How Will Walt Disney World Be Affected By Hurricane Matthew? The Park Rarely Makes This Decision

Hurricane Matthew is set to strike the southeastern United States, and millions of people have been evacuated from impacted areas. Florida's Walt Disney World closed its doors due to Matthew, something that has only been done four times in the theme park's 45-year history. And Disney World wasn't alone in shutting down before the storm; SeaWorld and Universal Orlando's parks had also announced they would be closed beforehand, the AP reported. But what else does Matthew's impending approach mean for Disney World and its visitors?

Guests have been evacuated from several of the park's resorts, and staff are making sure they are informed about the storm, USA Today reported. “Based on the most recent forecasts for Hurricane Matthew, Walt Disney World theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf courses and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will all be closed [on Thursday] by 5 p.m., and will remain closed through Friday, Oct. 7,” a Walt Disney World spokeswoman said.

Events at Disney World, including Halloween events like Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom, have been canceled, but a lone event, A Culinary Adventure in Signature Dining, which is part of the Epcot Food and Wine Festival, was still scheduled to proceed at Disney’s Yacht Club resort as planned, the Orlando Sentinel reported. People who were supposed to attend but evacuated instead will be able to get refunds, according to Disney.

Even staff members will be leaving the theme park. Workers at Disney World who were scheduled to work on Friday will need to use either paid time off or future sick or vacation days, Ed Chambers, president of the Service Trades Council union group at the resort told the Orlando Sentinel.

If you have a reservation coming up in the next few days, be warned that it will be very hard to get in or out of Orlando by plane, as the Orlando International Airport has reportedly halted flights starting on Thursday. Disney has a Hurricane Policy on its website with answers to frequently asked questions. You'll be able to reschedule or cancel your trip if your arrival date occurs within seven days of a hurricane warning without paying change or cancellation fees, but only when it comes to packages booked with Disney.

If you went through a third-party for anything, you'll have to consult their policies, because Disney will probably not cover your fees there. And if you want to keep a special offer you received when you booked, you'll have to reschedule for a time when an identical offer is available — or you'll be paying the difference.

Disney has yet to make a statement about whether it will be reopening come Saturday, but in light of the current situation, you'll probably want to visit "The Happiest Place On Earth" when an extremely dangerous hurricane isn't happening.