25 October 2009

Floyd forces parks to close for first time in history

Growing up in Central Florida, one tends to inherit a respect for nature and weather, especially during hurricane season. Having lived through my share of hurricanes, near misses, and severe weather it has always amazed me at how well the safety systems at Walt Disney World worked in controlling their responses and limiting guest inconvenience as storms approached and wreaked havoc. In fact, there was not a single closure on their record until 1999, when Hurricane Floyd spun in for a visit.

The front page article, as well as many of the interior stories, from the September 23, 1999 issue of Eyes & Ears, Floyd forces parks to close for first time in history, describes the events.
For the first time in the 28-year history of the Walt Disney World Resort, the theme parks, as well as other attraction areas, closed to guests for a full day.

Because of storms expected from Hurricane Floyd, the Walt Disney World Executive Emergency Operations Team decided to close Walt Disney World attractions and administration areas early on Sept. 14 and keep them closed on Sept. 15.

On Wednesday, Sept. 15, the Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, and the Disney-MGM Studios and all water parks, recreation areas and most administration areas remained closed throughout the day.

The weather cleared early Wednesday morning, and it was obvious that Central Florida was spared the brunt of Hurricane Floyd. Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened at noon that day for Walt Disney World resort guests only.

It wasn’t the first time harsh weather conditions forced the parks to modify their hours. On Aug. 31, 1985, the Walt Disney World Resort closed early, at 5 p.m., because of Hurricane Elena. Ten years later on Aug. 2, 1995, Hurricane Erin forced a late opening at the theme parks; they opened at 11 a.m.

Except for a few trees that fell because of winds, the Walt Disney World Resort didn’t suffer any major damage.

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