Hurricane Dorian Initial Information

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Hurricanes are a fact of life for living in Florida. But while the locals have their checklists and supply lists ready to go, and are debating whether this hurricane will follow the EURO model more than the GFS model forecasts, this can be an exciting and nerve-racking time if you are a tourist with a vacation on tap for the Orlando area.

At this point, there’s still plenty of uncertainty about exactly when and where Hurricane Dorian will hit, but there are a few key takeaways based on what we know so far and what has happened with storms of this size in the past.

  1. Dorian will be a major hurricane as it rolls toward Florida. This means that there’s an increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along the east coast of Florida and devastating hurricane-force winds even as far inland as Orlando and beyond.
  2. There will be areas with mandatory evacuations. For some, that will mean evacuating inland–to the Orlando area. Hotel rooms may be scarce. Also, Fort Wilderness campgrounds at a minimum will likely need to evacuate if the storm heads inland. During Irma, Saratoga Springs Treehouses also were required to evacuate.
  3. If you choose to evacuate early and are driving by car, download an an app like GasBuddy, because you can use that in real-time to help locate gas stations that have fuel. The closer you get to the landfall of a hurricane, the more likely you are to be unable to find gas stations with fuel.
  4. There will come a time during this storm when you won’t be able to evacuate outside of this area as roads and airports shut down. If you’re here at that point, you’re going to have to ride it out.

One question we get is “Should I come to Florida?” If it were my family, I wouldn’t. You can have many vacations. You only have one life. I’d prefer to play it safe. Also, you may have to be prepared to stick it out for time beyond your scheduled vacation, which can add additional cost and life stress. Now’s the time to check cancellation and travel insurance policies to know what your recourse would be. If you have a rental car, make sure you find out who is responsible for paying if a tree falls on it during the storm. Get questions answered now, because it will be very challenging (and potentially expensive) to find out the answers later. For more on this topic, we have an article available here.

If you do plan to ride out the hurricane at Walt Disney World, now is the time to gather your supplies. If, for some unknown reason, you want to come down here, pack an extra suitcase with supplies because they will likely be gone by the time you get here. Currently, many local stores are sold out of items like bread, batteries, flashlights, propane, and water. New shipments are arriving daily. Your best bet is to find out what time a local big box store opens and plan to be there at least a half an hour before they open.

Here’s our list from our Hurricane Irma coverage of what you should have on hand:

  • Flashlights. In the past, Disney has provided some for guests, but there is no guarantee.
  • Cash. ATMs and credit card transactions may not be possible immediately following the storm.
  • Water and non-perishable foods. During Hurricane Matthew, Disney offered box lunches for sale. The price was around $13 each, the food was pretty substandard , and lines to get the food stretched for hours at some resorts. If you are able to have your own food on hand, you’ll be doing better than most. Currently, most stores in the area are sold out of water and are low on perishable foods. Use social media to help locate food and water.
  • Ziploc bags. Should your hotel room experience damage that causes leaks, put your electronics (including electronic car keys) in a Ziploc bag to avoid damage. Also put travel documents, insurance cards, and other important item in a Ziploc bag to avoid damage.
  • Closed-toe shoes. Even when the all-clear is given, a lot of debris will be down, and there’s potential for “displaced animals” (snakes, fire ants, etc.) to be in debris that you may be walking through.
  • Bug spray. After a hurricane, the mosquito population booms.
  • Baby wipes and cooling towels. It is possible that you will be in a stuffy hotel room with no a/c and no ability to shower for a few days. Baby wipes and cooling towels make it more bearable.
  • Non-electronic entertainment. The time during a hurricane when it is not safe to go outside can go for more than 24 hours. During that time, you may lose power. Also note that some Disney hotels use satellite TV, and so you likely will not have TV even if the power stays on during the storm.
  • First aid kit and medical supplies.

We will be updating the blog on a daily basis as closings and cancellations come in, and how things are looking in the Central Florida area. There’s never a time to panic, but now is the time to prepare.

Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and spirited nine-year-old daughter.

11 thoughts on “Hurricane Dorian Initial Information

  • August 29, 2019 at 5:35 pm
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    well this was a lot more doom and gloom than i expected from this site…

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    • August 29, 2019 at 6:09 pm
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      From a site that prides itself on objective reviews and maximizing fun, stating “get out of the way of a Cat 1+ hurricane, and if you are stuck here, here’s what you would need that you might not think of” sounds pretty expected to me. Hurricanes aren’t fun. Extra people who are putting themselves at risk when they don’t have to aren’t fun, and are putting emergency personnel at risk. Fire ants, mosquitos, and snakes aren’t fun if they’re biting you and hard for many folks to classify as fun at other times. I don’t think this is doom & gloom, I think this is realism.

      There are plenty of people who are going to be unavoidably stuck in Orlando through this. Keeping them safe is a huge problem. Going to Orlando or staying down there when you *can* leave because you’ve had a vacation planned is just adding to that problem, and isn’t gonna be fun for anybody.

      Reply
    • August 29, 2019 at 6:10 pm
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      There’s the potential for a hurricane and she’s giving preparation advice. Did you expect “Put on your Mickey ears and head to Fantasyland”?

      Reply
    • August 30, 2019 at 5:04 pm
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      I live in the Charleston. SC area and have been through many hurricanes, including Hugo. This advice is spot on accurate.

      Reply
  • August 29, 2019 at 6:21 pm
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    We were camped in Ft. Wilderness when a Cat 1 came through. We were required to evacuate and had to go as far as Ocala to find a room. Luckily it was not bad, only one night. Disney offered cots in the Grand Floridian ballroom, and box lunches, which didn’t sound very appealing.

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  • August 29, 2019 at 6:30 pm
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    They’re projecting that this will be a Cat 3 to Cat 4 when it hits the Florida coast. Better to be prepared, or stay home if you’re not already there. This is good advice for an uncertain and potentially dangerous situation. The parks will be closed anyway through the storm and the ensuing cleanup.

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  • August 29, 2019 at 9:32 pm
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    If Disney Resorts specifically Fort Wilderness, were a bit more flexible on the cancellation and refund policy, more people would not have even come.. We tried to cancell and reschedule multiple times, but all Disney did was quote their Hurricane Policy.

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    • August 29, 2019 at 9:51 pm
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      I just cancelled our Labor Day weekend trip to Universal Studios. I had to be very insistent with the guest services representative with whom I spoke, and explained to them that my main concern was getting stuck in the airport during our return flight, after Labor Day. I pointed out that even though a warning had not been issued yet, one was likely to be issued after our arrival date. Our presence during a hurricane would certainly not be of any benefit to emergency personnel. Finally, after being put on hold, I was granted a refund as a “one time courtesy.” Shortly after I hung up the phone, the governor declared a state of emergency for Orange County. FYI, Universal specifically states in their policy that if a state of emergency is declared in Florida, guests can cancel without penalty even if they are just a few days away from their stay. I would say be politely persistent and insistent. Too much money is at stake and the risk is just not worth it. Emphasizing that Universal seemed to be encouraging us to put ourselves in danger with their policy seemed to do the trick.

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  • August 29, 2019 at 10:32 pm
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    We are at Disney CBR right now but unfortunately will be moving off site on Sunday -Wednesday at Stay Bridge Suites. I worry that they may not take as great of care of guests as Disney would. We are getting groceries delivered right now just in case. I’m very grateful for this article, being from Michigan, I would have never thought about biting creatures.

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  • August 29, 2019 at 10:55 pm
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    I agree it isn’t worth it. My favorite was the email I got from Amtrak telling me the Auto-Train on Sat pm to Sun am was the last one and to be sure to bring extra water, food and supplies. It took awhile but they finally agreed to let me cancel and refund my money. Disney was much better and allowed us to cancel without penalty for a refund today, they said they were being proactive and not waiting for the Hurricane Warning to go in effect for cancelations.

    So now we are booked on SouthWest for a trip out to Anaheim and Disneyland starting on Monday at the Disneyland Hotel.

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  • August 30, 2019 at 1:44 pm
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    Thank you for this post. Very informative, I am in South Florida and it is a mad house finding basic supplies and gas. I had to come back to specifically state that the gasbuddy.com app, help me find a gas station with gas!

    Reply

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