The Great North American Solar Eclipse: Here’s What You’ll See If You’re Standing at Disney World

solar eclipse disney world
Credit: Becky Burkett/NASA/Canva

News about the upcoming solar eclipse has been making the headlines across the country for months now (and so have the strange predictions, fears about a COVID-like run on toilet paper, conspiracy theories, and odd warnings).

solar eclipse

Credit: NASA

Many in the United States, from Texas to Maine, will be treated to the incomparable visage of a total solar eclipse, but what will you see–and when will you see it–should you have plans to spend Solar Apoc-eclipse Day at Disney World in Central Florida?

Solar Eclipse vs. Total Solar Eclipse: What’s the Difference?

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), there are, on average, two to three solar eclipses per year, but total solar eclipses occur every 18 months, though they are only seen by people in the path of totality, which encompasses a relatively small area of the Earth’s surface. As such, the next total solar eclipse that will be seen in the United States won’t be until the year 2044.

A solar eclipse occurs when the sun, the moon, and planet Earth align. As the moon passes between Earth and the sun, the sun’s light is temporarily blocked, casting a shadow onto the Earth. A partial solar eclipse occurs when only part of the sun is hidden by the moon, and a total solar eclipse occurs when the moon completely obscures the sun.

The All-Important “Path of Totality”

The word totality has become commonplace in recent weeks as many eclipse enthusiasts revel in the once-every-400-years-phenomenon to which many in the United States will be treated as the sun and moon tango in the skies over North America on Monday, April 8, 2024, during what has been named The Great North American Solar Eclipse.

The path of totality, which has been a hot topic this year as North Americans prepare for the eclipse, is the track of the moon’s shadow over the surface of the Earth. This swath of shadow is usually 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers) long, but it’s only about 100 miles (160 kilometers) wide.

During Monday’s solar eclipse, the path of totality will begin in the Pacific Ocean and travel across the northern territories of Mexico, into the state of Texas, and continue toward the state of Maine, across a few small areas in Canada, and into the North Atlantic Ocean.

path of totality

The path of totality during the 2024 solar eclipse/Credit: The National Solar Observatory

In any one location, total solar eclipses are only seen every four hundred years, meaning that residents living in the path of totality, this writer included, will not see another total solar eclipse until the year 2424 (unless, of course, they move or visit an area in the path of totality during another total solar eclipse).

The 2024 Solar Eclipse in Central Florida

Because viewing the solar eclipse from a location along the path of totality is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many, some who live in this year’s path of totality but will be out of town are sorry they’ll miss such a visage. That is, unless they are out of town because they’re on vacation at Disney World.

(After all, being at Disney World instead of at home in the shadow of the moon for just over four minutes is the only instance in which we wouldn’t be sorry we missed out on the hyped-up totality visage.)

Here’s what you can expect to experience during Monday’s solar eclipse–and when you can expect to experience it, should you be at the Walt Disney World Resort.

According to the National Solar Observatory, or NSO, the Great North American Solar Eclipse will last approximately 2 1/2 hours from start to finish and will begin in Central Florida at approximately 1:46 p.m. EST. Max eclipse will be reached at 3:03 p.m. EST, and the eclipse will end at 4:17 p.m. EST.

solar eclipse path in central florida

Credit: The National Solar Observatory

Central Florida is a large region, so depending on where you are in the area, the exact times of the eclipse may vary by a few seconds to a few minutes.

No Total Solar Eclipse for Disney World Guests . . . Yet

Central Florida won’t see a total solar eclipse on Monday, but according to meteorologists, a total solar eclipse is coming to the Orlando, Florida, area on August 12, 2045, and as a result, “Disney World will be plunged into darkness in the middle of the day.”

Not only will Magic Kingdom Park and the rest of Disney World’s four theme parks (surely by 2045, there will be at least five theme parks at the Central Florida Disney resort) be in the path of totality that year, but the eclipse will be one of the longest in duration in a very long time, as the 2045 total solar eclipse is projected to last for six minutes and 30 seconds, nearly two full minutes longer than many in the path of totality will experience during this year’s total solar eclipse.

solar eclipse disney world

Credit: Becky Burkett/NASA/Canva

Can you imagine standing in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom when, all of a sudden, the Central Florida skies over the park suddenly go dark for more than six minutes? If you’re visiting the park on August 12, 2045–over 21 years from now–you’ll imagine no more, as that image will become a reality.

But Floridians and visitors at Disney World won’t have to wait 21 years to experience the partial solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. Residents of Florida, as well as those who are just visiting the Sunshine State, can click here to see a more detailed timeline of the experience on Monday.

Expect Weird Things to Happen During a Total Solar Eclipse

In an interview this week, Derek Demeter, the Director of the Emil Buehler Perpetual Trust Planetarium at Seminole State College of Florida, said that during a solar eclipse, you can expect some out-of-the-ordinary things to take place.

“Temperature drops, you hear birds, you hear insects,” Demeter said. “It’s just really incredible, and one thing that people don’t understand [is that] if you do get a clear sky, you have a 360-degree sunset,” Demeter said.

target store and toilet paper

Credit: Target Corporation/Canva

Wow. We certainly dodged a bullet there, as we’re pretty sure we can handle that kind of weirdness during the eclipse. At least there was no confirmation of the validity of any conspiracy theories related to the eclipse–and no mention of a run on toilet paper at Target!

There was also no mention of an apocalyptic event that would lead to Disney World closing its gates for an entire year!

A Word of Caution

Be sure to wear your solar eclipse glasses if you’ll be looking up to the skies on Monday afternoon. Anyone looking at the sun should protect the eyes with glasses specifically designed for use while viewing the eclipse. Ordinary sunglasses–even those that block UV rays–will not protect your eyes from being damaged if you look at the sun, even during an eclipse.

solar eclipse as people watch

Credit: Canva

The only exception is for those who will view the eclipse along the path of totality. But even if you are viewing the eclipse from a location along that path, you’ll need to wear protective glasses during the entire event, except during the approximate four-minute-long window of time during which the sun is completely obscured, or eclipsed, by the moon.

No one wants to deal with potentially permanent blindness that can result from damage to the retina of the eye for those who attempt to look at the sun without eye protection.

solar eclipse glasses

Credit: Disney/Good Morning America

According to the Baylor College of Medicine, some people might recover their vision as the retina heals. But many will never recover their vision, and at this time, there exists no reliable treatment for the condition, referred to as solar retinopathy.

Will you be in the parks at Disney World during the Great North American Solar Eclipse on Monday, April 8? Let us know about your plans and what you hope to see in the comments section below.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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