Fans of the Walt Disney World Resort, as well as Guests and Cast Members who plan to be at Disney World this year on September 10, are bracing for the possible, the somewhat probable, and the unimaginable.
Important Dates in Disney’s History
Dates have long been important to Disney fans. October 1923: Walt and his brother Roy began their business, Disney Bros. Studios, which would grow into the multi-billion-dollar company known as Disney someday. July 17, 1955: Disneyland, the very first Disney Park, opened its gates for the first time. (That Sunday came to be known as “Black Sunday” because so many things went wrong with the opening of Walt’s first park.) November 15, 1965: Walt Disney and his brother, Roy O. Disney, held a press conference in Florida alongside Gov. Haydon Burns.
During the press conference, plans for the second Disney Park, originally only referred to as “The Florida Project,” were announced. The Disney Brothers duo talked at length about the upcoming construction of Disney World in Central Florida atop acres and acres of swampland Walt purchased incognito.
The date December 15, 1966 marked perhaps the darkest day in Disney’s history, as it’s the date that Walt Disney passed away at St. Joseph Medical Center at the age of 65. But since that time, there have been much happier dates to celebrate, like October 1, 1971, when the Walt Disney World Resort first opened to guests.
A Date Less Worthy of Celebrations
But one date on the calendar can be troublesome for some Disney fans–and especially worrisome for guests visiting Disney World, as well as for the cast members working to make magic for those guests on that date. It can be troublesome every year at Disney World, but this year, a special event makes the date even more concerning.
That date is September 10.
A Threatening September, Year After Year
Florida’s location makes it among the prime targets during the Atlantic hurricane season, which begins on June 1 and concludes on November 30 each year and includes the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea. The season sees varying numbers of tropical disturbances, tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes from year to year, but a few things tend to be true of the season, no matter the year.
The greatest amount of activity in the Atlantic Basin occurs between mid-August and mid-October. And though they are rare, most Category 5 hurricanes, which are capable of horrific, life-threatening storm surge and damage, have historically developed in the month of September.
Hurricanes are usually fueled by surface water temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Water becomes warmer at a slower rate than air does, so while temperatures on land usually peak in July, water temperatures usually have a delayed peak in the months of September and October, which explains why Atlantic hurricane season activity often makes history during the month of September.
Though they are rare, the majority of Category 5 hurricanes–those with wind speeds of at least 157 miles per hour–have taken place during the month of September. Since 1924, there have been 38 Atlantic hurricanes that reached the Category 5 level, even if only briefly. Of those 38 storms, 24 occurred in September. The most recent was Hurricane Ian in 2022, which made landfall in Southwestern Florida as a Category 4 storm.
And on September 10, Atlantic Hurricane Season activity peaks.
Increased Threats for Disney World Guests & Cast Members
Thankfully, Disney World is located in Central Florida–as far from the east coast, west coast, and southern coasts as it can be, but that doesn’t mean hurricanes pose no threat to the resort and to the people visiting or working there. In fact, there have been several times when the threat of a hurricane forced the Florida Disney parks to close: September 1999, August 2004, September 2004 (twice), October 2005, October 2016, September 2017, September 2019, and September 2022.
The Atlantic Hurricane Season requires a watchful eye from management at Disney World so that guests and cast members remain safe. But the unpredictability of hurricanes can translate into unpredictability in a Disney World vacation–especially during September.
An Added Concern in 2023
This year, there’s an added concern at Disney World on September 10–the date that hurricane activity reaches a peak in the Atlantic Basin. That’s because a major event is scheduled to take place at the Florida Disney Parks during that peak.
Destination D23, a Disney fan club event, will take place from Friday, September 8 through Sunday, September 10, at Disney’s Contemporary Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort. It is expected to be well-attended, as tickets for the event have been sold out since March. This means that in addition to the usual attendance at Disney World in September, there will be thousands more on Disney property during the peak of hurricane season activity.
Here’s hoping the remainder of this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season is calmer than usual and that those visiting Disney World in September have a great time at the Most Magical Place on Earth!