When Weather Threatens Your Vacation | Walt Disney World Hurricane Policy

Alright, Disney fans. The concerns about Hurricane Irma are real, and you have a lot of questions about the Walt Disney World Hurricane Policy.

I get it.

Who wants to see all that money, time, effort, and planning get blown away? It’s not very magical, Mother Nature!

The good news is that Disney World has a plan in place and, like everything they do, they want to cater to their guests with safety in mind. They know you will be worried about, well, everything if you are trapped on site when a hurricane hit.

Know your options if a hurricane warning is issued for the Disney World area or your area before you travel.

Here is the official policy Walt Disney World Hurricane Policy and what it might mean for you.

Walt Disney World hurricane policy: what you need to know if your travel and family vacation is in the way of a category 5 storm.

Walt Disney World Hurricane Policy

First of all, hurricanes are predictable- and not-so predictable. While the current forecast does look daunting for Florida, these storms can and do change course, often at the last minute.

So don’t panic. Just yet anyway.

As a side note- I lived in central Florida during the summer of 2004 when we were hit 4 times by hurricanes. And Disney still stood strong!

Walt Disney World hurricane policy: what you need to know if your travel and family vacation is in the way of a category 5 storm.

I remember how shocked the community was when they decided to close for one day in anticipation for Hurricane Jeanne because, well, Disney World never closes.

In fact, Disney World has only closed four times previously due to hurricanes, and usually for just one or two days at a time. The likelihood that your vacation can continue is high, even if you’ll get a little wet in the process.


Travel Insurance

While it’s likely too late to hear this for trips planned during Irma, if you have any travel to the Orlando area scheduled through the remainder of hurricane season (November 1), you might want to consider travel insurance.

It is non-refundable, but it’s also invaluable should a major event like a hurricane interrupts your travels.

Disney sells it with their packages through Travelex, and it costs $77.50 per adult.

There are other reputable stand-alone providers available as well such as Allianz and Travel Guard.


Hurricane Cancellation Options

Here’s the scoop from the Disney World website.To sum up: if you or your travel agent booked directly through Disney, you could reschedule or cancel without fees.

Q. What does it mean for my vacation plans if a hurricane warning is issued within 7 days of my arrival date?
A. If a hurricane warning is issued by the National Hurricane Center for the Orlando area—or for your place of residence—within 7 days of your scheduled arrival date, you may call in advance to reschedule or cancel your Walt Disney Travel Company Magic Your Way vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly with Disney) without any cancellation or change fees imposed by Disney.

If you have products and services provided by third-party suppliers included in your vacation—such as airlines, hotels, car rental agencies or vacation insurance companies—you will continue to be responsible for any non-refundable payments, as well as cancellation or change fees assessed by those suppliers.

This policy also applies to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort or Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort in the event a hurricane warning is issued for those destinations.

You can read more in detail on Walt Disney World’s Hurricane FAQ page.


Can I Keep My Free Dining?

Or any other discount that I am currently booked with if I change dates?

Free Dining at Walt Disney World

Unfortunately, Disney will not be able to honor discounts such as free dining if you need to reschedule to another date.

If the same discount is available on your new date, then yes, of course, you can book it! But Disney won’t create a free dining opportunity if one does not exist due to the hurricane.

Your travel agent can help you navigate those waters and rebook.


Cancel Those Dining Reservations

When you booked your dining reservations, you provided a credit card and clicked a box saying that a no-show would end up costing you $10 per person.

Welp. That is still the case with inclement weather.

Be sure you cancel any reservations you will not be able to make.

Bon Voyage breakfast pastries


Third Party Resort and Air Reservations

If you booked through a third party such as Expedia or Orbitz, the Walt Disney World policy will not extend to these reservations.

The same applies for your airline reservations.

You’ll need to contact each one and see what their policy will entail.


You Can Stay At Disney World Through the Storm

It’s not a bad idea, honest!

Last year Disney World was impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

As a travel agent, I witnessed firsthand the good (and bad) of weathering the storm at Disney World.

The good:

  • they didn’t lose power
  • everyone was safe
  • food and water were generally available
  • the parks opened as soon as possible for guests to enjoy

The bad:

  • the communication among cast members varied from resort to resort
  • reports that some folks were able to order from the kitchens; but some were only offered the opportunity to purchase pre-made sandwiches.
  • some resorts requested guests stay in their rooms; others embraced the storm with activities and characters in the lobbies

The usual hurricane suggestions will remain in play: keep phones or IPads charged, listen for announcements, stay away from windows when possible, and go ahead and fill the bathtub with water so you can keep flushing as needed!

While the likelihood of a hurricane making a direct impact on Walt Disney World is not huge, it’s always wise to be prepared and know your options.

SUPER IMPORTANT: If you need to make changes, it’s best to wait until the hurricane watch is actually in effect for the area; at that point, Disney will be able to work with you on your travel needs.

Until then, your reservation will be under regular operating policies.

Stay safe, travelers!

Walt Disney World hurricane policy: what you need to know if your travel and family vacation is in the way of a category 5 storm.


  • BrianT. says:

    What’s the policy for being trapped during a hurricane past your reservation departure?

    • Patty says:

      I don’t think there is a written policy, but they will work with you on a case by case basis. If you are trapped there, that means the people that planned to stay in your room when you leave probably aren’t showing up! I know when Matthew occurred in 2016 there were many guests working out arrangements at the front desk and via the phone with the Disney cast members. My suggestion would be to have that chat early and make any arrangements soon after arrival if you anticipate a concern. Because the lines at the desks were pretty long!

    • Becky says:

      We are supposed to check out Saturday so I’ve been wondering the same thing if it hits early.

  • I’m supposed to go to Disney for a corporate event on Monday. I’m obviously concerned about the weather, but I figure corporate travel can worry about the logistics.

    • Patty says:

      I would guess decisions will be made by Friday on something like that. Disney may ask them to reschedule just to be on the safe side. Will have to wait and see! I wish this was weakening but man, it’s just getting stronger today!

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Patty Holliday

Patty is a 40-ish mother of four living in Virginia. A bit geeky, sometimes sarcastic, lover of a candid confession. She's trying to love running, she swears. But much like her marathon, it’s taking a very long time. Ahem. She's searching for the perfect way to balance family, work, travel, and fitness. Perfect defined as high on fun, low on guilt.