In addition to bringing great(er) shame on the once-proud name of Irma, the latest Hurricane coming out of the Atlantic is causing Florida, FEMA, and even the House of Mouse to sweat. In a rare move, Walt Disney World is closing shop on 9/10 and 9/11 in order to prepare the park for the storm and dissuade residents from trying to enjoy Typhoon Lagoon in category 5 winds.
Perhaps the closing of a theme park shouldn’t serve as a litmus test to the severity of a storm but this would be a unique exception. The park has only been officially closed four times since its opening in 1971, all for hurricanes:
- During hurricane Floyd in 1999 the park closed for two consecutive days, 9/4 and 9/5.
- Hurricane Frances had the cast members scrambling to tie things down in 2004 on 9/15.
- Barely two weeks after Frances, hurricane Jeanne hit Orlando on 9/26 prompting the gates to close once again.
- And last year in 2016, hurricane Matthew closed the resort on 10/7.
To be clear, Disney’s park operations team lists closing events by business day so Floyd, and now Irma, will have prompted two closings each bringing the corporate total to seven closing events. The park was also mostly evacuated in the wake of the September 11th Terrorist Attacks but as the park officially opened that day, it wasn’t technically considered a closing event.