Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Hurricane

This week's Florida hurricane/tropical storm brought back memories of our Disney hurricane experience. I'm terrible with names and dates, so don't ask me which one it was! I feel like it was 6-8 years ago, but I could be a little off with that info also!

Anyway, I think when we left for our trip, there were rumblings that one was heading towards Florida, but it certainly wasn't close, and since so many tropical storms don't turn into hurricanes, we were comfortable heading to WDW.

On about the third day, the weather men and ladies started covering it, and of course, got very worked up about it. We felt that since we were in the middle of the state, the impact would not be as strong as if we were on the coast taking the full brunt, so we decided to ride it out and not end our vacation early -- although a lot of guests did head home.

We also were comfortable with the sturdiness of Disney hotels. The Boardwalk was not that old, and we were sure it was probably built with standards much higher than basic hurricane standards. We also figured Disney would be able to get power back up and running pretty fast, because of its everyday operating procedures.

So the day came that it hit the Daytona area. I think there were high tides and some flooding, and some high-wind damage, but luckily no devastation occurred. Later that day (or the next day), all of the parks did close early, probably around 1 or 2:00, and all guests were transported back to their hotels. This was done for our safety, obviously, but also so CMs could get home and take care of their families and property.

We were at the Studios that day, and saw a lot of preparations going on to batten down the hatches. Trash cans, benches, chairs were taken inside. Signs were removed or tied down. And at that time there was an old car on the right side as you headed down Sunset Blvd that was a pin station. We saw them wrapping that car in Saran wrap -- tons of it -- to keep the rain out.

Once the Studios closed, we headed back to the Boardwalk. Here also, there were no benches, trash cans or chairs left outside. It was really strange seeing the pool with nothing around it! It was also strange seeing video on the local news of the airport with NO planes anywhere on any tarmacs. You don't see that very often!

Since all the restaurants on property and at the hotels were closed (so CMs could go home), Disney provided small buffet tables in the Boardwalk lobby, and for $5 you could fill up a styrofoam dinner box with whatever you wanted. Then we took it back up to the room, settled down and watched the Orlando weather people get all worked up! Disney also instructed us via a letter under the door to stay inside, keep the curtains closed and fill the bathtub with water.

Our hurricane was going to be over Orlando in the middle of the night. I think I woke up about 3 a.m., looked outside and only saw a little rain. Luckily that time, the hurricane had worn itself out and was nothing more than a heavy rainstorm by the time it got to Disney.

Later that morning we let the water out of the bathtub, and had either a letter or voice mail from Disney saying that Animal Kingdom would be open that day. It seems like it opened at noon, but many of the shows that involved CMs (Tarzan, Lion King, etc.) did not run, probably because of limited staffing. There were a lot of supervisors out that day running the park!

Needless to say, AK was packed since it was the only game in town. But it was still good to be out of the hotel room and back in the sunshine. The next day, everything opened on time, and WDW was back to normal operations.

It was neat to see Disney in action -- but if that ends up being my only hurricane experience in Floriday, that will be just fine!


Jeff said...

Interesting report Deb. Thanks for sharing that.

Rae! said...

Cool. Very interesting. They took are of the guest.