Last week, in light of the path Hurricane Irma was charting across Florida, Walt Disney World made a significant decision: For the first time in the resort’s history, Disney World shut down all four theme parks, water parks, and Disney Springs shopping and dining district for two days in a row, closing doors on Sunday, Sept. 10 and Monday, Sept. 11 to avoid any hurricane-related incidents.
This isn’t the first time the resort’s theme parks have closed since the first park, Magic Kingdom, opened in 1971, but the parks have always been up and running again within 24 hours. In 1999, the parks closed for Hurricane Floyd, then again in 2004 for two more hurricanes, Frances and Jeanne. More recently, the parks shuttered in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew.
While hurricanes have never affected California’s Disneyland, several other events have led to the closure of Disney’s first theme park—including an earthquake, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks—though all still only saw the park shut down for a day.
Disney hotels have remained open throughout the two days, luckily, so vacationers did have a place to stay while Irma passed through Florida. Lucky guests at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin may have even caught a glimpse of a special celebrity guest, “Frozen” star Kristen Bell, who has been staying at the hotel and took the time to offer support and entertainment to senior home residents sheltered at the hotel.
As a resort that draws around 50,000 visitors a day, shutting down for a couple of days was no doubt a decision Disney World didn’t take lightly. However, considering that 62,000 people work for the resort, it makes sense that Disney World would not only want to ensure the safety of resort guests, but also give employees the time and space necessary to make sure their homes and families are safe.
If your Walt Disney World vacation was put on hold by Irma, not to worry, all four parks and Disney Springs are back in action today, though water parks Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach won’t reopen until later this week. Let the magic resume!