MickeyBlog News — Hurricane Ian Edition 2022
This past week, plenty happened within the Disney empire. However, one story dominated the headlines and will remain a topic of discussion for years to come.
In this special edition of MickeyBlog News, we’ll look at a chaotic, frustrating week at the parks as they suffered the wrath of Hurricane Ian.
Hurricane Season at Its Worst
Every few years, Central Florida experiences a dramatic weather event.
Usually, something like Hurricane Dorian causes problems in other parts of the world. However, once it reaches landfall in Florida, it has weakened to the point of being non-threatening.
As you’re painfully aware, that didn’t happen with Hurricane Ian. Instead, this absolute **** of a storm almost seemed to possess a personality.
Every news update made Hurricane Ian sound like it was savoring its torment of the Florida coastline.
The storm picked up velocity at sea, knocked out all power in Cuba, and then slowly – and I mean *glacially* slowly – headed to South Florida.
By the time Hurricane Ian touched down, it had reached Category 4 status, which is terrifying. Somehow, it gained even more speed, though.
In the process, Hurricane Ian became the rare storm to become a Category 5 hurricane, the worst possible kind.
At one point, The Weather Channel tracked this hurricane as having the third-strongest wind pressure during the past 50 years.
Scarily, Hurricane Ian covered a wide range, too. It stretched more than 80 miles wide, which is frankly difficult to conceptualize.
High winds and torrential rains overwhelmed the Florida coastline, causing record levels of flooding and other stunning weather events.
At one point, the wind and tidal pressure drained all water from parts of Tampa Bay.
Curious, confused onlookers walked in areas that were waterways the previous day. I’ve legitimately never seen anything like it in my life, and I’m not the only one.
A brave Jim Cantore broadcast live from hurricane-vulnerable areas. At one point, a tree flew through the air and struck him. It was a real-life scene from the movie Twister.
With so much chaos in the area, theme parks faced an obvious decision.
Walt Disney World Closed for Consecutive Days
The pandemic and its aftermath have made us all a bit jaded about Disney theme park closures. They didn’t seem like that big a deal at the moment.
However, in Walt Disney World’s history, it had only fully closed its theme parks on consecutive days twice before this week. Hurricane Ian forced the third.
On Wednesday and Thursday, September 28th and 29th, all four Disney theme parks, Disney Springs, and all other Disney tourist destinations in the area closed.
In fact, officials took the extraordinary step of requesting that guests shelter in place during Hurricane Ian.
That’s Disney’s way of saying, “You should be scared,” without technically saying it.
The federal government declared a State of Emergency in Florida (and other states), while everyone braced for the worst.
I’ve spent the past 72 hours trying to come up with a tactful way to describe what happened, but I still haven’t found the right words.
Hurricane Ian absolutely decimated many parts of Florida. It knocked out the power in approximately 2.4 million homes.
My wife, who works from home, is one of the managers for the southeast region for her company. Unfortunately, several of her co-workers weren’t able to check in immediately.
On a grim morning for many, she spent hours marking her friends as safe from the hurricane. It was that kind of week, and my heart bled for all impacted by it.
What I cannot say in words that sound tasteful is that Disney got relatively lucky, if that makes any sense.
Hurricane Ian thankfully diminished in strength as it gradually blanketed Central Florida. It lost hurricane status on the way to Orlando.
In other words, this entire situation could have been so much worse for Disney. But, as things stand, it was a waking nightmare for many less fortunate Floridians.
Disney during Hurricane Ian
Based on which estimate you believe, Disney received as much as 18” of rain, although many people place those numbers at a foot or less.
Another Orlando theme park wasn’t as fortunate. Viral videos and images showed Universal Orlando Resort suffering from massive flooding.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster had gained up to two feet more water, which sounds worse than it is. That ride permanently resides in the water anyway.
Meanwhile, the wind (and possibly debris?) knocked a multi-story chunk of the wall off the ride building at Jurassic Park River Adventure.
So, the weather legitimately should have caused worse problems for Disney. But, somehow, the parks reopened on Friday, albeit with caveats.
Disney only offered Park Passes to guests staying at official Disney resorts. Still, Walt Disney World employed a phased reopening on Friday.
If you had told anyone involved with the parks on Wednesday that they could safely come back on Friday, nobody would have believed it. Hurricane Ian seemed that certain to cause massive damage.
In fact, management had clearly braced for worse. So the Disney resorts took the unusual, possibly even unprecedented step, of limiting some purchases.
Guests at hotel general stores discovered a 10-item limit on essentials like bottled water. Disney wanted to ensure that everyone had enough.
These professionals were right to be worried, too. Sales of the infamous Hurricane Meal Kits caused long lines, but that wasn’t the worst part.
At some resorts, supplies ran so low that Disney encouraged guests to dine at the hotel restaurants instead. Again, that’s a first to the best of my knowledge.
Thankfully, the shortages proved temporary due to the reopening of the theme parks on Friday.
Disney’s Big Comeback
Here’s a partial list of places that Disney closed for Hurricane Ian:
- All four theme parks
- Typhoon Lagoon
- Disney Springs
- ESPN Wide World of Sports
- Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- Bungalows at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
- Treehouse Villas at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
- Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
I could go on, but you get the point. Hurricane Ian shut down Disney for two days.
Park officials did what they could. Disney extended ticket expiration dates and temporarily eliminated cancellation/modification fees.
Disney also stopped performing hotel check-ins for 48 hours during the storm, thereby discouraging guests from being out in the inclement weather.
Also, Disney refunded all guests with Not-So-Scary Halloween Party visits since those were no longer feasible for many.
MickeyBlog reported 3,000 cancellations for the Friday event. But that’s only half the story.
Disney hosted Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Friday!!! The parks held up so well during Hurricane Ian that there was no need to cancel the event.
In fact, by Saturday, the parks were running at nearly the same efficiency as the week before Hurricane Ian. Walt Disney World is a remarkably resilient place.
While Floridians will continue to feel the impact of Hurricane Ian for a long time to come, Disney fans can breathe a sigh of relief. It could have been so much worse.
Feature Image: GREGG NEWTON/AFP/Getty Images)
Thanks for visiting MickeyBlog.com! Want to go to Disney? For a FREE quote on your next Disney vacation, please fill out the form below and one of the agents from MickeyTravels, a Platinum level Authorized Disney Vacation Planner, will be in touch soon!
Feature Photo: disneytouristblog.com