Hurricane on the Way…
When my family and I learned that Hurricane Irma was churning its way straight toward us, seemingly growing more powerful and dangerous day by day and hour by hour, we knew our September 10th Disney plans were likely not going to happen. Our family from out of state
By Sunday we were as prepared as could be: windows boarded, food and water ready and suitcases packed in case of evacuation orders. We hunkered down and waited. Meanwhile, the weather outside remained fairly calm, with a bright sun and just a slight, suspicious breeze. It was surreal, knowing what was barreling our way. The news was on nonstop; around
There were still some light crowds at
Throughout Dinoland, we practically had the streets to ourselves, which was a bit eerie at times. Restaurantosaurus (my favorite paleontologist-themed eatery) was totally devoid of customers; it felt really strange being the only person in there, but needless to
Soon Bryan texted me to say they were out of Flight of Passage. It was as exhilarating an experience as expected; the line was short, the exhibits in the attraction were fascinating and the "flight" itself was awesome. We met at the Tree of Life to watch "It's Tough to be a Bug" with all the kids, but
Our last stop before going home was the birthday dinner. Bryan wanted to eat at Captain's Grill, one of the restaurants participating in the current 45th Anniversary Passholder Discount promotion. We still had plenty of time to get home and wait for Irma, and with the 30% discount promotion happening at the time, we decided to go ahead to the Beach Club (where Captain's Grill is temporarily located) and see if they had any availability for us.
At the Beach Club Resort, I could really see the efforts by cast members in creating a safe and entertaining environment for families as Hurricane Irma grew closer to Orlando. Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and Pluto played games, danced around, played jokes and gave hugs to children and adults. Cast members in the Beach Club garb stayed a constant, smiling presence, managing to add even more comfort and cheer, whether in the lobby or in the Marketplace shop.
It was crowded, but not unbearable; in fact, it seemed that the guests, both young and old, wanted to be around each other at that time. Parents who were stressed couldn't help but smile when their kids played peek-a-boo with Pluto or twirled hula hoops with a cast member. Guests walked around with their furry family members,
Not surprisingly, the Captain's Grill was able to seat us very quickly. We were among a handful of tables getting service that night. The kind and cheerful service by cast members continued there; as servers stopped to chat with the little ones, even quietly dropping an extra (and very delicious) cake "Push-Pop" onto the table (see the pictures - and look for hidden Mickeys)! As far as birthday dinners go, it was nicely done. Although I didn't eat the desserts, I appreciated the presentation, with touches of Disney and Mickey and chocolates with "Happy Birthday" messages. I even had the pleasure of a chance meeting with one of my college students there, who was busy doing her best as a Beach Club employee, making sure that the Disney magic was all around during the hurricane preparations.
Now that Irma has passed through Florida, it is easy to look back and reflect on how the state dealt (and is still dealing) with such a catastrophic event. Most of us know how the hurricane devastated so many lives and homes. At Walt Disney World, and where I live in Orlando, I am beyond thankful for how fortunate we were this time. Miraculously, I was one of the few who didn't lose power. Walt Disney World also kept its power, but still experienced some minor damage throughout the parks and resorts, which is evident in the debris still needing clean-up and certain areas that remain closed (like the Jungle Cruise - my favorite ride). While Walt Disney World is engaged in its own recovery efforts, the Walt Disney Company has also committed $2.5 million to help aid humanitarian relief throughout Florida, the Caribbean and other areas impacted by Irma.
I would like to offer
So, ears off to you, Cast Members! You were the ones who provided a haven in the hurricane to those of us there. Walt Disney World's magic can't happen without you, during calm or storm.
For more about Walt Disney World and Hurricane Irma's impact, view these other posts and sites:
Disney World Reopens After Hurricane Irma by Melissa Ariel
Information on Hurricane Irma Walt Disney World