How Disney Prepares for a HurricaneWalt Disney World: J. Dana reviews the theme park resort's procedures for riding out a major storm. And TPI readers respond with first-hand accounts of Hurricane Frances' trek across Florida.
From J. Dana[Editor's update (9/5/04): Scroll down to read eyewitness updates from central Florida Theme Park Insider members on Hurricane Frances' progress through their neighborhoods.]
Posted September 1, 2004 at 10:04 AM
Not that this is all that groundbreaking, but with Frances heading straight for Central Florida, it's interesting to see how Walt Disney World is preparing for the possible/probable onslaught of another hurricane:
Post Storm Phase
Comments in chronological order. Most recent at the bottom. Scroll down to respond.
From Robert NilesThanks for the report.
Posted September 1, 2004 at 10:11 AM
It's staggering to consider just how much stuff needs to be secured in a resort like Walt Disney World. All those benches, umbrellas, queue stanchions need to come in or be tied down. Watercraft need to be docked in shelter or stored. Decorative signage needs to come down. All the while the people doing that have to arrange to do the same sort of thing for their personal homes.
So here's a round of applause for the hourly cast members who get the job done.
From Robert NilesAll flights into or out of Orlando International after noon Friday, Sept. 3, have been cancelled.
Posted September 2, 2004 at 12:31 PM
Get ready. TPI members are invited to post their experiences here, and to e-mail photos to me via email@example.com.
From Jason MooreI'm on the west coast of Florida, so thankfully we don't have the threat of the direct hit, but we will be feeling it's effects. Our schools have been closed for tomorrow so that they will be available as shelters to people fleeing the east coast. This this has a lot of people quite nervous because of it's immense size. if you look at the radar and the satelite images you can easily see that the storm is larger than the entire state! So everyone is going to feel something from this monster.
Posted September 2, 2004 at 1:40 PM
From Jason LesterVery interesting report.
Posted September 2, 2004 at 6:09 PM
From Mike DuchockSince Charley was the first major storm to hit the WDW property in it's 33 year history, the company has learned many lessons.
Posted September 2, 2004 at 8:38 PM
One interesting thing to note is many windows have a protective film designed to protect against hurricane force winds, however someone decided to tape the windows anyway. Taking the tape off also took off the film, leaving ugly Xs on the windows. One example of this are the doors of the Tomorrowland Arcade facing the Tomorrowland Indy Speedway.
From Chuck CampbellWhen Isabel blew through Williamsburg, emergency officials told folks not to bother taping their windows because it really didn't help much. Then you have to scrape off all that adhesive--or paint the tape strips and pretend that you're living in a Tudor-style home.
Posted September 3, 2004 at 5:37 AM
From Jason MooreTape is pretty much a waste of time when 120 mile an hour winds are picking up things and projecting them through the air like missiles.
Posted September 3, 2004 at 6:24 AM
From mark walkerHow many more friggin hurricanes are there gonna be after this one???!!!
Posted September 3, 2004 at 6:51 AM
From Agent RThe tape is not to prevent the windows from breaking. It's to keep the broken glass in large chunks that will most likely stay in the sill or fall to the floor under the window rather than having thousands of tiny shards blowing through the room.
Posted September 3, 2004 at 8:35 AM
From Adrian WalkerIt's hard to believe but I've heard that this Hurricane is heading for the SAME route that Charley took. That is really going to aggravate people. TWO hurricanes! What next? How are the parks supposed to cope? Chaos rules in Florida.
Posted September 4, 2004 at 12:01 AM
From Robert NilesActually Charley hit Florida from the Gulf Coast, while Frances will make landfall from the Atlantic side. But the two will bissect the state in a "X," with the crossing just south of Orlando, if the Frances' current path holds.
Posted September 4, 2004 at 9:27 AM
The storm has weakened considerably over the past two days, from maximum sustained winds of 145 mph to about 105. The storm is simply too large to sustain category 4 or above strength. But if it parks itself over the Gulf Stream, and an upper-atmophere wind shear dissipates, it could strengthen before hitting the coast.
From Joe LaneContinus coverage is coming on TV, radio and online through Bay News 9, Tampa's 24-hour news channel. Their reporting is pretty reliable, and anyone interested in the current situation would find a good deal of information on their site.
Posted September 4, 2004 at 10:08 AM
I've kept to my apartment in Tampa for this weekend--gusts are coming and going outside and rainbands are passing through. I'll post updates as time and power warrents.
From Ben MillsIs there likely gonna be any more after Frances? And how much longer will this one be around?
Posted September 4, 2004 at 10:29 AM
From Matthew ArmstrongI live just north of WDW and WNW of Universal and Sea World. About 20 min., depending on traffic, from each park. The biggest issue with Frances is less likely to be wind or wind related damage but unbelievable amounts of rain. Forecasts are coming in with anything from 6 to 20 inches of rain! That's a lot of water.
Posted September 4, 2004 at 10:35 AM
The theme park drainage systems should be able to handle it, but much of the city still has debris from Charley lying around which has the potential to clog storm drains. If this happens, major flooding could result.
As of 1:30p ET we've seen our first outerband squall. It wasn't terrifically strong, but we all know it's gonna get a lot worse. As long as I have power and internet access, I'll try and give updates through out the day.
From Deborah DavisTo answer Ben: No one knows how many more will form before the season is over (in Nov., I think). We do have another one, "Ivan" that should become a concern in another week or so. After that, who knows. Keep in mind, we went from "B" (Bonnie) to "I" (Ivan) in 2 weeks.
Posted September 4, 2004 at 2:50 PM
I live in Pinellas County, and the wind is just now starting to blow. Schools were cancelled yesterday and we're all going stir-crazy. I just wish it would hurry up and quit stalling.
From Matthew ArmstrongIt's me again. Here in Orange County, we're going a bit stir crazy as well. The rains are finally here, but not much wind thus far. At this point, rain is still the greatest threat to everyone in this area.
Posted September 4, 2004 at 4:02 PM
At last report around 300,000 people/businesses are without power. That number is expected to rise dramatically if/when the storm begins to move inland. I believe Disney is on Progress Engergy and Universal is on Orlando Power. I'm not sure about Sea World, they may also be on Orlando Power as well or Possibly Florida Power.
The lights just flickered, so I'd better get off the computer now in case it goes out. If I can, I'll let you know what's happening around the theme park area later tonight. (current time is: 7:10p ET)
From Joe LaneFrances is a tease.
Posted September 4, 2004 at 7:03 PM
The extremely slow speed of the 'cane has it sitting just off the east coast. Although it falls in category 2 (105 mph winds)--a vast improvement from the category 5 stance earlier this week--the sheer size of the storm means central Florida/Polk County will be feeling the winds by the time the monster makes landfall.
Wind and sprinkling rain has fallen here in Tampa, but nothing major thus far, although Frances may not even be anywhere near the bay area until Sunday night/Monday morning.
On a personal note, the latest track takes the storm right through my hometown, Mulberry. There may not be a home left to go to after this.
Why'd this thing have to ruin our Labor Dabor Weekend?
From Matthew ArmstrongWell, it's just daybreak. The winds have been literally whipping all night long and the rain has been mostly steady. However, there is good news, the rain has not been falling all at once which is giving the drainage systems the time to move it out to the retention ponds. Disney's prmiary water retention location is the seven seas lagoon. Universal's three major water ways are their holding areas, and Sea World's lagoon also serves as their primary water retention location.
Posted September 5, 2004 at 4:01 AM
The latest reports say that we still haven't seen the worst of it, but thus far, west Orange County is getting through this relatively painlessly. Power has fluctated all night long, right now (obviously) it's on. At first light, I can't see any downed trees, which is also good. Let's keep our fingers' crossed or keep praying (or both).
(current time: Sun, 7:05a ET)
From Joe LaneAccording to Bay News 9:
Posted September 5, 2004 at 8:49 PM
Walt Disney World will open the following resorts on Monday, September 6th:
Sunken Gardens closed Sunday.
MOSI closed Sunday.
Florida Aquarium is closed.
All Walt Disney World Resort hotels would remain open throughout the storm.
Busch Gardens of Tampa Bay and Adventure Island will be closed Sunday and Monday.
Islands of Adventure, Universal Studios and Universal CityWalk in Orlando closed Sunday.
From Robert NilesMatthew Armstrong e-mails this report:
Posted September 6, 2004 at 9:21 AM
If you're wondering why I haven't written any updates recently, we've been without phone/DSL all night. We just got DSL service back, but the World Wide Web is still unavailable. So here's an update if you'd like to post it:
From Jason MooreWell, it's Tuesday morning and school is still closed. I beleive it has to do with some areas still being without power, the schools needing to recover from their shelter status, and some of the flooding that may still be around. Thankfully I had no damage here, and the worst I had to deal with was 24 hours without power, and the insane stir crazyness.
Posted September 7, 2004 at 5:53 AM
From Joe LaneAll present and accounted for.
Posted September 7, 2004 at 7:18 AM
The power went out in Tampa around 8AM and was out all day, as near as I can tell. Flooding is widespread. Last night I came back home to Mulberry--just south of Lakeland--and the homestead had been without power for nearly two days at this point. Power came back on around 3 this morning, there's practically no damage, just a few shingles and some limbs.
From Deborah DavisHey, Pinellas came through alright, as well. We had a few trees come down and lost a few road signs in our area, but the tedium was by far the worst aspect of the storm for us. We lost power for 11 hours Sunday afternoon to Monday early AM, but our Cable TV was out from 2PM Sunday to just 5 minutes ago. When the storm hit the Gulf, it started to intensify, then shot the stronger bands back at us due to its rotation. We had moved most outdoor stuff indoor, so cleanup was mostly oak tree leaves and branches. (Twenty trash bags full from our front yard, alone.) School was cancelled again today, mostly due to a few signal lights being out and a shortage of gas in our area. (Also, some shelters are still open for people without power.) I'm just glad is wasn't worse.
Posted September 7, 2004 at 12:23 PM
This discussion has been archived, and is not accepting additional responses.
Enter the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Insider's Pick: There's only one place in America to where you can enter the world of Harry Potter: the Universal Orlando Resort. With Universal Orlando 2014: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate Theme Park Adventure, you'll learn everything you need to know to save money and time while enjoying Harry Potter and all the other world-class attractions at Universal Orlando.
Top U.S. Theme Parks
Other Top International Parks
Features, News and Advice
Stories from a Theme Park Insider
Stories from a Theme Park Insider offers a warm and often-funny look at what it's like to work inside the world's most popular theme park. It's a great read for theme park fans!