In September 2017 I visited Walt Disney World and stayed at Caribbean Beach. The day I flew out I got the update that Hurricane Irma was looking to pass directly over Walt Disney World.
I have been in multiple hurricanes in Orlando, so brushed it off as nothing to worry about. I knew what precautions I needed to take in the instance that we would be on lockdown and I knew what would be the limit.
Flying out was a little bumpy, but wasn't anything to worry about. When I arrived for check in, they did inform us again that the hurricane path was still directed towards Disney World. I was told that currently there were no precautions to take and everything was still operating as normal.
It is worth noting that as this point, Caribbean Beach was undergoing severe refurbishments and the quick service dining location was currently in a marquee.
When I got to the room, there was a package on the table.
It was branded to Caribbean Beach and was complimentary.
Upon opening the bag, which was a cool bag and was insulated, was a variety of snacks, cereal, milk, and a flashlight. There was also a document on what to do in a hurricane. Disney was preparing guests for the hurricane and I thought it was great that this was already in the room just in case anyone arrived without being prepared or knowing what to expect.
The next day started as normal, but it was extremely quiet.
This is the area by Splash Mountain leading to the left to Adventureland and to the right towards Liberty Square. This area is usually completely packed with people, but there is virtually no one there. It was great for us, we did the entirety of Magic Kingdom in less than 12 hours, including Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
It was during the day that I got a notification on my phone that all Disney parks were to be closed the next day as the hurricane path had now altered and the storm was heading directly for Disney World. All resort guests were to remain at their resort until further notice and must be back in rooms by 7pm.
Disney would be putting on entertainment, characters and general things to do for the day, including free unlimited Disney movies on the room TV.
At this point it was raining pretty much constantly, but no more than it would for a normal day in the UK.
This is where it became a downside that Caribbean Beach was under refurbishment. There was nowhere really for any entertainment to be put on, the very small food court wasn't solid enough to be somewhere to hang out in and the only established buildings were the rooms. Due to this, the food items were take away only and you were not able to sit in the marquee for too long - understandable.
This was not my normal breakfast go to whilst in Disney, and this still counted as a Quick Service credit which is pretty poor to what you can get normally. But they were doing the best they could.
Luckily, we had a drinks machine very close to the room which was under cover for the most part so we were able to run out to fill our drinks up regularly.
We ended up being on lockdown for two full days; all dining reservations were automatically cancelled and FastPasses removed.
I had several online friends also at Disney at this time, some at my resort and some at others. Other resorts seemed to have better entertainment options because they had fully established buildings. I spent so much time in the room that the Disney movies started to repeat - that is a long time!
I started to get cabin fever so I went for a walk around the resort. The hurricane wasn't due until the very late evening so I made the most of the couple of hours I had before it hit.
I walked to get dinner, which was much more appetising than breakfast. Although I did eat both these meals for two days...not great!
That evening, I filled the bath and both sinks up. Made sure all water bottles were filled, and resort mugs were stocked before we were on lockdown. I also filled the ice bucket, just in case.
I had messages from friends staying at their resort around 11pm that the rain was flooding outside their room and water was very close to their doors. At this point, although I did keep checking outside, I put down towels blocking the small gaps at the bottom of the door. I then went to sleep and didn't think anything of it.
When I woke up in the morning, everything had passed over. The news was saying that at the very last minute the hurricane had a slight direction change so Orlando didn't get the worst of it. I got up and dressed and went for a walk around the resort. Directly outside my door looked perfectly normal.
What did become apparent was that there was still a fair amount of damage. The next few photos are taken from to the right of the photo above.
It was mainly a lot of leaves and fallen branches. I then went for a walk towards the beach and around the lake that the resort was based on.
This was where the main area of damage was. There was a huge amount of large fallen branches, one of which narrowly missed someone's car. The pool closest to my room was filled with leaves and the beach had a lot of fallen palm tree branches.
It was at this point where we noticed quite a few guests were starting to clear up the area, so we began to help. We would pile together broken branches, pull them off the beach, clear chairs and benches, remove big branches from paths and just generally help to make the main clear up easier for Cast Members.
Other resorts suffered much more damage than Caribbean Beach, there were transformers that had blown up, whole trees that had been uprooted and much more.
The next day the Disney parks opened. Multiple attractions were damaged in the hurricane, including Jungle Cruise which was closed for the majority of the holiday. There was a lot of flooding and trees down in all the parks, but no serious damage.