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A Disney resort during a hurricane is basically like the Twilight Zone.
That’s how Jan Tuckwood, who has a home in Lake Worth but spends much of her time in Charlotte, North Carolina, described Tuesday and Wednesday at Disney’s Swan Reserve.
No valet met her at the door when she arrived. Housekeeping and other staffing were limited. Restaurants were closed or had reduced menus and boxed meals.
While Disney parks remained closed Thursday as officials assessed Ian’s impact and cleared debris, hotels weren’t allowing new guests. But those who arrived earlier in the week or evacuated to Orlando from Florida’s Gulf Coast stayed, making do with the help of pared down Disney Magic and cocktails.
“My grandchildren and I were planning a trip, so we already had reservations,” she said.
She and her daughter spent Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the Swan Reserve hotel before moving next door to the Swan on Thursday. The Swan and Swan Reserve are Marriot hotels.
Thursday, she didn’t see much damage, mostly standing water and debris from trees and plants.
“Disney World is as you would imagine it to be if an incredible amount of children have been pent up for two days and basically had their hopes dashed by the ultimate villain, Hurricane Ian,” she said. “But I have seen fewer kids screaming and having tantrums than on other trips.”
The hotels opened their ballrooms to host children’s activities, playing movies and handing out coloring books.
Thursday morning, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort brought characters into the lobby for a dance party with the children. The Ale & Compass Lounge was open, and several poncho-clad adults were enjoying an early cocktail.
Tuckwood said she and her daughter, Alena Rodriguez of Denver, spent Tuesday and Wednesday hitting the fitness center, watching the Weather Channel and getting to know the skeleton crew staff that remained on duty.
Wednesday night, their room on the 14th floor of the Swan Reserve, which opened last year, developed a leak.
“As the rain kept coming, there was substantial water on the floors, so they moved us to the ninth floor,” she said.
Thursday, Tuckwood and Rodriguez were awaiting the rest of their family. Parks are expected to reopen starting Friday, and they’re hoping for nice weather.
Tuckwood had nothing but praise for Disney, the hotels and their staffs.
“This is a good lesson for kids to learn about flexibility and how to handle adversity,” she said. “You’re not going to get to see Cinderella today, but you get to have a Cinderella poncho and can go jump in a puddle.”
The latest statement from Disney officials
Walt Disney World resorts began phased reopening of its theme parks on Friday. Information about reopening can be found at DisneyWorld.com/Weather.”
Guests who have not used any portion of tickets intended for the days the park was closed were directed to contact Disney to modify their travel plans, according to usatoday.com. Guests with partially used multi-day theme park tickets will be able to use their remaining ticket days through Sept. 30, 2023.
Guests who had tickets for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party on Thursday will automatically receive refunds within seven business days if they booked through Disney. Guest who booked through travel agents or other parties should reach out to those providers.
Disney Springs remained closed. “Drawn to Life,” the Cirque du Soleil show in residence at Disney Springs canceled its Thursday performances, and the 5:30 pm Friday show has been rescheduled for 8 pm
Those with reservations for Disney hotels and resorts for Friday are asked not to arrive any earlier than 3 pm Fees will be waived for those who need to reschedule or cancel trips.
Hurricane Ian’s effect on SeaWorld, Universal
SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica Orlando and Discovery Cove also remained closed Thursday. “Guests are encouraged to check back on our website and follow our social media channels for updates,” according to seaworldentertainment.com.
Discovery Cove will reschedule or refund reservations booked online or from the call center with no fees. More information is available at 407-513-4600.
Universal Orlando Resort, including CityWalk, plans to reopen Friday. Universal hotels are currently at full capacity.
Suzy Fleming Leonard is a features journalist with more than three decades of experience. Reach out to [email protected] Find her on Facebook: @SuzyFlemingLeonard or on Instagram: @SuzyLeonard
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