Walt Disney World Closing Its Doors For Irma – When And Why Have The Parks Closed In The Past?

Hurricane Irma is already threatening the southern coast of Florida and is going to bring dangerous situations to the entire state which has led Walt Disney World to close its parks for only the fifth time in history. Some people may find that hard to believe as the theme park giant heads toward its 50th anniversary in 2021, but it is certainly true. With that being said, let’s check out all dates and reasons that WDW has kept the gates of its theme parks closed.

There is little doubt that Hurricane Irma is a very serious storm that could cause severe amounts of damage to many parts of Florida. On Friday afternoon, Disney took this threat seriously and announced on their official website that all parks would close by Saturday evening and remain closed until at least Tuesday.

Keeping the parks closed is not something that happens often, but the most recent before Irma’s arrival was just under a year ago for Hurricane Matthew. The severe storm blew into Florida in the early part of October 2016 and it caused the parks to cease operations for around a day-and-a-half as reported by USA Today.

It was quite a frightening situation for many people as it was new to almost everyone. Matthew closed early closures of the parks on Oct. 6, 2016, and the parks stayed closed through Oct. 7, 2016.

The reason it was so new to virtually everyone is that the last time Walt Disney World had stayed closed before that was 12 years prior due to Hurricane Jeanne. In late September of 2004, that storm closed Disney to keep its doors closed on the 26th, but it was a bit more common at that time for everyone.

Earlier in the month, Hurricane Frances had already made its way through Florida and caused WDW to stay closed for Sept. 4 and 5, 2004.

The very first time that Magic Kingdom and the other parks didn’t open was on Sept. 15, 1999, when Hurricane Floyd decided to show its face in Central Florida. It was a strange happening for every single person and no one really knew what to do, but as you can see, it’s not very common for that type of thing to take place.

walt disney world close down hurricane irma floyd 911 frances jeanne matthew
[Image by Danny Cox]

To recap everything, here are all the dates that Walt Disney World stayed closed to all guests. These dates include full closures and not early night closings.

  • Hurricane Floyd – Sept. 15, 1999
  • Hurricane Frances – Sept. 4-5, 2004
  • Hurricane Jeanne – Sept. 26, 2004
  • Hurricane Matthew – Oct. 7, 2016
  • Hurricane Irma – Sept. 10-11, 2017

One of the only other times that Walt Disney World has had an earlier closing than scheduled was on Sept. 11, 2001. After the terrorist attacks that day, all parks were cleared out in the early part of the morning and reopened the next day.

2004 was not a good year as Hurricane Charley closed an early closure on a Friday, but WDW was back open on Saturday.

As of Saturday morning, Hurricane Irma is continuing to be a severe threat for almost all of Florida and it is heading more toward the west coast, but Walt Disney World isn’t safe and clear. This huge storm covers almost the entire state and outward into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean which means closing the parks was the right call. It isn’t something that happens often, but now, you know all of the times that WDW has kept the doors of its theme parks closed to all guests.

[Featured Image by Danny Cox]