What to do in an earthquake at Disneyland?

December 5, 2023, 4:49 PM · Last night, a minor earthquake struck near the Disneyland Resort, closing rides and sending thousands of fans streaming to the parks' exits. The 3.3. magnitude quake was centered near Fullerton, about three miles away from the parks. It appears to have caused no substantial damage, though some people felt weak-to-light shaking elsewhere in Orange County and southern Los Angeles County.

This one was minor, but does remind us to ask... What should you do if an earthquake hits while you are visiting Disneyland?

First, if you live in California or even if you just will be visiting for a while, I would recommend downloading the free MyShake app from the Apple App Store. There's also a version available for Android, but California's earthquake early warning technology is automatically included on many Android phones. This tech can - emphasis on "can" - provide you with a few seconds' warning when an earthquake of magnitude 4.5 or above strikes. Based on how close you are to the epicenter, you might get no warning or you might get several moments.

The earthquake last night was too weak to trigger a MyShake warning, and many park guests either did not feeling the shaking or thought it was just part of whatever ride they were on. So there was a bit of confusion as to why so many attractions were closing at once. Disneyland will close its attractions when an earthquake hits in order to inspect its ride systems for any potential damage or malfunction. Once the rides are cleared, they will reopen.

So here is my advice:

  1. Get the MyShake warning app.
  2. If you feel shaking, move away from anything above that might drop onto you, as you would in a quake anywhere. If you can get under protective cover immediately, such as a heavy desk, do so. Otherwise, just drop down and cover your head. But do not start running around looking for shelter. In a crowded environment like Disneyland, a stampede of frightened people could become more dangerous than the quake itself.
  3. Once the shaking stops, stay where you are and assess your surroundings. If it's safe to go on your way, do so. But if you are concerned for your safety, find a cast member for help.
  4. Recognize that attractions will be closed for a bit. But when rides reopen, they likely will do so with empty queues and fewer people in the park. If you can wait out the inspection time after a minor quake, you might find some prime riding time on the other side.
  5. If there's been a major quake, definitely seek out cast member instructions. It might be safer to remain in Disneyland for a bit than trying to leave and crowding roads while first responders need to move quickly. Or cast members might have a specific evacuation plan for you to follow. Either way, look for cast member directions, and please be patient, because those instructions might not come for a few moments.

Earthquakes happen daily throughout California, but most are too weak for people to notice. Earthquakes strong enough to feel do happen from time to time, but major quakes that cause extensive damage and loss of life are rare. (I'm frantically looking around for wood to knock on as I type this.) So do not worry about an earthquake if you are planning a trip to Disneyland.

Just get that warning app, and then be smart if one does occur.

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Replies (1)

December 5, 2023 at 7:26 PM

I was in my hotel a few minutes from Knottā€™s and felt it there. Nothing major, just a brief shake and heard the TV rattling for a little bit.

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