There were several reasons we chose to go to Walt Disney World for a short visit October 6th through October 10th.
The number one reason was that my Disney Exchange Podcast co-host Lisa was going to be at WDW until October 8th. We talked our fellow co-host Dave, who lives relatively close, to come down for an official Disney Exchange Podcast meetup on the 7th!
We promoted said meetup for several weeks on the show as well as all over our social media accounts.
It was going to be epic! We would get plenty of photos of us all together, and hopefully meet a few of our listeners!
And then came Hurricane Matthew.
I started to watch the weather obsessively on October 2nd. By the 4th, I was on the fence as to if we should reschedule. My wife's cousin Jill and her husband Zach were also going to WDW during the same dates, and Lisa was there with her family. I really wanted to go and see my friends and family! Barbie and I decided to just keep an eye on things and not panic.
By the night before our flight, which was due to fly out at 7:05am on Thursday the 6th, Matthew had shifted to a course that looked like it would be making landfall on the eastern coast of Florida.
From The Miami Herald, 10/5
Disney cancelled several events, and even evacuated people camping at Fort Wilderness, but the parks were still due to be open. Airlines were cancelling flights starting Thursday afternoon. Dave was sending me updates from Florida. To say I didn't sleep well would be a huge understatement. I kept checking to see if our flight was still on time.
Our airport shuttle picked us up promptly at 4 am, we were checked in and at our gate at 5:30am, and our Southwest flight left right on time. On the way down, to commemorate Matthew, all adults were treated to Hurricane cocktails, which were delicious!
We were also treated to some very interesting clouds!
We landed on time, and just a few moments before our family, who were flying in from New England. We met up at the airport!
They got on their Magical Express bus for Caribbean Beach while we headed to Pop Century.
We got our first real glimpse of the effect of the Hurricane at WDW when we walked into the Pop lobby. It was a bit insane. People were either trying to check out early, or their flights had been cancelled and they were trying to book an extra day or two.
After 30 minutes we checked in and headed for our room. As soon as we put our bags down I saw I had several Facebook notifications. Several of them saying that Walt Disney World parks were closing at 5:00pm and that they would be closed all day Friday the 7th! I checked Disney's website and they had not updated with this info at that point.
We headed out to catch a bus to Epcot, and on the way spoke with a groundskeeping Cast Member, and he verified the closures.
On the way to the park, I contacted Lisa who had made us and her family advanced dining reservations at Shula's Steak House located in the Dolphin Resort at 7:30. Our new plan was to meet at Epcot, head to the Dolphin at 5:00pm, have a few drinks before dinner, and take a cab or Uber back to our respective resorts.
These plans were thrown out when we went to Guest Relations to pick up Barbie's Annual Pass. The Cast Members informed us that there would not be any transportation available in the evening as the Governor had declared a state of emergency.
I contacted Lisa again and gave her this updated information.
Jill and Zach arrived, and the 4 of us headed back to World Showcase to get in as much park time as we could. It was a little after noon, but the crowds were not very heavy due to on and off again showers, as well as the general situation.
We headed off to the Patagonia booth to get my perennial favorite dish, the beef skewers with chimichurri sauce. We had just gotten in line when I heard someone ask if I was Nick from The Disney Exchange! Jennifer is a fan of our show, and a frequent contributor on our sister/brother podcast, Geekin' on WDW. Thank you for saying hello Jennifer, you made me feel like a celebrity!
After a couple more stops, we met up with a long time Facebook friend Diane and her husband Andrew, and had a nice time chatting at the Canada Pavilion. One minute the weather was beautiful, and then within moments it started to pour.
We said goodbye to Diane and Andrew and headed into the Craft Beer building where we shared a couple of flights and snacks, before heading over towards the Seas to meet Lisa and her family.
On the way we stopped into Club Cool, and a very odd thing happened. 2 people I know (Jill and Zach) liked Beverly. I mean they commented on how good it was to Barbie and me, without any provocation. Really. Beverly.
The park was mostly empty, so there would be no long wait, right?
Uh, no. 105 minutes. So THAT'S where everyone was!
We moved on to the American Pavilion and grabbed a beer at the Hops and Barley stand before parting ways.
Following Zach's suggestion, we went into the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Japan to get some snacks for the storm, and he treated me to a saki. Thanks Zach!
By then it was 4:15, and we had 4:50 FastPasses for Soarin.' When we got there, Zach approached the Cast Member at the FastPass entrance and asked if we could go in early, and she said yes!
Ah, Soarin' Around the World...it's good. I'll talk more about that in another post.
By the time we exited it was 4:50 or so. We were getting hungry and I noticed very few people at Sunshine Seasons. It looked like they hadn't started cleaning up yet, so I suggested we go there. This turned out to be very fortuitous. There were several pre-made salads and sandwiches, as well as cereal and milk, so we grabbed breakfast, lunch and dinner food for the next day, and had dinner then and there as well.
Heading out there was still a lot of people getting buses, so we had to wait a couple of rounds, but we met a really wonderful couple and time seemed to fly by as we chatted with them.
When we got back to the resort we really appreciated having picked up our food from the Land, as the line for the pre-packaged meal Disney was offering was over 2 hours long. The meal, which, if I can recall correctly from what I was told, contained a sandwich, chips, and dessert, was $12.99. I don't remember the drink or if there were snacks included.
I bought a bottle of Captain Morgan's Long Island Iced Tea at the shop and we headed back to the room to watch the weather. The news and media made it sound very dire indeed, and we prepared to be in for the entire next day!
Next up- Hurricane Day!