Surviving Severe Weather at Disney Parks

Being that hurricane season is upon us in Central Florida, and we are hunkered down for Irma, I thought I’d re-share this helpful article from Erika! Enjoy! ~M

Surviving Severe Weather at the Parks, By Erika

On Monday January 23, 2017 it hailed for a whole 3 minutes in California, at Disneyland. On the other side of the United States in Florida, just 24 hours earlier Walt Disney World was also dealing with severe weather alerts that warned of hail and possible tornado activity. One can joke that Disney World gets all the “good” stuff before Disneyland, but in this case, it wasn’t necessarily the “good” stuff, or the gray stuff.

Florida’s weather can be unpredictable. There is a designated hurricane season where the state risks being pummeled by categorically classified storms, but if there is anything you need to know about the Sunshine State it’s that severe weather can happen at any time. Lucky for you, I am going to shed some light on how you can survive severe weather at the parks.

Aside from blogging for TMSM, working for the State and owning Imagineering Emporium, I am a first response volunteer with the American Red Cross and have a graduate certificate in Emergency Management Homeland Security from Florida State University. What that means is that I’ve been trained to assist emergency personnel if anything severe happens in our state, and I am constantly provided with information on protocols for emergency situations that can range from weather related incidents to active shooter incidents. Being the emergency management nerd that I am, and visiting the parks frequently, I wondered if anyone else knew what to do in the event of severe weather like what we saw this past weekend at Walt Disney World.

First, it’s important to understand that The Walt Disney Company has guest safety initiatives in place that are highly ranked in the realm of emergency preparedness. They also operate with transparency to let you, the guest, know just how serious the company is about your safety related to severe weather with the release of The Walt Disney Company safety report.

The report states “Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida is the first theme park and resort in the United States to be declared a StormReady® community. To be officially StormReady®, a community or site must establish a 24-hour emergency operations center, have redundant communications systems to receive severe weather forecasts and warnings and to alert the public, create a system that monitors local weather conditions, promote the importance of public readiness through community seminars and develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training severe weather spotters and holding emergency exercises. StormReady®, a program started in 1999, helps arm America’s communities with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property-before and during an event.”

In the event of severe storms that may impact the park, you will likely receive a notification on your mobile device if you’ve enabled a weather app. If you have a twitter account, @WDWToday will tweet a weather update asking guests to check local media weather and ask a Cast Member if additional assistance is needed. Rest assured that Cast Members have been fully trained on how to direct you to safety.

If you happen to not have your weather app enabled on your phone, or you don’t use twitter and you are caught in severe weather, here are a few safety tips to remember:

1. At the first sign of severe weather, take shelter indoors.
This may be uncomfortable and a mad dash to find your way to an enclosed building quickly, but the sooner you aren’t exposed to the elements, the safer you will be. Don’t just duck under an overhang in situations such as these, find an actual building to seek shelter. You still run the risk of being hit by debris if there is a lot of wind, or pegged by bouncing hail.

2. If you are driving to the park and encounter severe weather, especially hail, pull over.
Find a spot on the side of the road until the storm passes, and when pulling over look for a place where there aren’t a lot of trees. When severe weather hits, you can unknowingly be in harm’s way if a tree limb falls and blocks your safe passage out of the area, or worse, damages your vehicle.

3. If you have service animals and severe weather strikes, grab your companion and follow tip #1.

Inevitably, Walt Disney World can be subject to some nasty storms, rain, and even hail. So the more you know about where to go, and how to seek help, the better prepared you will be in the event of a severe weather emergency.


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