Lightning Strike Breaks Iconic Disney Attraction, Guests Evacuated

in Disney, Theme Parks, Walt Disney World

Exterior of Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney World

Credit: Disney

One thing that Guests can often expect when they go to Walt Disney World Resort is that they will have a magical time with memories that will last forever. Another thing that they can expect is a massive thunderstorm to strike — especially if you are visiting the theme parks during the summer season.

Credit: Reddit (@Its_a_secret2012)

Walt Disney World Resort is home to over 25 Resorts, with theming that will transport you from the beach to the Savannah, to the Riviera, and then into a mountainous oasis. On top of that, Guests can enjoy the four theme parks: Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and EPCOT. When Guests go to the Parks, they will notice that there are many indoor areas, including nearly every ride queue being located indoors. For example, when you ride Pirates of the Caribbean, you might have to wait in a small outdoor queue, but it will quickly move into an indoor pirate cove.

Although these indoor ride queues can help with Florida’s heat, it also helps with the rain. The average rainfall in Florida is at least 60 inches per year, with lightning striking between 70-100 days per year on average. Florida is also home to hurricanes, being located so close to the ocean, which also tends to affect Walt Disney World Resort when the storm moves inland.

Sparse Walt Disney World crowds, shown on Main Street at Magic Kingdom.
Credit: Inside the Magic

The weather can sometimes affect a Guest’s Disney vacation, as it can shut down an attraction. One recent Guest took to the internet to share their wild story, which shares that a lightning strike caused their ride to break down, forcing them to eventually evacuate the attraction. The Guest shared, “Was in MK yesterday, and my fiancée and I were evacuated from Big Thunder AND Pirates (the first due to technical difficulties, the second because lightning struck the ride and caused the system to malfunction). Before we walked off pirates, there was a WEIRD period of time when there was no audio, but the animatronics were still silently going through the motions.”

Exterior of Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disney World
Credit: Disney

Of course, the Guests were not injured on the attraction, and Walt Disney World Resort has a ton of lightning rods throughout the Park on higher surfaces to ensure that when lightning does strike, it keeps the Guests safe. That being said, it is quite a crazy experience to have to have Pirates of the Caribbean shut down due to lightning. Evacuating the water attraction also comes with challenges for Cast Members, as they have to ensure Guests are able to get out of the boats and onto land without falling into the water. That being said, they are all properly trained to do this!

Most recently, Pirates of the Caribbean featuring the iconic Johnny Depp (aka Captain Jack Sparrow animatronic) has been under fire for offensive scenes. 

More Disney Evacuations

Evacuations often happen at attractions at Walt Disney World. At times, a Guest may be on the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom, for example, when the ride breaks down, and the only way to safely remove the Guests is to evacuate them. Maintenance issues tend to be the big culprit for these breakdowns. Still, in other cases, there have been more severe issues, such as a small fire causing all Guests inside Cinderella Castle dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table to evacuate.

Recently, we shared a video of “it’s a small world”, where a Guest decided to get out of the boats during a ride breakdown, also forcing two smaller children off, hopping into the water.

Credit: @CoreyWDW

Getting off of a ride that goes down without Cast Members can be incredibly dangerous, especially on a water attraction, as Guests do not know what is on the ground, they could hurt themselves on the tracks, and the ride could begin moving, putting them in the ride vehicle’s path. Doing this can also result in Guests receiving a lifetime ban from Walt Disney World Resort in some instances.

As we stated at the top of this article, evacuations at Disney are things that we tend to see often, especially if it is just a singular attraction. Most recently, TRON Lightcycle / Run was evacuated at Magic Kingdom. All Guests were evacuated at the sound of a siren. Most recently, Guests in The Land pavilion at EPCOT experienced a sudden evacuation that caused Guests to be evacuated from multiple attractions and an entire land. One Disney Guest stated, “Anybody in EPCOT today knows why the entire Land Pavilion was briefly evacuated? My group was about to board Living with the Land before everyone was rushed out of the building. Read more on that here. 

Mickey and Minnie Mouse in front of Disney Halloween decorations at Magic Kingdom Park.
Credit: Walt Disney World Resort

Other EPCOT attractions have been known to break down, including the newest ride, Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind. An evacuation can indeed occur at any attraction at Disney World and often is not a cause for concern to Guests. When Guests are evacuated, they will receive a Multiple Experiences pass allowing them to enter the Lightning Lane of another attraction. The ride which was evacuated will likely temporarily close for maintenance and often returns to regular operations later in the day.

Hurricanes at Walt Disney World

Cinderella Castle as a whole was also constructed to be able to withstand any hurricane. The Magic Kingdom centerpiece is made up of gypsum, plaster, and fibreglass, and contrary to what some may think, nothing needs ever to be removed from the castle during a hurricane, not even the spires! This is something we have seen proven with Hurricane Dorian, hurricane Irma, hurricane Mattew, and many other tropical storms.

Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom
Credit: Brittany DiCologero

Walt Disney World Resort is one of the safest places to be if you ever find yourself in Central Florida during a hurricane. Disney World Resorts are all built to withstand any storm and have backup power supplies to ensure that Guests are always immersed in the magic of the Resort’s theme and not thinking about the terrible weather outside. They do this so well that many locals even book a Disney Resort when they know a destructive hurricane is coming. So, if you are visiting Disney World during hurricane season, rest assured that your Disney Resort hotel will keep you safe and warm if any bad storms hit Orlando during your trip.

Do you have a crazy evacuation story? Let us know in the comments below! 

Are you looking to visit Magic Kingdom on your next Disney World vacation? There is no better feeling than riding the monorail after parking at the Ticket and Transportation Center (or riding it from a monorail Resort such as Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa) and walking down the middle of Main Street, U.S.A., U.S.A. U.S.A. with Cinderella Castle greeting you in the distance! Indulging in churros and Mickey Premium Bars while waiting in line for attractions like Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, Haunted Mansion, or Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is always a great way to enjoy the lines, and a midday break to watch Festival of Fantasy doesn’t hurt either. Nothing tops ending the night with their Happily Ever After fireworks spectacle. For more Disney information, information on Disney Genie+, and to look at booking a vacation, the Walt Disney World website is a perfect one-stop shop for all things Mickey Mouse. Plus, it has all the information you need on Disney Genie+, so you will be ready to go on your My Disney Experience app once you download it! Click here to check it out today.

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