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

August 30, 2019: Hurricane Dorian forecast path update.  Category 1 Hurricane forecast for Orlando next week.

Many guests are wondering with the fast approaching Hurricane Dorian 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.

As 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.

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.

If you’re interested in seeing the animal pens and how well Disney treats all their animals, you can take a backstage tour at DAK called Backstage Tales!

For tickets, $90/guest: Backstage Tales at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

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

When a Hurricane Warning is in effect, Disney Parks activates the Hurricane Rideout Teams across the WDW property.

These crews are made up of volunteer cast members who agree to stay in their park or resort for at least 72 hours during the storm.  (Because of family commitments, not all cast members can stay on-site during a hurricane.  It’s all volunteer and they get overtime pay.)

Read more about the Disney World’s Hurricane Rideout Teams and what they do before and during a hurricane:

Hurricane Rideout Teams at Disney World

August 30, 2019: Guest wearing this celebration button at the Magic Kingdom!


August 31, 2019: Hurricane Dorian approaching Florida.

Know your hurricanes!  The higher the number, the more damaging the winds!

Category Sustained Winds Types of Damage Due to Hurricane Winds
1 74-95 mph Very dangerous winds will produce some damage: Well-constructed frame homes could have damage to roof, shingles, vinyl siding and gutters. Large branches of trees will snap and shallowly rooted trees may be toppled. Extensive damage to power lines and poles likely will result in power outages that could last a few to several days.
2 96-110 mph Extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage: Well-constructed frame homes could sustain major roof and siding damage. Many shallowly rooted trees will be snapped or uprooted and block numerous roads. Near-total power loss is expected with outages that could last from several days to weeks.
111-129 mph Devastating damage will occur: Well-built framed homes may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes.
130-156 mph Catastrophic damage will occur: Well-built framed homes can sustain severe damage with loss of most of the roof structure and/or some exterior walls. Most trees will be snapped or uprooted and power poles downed. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months.
157 mph or higher Catastrophic damage will occur: A high percentage of framed homes will be destroyed, with total roof failure and wall collapse. Fallen trees and power poles will isolate residential areas. Power outages will last for weeks to possibly months. Most of the area will be uninhabitable for weeks or months. (Hurricane Maria was a Category 5 storm that hit Puerto Rico in 2017.)


Mickey ears DAK  Two
Wearing our Minnie Ears at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

We’ve written two books about our time working and playing at Disney World.

Both are available on Amazon.com: 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


DAK Mickey Ears
Looking for the Yeti!

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

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