Hurricanes and your Orlando vacation: 4 things to know
Last Updated: October 4, 2016 7:10 AM
As of writing this, Hurricane Matthew is approaching Florida. While it’s still too early to tell how much of an impact it will have on the state and Orlando, we thought it may be a good time to go over some important information you should know if you’re visiting Orlando during hurricane season (June 1-November 30).
As of this moment, Matthew will make its closest approach to Central Florida Thursday evening, October 6 into Friday, October 7. It is currently forecast to be a Category 3 hurricane, which is considered to be a major hurricane with winds between 111 and 129 MPH (178 and 208 KM/H). It’s currently expected to stay east of Orlando off of the coast, but could change paths unexpectedly and will likely impact travel.
Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency for every Florida county due to the severity and magnitude of Hurricane Matthew. “Again, while we are preparing for the worst, we are hoping for the best and will not take any chances with a storm of this magnitude,” Scott said.
1. You may be able to reschedule or receive a refund
Your safety is the top priority of every theme park in Central Florida. Due to this, they all have similar severe weather cancellation policies in place.
None of the cancellations policies include airline tickets, car rentals, or vacation insurance. You’ll need to check with those specific parties for their severe weather cancellation policy.
Walt Disney World Hurricane Policy
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 reschedule or cancel your vacation package and most room only reservations (booked directly through Disney) without any cancellation fees.
Select special events and dining experiences are not eligible for refund.
Call 407 939-7675
Universal Orlando Hurricane Policy
If you are not able to travel to Orlando due to an active named storm impacting your travel, you’ll be able to reschedule your vacation or receive a complete refund. This policy is for the on-site hotels only and does not include theme park tickets. However, in many cases these park tickets can still be used at a later date.
Reservations must have been booked a minimum of 7 days in advance and cancelled before 6pm the day prior to arrival.
Call the same number you used to book.
SeaWorld Parks Hurricane Policy
In the event a named tropical storm or hurricane approaches Orlando, Tampa, or your hometown, the parks will reschedule or refund any vacation package and/or individual park tickets booked through SeaWorld Vacations, Busch Gardens Vacations, DiscoveryCove.com, SeaWorld.com, Aquatica.com, BuschGardens.com, or the call center.
Call 1 888 800-5447
2. Outdoor attractions will close
Perhaps chalk this one in the “obvious” category, but outdoor attractions at all of the theme parks will be closed in the event of inclement weather. Outdoor entertainment will be moved inside or cancelled.
Indoor attractions, including haunted houses at Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights, continue to operate during severe weather. The only exception is the occasional occurrence of a queue or house flooding.
3. Theme parks may close
Busch Gardens Tampa frequently closes due to severe weather. However, it is extremely rare for the Central Florida theme parks to close due to weather. With this being said, it can happen if directly threatened by a hurricane. In August of 2004, Hurricane Charley caused the theme parks to close early one day and remain closed the following day. A similar situation happened in 1999, when Hurricane Floyd caused the theme parks to open late.
Floyd ended up not having a large impact on Orlando. Charley, however, brought 145 MPH winds. It would become the sixth most costly hurricanes in The United States’ history, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Prior to Charley in 2004, the last time Orlando took a direct hit was Hurricane Donna in 1960.
All theme parks attractions in Central Florida are designed with the threat of a hurricane in mind. This means if worse came to fruition and the theme parks did close due to a direct threat of a hurricane, it’s unlikely for there to be a large amount of structural damage. Theme parks would reopen shortly after this worst case scenario.
4. You may be asked to take shelter at your hotel
If a hurricane is bound for Orlando while you’re staying at one of Disney’s or Universal’s Resort hotels, you may be asked to take shelter in your rooms. Historically, the staff has done an extraordinary job at keeping guests calm and informed. They’ll ensure everybody is fed and likely put extra entertainment in place. In emergency situations, guests may be asked to gather in a large, enclosed space with no windows.