VIDEO: See How Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom Prepares for a Hurricane

This post may contain affiliate links; please read the disclosure for more information.

Walt Disney World’s theme parks have only closed unscheduled on 4 occaisions in history, so the announcement today that the parks would be closing early and would remain closed through Friday is still surreal to many of us. With today being such a historic event, I decided to travel to the Magic Kingdom just to see what the atmosphere was like. What I found was a rather odd scenario.

Guests had shown up, more than I would have expected in fact, just to make the most of the little time they had. What was interesting, shocking, and honestly really cool was the number of steps Disney has already taken to prepares the park for the storm. Tarps around construction projects had been taken down, banners around the park removed, and all manner of flags tied up for safety. Here’s a video of many of the preparation taken to keep The magic Kingdom safe during Hurricane Matthew:

Pretty neat, huh?

While Walt Disney World is closed for the next day and a half, be sure to stay tuned to WDWNT.com for the latest developments. If you are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel this evening, please contact us and let us know how it goes! We would love to hear about the experience (but most importantly, stay safe of course).

I don’t know about you, but there are times when planning a Disney vacation can be overwhelming! There are so many options, where to stay, when to go, is this the best price. So, I want to introduce you all to Cindy Minor and the team at Small World Big Fun. They will help you plan your Disney vacation for FREE. Contact them today!

Get a FREE Disney Vacation Planning Video

About the author

Tom Corless

Tom has been regularly visiting the Walt Disney World® Resort from the time he was 4 months old. While he has made countless visits in the last 28 years, he did not become a truly active member in the Disney fan community until the summer of 2007, when he decided to launch the WDW News Today website and podcast. Tom has since become an Orlando-local and is a published author on Walt Disney World.
Contact Tom at [email protected]

72 Comments

Click here to post a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • We are at OKW and so far they have brought flashlights to our door and the message on our phone has asked that everyone stay in there rooms until tomorrow afternoon! They also mentioned that they have boxed meals for purchased until 10pm tonight at the lobby.

  • We’re at Port Orleans Riverside. Supplies are thin for bottled water and snacks at the shop – 30+ min line to checkout. Waiting for $12 box meals, which Disney is advising you buy enough for 24 hours. No clue what’s in them, but there are at least 400 people in line. We’ve been waiting for over 20 minutes and have barely moved. I appreciate the scale of what has to be done, but this seems like an oversight.

    • We feel your pain. They should have just evacuated all the parks and hotels. But that would have required refunds. :( Disney didn’t cause the storm, but their staffing and management is worse than I thought, and we came in with very low expectations.

      • Where would people go if they checked our of the hotel? The headline would read, “Disney throws tourists out in eye of a storm”. And even if they did, since the seaside Flordians are looking for hotels, Disney would get blames for closing them. The hotels are generally safe/strong buildings, so they should be used during the storm. Now, if Disney raised prices for the rooms during the storm, then I would say Disney was “just wanting money”.

      • Raquelle really? Just tell people they have to leave the property! What if they live out of the state or out of the country? Think mcFly think!

      • Then why did you even go? I think they have done an amazing job during a natural disaster. You know the storm was coming, why didn’t you leave. Do you have any idea how many people were in Disney hotels, what do you mean close them, where would all these people go? Did you not get the memo there were no flights out. Were you safe? Upset because you didn’t have enough snacks? Take responsibility for your own decisions. Personally I’m glad they did such a good job securing the parks so my family can continue making memories. Get home safe and find another vacation that you to suit your needs

  • In the past 10 years ago I work for the company for 26 years retired ,and Disney has always done a phenomenal job of looking out for the Guests and staff.
    They have a 72 hour watch crew for every park and resort to make sure everything was locked up tied down
    And the guests are safe .!!

    • This post from Alan is BS Guaranteed it’s posted from Disney public relations. We’re at Contemporary and this staff is disorganized beyond belief. Building is safe, but there’s ZERO about the staff nor managers who give 2 cents about our safety, or comfort during the storm. All smiles and don’t worry, bur no substance.

      We’ve always found all Disney safety was a “show”, just like an attraction. We’re living proof of it. We hope this storm doesn’t make a turn for the worse or we are screwed.

      • It’s a natural disaster. Take care of yourself. Probably a Clinton Lib or Berne fan. They all think everything should be provided to them. You knew the storm was coming, you should have made plans to high-tale it out of there.

        • We’re finally through the line after 3 hours. Very poor communication from the staff and once you got to the food court to make your purchases, it was a bit chaotic.

          I completely understand the scale and severity of the situation. I know the staff working are busting their tails, and they should know we do appreciate their efforts. My dissatisfaction comes from the poor plan and execution, not the individuals on the front lines.

    • IF Disney is working to protect anything, it’s their assets, such as the park itself, not the people. They’re not providing good service to us @ Coronado Springs. Is a comedy show of them talking about how great things are, we’re in the best and safest place there is, as people stand in line for food and no more bottled water here. They’re very minimally staffed with the “B” team.

  • We are at CBR, issued with flashlight and extra towels, toiletries and told we can purchase sandwich boxes at 12 dollars, food court is a joke, hundreds of people queueing, took us 1.5 hours to get our meal, people are panic buying, we have crisps and biscuits to last us tomorrow as i am not queueing for another hour for a sandwich box.

    • Best part, is with the people who work for Disney who post here aside, a majority of Disney fans would deny how Disney isn’t treating you over the top, service beyond expectation, and you’re safety and comfort is paramount to the cast members and management. I can’t imagine what it’s going to look like over there if there’s a problem, and I certainly hope there are none. Most of the hotels and such are much better prepared. We’re weathering it out at Reunion Resort and they seem like they’ve brought in extra staff and double the food and free bottled water supplies. Right now, just raining. Feel very safe, and not by lip service.

      • …and should add they have a shelter already set up in in the resort in the event of major emergency. No food line, and plenty of service. Have been watching boards to see if we will go to Disney for an afternoon after clean up. Unimpressed with what have read and seen on TV how Disney handled this. Hurricane planning in Florida should not be a surprise, like when it snows in NY. Its abundant Disney World has some major problems with management and services. Good luck to all in the storm!

  • After nearly 2 hours in line at Riverside, we were just told they are out of box lunches. There are still hundreds of people waiting to buy meals for the storm.

    • So sorry Justin. No excuse for that, honestly. Hopefully no significant events and you can get out and find food off property if stores still open. I have zero faith Disney would do anything correctly like this. Am sure they’re singing a good song of don’t worry, be happy though.

      • I was stuck in our room at the Polynesian during hurricane Frances in 2004 for 2 days. (They closed the parks then as well) We weren’t allowed to go to the Grand Ceremonial house during that time until it had cleared and suggested we go to the nearby Publix to get food. Back then we took a taxi before it goot non-perishable foods before the roads closed. Good luck, and rest assured that you are in a pretty safe place during the storm- they have back up power sources. You may go crazy watching the Disney top 10 with Stacey that long, however. t bad and g

  • I would like to read someone’s real expectations. Aside the realm of free water what else do you folks want? This hurricane has been out there since Friday. Everyone knew Florida was going to get some type of impact. Go to publix or Home Depot or gas station. Are you going to expect something for free. Or the best experience ever. No. so please. Shut it.

    • Brian you come across a pompous jerk, they ran out of food, supplies and have lined up guests repeatedly to believe they’re ‘in good hands’. NOTHING is/was or expected to be provided for free. Get a clue. Hurricanes happen. Disney was not prepared. Period.

      • PJ. Thanks that’s exactly what I was shooting for. Again. What did you expect. That they will have food for days stocked just because. I live in Miami. Gas stations have been out of fuel almost 2 days before Matthew. publix was a mess too. So what clue do you want me to get? Please elaborate. That hurricanes happen? Yeah I know. This isn’t the first one I’ve experienced. Disney was not prepared? life happens. So when you encounter a problem. Solve it. You where there since when? Did you monitor the storm. Did you think hey we should go to local supermarket and stock up in the room. Or you expected WDW to be the savior and you kick up your feet and have them come at your will? Cmon. Give me a break.

        • I don’t think anybody expected anything for free. Nor should anybody be shocked by the severity of the storm. But some people didn’t arrive until a few days ago, when supplies at Publix and other areas were already scarce, and before Disney invoked their “change your plans for free” policy for the event.

          Speaking for myself, and myself alone, we got here in time to get water and some snack foods. However, when EVERY Disney staff member, from random cast member to concierge to resort management, tells concerned customers “we’ll provide food and water”, “we are well prepared”, “we have plans in place”, etc, it does create an expectation. If they, at any point, said “go into Orlando and get some supplies, just in case”, the expectation changes. My initial complaint was not about the money or the slim pickings, and not about the individual cast members busting their hump to do what they can, but about the complete disorganization, poor planning and policies, and the inability to meet the expectations the company set for itself over the past few days.

  • We were at Epcot today and cast members were rolling away benches/picnic tables, lamps were wrapped in plastic, and several food stands closed early. We are staying off site after Disney informed us that there were no open rooms on property (which I know isn’t true). We were supposed to be boarding the Disney Dream tomorrow, which wasn’t canceled until we were boarding our flight to Orlando.

    • Lauren, they were busy making staff put away their assets (tables and lamps) and your family got shafted with lack of communication and lies and now stuck, as if they hadn’t cancelled the cruise, and you cancelled out of concern, you would have had to pay. I KNOW Disney can do better. They gotta get their stuff together. Very sad. And agree. Have become dangerous.

      • What’s a hurricane Samuel? Is it like a thunderstorm. Nah. Nothing is going to happen. I know everything…says the pompous jerk.

  • I called my cousins there out of concern, and they left Coronado Springs for a shelter in Kissimmee saying that Disney was ‘clearly not even close to prepared and felt staff incapable to deal with basics much less if it got worse’. They said the accommodations and staff were much better prepared at the free shelter than on Disney property. THAT is saying something.

    • I’m not down there, but would find a shelter Trevor. If there’s power outages, broken glass, anything out of ordinary, you’re at the mercy of the disorganization you speak of. Looking like it will not be that bad…but if it is…

  • We are at the World…..it is after 11:00 pm on Thursday, and it is still not really raining. All of the valet and restaurant staffs for all Disney resorts have panicked and gone home. Thank God, Artist Point switched to a buffet to satisfy all of the “survivors”. Luckily “Capa” at Four Season’s still had their faculties…we had a fabulous dinner there. Probably will have to head back over there tomorrow as Disney seems to have left town.

    • Shockingly disappointing, and not just on this forum, but other news and internet avenues too that Disney dropped the ball BIG time and were criminally neglectful.

  • Sounds like nothing has changed since 2004 when we were at POR when Charlie came through. Long, long lines, no food, no water. I heard later they had box meals down at the food court, but not while we were there, and no one had sent a message around to let us know. They need to get some planners on the job to help prepare a plan for when these things happen.

    • Is much worse than 2004 Kim. Trust me. We’re not given nearly the resources we were before. Management left early for THEIR own safety and sanity. It’s not the Disney it should be. And there are no ‘voluntary shifts’. that post was crap.

      • Yes there are. Cast members signed up voluntarily to assist guests on then assigned where to go where they will stay for the next 72 hours

  • Cast members are on voluntary 72 hr shifts. My son works at Art of Animation and is sleeping in the Ink and Art shop while most of you are in a bed in your room. Have some respect for the people, some young college students, who are sleeping on the floor away from their homes, in order to be available for you and your families.

    • We were staying at Pop Century…decided to grab a rental car and leave early Thursday morning…The night before while spending our snack budget on a few Extra waters and chips, I asked the young cashier if we were freaking out like some of the others I saw….he said he was scared too but management had asked for the 72 hour volunteer and he signed up. He said “we will try to do our best” I felt for the kid. We had to make decision to stay and hope we were allowed to stay beyond our Friday check out ( they had said we would not be put out and accommodations would be made if we had to leave our current room ) or head to other coast where no hotel rooms available from Maple to Tampa. I had already had a car reserved because we were heading that way anyway. We got out around 10 am and it was basically bumper to bumper almost to Tampa. People are hateful ….thank you for your son’s dedication and bravery. Good job Mom. Best wishes.

    • Bullshit Michelle. You are an idiot to let your son be at mercy of corporation who has no regard for guests or it’s staff (that didn’t leave on their own intelligence). I realize they put plenty of staff into effect to save parks physical assets and plans to get it opened fast to make money. Not the issue here though.

      • Wow, I sure don’t believe myself or my child are idiots. My son has made himself available to help where he is needed. He is not a high paid executive, just a college student, but he is there voluntarily. His shifts were cancelled, however, he’s there anyways. He is at nobody’s mercy. If you need anything while you are there, find him, he’ll do everything he is capable of to help you =]

    • Yes and he’s getting paid time and a half and double time to be on that shift. People fight to get to work cleanup crew because of how well it pays. Don’t act like he’s making some huge sacrifice, he’s being paid to sleep!

      • I’m not sure exactly what the pay is, I never said he was working for free. But he is there regardless. Working to help all of the many people who are complaining about long lines and poor food options. All of the people there had the option to buy food and snacks and flashlights prior to being shut in the hotel. Many people are complaining that the parks are closed! Seriously, what Disney is doing is for your safety not your comfort and entertainment. Maybe it would have been more comfortable for people to be out taking cover on their own and finding better food choices for less money. Although some of the people there are not happy, they are all safe. And that is the number one concern during any natural disaster, at least for any rational thinking person.

      • Employees were given the option to sign up for the 72 hr shift voluntarily, many chose to sacrifice the comfort of their own safe place to wait out the storm, with their own unlimited choices of food and comforts, and many chose not to. Some might fight for a shift now, only after the storm passes but we are all aware that understaffing doesnt happen when people are “fighting” for these shifts as you said.

  • Everyone needs to chill and not be so much in the “what’s in this for me” bad attitude! Hundreds of people have died in Haiti because of this hurricane. This is a very dangerous and life threatening storm and emergency. Pull up your big boy and girl pants and show some love and concern for human lives. Look out for one another. Save lives. You can go without a fancy meal and the Best of a Resort’s bling. Right now focus on the safety and well being of human lives. College kids and cast members have families and pets and a home life too! Please just be kind to one another and ride out the storm with wisdom and contentment for all! Don’t forget to Pray!

  • No matter how prepared Disney is, this is still a logistical nightmare, with long lines and inconveniences to be expected. In a normal day people are eating at probably over a hundred different restaurants spread out over all the parks and Disney Springs that are now currently closed. Now all those people have to stand in just a few lines for sandwich boxes. Of course those lines will be long. It stinks, but natural disaster times are going to require extreme changes and it could be a lot worse.

    • They weren’t prepared and portrayed they were is the issue. They should have evacuated the resort properties based on their preparedness.

  • ANYONE POSTING THAT PEOPLE AT PARKS SHOULD CHILL WHO ARE NOT THERE HAVE NO ROOM TO TALK. I honesty feel most are Disney themselves posting here telling people to suck it up, or just complete imbeciles who are so self absorbed they can’t see past their own nose in the comfort of their home. Hurricanes happen. Every outfit in Florida has a plan. We got cancelled from a cruise Disney didn’t cancel until we were on board. Disney has poorly laid out plans and obviously having problems making things work in perfect weather, but they have cut it back severely it’s very dangerous. Front desk cast member who at first saying “you’re in the safest place possible, we’re well equipped and used to storms in Florida” were heard saying to guests in front of us “fuck this, we’re out of here, upper management is going to get us killed if this storm makes a turn and they weren’t as ready as they made us promise guests. All engineers and back of the house already went home early”. They (Disney high up management who has made so many cutbacks in name of safety) really have let this of us at Poly down, and feel they have been criminally neglectful in their management. If you were not here, you have no reason to have a differing educated opinion on the matter.

  • We are at Saratoga; there is no food available; NO Communication, even now there isn’t even info on the tv. The food they said we could order last night wasn’t possible because no one answered their phones. A manager said they couldn’t staff anything due to the danger for their employees; but it’s ok that we stay here. Weather wise it’s not bad here but I am disgusted by Resort Mangement. If they had taken the time to worry about their guests as much as their physical assets, guests would have been at least satisfied, I think.

  • I’ve read on other boards that they are giving refunds for the box lunches and a free day park ticket. May be worth checking out.

    • They’re not. Not that people are really asking. It was just shocking how horribly prepared they were. I hope there’s an investigation, as Disney should be forced to close during situations like this based on what we saw.

  • I am amazed at all the negative comments!! First off if you are front out of town, then you came in knowing there was a hurricane about to hit. You should have gone out a few days before to Disney Springs and picked up a fee this game “just in case”.

    The staff is doing what they can for thousands of people. I might add that some live in an area that is being destroyed right now as well, and where are they? Taking care of you instead of their homes and family.

    If you can’t handle drama with weather, you picked the WRONG time to visit Florida then. Just go home and leave room for people like me that love Disney and know first hand how hard they work and underpaid they are to keep your vacation as happy as possible.

      • Agree Stan. It is out of control. Disney f’ed up BIG time, to the point they should be indicted in court. There would have been deaths at their hands the way they ran things if that storm would have tracked west, and they’re paling it was the guests. Amazing. No other resorts in Florida were less prepared, yet played they were ‘in great shape’. Disney was also denying people refunds to cancel until last minute, including 2 hours before sailing of their cruise ship. THAT’S why people were stuck here.

  • Wow normally I don’t get involved in dialogue but will put my two cents in. We were given about 12 hours to evacuate Fort Wilderness. The staff asked that all who were fairly local to head home if possible which made sense. We are not local and thus needed assistance. They put us up in Old Key West, told us where to park our RV, and helped arrange for the dogs to get in at Best Friends. Best Friends was bringing in extra staff and enclosures and doing what they could do accommodate every guest’s pets. Moving on, we got to OKW Thursday night and were immediately told what was going to be happening from the ability to purchase box lunches to the possible lock down. We had flashlights delivered and asked if we needed extra towels etc. This is a huge resort and I don’t know what else they could have done to make it better or safer for the guests. We knew there would be little food available as guests would not be alllowed to leave their rooms/buildings during the storm. Once the storm was over they kept us informed constantly through messages on the phone. I applaud the management and staff here at Old Key West. I honestly don’t know what more they could have done for the guests. This was an act of mother nature and we all had to take some responsibility in our own comfort and needs.

  • Poor holiday guests…….

    Getting food albeit with a queue, safe housing and a support system….

    Whilst moaning, spare a thought for those that have lost loved ones in Haiti.

    Enjoy the return to normality. At least you get to……

  • We stayed at All-Star Sports resort just prior to the hurricane closure. We enjoyed our stay, but we were very surprised that we had no communication from Disney about their plans to close parks early on Thursday and to close parks on Friday. On Thursday, we were in line to talk to the customer service people at the gate of Epcot about some general questions. While there, we overheard a lady on her phone telling someone that the parks were going to be closed Friday. Nothing was posted at the park, nothing was posted at our hotel, and there was nothing telling us, as we arrived at Epcot at noon, that the park was closing early. We had checked television, the WDW app, and the WDW website that morning for information, but everything showed normal operating schedules. All the employees were very nice, but it would have been helpful for folks to know that even the food court would be closing at the resort. I realize this was a rare occasion, but I think information should have been posted.

Latest Videos