care to take care of everyone if you had a problem with anything they were there to help Great Job Disney Cast members by the way the cast members that stayed volunteered to be there they were the best remember The Florida was in a state of emergency no complaints I am an annual pass holder
We were planning to be in Orlando when Hurricane Frances cancelled our trip in 2004. I was so happy that the airline, Disney, and another pre-paid event for the Tom Joyner Family Reunion were happy to refund our money in-full. We were notified two days prior to departure by Southwest–don’t bother. They were using all of their aircraft to get people out of–not into Orlando! Glad we didn’t have to experience what you did. We were able to rebook our trip for a later time (with the exception of the Tom Joyner Family Reunion–which only happens over Labor Day weekend).
I’m from Houston and have been through Ike and Harvey. I know from experience that the news likes to sensationalize things and it can really freak you out. That being said, you should avoid areas being hit by hurricanes at all costs. Resources in affected areas can be really strained and the last thing locals need thrown into that situation are a bunch of inexperienced and I’ll prepared tourists mucking things up. Why put yourself in a bad situation and make yourself a burden when you can just stay home and be safe?
I completely agree and couldn’t have said it better myself.
Years ago my husband, myself and our son who was then about 5 years old, had flown from NY for a family vacation on Captiva Island. Unfortunately we had unwittingly arrived from NY not knowing a major hurricane was on the way to Florida. It was the front desk clerk who told us we would need to keep a close eye on the weather channel. Yes, there it was!! The approaching storm was not much covered in NY, and we had not known what we were walking into. The next day dawned bright and sunny–the proverbial calm before the storm. Captiva is a low barrier island with one road in and out from the mainland. We were advised that if we did not evacuate , the national guard would remove us. Off we went. But where do you go to escape a hurricane??? We hunkered down in a hotel on the mainland in Fort Meyers, and weathered what turned out to be Hurricane Andrew. The day after the storm we discovered that our resort on Captiva had sustained damage, and had no electricity. Returning there was not an option. Looking to salvage our vacation we called Disney and discovered that they were ok there, and we scored a room at the Polynesian. It was a 4 hour drive to Disney, but I was never so grateful to arrive at any location in my life. The hurricane was gone and we were all safe. In speaking with cast members I discovered that , indeed, Floridians often “evacuate” to Disney in times of storm. The place is sensible and well run and the staff looks after it’s guests. In addition I have been told that the buildings there are built to far exceed the minimum building codes, ( and I have no idea if that is true) which again makes being there a safer bet than otherwise. My lasting feeling of “I am safe ” at Disney since that experience has carried with me all the years. Doubtless even on a subconscious level it is part of why I ALWAYS feel so positive about Disney and its employees. They do their utmost even under horrible circumstances. The rest of the country should be so well trained!! Would I deliberately fly into a hurricane zone?? NO, no, no!! Far too dangerous and not worth the risk. But if I were stuck there and could not flee, this is where I would want to be.
Due to JetBlue’s inefficiency, lack of customer service and pure deceit, our family ended up extending our vacation at the Contemporary through 9/13/17. Although it was stressful being there during the hurricane, your article couldn’t be more spot on. Disney rocked it in more ways than one and we couldn’t be more pleased with all of the preparation, staff dedication to exemplary customer service and more….JetBlue should be ashamed and take some lessons from the happiest place in the world. Great article!
Thank-you for your report on Irma – I was wondering how WDW fared during the storm. I admit that I watched the Weather Channel for 2 days as well, but from the safety of my home in Canada. My interest was due to the fact that we cut short our vacation last year due to Matthew and although we were certain at the time that we had made the right decision, there was a tiny bit of doubt. After reading how WDW handled that storm and reading your experience, I agree that getting out is the best option if it is available. I sympathize with your airline problems. Our experience was the complete opposite. We spent 15 minutes re-scheduling and got out 10 hours before the airport closed. Delta was exceptionally helpful and it only cost us $15 total for the change to both tickets.
We just finished our trip (9/18-9/26) and while the storm had no impact on our trip, aside from losing our Caring for Giants tour in AK because of damage, what we learned from other guests was incredible. One family drove in from Indiana, opting to keep their booking that started on 9/12. One day they made 150 miles in 10 hours. Then they ran into curfew issues in GA. They lost the first 3 days of their trip. Another got stranded when the ran out gas in GA and lost a day. Like you, they had only really positive things to say about Disney staff. I think your message was a good one. The crowds from our trip were super low. We did the Star Wars guided tour (loved it!) The cast member said normally they had 40 people per tour. We had 17. Just one example. Both MNSSHP we did were low crowds. It was great. A family member lives on the west coast of FL had a lot of damage to his home and neighborhood so we stayed on the last couple of days to help him and his neighbors. All in all, a great trip.
We were there through the entire storm, 4 days before and 4 days after. We had an absolutely amazing experience and would totally do it again. I will add we were a party of 2 adults, a 6 and 9 year old. We start at all star music, the staff was beyond helpful, and very accommodating. We were able to get a refund for the days that the parks were closed, so no real money loss there other than a hotel night. On the following morning after the storm, the pool was opened up as soon as possible, with many activities happening on the pool deck. The arcade was free the entire time and disney characters walking around the resort. The only time we had to remain in our room was from 7pm Sunday night till about 10am on Monday morning. We didn’t notice it much as most of that time we were sleeping. We had to move our flights as well, and Southwest was awesome. NO problem moving flight and no extra fees. We would totally go back to Disney World again during a hurricane (I mean we wouldn’t plan to, but we wouldn’t cancel either)
Here’s the thing. You’re just looking for an outlet to complain about WDW because you think you’re popular and a celebrity. Maybe you think you should live in the Magic Kingdom. You may have planned your vacation months in advance, but you knew the chances of going to WDW in Orlando during hurricane season. You could’ve gone earlier in the year or later. You feel WDW mistreated you because it used hotels for possibly its employees because you were at WDW. Floridians are smart enough to know to get out. Your suffering and inconvenience is nothing compared to what the locals had to go through. They’re more important than you. You’re no Mickey but you as hell are Goofy thinking you’re owed something. Sorry. You’re just out to be that hurt person. You’re not. Sorry.
I’m not sure where you got all that, but I don’t think Walt Disney World or its Cast Members mistreated us at all. To the contrary, they were amazing. My only complaints lie with Delta.
It’s pretty clear Mark did not read your article at all.
I don’t know why you haven’t just deleted his post.
Great article Tom, Thank you.
If only Mark had spent as much time actually reading the post as he did trying to come up with a clever comment.
What is up with the amount of trolling Tom has been getting recently?
Honestly people, if you have enough spare time to mess with a guy writing a Disney blog, maybe reassess your life and priorities.
This one is clear they didn’t read ANY of the post at all, it almost looks like it was pre-written assuming what was going to be said.
Apparently, Mark is just an asshat with a severe twist in his panties and an attitude problem who likes to give opinions on articles he has obviously not read. Geez. Someone give him a laxative (or an enema) before he explodes.
We are from Houston and originally had planned to be at WDW Sept 3-10th. We had to change our flight to leave from Dallas due to our original flight being cancelled due to Harvey. When we arrived Sunday in FL Irma was still a week out and they weren’t sure where it would go. By Wed, I too was on the phone in the Poly for a couple of hours trying to change our flight. Luckily I was able to get a flight out Friday the 8th. It was a bummer to lose two park days, plus all our ADR’s and lose lots of dining credits, but I agree it wasn’t worth it to put my family’s safety in jeopardy. I would argue, that I didn’t even fully enjoy our Thur night at MNSSHP because being a naturally anxious person, I was worried the whole time that Irma would intensify and possibly cancel our Friday flight (having just lived through Harvey my nerves were already shot). Needless to say, I don’t think I’ll ever travel during hurricane season again. LOL!
I will say having to call WDW customer service after returning and having to hold 2 hours to get a refund was annoying. I wish they could have just refunded at the Poly when we checked out 2 days early.
My husband and I were supposed to be there the 4-11 but we’re able to leave on the 7th. Like you, i am very anxious as well so it was impossible to even enjoy Wednesday as our last day. Disney wasn’t the greatest about correctly refunding and not really offering much for guests that would like to return and make up for lost time 🙁 this was my husbands first trip so hopefully next time around will be smooth sailing!
If y’all ever want to do a post about WDW with 3 young kids, I’m your woman 😉 I think it’d be an amazing write up people would definitely love to hear about.
Not to mention how amazing our 2nd trip would be with you two!
My family and I were at Disney the week leading up to Irma. We were originally scheduled to check out Sunday (9/10) morning, but since we drove down from IN we decided to leave Saturday morning instead. We were super bummed to lose a day at the parks, but we were afraid of traffic and trouble finding gas (both of which still ended up happening, but not as badly as we anticipated). All the hotels up I-75 were completely booked so we ended up having to drive straight through (14+ hrs). It was a long day/night.
Despite that, I appreciate hearing about your experience staying on property during the hurricane. It further convinced me that we made the right decision to leave, since we were at Coronado Springs and wouldn’t have even had the option to roam the halls/common areas/meet cute puppies. We would have gone crazy being cooped up in our room, especially with our three-year-old, who would have undoubtedly spent the entire time asking when we could go to Animal Kingdom. Yikes. Anyway, sorry you and Sarah got stuck and had and awful experience with the airlines, but I’m glad you made it out safe!
Also, fun side note, I saw you at Magic Kingdom one night that week (Wednesday maybe?), shortly after the fireworks. I wanted to say hi but you were lugging your tripod and looked like you were in a hurry, so I didn’t want to stop you. So hi!! And thank you! Your blog was invaluable in planning our vacation. It’s extremely well written and organized, and the fact that you keep all the posts updated makes me confident that everything I read here is timely and accurate. Thanks!!
Please spare us the political undertones about climate change causing more hurricanes unless you are able to provide evidence. I’ve only heard assertions that climate change increased Irma’s intensity, and the data I’ve seen indicate that the number of hurricanes has not increased over time. Agree completely, however, on “joy” that working with Delta is.
WDW did great with all the people and Hurricane Irma. We were at AOA and they had boxed lunches and entertainment for everyone. Unfortunately, we did not know this until after the fact. I think everyone had some point of frustration. We were on the DCL when they cancelled it and it was chaotic mess! We waited hours in line to use a phone to be told there were not any flights available. CM’s did not know was going on and a lot of activities were cancelled or weren’t done to the true Disney magic. It has us rethinking ever cruising with them. We had been on a previous DCL and really enjoyed it. Our biggest lesson we learned is to not hit Disney when most hurricanes occur (Sept/Oct).
We’ve lived in Hurricane prone places since 1989. We dealt with tropical storms while we lived in Houston, and have been in North Carolina since 1994. Names like Fran, Floyd, and Matthew are part of the local vernacular and family history. We also have two kids who are CMs, which isn’t to name drop, but to mention that we have a personal investment in Florida.
When Matthew was looking like it was going to hit Cape Canaveral as a Cat 3 storm with hardly any lessening of winds in Orlando, I told my kids to listen to Disney and be very respectful of this storm. During the day before it hit, Matthew changed course by a couple of degrees and came ashore in the Carolinas. As can happen, the outer bands caused plenty of damage, but the worst was averted in Florida and my kids reported that they were underwhelmed, which was fine with all of us. Better to be over-prepared than otherwise. A day and a half later, *we* lost power for 53 hours. Such is the nature of storm forecasting.
Also of note. We live less than 3 hours from Santee, SC, to which we traveled to watch the Solar Eclipse a month ago. It took us 9 hours to get home. The whole time I was driving I95, I thought of the poor souls who took a similar trip from Houston to Dallas years ago, but with Hurricane Rita in their rear-view mirrors. Florida is even harder to get out of than Houston.
So when we were finalizing our packing for a September 4 to 14 trip, I happened to look at Weather Underground’s blog, which had forecast models, the boldest lines of which indicated Irma would go straight up the middle of Florida and be Cat 2 as it passed through Orlando. Twenty-odd years’ experience told me to take it seriously but it was pretty unlikely to follow a path so exactly when it was forecast 10-14 days out. Given Disney’s hurricane policy, we bought travel insurance and drove down as planned.
That forecast didn’t change much over the next week, but we kept an eye on the satellite and forecasts until it got to be Thursday and Disney’s policy kicked into place. At that point our choices were to ride it out or cash in on the hurricane refunds and try our luck on the roads, but our eclipse experience was just too recent. No one was saying to evacuate from Orlando, but roads were already crowded from evacuations from coastal regions. Then our son told us he was on the Magic Kingdom ride out crew and we pictured our daughter in her apartment versus a Disney-built room at BLT. Meanwhile, the likelihood that Irma would do damage to us at home was very real. So we followed Disney’s directions to us to the letter and stayed, getting a few snacks for ourselves as well as a 1000 piece puzzle to put together in our room.
Plenty of other people have described the actual hurricane, and it was pretty much the same as our experience of Fran in 1996 when we lived in Durham, NC, except that we’ve never been through a storm that strong without loss of power before and it was REALLY nice to be able to watch the TV and use the internet. Oddly enough, Irma passed Orlando with Cat 2 winds on early morning Sunday. I can’t recommend Weather Underground strongly enough if your travels take you someplace hurricane-prone.
I’m not going to advise anyone to ride out a hurricane anywhere when there better options. I feel like we made the best decisions we could for our family, and I appreciated Disney’s accommodations for the hurricane. I also suspect that people like my family who paid their normal fees to be there were part of what enabled Disney to offer special deals for those who were fleeing the storm. The people in our group who were on 10 day tickets got their two unused days refunded for use another time, which was nice, and we were able to extend our stay one night instead of leaving the property and finding a room elsewhere in Orlando or on the coast. For us it was a positive experience.
Thanks for sharing your story! The more we thought about driving, the more the idea worried us. The prospect of driving for a while, getting low on gas and being unable to find anything and then getting stuck in a shady motel, was really concerning.
Given that and everything else you describe, I’d say you made a good decision!
Thanks! Yes, driving was not a good solution by the time the hurricane policy went into effect. I think, based on the fliers they left in our rooms on Friday that Disney would have refunded/put our DVC points back on the days we didn’t stay had we left on the 9th, but we were too spooked by our eclipse experience and memories of watching the Rita evacuation to attempt it. Then, too, should we take I95 up the east coast and directly home or I75 up into the Appalachians? (I have a sister in the mountains north of Atlanta). The storm tracks suggested that both ideas were bad ones, especially if we got caught on the road, and of course we now know that pretty much all of Georgia got severe damage. My sister was without power for 92 hours, which is the new family hurricane record, while my house about an hour and a half from the coast saw below tropical-force winds and a drop or two of rain.
(As an epilogue of sorts, the drive home on Thursday the 14th required a bit of flexibility as we occasionally needed to go to the next exit to get a meal and gas when our first exit didn’t pan out due to lack of power or gas, but even that was so much better than it might have been that our feeling is gratitude that it otherwise went so easily. The trip takes us 8 to 12 hours and we did it in 9 to 10 hours that day.)