Oh my it’s been quite the whirlwind the last few weeks! Hurricane Irma surprised and shocked so many of us! I don’t have a sob story, thank goodness, but I did have plans to go to Disney World the week of Irma. I was supposed to fly out that Sunday afternoon and my flight into Orlando Sanford was cancelled the Thursday before. My husband then tried to play meteorologist, monitored the timing of the forecasts and found a possible window for me to fly early morning from South Carolina(before it hit the state) to Atlanta, then to Orlando International(MCO) in the afternoon AFTER Irma came and went from there. A very NARROW window, but one that might not get cancelled and I would’ve only lost a day and a half in my planned schedule(we’re talking PLAN, for Fastpass +, ADRs, The MNSSHP, Dessert Fireworks party reservation, etc..)I planned my whole week down to the minute. That flight got cancelled on Friday afternoon. Then hubby looked at Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday flights to both airports- SOLD OUT. He started to get creative with driving to Charlotte, Atlanta, etc.. and I finally said, “Look, I think it’s a sign. I think this is the time where I admit defeat to Irma and cancel everything and re-plan for another time”. I’m so very glad I did- everything happens for a reason-I wouldn’t have been able to help a family!
I own an Airbnb and I had blocked the dates for that week of my vacation on the website calendar, making the apartment unavailable. When I cancelled everything to Disney, I decided to unblock those dates on the calendar and give someone a chance to flee here from Florida to safety. We would be affected by Irma with heavy rains and wind but nothing as damaging as other states. Low and behold a beautiful family of 4 fled their town and drove here. They ended up needing to stay an additional 3 nights(their home lost power, water, internet, there was flooding) until they were told it was safe to go back. They turned out to become friends I will keep in touch with, they were so grateful, appreciative, thankful people and it warmed my heart that I was able to help and provide shelter.
As far as having to cancel plans, reservations, etc.. I have to say- the cast members on the WDW 800 line were the most positive, patient, caring, helpful individuals one could ever want to talk to! I’m sure a lot of them live in Florida and they were probably worried about their lives down there, but they showed up at work and helped all of us tourists with cancellations! Who does that?! Disney Cast Members, that’s who!
For more specifics, and for future help to those who might ever be in this situation- you want to really get to know My Disney Experience. I downloaded the MDE app to my phone and used it to make all of my dining reservations, manage my tickets, magicbands, and Fastpass+ reservations. On MDE in the Disneyworld.com website, I purchased tickets to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, the MNSSHP Fireworks Dessert party and the Star Wars Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party, all of which you cannot purchase on a mobile app. I found out that, given you do it in a decent time frame(check fine print online), you can cancel your hotel reservation, Advanced Dining Reservations, Fastpass+ reservations and Dessert Party Reservations with no cancellation fees involved. The Halloween Party is a non-refundable ticket, however they refunded mine ONLY due to the hurricane cancelling my ticketed event scheduled for Sunday night.
To save time on the phone with Disney World customer service, I only canceled my hotel reservation and Halloween party ticket with them. I was able to login to MDE on my phone and cancel everything else myself. Easy? Yes. Fun? No. Who wants to cancel a vacation?!
For what seemed like it would be a daunting task, Disney has made it relatively easy and freeing by creating My Disney Experience and app. I have already went on there and planned/reserved for my new trip down there and hopefully my plans will go more smoothly and I will make it there without a glitch! Yay!
Just keep dreaming,