You'd hardly know that a Hurricane was coming while walking through the parks. Aside from the phone notifications for the watches and warnings and cast members slowly but surely tying things down and bringing tables inside, everything was normal. Showers past by as they usually do, the afternoon sun heating things up, guests filled the parks, fireworks went off, and the day went on.
And that's exactly how the day prior to Hurricane Matthew went this past October. Usually traveling to Florida in the winter months, a hurricane had never before been a concern. There was no reason to be concerned, after all, because hurricanes don't happen in the winter, at least most of the time. But going in October, things were a little different. We haven't been to Disney in October since I was only a couple of years old, and we definitely didn't have any weather troubles then. Even traveling in the summer for the past few years nothing specific has come up aside from once being stranded back in Wisconsin because of some thunderstorms.
So a hurricane was a new one for us, and we had no idea what to expect. Turns out, not much changed. I'll have another post about the actual hurricane experience, but there's something specific to be said about the preparations at Disney in the 38 hours leading up to the storm.
When we left Epcot the night before, showers unrelated to the storm had just gone through, and a beautiful sunset (which you can see in the above photo) was coloring the sky above the parks. We headed out after IllumiNations to head over to Magic Kingdom to make sure we caught the Electrical Parade one last time, and at that point everything seemed pretty ordinary. In World Showcase, some of the lights were tied down or wrapped to protect them from any potential damage, and the tables and chairs that are usually sitting out were brought indoors, but that was it.
At Magic Kingdom, nothing seemed out of the ordinary at all, and as the next day went on and storm clouds rolled in, everything still seemed normal aside from a distinct lack of people and a haze of uncertainty in the air. Once it was announced that the parks would be closing in the afternoon, the reality of the situation began to set in, but everything still seemed fine.
And that was probably the weirdest part about the whole thing - the sense that nothing was really wrong. The cast members were incredibly calm despite the fact that they had homes to worry about and a trek from the parks through the storm back to them, and that kept the sense of panic at bay. Honestly, I think the craziest it got was while we were at The Grand Floridian right before heading back to the Boardwalk, and made our way into the store, where a large hoard of guests were stocking up on absolutely everything (we were just looking for some butter).
So was the preparation for a hurricane what I expected? No, absolutely not at all. But it felt right, and it definitely made me feel safe the whole storm through.
Have a magical day!