Recently Florida experienced Hurricane Ian. How does a resort like Walt Disney World handle a hurricane? Ryan was our on-the-ground reporter during the storm, and today he’ll discuss it all.
Disney World During a Hurricane
Our Travel to Orlando
- Airport was going to close
- Parks would be closed Wed/Thur
- Was it still worth it?
- Polynesian (prep, chairs, cast)
- Food (QS open, meal kits)…smooth logistics
- The lobby
- The bar/snacks & drinks
- TV announcement
- What Poly was like
- Messages like camp (Colleen, FB, etc)
- Weather cleared
- Grand Floridian (bar, characters, dinner)
Days at the Parks After the Hurrican
- We did tons but at a nice pace
- Statues and bounty hunting (what I thought of MagicBand+)
- Guardians of the Galaxy’s Cosmic Rewind
- Three Bridges
Question: What’s an experience you’ve had traveling during a hurricane?
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Episode 132 Transcripts
Episodes are transcribed with artificial intelligence, so there are likely some highly amusing translations!
Shayne: Hello and welcome to All Things Travel. Recently Florida experienced Hurricane Ian. How does a resort like Walt Disney World handle a hurricane? Ryan was our on-the-ground reporter during the storm, and today he’ll discuss it all.
Ryan: A couple weeks ago, I was at, well, Disney World during Hurricane Ian, and it was an experience a good experience. I’ll spoil the headline there with that and before we talk about it, I do wanna put out a big disclaimer. Okay. I get it. I have friends in the St.
Petersburg area. I have friends in the Fort Myers area. What they experienced was very different than what I experienced at Walt Disney World, and I understand as people were saying, Why in the world are you going to Florida? In a hurricane partly I had work commitments. I had activities that we had planned, and quite frankly, by the time those things were gonna be happening, the weather looked a lot better.
And we went in, my wife and I went in knowing that for a couple days we were gonna hunker down at Disney at the Polynesian. For the hurricane, and I was willing to do that. And I realized that for a lot of people, their trips were changed. Their plans had to change. But for us, it worked out.
And partly today I want to talk about how Disney handled that and they did a great job. But I do wanna throw out that disclaimer that I understand that, Hurricane Ian was a big deal and people are still dealing with it and we really appreciate and understand.
Shayne: And it did make for some interesting conversations in a couple of our messaging groups where we were, Some of us were trying to talk you out of going, Some of us were saying that you should go ahead and go. I think we all agreed that we probably would’ve recommended that most clients. Not do that
Ryan: I did notice our Facebook group, you put out a poll there and most people wanted me to head down and I think that was just cuz they wanted to see what was gonna happen to me.
Shayne: they knew that you were gonna be on the ground reporting. And travelers are adventurers. We want experiences and this is a new experience that we were able to experience vicariously through you.
Ryan: Most families are confused and overwhelmed when planning a vacation. We work with you to plan a trip perfect for your interest, saving you time, money, and stress.
Shayne: We would love to help you plan your next amazing vacation.
Ryan: Reach out to meRyan@creatingmagicvacations.com. That’s r y firstname.lastname@example.org. Here’s how our trip played out. Well, I’ll kind of do a blow by blow if that if that sounds good to kind of talk about how we handled the storm, and then how that all played out. Does that sound
Shayne: Sounds good.
Ryan: Tuesday afternoon, we were to leave and we had already changed our plans.
We were gonna go down on Wednesday morning and we thought it was best to move to Tuesday evening the night before. Just to give us a better chance of being able to get down there. We knew that the airport was gonna close the next day. We knew that the parks were gonna be closed on Wednesday and Thursday.
So again, we went into this knowing what was gonna happen. We weren’t already down there and things had changed. So we made the decision, my wife and I that our flight was not canceled. Our flight was ready to go. And so we headed down to Orlando when we got there. The, it there was a light rain.
Oh, well, no, I shouldn’t even say it was a good rain. But the airport seemed normal. There were uber drivers, there were people, going around. We went to our hotel and by that time it was about midnight. So that was the, Very much the end of our travel day the next morning. Then as we got up, it was rainy things were picking up.
And after breakfast, we headed to the hotel that we had planned for the rest of the day, the Polynesian. And it was, by the time we got there, it was about 10 30 in the morning and the storm was really supposed to hit by later Wednesday by later that day. And you could just tell when you got there again, the parks were closed and.
The lobby was full and you could just tell people were kind of hanging out. You know, and people had board games. They were handing out drawing pictures or, you know, crayons and pictures. Later on that day, there were characters that came out. that event staff the pool staff, you know, that does all the games and stuff at the resorts.
They were working their tails off over the next couple days. Shayne,
Shayne: Oh, I be.
Ryan: There was stuff that was constantly going on for people. It was awesome to see. You could already tell Disney was kind of preparing themselves. You know, they had by the doors, they had mops and things set up. They had baskets of towels, so as people came in, they were able to dry off.
And really by 10 30 that morning, our room was already ready at the Polynesian, and so we went and checked in and did all that kind of stuff. We did notice that they had moved our patio furniture inside. And some people moved that out into the hallway but that was in our room you know, cuz we were on the first floor.
so, you know, they were preparing for that. I will say one of the things with the Polynesian and this is something to think about, I was glad that we were at a deluxe level resort because the lobbies are larger, there’s more open spaces, there’s more dining options and we’ll talk about that as the kind of the story unfolds here.
By that time, we are ready for lunch and we went to Captain Cooks, which is a quick service at Polynesian, and they had a normal menu. Everything was completely normal, but they were also selling meal kit. So they were selling boxed lunches with sandwiches and cookies and apples and water. And they were selling that like seven bucks a piece.
You know, that’s not Disney prices. And they had breakfast boxes and things. I think basically what they were doing was they were trying to make it so people could get stuff back to their room, things like that. So we bought some box lunches to have later in the day, maybe for a dinner if we needed to, had lunch and.
Pretty much hung out in the lobby and saw everything that was going on. It felt very normal at that time, which was.
Shayne: Feeling normal, felt abnormal,
Ryan: Well, cuz you kind of knew something was hap was happening, right? I mean, the weather was getting worse and and still not to the point where we shouldn’t have been out. I mean, it was just a, it was just a rainy day at Disney. But, you know, there were lots of people around, There was lots of stuff going on.
As you can imagine, the bars were very full
Shayne: Sure. Hi. Bet. Yeah.
Ryan: yeah, and so, so, you know, we spent some time at the bar. We had some snacks to drinks. We talked to the cast members. I have to tell you, Shayne, the cast members made this situation memorable. They all. Were there working, ready to go. They knew what they were supposed to do.
They knew their job was to work with folks staying at the resorts and man, what a testament to the cast members at Disney.
Shayne: They train extensively for events like this and never really get to put it into practice. So I bet there was a part of them, a part of a lot of them, that were excited about finally getting to employ some of the skills that they’ve been practicing for so long.
Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So then by the end of that night The weather was picking up pretty bad and there was a, there was an announcement that came on the TV that basically said, Hey, everything in the lobby shutting down, please go to your room. You know, kind of hunker down for the night if you will.
You know, it was, they didn’t want, especially because again, with Polynesian being multiple they didn’t want people you know, go going out.
Shayne: and a great time to be in a deluxe level resort where you’ll have a little more room in your room than the other resorts.
Ryan: we were lucky cuz it was just my wife and I, you know, if we had our two teenagers with us, it might have been a very different feel in the, cuz we did spend a lot of time in the room, and again, we knew it was gonna be like that for the first couple days and we were willing to do that, to be there for Friday and Saturday.
So that next day we got up and. Went to in search for breakfast, and this is where, this is the one aspect of the situation that was not as good. And this is if you know how people say like, you know, first world problems, right? Like this really felt this way. We didn’t know what times restaurants opened and it was very inconsistent that the information that we were getting and you know, You would see online that nothing at the grand for was open.
And then you would look on Facebook and somebody was at the Grand for and saying, Oh my gosh, they’ve got all this food. And we had friends over Animal Kingdom, or we had a friend over Animal Kingdom and she said, Everything’s open. You know, bmas having a $20 breakfast buffet and a $20 dinner buffet. And it’s exactly the same as what they normally would.
And so it, it was it, the information was inconsistent. You know? Now if that’s the biggest problem. That’s okay. You know, we got to the lobby and everything was printed out as far as this is, these are the activities for the day. It felt very cruisy. You know, these are the activities for the day. Here are the restaurants when they’re open, things like that.
And again, Captain Cooks had a full menu for breakfast and all that kind of stuff. And then throughout that day, we just kind of hung out. I did some work, my wife did some work, we watched some tv. And again, that’s where I kind of told people it kind of felt like camp because as you would go to the lobby, you’d hear people talking about this, or you’d message somebody and they’d say, This was going on.
There was a lot of kind of, you know, back and
forth, and, By the later afternoon. Then that Thursday the weather cleared up and you know, the rain went away. As we walked around Polly, we kind of took some time to, to walk around cuz we’d been in our room for the last you know, day or so.
There was bamboo down, there were trees down there was brush, you know, debris around. Very little that we would notice that there was a storm. There was nothing too bad. And I know that wasn’t the place everywhere, but definitely at the Polynesian it was it was in pretty good shape.
So that night we we actually walked over to the Grand Floridian. I kind of felt like, I kind of joked with my friends. I’m like, I felt like I was in like a World War II movie. We were like sneaking out of our resort to go into another resort. Cause at the time, at the peak of all this Shayne, I mean, they were actually saying, you know, we will not let other, I mean, everybody needs a hunker down for real.
Don’t try to take a taxi somewhere else. Don’t try to walk anywhere else. Stay where you are. And really by Thursday night that had pretty much gone away.
Shayne: they were probably leaving things open in your resort So you’d have plenty to do there encouraging you to stay there, but
you to go to another resort.
Ryan: yeah. Absolutely. And so we, and again, we were good sports about it. We knew what we were getting into and so we went over the Grand Floridian and Nacuzzi that night was actually having a $20. Buffet and they had, you know, really good food, high quality food.
So that was kind of nice to get what I would consider kind of our first meal if you will. Went to the bar. The Enchanted Rose there for the first time. There were characters all over the place. Again, they were trying to keep people going. At that time, Disney had sent out an email.
And also posted on my Disney experience and as a travel advisor, you know, I got messages throughout the entire thing. We got messages on my Disney experience throughout the entire thing. So Disney did a good job overall of communicating. I just wish resort wide, they would’ve done that a little bit more anyway.
That what they were gonna do was they were gonna have a phased opening the next day. The parks were gonna open a an hour or so later than normal for resort guests for several hours, and then they were gonna open to the general public for the rest of the day. So resort guests had a chance to leave the resort and get to the parks a few hours before everybody else.
Shayne: It doesn’t sound like you ever felt unsafe or endanger at any point.
Ryan: A absolutely not. I, you know, Disney has set themselves up. You know, their structures are set for a category five hurricane. Their electrical system is underground. They, they are they know where they are. They know that hurricanes exist, you know, living in the Midwest, I know that tornadoes are part of the, a part of life here.
And so, you know, hurricanes they know them well and And so they were ready to go. And it was interesting talking to the cast members about, you know, well this feels like this past hurricane, or the last time I was here on what they called the right out team riding out the storm. You know, the last time I was here on the right out team, this is what we did.
And so that was kind of neat. Like use said they, they were kind of ready. They were ready to put their training in.
Shayne: would you do it again?
Ryan: I would feel safe to do it again. the weather on Friday and Saturday and there were some specific reasons why we were going down. Looked perfect if I was doing an opposite. If I was going where the weather was really good, but the storm was coming and that was still kind of unknown.
I don’t know if I would because I, again, we had enough of a sense of how the storm was gonna be in the Orlando area to know that we were gonna have time to, to do things on our trip later on. And to be quite honest, you. I’m used to working when I travel. I’m used to working out of hotel rooms and just to have some time to relax with my wife and, you know, spend time together and have a little time away.
That’s not such a bad thing, right?
Shayne: sounds like the reason that you take vacations in the first place.
Ryan: we did have some Disney fun after that point on Friday and Saturday, and I want to tell y’all about that, some of our experiences. But first Shayne, I wanna know where in the world is All Things Travel?
Shayne: Fremont California,
Ryan: Fremont, California. All right.
Shayne: north of San Jose on the San Francisco Bay, and there’s a cool little place called the Mojo Lounge, which is described as a mellow spot for live rock and blues. So,
Ryan: sounds like you to a t. I mean, if I could engrave something on your tombstone. I would say loves mellow spots for live rock and blues. A and I would enjoy it too. A absolutely. That sounds great. Well, hey, Fremont, California, thank you so much for listening to all things Travel. We love hearing all the places people are from.
Do us a favor, reach out to me either on email or on the Facebook group, cuz I have a nice little thank you gift for being featured on today’s.
Shayne: And to make sure that you hear where in the world is All Things Travel next week, be sure to follow the show so that you never miss any of our travel tips, travel ideas, or travel stories.
so what park did you go to on Friday?
Ryan: So on Friday we went to Magic Kingdom, which we had planned to do and we were meeting up with friends. And so, We went there, you know, kind of rope dropped at the new time, if you will. And it was very busy at the front like it is every morning. But really the crowds were light.
You know, I, we were kind of at the point where, People who needed to leave were leaving and people who were holding off their plans for the, you know, because of the weather hadn’t come yet. So it was kind of a nice day to just enjoy Magic Kingdom. We were able to do. Almost everything we wanted to do at a really nice pace.
It was a wonderful magic Kingdom day. We spent time with our mutual friend Colleen, you know, my wife Elizabeth and I spent time with her. We rode rides, we did shopping. We went to Skipper Canteens for lunch. We had a really, really good time. And then by mid-afternoon we made our way over to Hollywood Studios because one of the things that my wife and Coen got into is we bought the Magic Band Pluses for this
trip. And one of the things you can do with that is you can unlock the 50th anniversary statues around the parks. And so you go up to them, you wave your magic plus. Band and they make sounds or they say something. And then on the Play app the Disney Play app, you actually kind of get a score for that statue.
And so my wife loves to gamify.
Absolutely everything she can. And so then it was like, it was on, man. Like, it was like, Okay, we’re doing this and then we’re doing this, and then we’re doing this. And so we headed over to Hollywood Studios, had a good time with that. And the other thing that we did was we did bounty hunting in Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.
So they have a new place where you go and get a mission on your magic Plus. Your magic band Plus, and you walk around Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, and it’s got a red. Color or green color. So it’s kind of like red light, green light. So as if it’s green, you’re going the right way. If it’s red, you’re not, And it has haptics in it.
So it will buzz, it will vibrate, and you come to doors. Around Galaxy’s Edge and you scan with your phone and find if your bounty is hiding behind that door, and then you go back after you find your bounty and get your credits. We’re not quite sure what the credits do yet, but I’m sure they’re gonna be very valuable.
You know, it’s fun. It’s a fun thing to do. Here’s my thing with the Magic Band Pluses. I don’t think if you are new to Disney, There’s enough cool things to do with it that it makes sense, especially because you have to charge it in order to do all those things. So my wife’s magic band kept losing enough charge so that she couldn’t do some of those things, and she had to relink it and she had to charge it, and she had to do all this, that and the other thing. Disney already forces you to be on the app all the time, on your phone all the time. This is just another thing now. I think that Disney’s going to keep doing stuff throughout the parks and it’s gonna get cool. I just don’t think it’s there yet. What I would say is maybe get one for your family. You know, if you want to try it out, but don’t feel like everybody has to get it.
Shayne: And how do you charge it?
Ryan: Just with a charging cord. So, so either with an external battery or USB charger just like you would with any sort of d device.
Shayne: you just charge it with your external battery as you were walking around doing other things.
Ryan: yep. And it charges quickly. You know, and, but I would say, You know, if you’re used to the magic bands, one thing I did like about it was even if it wasn’t charged, it would do all of the things that a regular magic band does.
You can unlock your room, it’s got your park tickets, It’s it’s all good. It doesn’t have to be charged you that stuff. It’s not like you’re gonna get to the park and because you didn’t charge it, you can’t get.
Shayne: And it’s a new technology, so we are at the very beginning just scratching the surface of
Ryan: Absolutely. It’s totally early adopters, so you know, it’s one, That’s why I say I, I’m sure that Disney is gonna be rolling this out in, in other things. And then after that we headed over to Coronado Springs to meet up with my one of my podcast hosts from my other podcast, The Happiest Played On Earth Wendy and her husband Robbie.
And. So we met at Three Bridges at Corona Springs, which I absolutely love. I know you’ve been there Shayne. It’s a bar that’s in the middle of a lake and it has three bridges going to it. It’s a great place to relax. They have a, they have margaritas, they have you know, sang Korea flights.
It’s just a really cool place. Absolutely. And Then the, five of us, so Colleen, Elizabeth, and myself, Robbie, and Wendy all went to dinner at Toledo’s and this was our first time having dinner there. It’s at the top of Coronado Springs at the Grand Dustino Tower. Man, if you are looking for an, a good dinner a nice dinner.
Let me say it that way. A nice dinner. It’s not stuffy by any means, but it’s Spanish inspired food. It is. Oh man. Shayne. It is. It was a wonderful meal.
Shayne: I do love Spanish food
Ryan: I’ve heard that. I’ve heard that. And so, yes. So I would highly recommend it. We will definitely be going back. It was you know, because my other podcast focuses on Disney food, we wanted to have a variety of meals while we were there and Toledo was kind of our signature meal, if you will.
And it was great. It was a really nice meal.
Shayne: Very nice.
Ryan: So the reason we were there on this trip is on Saturday. Was Epcot’s 40th anniversary.
Shayne: How was that?
Ryan: it was good. unlike the 50th of magic Kingdom where it felt like they really didn’t do much. They actually had some different things going on with the 40th. They had a program, they had some special things throughout the day.
I thought they did a good job. A couple highlights here. I rode guarding to the galaxy for the first time. Elizabeth can’t write it because of motion sickness.
Ryan: The guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic rewind, Shayne. It was awesome.
Shayne: I bet it is. It looks amazing.
Ryan: It’s an inside rollercoaster.
It is unlike any inside rollercoaster I’ve been on before. Totally cool. I paid to get the pass cuz I really wanted to try it. And then I did end up later in the day getting a virtual pass for a second time. But didn’t write it because we wanted to get out before the fireworks were done, so I could have ridden it twice if I wanted to that day.
Had a wonderful lunch at Space two 20. Try food and wine. First thing stood in the line for the tequila cave with Robbie Corn. You know, that was kind of our rope dropping experience. And you know, Elizabeth and I went back and forth, you know, do we want to get Genie Plus for today? We figured we might as well.
We didn’t the day before for Magic Kingdom. But we thought maybe with the 40th there might be more people around. And with it being a Saturday, we probably didn’t need it. But with having it, we did every single ride we wanted to do by dinner time.
So it was, it was it, it was totally worth it.
Shayne: So not as crowd as you had expected it to be for Epcot’s 40th
Ryan: Well, it’s interesting because to be honest the a as Disney’s A as Disney has kind of moved into the longest line throughout the day was the merchandise line.
Shayne: Sounds good. Yeah.
Ryan: so, you know, I mean food, Food and wine. The World Showcase side definitely got busy later in the day. The rest of the park was not that busy.
It was just, and the weather, again, not to minimize the first couple days of the storm, the weather on Friday and Saturday were absolutely gorgeous.
So that was our trip. That was our trip to Walt Disney World. So two days of hanging out and letting Disney take care of us and making sure that we were safe and taken care of and well fed and all that kind of stuff. And then two days of fun, you know, adult fun at the park.
Shayne: Is there a ride, another ride that you would compare the Guardians of the Galaxy cosmic rewind to?
Ryan: It was like if you take the ride system of. Rise of the resistance or Remy’s Ratatouille adventure where the car kind of spins around and does kind of stuff. and then you put that on a space mountain track with the graphics of rock n roller coaster throughout your time.
Ryan: That’s what it is.
Shayne: A little bit like Escape From Gringotts?
Ryan: It’s got a little bit of Gringotts to it because you’re actually seeing some screens, some things going on during the trip and then each ride is programmed with a different song. I had Disco Inferno playing, which I thought was just perfect.
I love that for my first time. So it, it’s a lot of fun. You know, I can definitely see there’s no way that my wife is going on it. There’s just with motion sickness, she just, she could not handle it. And I, and that’s been the one complaint that I’ve heard about it is it does trigger you.
If that’s a problem for you. But other than that, it, it was awesome. I mean, I love the Guardians of Galaxy characters. I love the Guardians of the Galaxy movie or the movies, and it really played into that. It was awesome. It, It’s a good addition to Epcot.
Shayne: Yeah, they needed another
Ryan: Yeah. Absolutely. Well, there you go, Shayne.
That was my trip report there. So,
Shayne: Pretty interesting. We don’t talk about hurricane trips. This is, I guess the only second time we’ve talked about hurricanes affecting a vacation in our All Things Travel podcast. Back when we had a travel story from our friend Chris,
Hurricane Katrina kind of chased them into New Orleans.
Ryan: That’s right. Yes, I remember that. I remember that show. That was an interesting experience. Yes. I, you know, I, it was as a travel advisor that works primarily with Disney, I did have a curiosity about how Disney would take care of us. And so I did have, I wanted to be there. I wanted, you know, we, we had the ability to be there cuz we already had a trip planned and I wanted to see and they rose to the occasion.
No doubt about that. The cast members were top notch.
Shayne: And now we can know, depending on the client, whether or not we would advise them to go ahead and go for their trip or cancel their trip.
Ryan: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Shayne: We would love to help you plan your next amazing vacation.
Ryan: Reach out to me at Ryan@creatingmagicvacations.com. That’s R Y A n, at Creating Magic Vacations.com.
Shayne: Most families are confused and overwhelmed when planning a vacation. We work with you to plan a trip perfect for your interests, saving your time, money, and stress.