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MouseStation 237 - Hurricane Preparedness at Walt Disney World

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Thanks to our sponsor

Today's show is sponsored by Advantage Vacation Homes, a great vacation home rental company that gives you a place to stay with lots more space than a regular hotel room for a lot less money.

Through the end of September, Advantage Vacation Homes has a limited number of three, four and five bedroom vacation homes, all with private pools, at a special low price of three-bedroom homes for $79 a night, four bedrooms for $89 a night and 5 bedrooms for $109 a night. Remember, this is a limited offer, and only good through the end of September. Go to AdvantageVacationHomes.com, and when you reserve online or by phone, make sure to tell them that you heard about them on MousePlanet.

For more information on what a vacation home is and what to expect when renting one, check out our interview of Fred Zorayq from Advantage Vacation Homes in Episode 219!

Featured topic: Hurricane Preparedness at Walt Disney World

With Tropical Storm Fay heading for Walt Disney World on Monday night, we decided to approach this timely topic. Thankfully, Fay did not cause much damage in the area as it passed through on Tuesday and the parks even remained open as the storm passed.

Mike recalled working through a hurricane to describe the procedures that Disney follows as a major storm approaches.

When a hurricane is on the way, Walt Disney World alerts cast members that they need to continually check special phone numbers for each work location to see whether or not they should be coming in to work. There are special "ride out" crews that are assigned to each work location and then certain additional cast members are asked to come in as needed.

Guests staying at Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground, which does not have secure areas for all of its guests during a hurricane, are evacuated to Disney resort hotels and recreational vehicles (RVs) are moved from Fort Wilderness into the STOLport parking lot, surrounded by Disney buses.

Meanwhile, in the parks, the hurricane ride out crew (Mike believes that it's one or two cast members per attraction) stays in the park to ensure that the attractions remain safe. The parks have been closed, the news media is advised, road barriers are put in place to keep traffic out of the parking lots. Hotels are closed down with all transportation in and out blocked. A letter is distributed under the doors of all guest rooms advising them that everything would be shut down and that they should stay in their rooms, where Disney would be showing complimentary movies on the in-room TVs.

Mark thought that, in a two-part story that Mike Scopa wrote about his experiences with Hurricane Charley, he noted that food service was closed and that people were restricted to their rooms. It doesn't appear that it is in the story, but Mark now thinks that maybe he was thinking of Christopher Wing's account of his experience with the storm that ran in the Park Update following Charley's visit.

Mike talked about being on vacation during Hurricane Wilma and staying at Pop Century with his family when his manager called him at his hotel room and asked him to come in to work. Two days of his vacation was cancelled, though he got an extra day on the back end and was paid extra for the time that he worked.

All loose items such as carts, chairs and so forth are brought inside when possible and tied down when necessary. Some signs and other unmoveable items were wrapped in plastic cling wrap.

Parks were reopened as quickly as possible, some on the same day, and were back in full operation the next day. Rooms may be blocked off from further reservations to allow rooms to be available for cast members or other locals who may have a need for a place to stay.

Generally, Disney's travel policy lets people cancel or reschedule trips with a hurricane threatening with no additional fee.

During a storm, people often accuse Disney cast members of ruining their vacations, despite the fact that they obviously can't control the weather. Mike got very frustrated by all of the guests braving the weather to go to the front desk to complain about their plans. Mark tried to explain why people would react like that, and Mike started to accept it, but Mike then noted that he got a lot of complaints from Fort Wilderness guests complaining about how they were forced to abandon their campsites.

Mark reminded everyone that, in the event of extreme weather, Disney would do whatever was necessary to keep them safe and that they should follow instructions to ensure their safety and the safety of others.

Mark then asked if anyone has had any experience with their trip being affected by a hurricane at Walt Disney World.

CHOC Walk/Team MousePlanet

For more information on supporting Team MousePlanet at this year's CHOC Walk, go to the Team MousePlanet page or get information on the MousePad discussion forums.

Listener Feedback

Sharla from Athens, GA told us that she understands why we needed to pull back from four to two shows a week. She prefers that we set the Walt Disney Company news up as a column on the MousePlanet site and that we keep the podcast to special content. Mark noted that he has actually had some time to rest in the last few weeks, which was a nice change. He's also hoping to see Sharla and Lou again at MouseFest. Sharla was hoping that Six Degrees of Disney makes a comeback, but right now it's doing really poorly in the listener survey so it may not make it.

Gina wrote in to note that washing hands and sanitary wipes are not just for babies and flu season as her family suffered fevers and other messy symptoms while staying at Pop Century last year. She did give kudos to Mousekeeping for cleaning up their mess, though.

Kim Barron called the voicemail line to let us know that she is going to be able to make it to MouseFest this year. She's hoping that she may even be able to get together with us before the official events start. She also suggested a meet where we would go to Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo: The Musical to have an ultimate showdown (and to help Mike to see the error of his ways). Mark noted that we're starting to tentatively schedule meets for MouseFest's land portion (December 11-15), and here's a tentative schedule for all of MousePlanet's events:

  • Mark will co-host MouseFest 101 on Thursday again with Mike Scopa of AllEarsNet
  • MousePlanet's David Koenig will host Epcot's Never Lands, a walking tour of the World Showcase that never was, on Saturday from 3:00-4:00 p.m.
  • MousssseFest 2008 will be held on Saturday from 4:00-5:00 p.m. at Boulangerie Patisserie
  • The fourth annual Mini-MouseAdventure will be held on Sunday from 10:00 a.m.-noon in the Magic Kingdom
  • The second annual Hustle-tini Meet will be held on Sunday evening at Pop Century from around 5:45-6:45 p.m.
  • MousePlanet's Jeff Kober is planning a meet but details are still pending
  • Mike and Mark may try to add a Simba vs. Nemo meet on Friday, but we're not ready to commit yet

 

We're seeing a lot of support for the news in the listener feedback survey so we're considering finding a way to keep the news content in some way, shape or form. Fill out the survey and let us know where you stand!

What do you think? Let us know by sending us an email or calling our toll-free feedback line (1-866-939-2278)!

Wrapping up

We've put together a new listener survey to help us learn more about you and what you like most about this podcast. This one is much more targeted than the old Podtrac survey. Please take a few minutes to fill it out and let us know what you think.

 

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Thanks to our audio engineer and sound editor Steven Ng.

Thank you for listening!

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(Send an email to MouseStation Crew)

The MouseStation crew (@MouseStation) currently consists of Mark Goldhaber (@MPMark) and Mike Demopoulos (@MPMike).