So I was supposed to be in Disney World right now, but this little thing called Hurricane Irma decided to come barreling towards my beautiful state. Rude, right? Anyway, it seems as if a lot of people’s vacations sort of got destroyed by this turn of events. I was working for Disney when Hurricane Matthew hit Florida, so I decided to write a post on Disney’s hurricane policies.
Closures & Cancellations
If it is deemed unsafe to operate, Disney will shut its doors. For Matthew in 2016, the four parks were closed for one full day, and closed early the day before. Disney Springs opened for business the night of the all-day park closures, but it was a madhouse. I heard of 3-hour waits for Splitsville bowling. (Note for CM’s: it’s very likely that you would be asked to work in this scenario, but it is not mandatory.) For Irma in 2017, all four parks, both water parks, and Springs are scheduled to be closed for two full days, with all parks experiencing early closures tonight.
Many people have said it and I agree: a Disney resort is one of the safest places to be during a hurricane. If you know you’ll be at Disney during a major hurricane, I would recommend keeping nonperishables in your room; while Disney does sell food in their resorts, it’s likely to be expensive and in high demand. But the resorts themselves are built to survive these things.
Cast, this is for you. Ride-out crew typically stays in rooms at the resorts and is fed by Disney, as well as paid for their entire time riding out the hurricane (including OT pay). This can result in some pretty awesome paychecks, but the demand to be ride-out is high. It is very rare for non-resort College Program cast to be selected; PT/FT and resort cast are the first pulled for ride-out. If you are not pulled for ride-out, you will have those days off and typically you will not be paid. I’ve also seen CP’s get their days off switched to the hurricane days, resulting in them having shifts on their original days off. (I did not experience this but the Matthew closure took place on a Friday so there wasn’t much room for moving things around.)
If you know you’ll be here during a major hurricane, I strongly recommend moving your vacation. It is not fun to be in Florida during a storm like this because you will be surrounded by panic. If you decide to come anyway, buy water and nonperishables in your hometown and pack them because those items sell out so fast the second a hurricane is spotted. (Two hours after FL declared a state of emergency for Irma, my local Wal Mart had no water left.) If you’re renting a car or driving your own car, fill up whenever you can because gas shortages are also common. Park above ground and in a covered area if you can; many downtown locations will offer free parking in garages during hurricanes and you can Uber back to your resort. Bring portable batteries in case the resort loses power (unlikely but possible). Expect park closures and do not blame the Cast.
Well, that’s all for now. Stay safe this weekend, guys. Florida will get hit hard but we’ll make it through.
Song of the day: Hurricane // Lin Manuel Miranda