What Happens to the Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom During Hurricanes?

Sept 27, 2022: Hurricane watches are up for the west coast of Florida.

Many guests are wondering with the approaching Category 4 Hurricane Ian what Disney Parks does with the inhabitants of Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s is home to some 1,700 animals representing 250 different species throughout the 500-acre park.

That’s a lot of wildlife to keep track of before, during, and after a hurricane hits!

Welcome to my park!
Welcome to Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Disney doesn’t evacuate their animals off property.  They have safe locations for them behind the scene, aka “backstage”, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. All of the wildlife pens and barns are built of reinforced concrete and designed to be able to withstand a Category 3 Hurricane with little to no damage.

car DAK costume
Caroline working at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

When she was a Disney Cast Member, Caroline went on a cast-exclusive DAK ‘backstage’ tour.  She learned how the animals get called back to their pens in the evening with special whistles and signals.  The animals actually can’t wait to return to their overnight pens because they know that food and water, along with fresh bedding, is waiting for them!  The whole process takes 3 hours to complete every afternoon/early evening.

Disney Hurricane Preparedness Plans call for all cast member zookeepers, trainers, and veterinary staff to be on hand during a hurricane event.  They don’t go home and sleep onsite for 2-3 days or more if necessary

These experts monitor the behavior of the animals and continually checked on them both before, during, and after the storm passes.

The alligators are OK in their enclosures, just like they are in the wild.

Some water-dwelling creatures, such as the alligators and turtles, are left in their outdoor man-made habitats since this is where they are the safest.

bird4 DAK
One of the many birds that will be cared for inside during a hurricane.

All birds are brought inside before hurricanes as they all could be gravely injured by high wind and debris.  (The native Florida birds that live at DAK – and there are a lot of them! – are left outside.)

Disney takes every precaution with their animals, ensuring that they all are kept safe.

In September 2017, not one animal was harmed during Hurricane Irma with winds that topped 80mph in Orlando!  All animals were safe and sound when the park re-opened after being closed for two days due to the storm and for debris clean-up.

It’s still suspended due to Covid, but when it resumes you can see the animal pens and how well Disney treats all their animals by taking a backstage tour at DAK called Backstage Tales.

September 2017: Mickey and Minnie greeting hurricane stranded guests at DAK Lodge during Hurricane Irma.
For Hurricane Irma:  DAK closed early on Saturday (9/09/17) afternoon and park tie down started happening. Cast members wrapped all the turnstiles at the front entrance to keep them protected from wind damage.
Property damage after Hurricane Irma: One of many trees blown down – or onto – DAK Lodge.

animal-kingdom-irma-5Day after Hurricane Irma passed: Lots of wind damage all over DAK, but the paths were cleared for guests by opening time on Tuesday morning.

9/28: Rideout crew Old Key West

Disney has activated their Hurricane Rideout Teams for the next 2-3 days.

Read more:  Disney Hurricane Rideout Teams


We’ve written two books about our time working – and playing – as Disney Cast Members at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Both are available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle:  Two Girls and a Mouse Tale and Adventures in the Animal Kingdom.

Adventure Book Cover
Adventures in the Animal Kingdom
book Two Girls
Two Girls and a Mouse Tale

If you’d like to follow our daily Disney blog, here’s the link: https://collinsrace1.wordpress.com/

Have a magical day!

Two Disney Sisters



2 replies to “What Happens to the Animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom During Hurricanes?

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